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Tories braced for ‘tough’ set of local elections and fear voter backlash for Westminster turmoil

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Top Tories were bracing themselves for a ‘tough’ set of local elections as the first council results began to stream in tonight.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his Cabinet ministers are fearing a voter backlash for the last 12 months of political turmoil at Westminster.

It has been claimed the Conservatives could lose as many as 1,000 seats across councils in England.

Labour said they were ‘confident’ of success in key battleground areas ahead of an expected general election next year.

Sir Keir Starmer’s party were handed an early boost tonight when they gained seats in Sunderland as the party held control of the city’s council.

They also retained control of councils in Chorley, Halton, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and South Tyneside.

But they failed to gain Hartlepool despite high hopes they could win control of the council two years on from suffering a devastating by-election loss in the ‘Red Wall’ area.

In other early results, the Tories held Broxbourne, Harlow, Redditch and Basildon but suffered a blow when they lost control of Brentwood.

Sir Keir has been warned he needs a double-digit lead in the local elections projected national vote share to show he is on course to become the next PM.

From 7am to 10pm yesterday, voters across England visited polling stations to choose around 8,000 councillors in 230 councils.

Results from all four corners of the country began to arrive around midnight, with the major parties on tenterhooks to discover whether they had a good or bad night.

The full results will provide a key indicator as to whether Mr Sunak can stage a revival in Conservative fortunes against Labour.

Council elections in Bolton, Hartlepool, Stratford-on-Avon, Stoke-on-Trent, Colchester, Torbay and Plymouth will be among those scoured over as crucial contests between the major parties.

Tory sources were pessimistic about their chances in Bolton and Windsor and Maidenhead, but were more bullish about their performance in the key Midlands areas of Dudley and Sandwell.

Labour were hopeful of gaining control of Plymouth – a target area ahead of the general election.

Cabinet minister Chris Heaton-Harris admitted the Tories had suffered ‘a bit of a blip’ following last year’s ousting of Boris Johnson and Liz Truss as PM.

The Northern Ireland Secretary said ‘fantastic councillors’ were set to lose their seats but insisted the Conservatives were ‘trying to make sure we win people’s trust back’ under Mr Sunak.

‘We know we’ve got work to do and it is going to be a tough set of results for us — we are in no doubt about that,’ he told BBC’s Newsnight. 

Bridget Phillipson, Labour’s shadow education secretary, said she was ‘confident’ the party had made progress in key battleground areas.

‘I’m confident we’re going to see progress in those key areas where we need to make gains come the next general election, and I think we have run a really strong campaign that will demonstrate that,’ she said.

The measures of success are particularly complex in these local elections. Around 90% of the 8,000 seats were last up for grabs in 2019, when Theresa May was failing with her Brexit deal

Ballot boxes are rushed to a local elections count at Silksworth Sports Centre in Sunderland after polling stations closed

Ballot boxes are rushed to a local elections count at Silksworth Sports Centre in Sunderland after polling stations closed

From 7am to 10pm on Thursday, voters across England visited polling stations to choose around 8,000 councillors in 230 councils

From 7am to 10pm on Thursday, voters across England visited polling stations to choose around 8,000 councillors in 230 councils

Rishi Sunak has warned Tories face a 'hard night'

Sir Keir Starmer will be hoping for signs he is on course to become PM

With a general election next year, the results will provide a key indicator as to whether Rishi Sunak can stage a revival in Conservative fortunes against Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour

LIVE RESULTS

English Local Elections

Prior to polling day, the PM had predicted a ‘hard night’ and warned that – despite ‘good progress’ since he entered No10 – Tory councillors could yet be punished for the turbulence of the past 12 months at Westminster.

Mr Sunak personally paid for a delivery of 10 large Domino’s pizzas at Tory HQ tonight ahead of votes being counted across England. 

Senior Tories have admitted they could lose more than 1,000 council seats across England – although Labour have furiously accused the Conservatives of expectation management ahead of election day.

Losing fewer than 500 seats overall would be viewed as a good night at Tory HQ, at a time when the party currently trails Labour in most national opinion polls.

Amid growing signs of a late Conservative surge ahead of polling day, one forecast even suggested Tory losses could be as little as 338 seats.

Tory hopes of a decent performance will be buoyed by the fact the local council seats being decided this year were last contested in 2019, at the nadir of Theresa May’s time as PM.

Following a poor performance that night, Mrs May went on to suffer humiliation in European Parliament elections just three weeks later, which swiftly led to her resignation.

But Labour was also failing to make major inroads at the time with an unpopular leader in Jeremy Corbyn.

Meanwhile, polling experts have said that Labour needs to score a victory of more than 10% in the projected national vote share in this year’s local elections to show that Sir Keir is on course to be the next PM.

Sir Tony Blair had double-digit local election vote share victories in the lead-up to New Labour’s landslide in 1997, as did David Cameron’s Tories before 2010 when they ended up in coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

Labour gaining 700 seats or more would be the party’s best local election performance for at least 10 years.

And gains above 500 seats would point to Sir Keir being poised to win the keys to Downing Street at the next general election, experts have said.

But both Labour and the Tories will be keeping a close eye on the number of independent councillors elected.

Success or otherwise for non-party candidates is set to provide evidence as to whether the two major parties are currently garnering much enthusiasm among voters.

As the polls closed last night, a Tory spokesman said: ‘This will be a tough night for the Conservatives.

‘Any Government which has been in power for 13 years is highly likely to lose seats. Independent experts Rallings and Thrasher have said we could lose over 1,000 seats.

‘But if Labour want to be in with a chance of taking office after the next general election as they did in 1997, they need to be making very significant gains as they did in 1995 – the last most comparable election – anything less than that will pose serious questions for Labour HQ.’

Labour sources swiftly rubbished the Tories’ comparison with the 1995 local elections, as they pointed out Scotland and Wales were included in the council elections that year – but no contests were held in the two countries on Thursday. 

They also claimed the dominance of the two main parties in local government had long since ended, with the number of independent candidates having massively increased in recent years.

The PM has predicted a 'hard night' and warned Tory councillors could be punished for the political turmoil of the past 12 months at Westminster

The PM has predicted a ‘hard night’ and warned Tory councillors could be punished for the political turmoil of the past 12 months at Westminster

Gains above 500 seats would point to Sir Keir, pictured at a Labour phone bank, being poised to win the keys to Downing Street at the next general election

Gains above 500 seats would point to Sir Keir, pictured at a Labour phone bank, being poised to win the keys to Downing Street at the next general election

Sir Ed Davey's Liberal Democrats will do well to repeat their success from last year, when they gained more than 200 council seats

Sir Ed Davey’s Liberal Democrats will do well to repeat their success from last year, when they gained more than 200 council seats

This year's local elections are the first where photo identification is mandatory under new laws

This year’s local elections are the first where photo identification is mandatory under new laws

Campaigners claim ‘countless examples’ of would-be voters being turned away under new photo ID rules

Campaigners have reported ‘countless examples’ of would-be voters being turned away from polling stations on the first elections where photo identification is mandatory.

The Electoral Reform Society, which has strongly opposed the introduction, urged ministers to rethink the new law as voters went to the polls in the local elections in England on Thursday.

Jess Garland, the Electoral Reform Society’s director of policy and research, said: ‘We’re already seeing countless examples of people being denied their right to vote due to these new laws.

‘From people caught out by having the wrong type of photo ID to others turned away for not looking enough like their photo.

‘One voter turned away is one voter too many.’

In the early afternoon, the Association of Electoral Administrators said that no major problems had been reported.

Chief executive Peter Stanyon said: ‘Polling day appears to be running as smoothly as usual, which is testament to the months of planning and hard work from returning officers and electoral administrators running today’s elections.

‘We hope the rest of the day continues along the same lines.’

Layla Moran, the Lib Dem MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, said she had been told of issues in her constituency.

Conservative MP for Southend West, Anna Firth, said she had to go back to the car to retrieve her ID so she could vote as she reminded people not to forget their documentation.

Shabana Mahmood MP, Labour’s National Campaign Coordinator, said she was proud of her party’s ‘positive campaign’ that ‘focused on the issues that matter most to voters’.

‘This is a cost of living election,’ she added.

‘We have set out the choices we would make to help people through the cost of living crisis, cut crime and cut NHS waiting lists, but the Tories have been silent on the issues that matter most.

‘If the Conservatives go backwards from their disastrous 2019 local election results, the voters will have sent a damning message about Rishi Sunak’s leadership.

‘It’s going to be a long night and the full picture of results will not form until well into Friday afternoon but we expect to make gains and show we’re making the progress in the places we need to win at the next election.’

The Lib Dems are eyeing up ‘Blue Wall’ seats in traditional Tory heartlands at the next general election and tonight’s result will show whether they are on course to achieve that aim.

Gains of 150 seats or more, particularly in Tory-Lib Dem battlegrounds, would point to Sir Ed Davey’s party being on the right path ahead of the general election.

But they will do well to repeat their success from last year, when they gained more than 200 council seats.

Last year’s local elections were held at the height of the Partygate scandal, while the Tories saw their poll ratings plummet further under Liz Truss’s disastrous premiership in September and October.

Lib Dem deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: ‘I have knocked on countless doors in recent weeks and heard real anger and frustration from voters who are sick and tired of being taken for granted by this Conservative Government.

‘Tonight, their voices will be heard.’

Speaking on Wednesday night at an Onward think tank event, Mr Sunak gave a downbeat assessment of his party’s likely performance in this year’s local election.

He hailed the Tories for moving away from the ‘box set drama’ of what went before his premiership, in a reference to turmoil under predecessors Boris Johnson and Ms Truss.

But he said: ‘We should be prepared that tomorrow night is going to be hard for us.

‘Good councillors will lose their seats because of all that has happened over the past year.’

Mr Sunak added: ‘I’ve only been PM for six months but I do believe we’re making good progress. Just think about where we were then and where we are now.’

Sir Keir, speaking to broadcasters on the eve of the polls opening on Thursday morning, said his party had ‘a positive case to tell’ and that he hoped to make electoral ‘progress’.

He said voters could ‘set Britain on a path of growth, security and the promise of a better future’.

On his final day of campaigning for the Lib Dems, Sir Ed claimed lifelong Tory voters were ‘in open revolt against this shambolic Government’.

‘I have never known so much anger on the doorstep towards a Government which is completely out of touch with the British public,’ he said.

‘Former Conservative voters feel completely taken for granted by this Government.’

Council elections were not taking place in all parts of England on Thursday.

There were no contests in London and Birmingham, along with other areas including Cornwall, North Yorkshire and Cumbria.

Polls were also taking place to choose mayors in Bedford, Leicester, Mansfield and Middlesbrough.

There were a number of reports of confusion over the new ID rules at polling stations across the country

There have been a number of reports of confusion over the ID rules at polling stations

A Labour council candidate said they had seen ‘a few’ people turned away without ID 

Annette Hill, from Weston-super-Mare, made light of the row by making her dog Ruby her own photo ID, complete with name, photo, and an 'authorised signature' of a paw print

Annette Hill, from Weston-super-Mare, made light of the row by making her dog Ruby her own photo ID, complete with name, photo, and an ‘authorised signature’ of a paw print

Thursday’s local elections were the first time it has been compulsory for all voters in England to show photo identification at polling stations. There were regional pilots previously.

There were reports of confusion at ballot stations over new ID rules, with the Lib Dems complaining that the numbers are ‘significant’.

Some said they turned up to vote with photo ID only to be told it was the wrong type – while others claimed ‘greeters’ were asking for identification and turning people away outside, meaning that records would not be kept.

The craze for #dogsatpollingstations even got in on the act, with one owner creating an ID for her pet.

But the Electoral Commission said their initial assessment was that ‘overall, the elections were well run’.

People were required to show a form of photo identification, such as a passport, driving licence or blue badge.

Other forms of identity that were being accepted include biometric residence permits, defence identity cards, and national identity cards issued by the EU, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein.

Supporters say it is normal to show ID in much of the rest of the world, and the move protects the integrity of the process. But critics argue it could deter young people and those from poorer communities.

There have been questions raised about why bus and travel passes for older and disabled people are being accepted as photo IDs, but that young people’s travel cards will not be permitted.

Lib Dem MP Layla Moran tweeted: ‘We’ve had reports by our tellers of people being turned away at polling stations for lack of correct ID. 

‘That’s just in my constituency so far. Across the country I’m worried this will be significant numbers and far more than the exactly 0 people found guilty of fraud last year.’ 

One Twitter user said they had been unable to use a driver qualification card to prove their identity. The Electoral Commission responded explaining that it was not one of the 20 accepted forms in legislation.

The watchdog’s director of communications Craig Westwood also moved to clarify that expired photo IDs were acceptable – as long as the picture is still recognisable.

‘There is a specific list of around 20 (forms of ID) so I urge people to check that list,’ he told Sky News.

‘If you’ve got an ID which has expired that doesn’t matter as long as it still looks like you.’

He also said that Electoral Commission research found that around 96% of people already have an eligible photo ID.

Annette Hill, from Weston-super-Mare, made light of the row by making her dog Ruby her own photo ID, complete with name, photo, and an ‘authorised signature’ of a paw print.

The 58-year-old, who works in learning and development HR, said her two-year-old golden retriever was making her first trip to the polling station.

An Electoral Commission spokesman said tonight: ‘These were the first set of polls to take place since the voter ID requirement came into force.

‘Our initial assessment is that overall, the elections were well run.

‘Across the country, votes were cast throughout the day and in line with the law.

‘This is in large part thanks to the dedication of electoral administrators, who have worked hard to prepare for today and for the implementation of this new measure.

‘Confidence in the overall picture, however, should not overlook other impacts which can only be revealed through detailed data collection and analysis over the coming weeks.

‘We already know from our research that the ID requirement posed a greater challenge for some groups in society, and that some people were regrettably unable to vote today as a result.’

The spokesman added that the watchdog had already begun work to ‘understand the impact’ of the new photo ID rules.

Campaigners opposed to the photo ID requirement said Thursday had been a ‘dark day for democracy’.

Tom Brake of Unlock Democracy, who is leading a coalition of groups opposed to the move including the Electoral Reform Society, Fair Vote UK and Open Britain, said ‘many thousands’ of people were estimated to have been turned away.

‘Reports from all over the country confirm our very worst fears of the impact of the disastrous policy which has been made worse by the shambolic way it has been introduced,’ the former Lub said.

‘One voter turned away is one too many, but early estimates point to many thousands of people being turned away and denied their right to vote.

‘Too many people were unaware that they needed photo ID or weren’t clear on exactly what type of ID was required.

‘The buck for this attack on democracy rests squarely with Government. This policy was always a sledgehammer looking for a nut to crack.’

Mr Brake said the policy should be paused until an independent inquiry has examined its impact.

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Democrat insider says ‘we are in hell’ as Obama and Clintons’ inner circles plot to replace Biden

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The rebellion against Joe Biden’s presidential candidacy is growing and now Bill and Hillary Clinton are joining the behind-the-scenes plotting with Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi.

Well-connected aides for Obama and the Clintons are commissioning polls and lobbying Democratic donors to hold onto their dollars in an effort to pressure Biden out of the competition.

But the president’s allies are fighting back, joining their boss in digging in their heels about staying in the competition. Biden, his White House and his re-election team have said repeatedly he is in the race to stay.

The coup , however, is born out of concern that Biden, after his disastrous debate performance, can’t beat Donald Trump in November. But it has it roots in the decades-long simmering resentments between Obama, the Clintons and Biden.

They have long, interconnected ties among one another – they’ve shared staffers, passed legislation and campaigned for one another but they’re also longtime competitors who take turns getting annoyed at the attention and credit the other receives.

As Biden digs in his heels and the whispers against him grow, the interparty fighting shows no signs of stopping with plots and twists coming in at machiavellian levels.

It’s a question of how long it can continue before the whole thing implodes.  

‘Something’s got to give, because we’re in hell right now,’ said Democratic strategist Jim Manley, a well-connected former staffer who knows all the players in this modern Shakespearean drama. 

Joe Biden said the only way he would drop out of the presidential race is if his staff told him 'there's no way you can win'

Joe Biden said the only way he would drop out of the presidential race is if his staff told him ‘there’s no way you can win’

Biden has made it clear he’s in the race to stay.

At his press conference on Thursday evening he said the only way he would drop out is if his staff told him ‘there’s no way you can win.’ 

The rebellion has focused on showing him just that, plotting to use poll numbers and money pressures to force him out.  

Obama’s former campaign manager David Axelrod has long been skeptical of Biden’s chances of winning a second term. 

The debate – where Biden fumbled for words and stared into the camera – was a breaking point for many who worried the president would never recover from the damage. 

‘If what he said at the end of his presser is true, it sounds like Biden’s team has not been very candid with him about what the data is showing: the age issue is a huge and potentially insurmountable concern and his odds of victory are very, very slim,’ Axelrod wrote on X after Biden’s press conference.

The rebellion is a ‘growing’ network of ‘ruthless’ aides, Axios reported, calling it the ‘unofficial Committee to Unelect the President.’

The aides have worked for Obama and Bill and Hillary Clinton – using their combined experience and rolodexes to rally party members against Biden. 

‘The Super Friends are assembling,’ a House Democrat told Politico. 

‘There’s a group of people who are going to go make their case to whomever they can get to at the White House that he needs to step aside and we’re going to get our asses kicked if he doesn’t.’ 

Democrats are growing more and more terrified that not only Biden will cost them the White House, he will drag down his fellow candidates, handing Republicans control of the House and Senate too.

Additionally, some major Democratic donors have told Future Forward – the largest pro-Biden super PAC – that roughly $90 million in pledged donations are on hold as long as Biden remains on top of the presidential tickets, the New York Times reported.

Biden’s re-election team, however, argues there is a path to victory in what they are calling the blue wall: Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

And, they argue, if they can make it through the past two weeks they can make it through anything.  

‘If we can get through these two weeks that we’re living through, we can get through anything,’ Biden campaign chair Jen O’Malley Dillon told staffers on call Thursday per Axios.

‘What you are seeing in the public polling in the last couple days is what we are seeing in our polls. What we are seeing is that this is still a margin of error race,’ she said.  

And former Obama aide Tommy Vietor called the reports of a coup ‘totally inaccurate’ and ‘a little crazy.’

‘Someone is pushing around a conspiracy theory that there’s a coordinated effort by former Obama staff to push out Biden. It is totally inaccurate (and a little crazy),’ he wrote on X.

Barack Obama is said to be one of the Democratic elders plotting to get Biden out of the race

Barack Obama is said to be one of the Democratic elders plotting to get Biden out of the race

Bill and Hillary Clinton aides are said to be joining the rebellion against Biden

Bill and Hillary Clinton aides are said to be joining the rebellion against Biden

But the chatter continues that the best decision for the Democratic Party is having someone other than Joe Biden at the top of the ticket. 

With Biden stubbornly staying in the race – backed by family members Jill, Hunter and Valerie – the only way to get him out may the combined of pressure of the donors whose money keeps the party in play and an intervention by the party elders: Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.

If Biden can be convinced his candidacy would destroy Democrats on Capitol Hill and hand Trump unlimited power, he may step aside.

But Hillary Clinton and Obama may not be the right messengers to make that point. 

Biden, Obama and Clinton have long been competitive – they all ran against one another for the 2008 Democratic nomination that Obama eventually won.

Publicly they would all stand together, as Obama and both Clintons stood behind Biden after his debate debacle.

Privately it is a different story. 

Biden is said to still harbor anger at the duo over the 2016 election. Obama talked him out of running that cycle, clearing the path for Clinton, who lost to Trump.

Meanwhile, Obama is said to be frustrated that Biden has passed legislation he could not – such as the infrastructure act – and Clinton is resentful that Biden beat Trump. 

But all of them remain concerned about Biden’s low poll numbers. Trump has been in the led of the race for months and Biden’s debate performance didn’t help seal confidence in his candidacy.

The rebellion is ‘a little bit of score settling, but I think for a majority, they truly believe that Donald Trump poses an existential threat, and that’s something’s got to change,’ Manly said.

The best chance to talk Biden out of running could be Schumer and Pelosi. If they can convince Biden their lawmakers are worried that – with him leading the party they will lose re-election – it could cause the president to have second thoughts.

Nancy Pelosi, seen above with Barack Obama and Joe Biden at the White House in 2022, is one of the few people who could tell Biden to step down

Nancy Pelosi, seen above with Barack Obama and Joe Biden at the White House in 2022, is one of the few people who could tell Biden to step down

Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and Barack Obama in April 2007 when they were all running for the 2008 presidential nomination

Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and Barack Obama in April 2007 when they were all running for the 2008 presidential nomination

Pelosi has been at the center of the story for a while. 

She is the one that lawmakers have gone to with their worries about the president. And she has a strong relationship with Biden, strong enough she could deliver the death blow.

Plus she has the cojones to tell him to step down. 

‘She’s the f***ing power-broker. She’s the hatchet,’ a Democratic lawmaker told Axios of the former speaker.

Already Pelosi has publicly urged Biden to rethink he stance about staying in the race. 

‘It’s up to the president to decide if he is going to run. We’re all encouraging him to make that decision. Because time is running short,’ she said on Morning Joe on Wednesday.

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Elon Musk’s X breaches social media rules with ‘verified’ blue checkmark accounts, EU says

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The European Union said Friday that blue checkmarks from Elon Musk’s X are misleading and that the online platform falls short on transparency and accountability requirements, the first charges against a tech company since the bloc’s new social media regulations took effect.  

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I’m a famous serial killer profiler – here are four actions women can take to avoid becoming victims

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A famous serial killer profiler with 50 years of experience has revealed the steps women should take to avoid becoming the next victim.

Dr Ann Burgess, who spent decades studying the minds of serial killers, has found these individuals always search for women who are unprotected, appear weak and are living alone.

This has been the case in many infamous examples including the victims killed by Ted Bundy from 1974 through 1978 and the ‘Co-ed killer’ who went on a murdering spree from 1972 to 1973.

While those are decades-old cases, Burgess has warned that there are still serial killers among us and has shared four actions that will deter them from choosing you for the next horrendous crime.

Edmund Kemper (pictured) murdered his grandparents, six young female college students, his mother and her friend in the 1970s

Ted Bundy (pictured) murdered at least 30 women during the 1970s, although federal officials believe that number is higher

Dr Ann Burgess studied the methods of 36 serial killers to understand why they committed the heinous acts and the trauma that led to it. She has now revealed what women can do to protect themselves from becoming victims

Dr Burgess joined forces with the FBI in 1978 to consult with its Behavioral Science Unit, which developed the first-of-its-kind psychological profiling for serial killers.

They studied the methods and motives of 36 serial killers including Edmund Kemper (‘The Co-Ed Killer’) who murdered his grandparents, six young female college students, as well as his own mother and her friend in the 1970s.

The team examined how past trauma impacted the killer’s crimes and found that all serial killers had similar mental patterns from abusive mothers and absent fathers.

Burgess’s work with the FBI led to the arrest of high-profile killers including the Menendez brothers who murdered their parents Jose and Kitty at their Beverly Hills home in 1989. 

She has recently shot to fame again in a new Hulu three-part docu-series titled ‘Mastermind To Think Like a Killer.’

‘There is this misogyny that develops or this acting out against women due to these mommy issues, more or less,’ the show’s director Abby Fuller told PEOPLE.

‘Oftentimes they were victimized, so it’s like there’s this idea the victim becomes a victimizer and the kind of the scene is played out, only this time they’re the one in control rather than the victim.’

1. Trust your gut

If something feels wrong, Burgess said it probably is and you should immediately remove yourself from that situation or area.

Too many times, women feel something is off and think ‘Geez, I’m just overreacting,’ Burgess told PEOPLE, but by ignoring these thoughts, ‘they found themselves in very tight positions.’

When you feel that tight, clenching feeling in your stomach, ‘that’s your limbic system reacting,’ Burgess said.

‘It’s an involuntary system that is set in us to alarm us and you should pay attention to it. I just think that’s only good sense to listen to it, and not to override the system.’

Dr Ann Burgess (pictured) joined forces with the FBI in 1978 to consult with its Behavioral Science Unit where they were developing the first-of-its-kind psychological profiling for serial killers

Dr Ann Burgess (pictured) joined forces with the FBI in 1978 to consult with its Behavioral Science Unit where they were developing the first-of-its-kind psychological profiling for serial killers

2. Get a German Shepherd

Protection dogs, especially larger breeds like German Shepherds, have an intimidating appearance that could deter people from invading your home, Dr Burgess explained.

In particular, German Shepherds are naturally protective because they’re born with a gene that makes them form a strong bond with their owner.

They are also the most loyal, intelligent and courageous dogs in the canine family and have a sense of alertness that allows them to keep watch over the home for hours and can quickly notice any changes in their environment. 

German Shepherds are very vocal and often whine, growl and bark – making themselves known to a possible serial killer and alerting you to the invader’s presence. 

‘Get a German Shepherd. That’s the one thing I always say — get a German Shepherd,’ Dr Burgess said.

3. Put a ‘Beware of Dog’ sign outside your house 

Dr Burgess advised that a ‘Beware of Dog’ sign could stop serial killers from entering your home out of fear that they could be attacked.

They’re looking for an easy victim, someone that is alone and vulnerable, and this type of sign could stop serial killers from targeting you.

However, homeowners should be warned that ‘Beware of Dog’ signs can entice burglars to enter the residence out of curiosity over what valuables might be inside, according to researches at the University of Pennsylvania.

4. Put workman’s boots outside your door

Dr Burgess said she often puts workman’s boots outside her front door if she’s home alone to make it look like her husband is there.

Having these masculine boots outside the house could scare off serial killers who don’t want to fight someone to execute their plans.

‘A lot of killers seize opportunity,’ Dr Burgess said. ‘So if they … think that a man is there who could possibly fight them, they’re going to move to the next house for the easier victim.’

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Fogbow, a US firm with military links, eyes maritime plan for Gaza aid

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A private US firm run by former military and ex-CIA members is pushing plans to build a movable jetty off Gaza’s coast so more lifesaving goods can get into the besieged Palestinian enclave. But UN officials, aid workers and several European government officials have expressed doubts about the project and voiced scepticism over the group’s origins and motives.  

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Have you got financial confidence – and is it the trick to getting wealthier? This is Money podcast

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  • Plus on this podcast: What Labour means for pensions and the stock market
  • Can you set up your own investment trust?
  • Where is Britain’s best customer service?


Do you feel financially confident? When it comes to budgeting, saving, investing, and building your pension, are you clueless, comfortable, or cracking on?

A piece of research this week by Moneybox claimed that being financially confident could add £67,000 to your lifetime wealth – on average those with confidence were worth £145,000 on average, compared to £78,000 for the unconfident.

But what does being financially confident actually mean and how can you get there?

On this week’s podcast, Georgie Frost, Tanya Jefferies and Simon Lambert look at how to boost your financial confidence and whether the tips to do so could work.

Plus, a week into a new government and with a planned pensions review looming, the team look at what Labour could mean for our retirement savings.

Poll

Are you financially confident?

  • Not really 0 votes
  • Yes, mainly 2 votes
  • I’m highly confident 2 votes

Meanwhile, investors seem to be cheering Labour taking charge and this week investment giant BlackRock flagged Britain’s ‘relative political stability’ and cheap stock market.

So does that mean good future returns and how can you invest?

Investing a large sum was on the mind of a reader who asked This is Money an unusual question: I’m inheriting £10million, should I set up an investment trust? So, what is the answer to that?

And finally, a new report has revealed Britain’s best places for customer service – did your favourite make the list?

Listen to the This is Money podcast

We publish the podcast every Friday to the player on This is Money, above, and on Apple Podcasts (iTunes), the most popular, Spotify, Audioboom, and so many more.

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International

Two French rugby players formally charged with aggravated rape in Argentina

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Two French international rugby players were charged with aggravated rape after a 39-year-old woman accused them of assaulting her in a Mendoza hotel room following a match. The men deny the accusation, but according to their lawyer “are worried about this whole situation that they have had to live through”.

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International

Inland surfing is coming to Scotland for the first time with the launch of Europe’s largest wave pool (that’s THREE TIMES the size of a football pitch)

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  • Scotland’s Lost Shore Surf Resort will swing its doors open in September 2024
  • It features a ‘state-of-the-art’ surfing pool within a 60-acre country park 
  • The resort will offer lodges, sleeping pods, eateries, shops and a spa  
  • READ MORE: Six restaurants it’s maddeningly difficult to dine in

Europe’s largest wave pool and what’s billed as ‘the world’s first inland surfing resort’ is opening this autumn – and it’s certain to make a big splash among surfers.

Located near Edinburgh, Lost Shore Surf Resort will also be Scotland’s first inland surf resort, offering a ‘state-of-the-art’ surfing pool three times the size of Wembley’s football pitch and up to 1,000 waves an hour.

Set within a 60-acre country park in Scotland, it will feature luxury lodges, ‘premium’ accommodation pods, restaurants, and spa and shopping facilities.

But the highlight is its enormous wave pool and surf lake, which are fronted by an expansive beachfront.

Surfers will be able to ride waves for up to 22 seconds, with 20 different kinds of waves to enjoy. 

Located near Edinburgh, Lost Shore Surf Resort (rendering above) will be Scotland's first inland surf resort, offering a 'state-of-the-art' surfing pool three times the size of Wembley's football pitch and up to 1,000 waves an hour

Located near Edinburgh, Lost Shore Surf Resort (rendering above) will be Scotland’s first inland surf resort, offering a ‘state-of-the-art’ surfing pool three times the size of Wembley’s football pitch and up to 1,000 waves an hour 

The wave technology at Lost Shore Surf Resort was developed by Spanish firm Wavegarden, which operates inland surfing centres in locations that include Bristol, Snowdonia and Alaia Bay, Switzerland (above)

The wave technology at Lost Shore Surf Resort was developed by Spanish firm Wavegarden, which operates inland surfing centres in locations that include Bristol, Snowdonia and Alaia Bay, Switzerland (above)

Lost Shore says it will ‘welcome surfers of all levels, from beginners to developing Olympians of the future’.

Beginners can take advantage of surf lessons with ‘expert tuition’. Wetsuits, gloves, boots and surfboard hire will be included in the cost. Indoor heated changing rooms will also be available before or after a surf.

Lost Shore Resort is ‘ideally’ located just 10 minutes from Edinburgh Airport and 25 minutes from the centre of Edinburgh. For those travelling from Glasgow, it’s only a 45-minute drive.

Aside from surfing, the resort will boast 53 luxury lodges and premium pods sleeping up to eight people.

Visitors will also be able to enjoy the resort’s wellness treatment studio and amenities.

Lost Shore Surf Resort will feature luxury lodges and premium accommodation pods. Pictured is the planned final design for the premium 'Wave' pod, which sleeps up to six people

Pictured is the planned design for a two-person sleeping pod at the resort

Lost Shore Surf Resort will feature luxury lodges and premium accommodation pods. Left is the planned final design for the premium ‘Wave’ pod, which sleeps up to six people, and right is the planned design for a two-person sleeping pod 

This picture shows the master bedroom inside the 'Wave' pod

This image shows a King-sized bed inside the Wave pod

LEFT: This picture shows the master bedroom inside the ‘Wave’ pod. RIGHT: The King-sized bed inside the Wave pod

Pictured is the final design for the living room inside the premium pod

Pictured is the final design for the living room inside the premium pod 

The resort is set to ‘significantly enhance’ Edinburgh’s tourism economy and announced it would create over 100 new job vacancies last month.

Andy Roger, Chief Executive of Lost Shore Surf Resort, said: ‘Lost Shore Surf Resort is going to make a huge splash when we open in September. Being a Living Wage Employer we are committed to building a fantastic team to help us deliver our vision for Lost Shore Surf Resort.

‘The opening of any new business is an exciting moment. The build-up to the first day is part of that journey with the new team learning about the resort and becoming well-placed to deliver for our visitors from the day we open.’

The wave technology at Lost Shore Surf Resort was developed by Spanish firm Wavegarden, which operates inland surfing centres in Bristol and Snowdonia. 

For more information about Lost Shore Surf Resort, visit www.lostshore.com. 

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Philipsen wins stage 13 of Tour de France in sprint finish as Pogacar keeps overall lead

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Jasper Philipsen won the 13th stage of the Tour de France in a sprint finish and two-time champion Tadej Pogacar kept the yellow jersey on Friday. 

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I’m a health expert – these are the 10 surprising everyday habits that are seriously ruining your health

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Enjoying a coffee first thing in the morning. Forgetting to breathe through your nose instead of your mouth.

These might seem like two innocuous and totally unrelated things – but they could be having a big impact on your health.

Chris Boettcher is a physical therapist in South Carolina who has garnered a large social media following for his everyday health tips and weight loss advice.

Drawing on recent research, he revealed the ten surprising habits that cause weight gain, ruin sleep and leave people less energetic.

A doctor has revealed nine daily habits that he says are undermining health (stock)

A doctor has revealed nine daily habits that he says are undermining health (stock)

Revealing his list online — already viewed by 700,000 people — he said: ‘Health is simple.

‘[Junk food companies have] just spent the past several decades moving your lifestyle, foods, and the information you consume as far away from simple as possible.’

Maybe avoid an early morning coffee, says Boettcher (stock)

Maybe avoid an early morning coffee, says Boettcher (stock)

Drinking coffee first thing 

The first is drinking coffee too early.

The reason you reach for a cup of Joe so early is for the buzz, right? But Boettcher warned that caffeine is a diuretic which causes the body to lose water.

In the morning, you’re already dehydrated because you haven’t consumed water for eight hours and you lose fluid when you sleep through sweat.

He advised having around four cups of water first before getting your coffee fix.

The USDA says men should drink 13 cups of water per day while women should drink 11 cups.

Emails in bed

Reaching for your phone first thing may not be a good idea (stock)

Reaching for your phone first thing may not be a good idea (stock)

It can be tempting to grab the phone first thing to check up on emails and notifications messages.

But Boettcher warned against this, saying there was ‘no worse way’ to start the day.

‘Spend some time outside, preferably moving, before you check your devices,’ he suggested.

Experts suggest that using phones early in the morning can trigger a stress response, causing therelease of cortisol in the body — affecting mood during the day.

Studies have also suggested phones have a ‘brain drain’ effect, and reduce the amount of cognitive capacity people have when they are nearby.

Half of US adults are mouth breathers, studies suggest (stock)

Half of US adults are mouth breathers, studies suggest (stock)

Mouth breathing

More than half of Americans are thought to be ‘mouth breathers’, primarily breathing through their mouth instead of their noses.

Mouth breathing can cause dry mouth because the constant flow of air in and out can cause water to evaporate, raising the risk of bacteria growth and then issues like tooth decay or infections.

It can also impair sleep if the tongue rolls back in the mouth and blocks the airways, causing snoring and sleep apnea — interrupting healthy sleep.

To combat this, Boettcher recommended practicing ‘mindfully breathing through your nose, and consider using tape while you sleep.’

Texting in bed is not a great idea, say experts (stock)

Texting in bed is not a great idea, say experts (stock)

Hitting send before sleep

While settling down in bed, many play on their phone — scrolling the latest news or sending the odd text or email.

But experts warn against this, saying the blue light from phones can disrupt sleep and it can keep brains in an ‘active’ mode.

Boettcher advises turning off all devices after 5pm, using do-not-disturb mode and scheduling this for every evening.

Using a phone before sleeping can cause pre-sleep hyperarousal, making it harder to fall asleep.

It can also trigger stress, prompting the release of hormones like adrenaline — which also make it harder to shut off.

Cereals may be best avoided in the morning (stock)

Cereals may be best avoided in the morning (stock)

Eating cereals for breakfast

Cereal companies love to remind us breakfast is the day’s most important meal.

But cereals are often packed with refined carbohydrates and sugars, which can trigger rapid sugar spikes when consumed.

‘It’s why you feel chronically fatigued and hungry later in the day,’ Boettcher said.

Instead of cereals, he recommended a breakfast based on proteins and fats — such as one including eggs, oatmeal, berries and nuts.

Eating too little protein

Doctors say eating protein is a great way to feel full for longer and lose weight.

High-protein diets are recommended (stock)

High-protein diets are recommended (stock)

And Boettcher is no exception to the rule, also recommending people focus on a high protein diet.

The USDA says people should eat 50 to 175 grams of protein every day.

Boettcher urges everyone to aim for the top of this estimate — equivalent to nearly four steaks per day — to gain the health benefits.

‘We want protein to be at the heart of our diet for satiety, muscle growth and repair, and immune functionality,’ he said.

Protein is the most satiating of the three macronutrients – carbs, fat and protein.

Desk jobs carry health risks, say experts (stock)

Desk jobs carry health risks, say experts (stock)

Sitting at a desk

More than eight in ten Americans work desk jobs, estimates suggest.

This can see them rooted to the same spot for upwards of eight hours a day, which can have negative effects on their health.

Boettcher says staying at a desk for more than six hours raises the risk of numerous complications including poor posture, weight gain and an increased risk of chronic diseases.

And his assertion is backed up by studies, which found desk workers were 13 percent more likely to die from any cause than those who were not at desks.

Boettcher said workers should try to move every hour by standing, stretching or walking to limit the negative health effects of the job.

Sodas are packed with sugar (stock)

Sodas are packed with sugar (stock)

Drinking sodas and juices

Calorie-filled drinks are appealing, but it may be best to avoid them.

One can of Coca-Cola contains 39 grams of sugar — above the daily recommended intake for both men and women — while a glass of orange juice contains 25 grams.

Experts warn that because there is no fiber, this sugar is absorbed directly into the bloodstream — prompting a sugar spike. 

‘Cutting liquid calories from juices, sodas and alcohol is a big lever to pull for weight loss and overall health,’ Boettcher said.

Alcohol can disrupt sleep (stock)

Alcohol can disrupt sleep (stock)

Enjoying alcoholic beverages at dinner

Many of us like to enjoy the odd glass of wine or a beer at dinner after a hard day at work.

But Boettcher warns against this, saying it can cause weight gain, anxiety and raises the risk of chronic diseases.

Drinking alcohol late in the day also raises the risk of sleep being disrupted, because it suppresses REM sleep — which is needed to help process memories from the day. 

A pint of beer or glass of wine contains roughly 14 grams of pure alcohol.

With the liver breaking down alcohol roughly at a rate of 10 grams per hour, it can take up to two hours to remove just one of these drinks from the bloodstream.

‘A few drinks a week won’t kill you,’ said Boettcher, ‘but if it’s everyday it might’.

Bright lights close to bedtime disrupt sleep (stock)

Bright lights close to bedtime disrupt sleep (stock)

Viewing bright light close to bedtime

Another complication from viewing screens in bed is they can disrupt sleep.

These use blue light, which can inhibit the release of melatonin in the brain — which signals its time to sleep.

Boettcher recommends using blue light blockers or turning off screens an hour before bed to avoid this.

‘We want to avoid this at all costs,’ he says. 

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International

Russia increases income taxes for the wealthy to help fund Ukraine offensive

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Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday signed a bill that raises income taxes for the rich, part of efforts to help fill government coffers depleted by the war in Ukraine. The tax hikes were being presented domestically as “systemic reforms”. 

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