Nurseries are told not to call children ‘boys’ and ‘girls’

Have they gone nuts? Nurseries are told not to call children ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ and to use ‘humanity’ instead of ‘mankind’ in bid to stamp out gender discrimination (and even stories about Mr Squirrel are banned!)

  • New guidelines urge childcare providers to introduce ‘gender-equal play’ so that boys are encouraged to play girls’ games, and vice versa
  • The guidance from the Care Inspectorate (CI) also cautions against telling stories about ‘Mr Squirrel’ to break down masculine stereotypes
  • Children should also be shown images of same-sex parents in educational materials

Nursery staff have been told not to call children ‘boys and girls’ – or tell them stories about male characters – in an attempt to stamp out gender discrimination.

New guidelines urge childcare providers to introduce ‘gender-equal play’ so that boys are encouraged to play girls’ games, and vice versa.

But the guidance from the Care Inspectorate (CI) also cautions against telling stories about ‘Mr Squirrel’ to break down masculine stereotypes – or even using the word ‘mankind’ instead of ‘humanity’.

New guidelines urge childcare providers to introduce ‘gender-equal play’ so that boys are encouraged to play girls’ games, and vice versa

Children should also be shown images of same-sex parents in educational materials, while posters displaying male ballet dancers are encouraged to break down gender divisions.

The Rev David Robertson, former Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, criticised the CI last night, saying: ‘Have they gone nuts? They’ve lost a degree of sanity and moved out of touch with the real world – they are living in a parallel universe.

‘The Care Inspectorate are no longer about inspecting care standards, they’re about inspecting doctrine.’


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The taxpayer-funded body, which inspects registered childcare providers, said the initiative has been brought in because ‘childhood and play is becoming more gendered and polarised between girls and boys’.

It has joined forces with campaigners at Zero Tolerance – which works to eradicate male violence against women – to produce the guide, which aims to promote the benefits of children of both sexes playing with a range of toys.

Guidelines advise that nursery staff should ‘try greeting children with “hello everyone” or “children” instead of “hello boys and girls”.’ 

The guidance from the Care Inspectorate (CI) also cautions against telling stories about ‘Mr Squirrel’ (pictured) to break down masculine stereotypes

They should also use ‘more inclusive pronouns’ such as ‘they’ or ‘them’ or ‘theirs’, instead of ‘she’ or ‘him’ or ‘hers’, while girls should be complimented because they have ‘achieved something’ and not because of their appearance.

‘Man-made’ becomes ‘synthetic’, ‘manufactured’ or ‘machine-made’, while ‘the common man’ becomes ‘the average person’ or ‘ordinary people’ – and ‘Mr Squirrel’ in stories told to children should be referred to as ‘squirrel’.

Scottish Tory early years spokesman Alison Harris said: ‘This seems like political correctness gone mad. These recommendations appear to be patronising in the extreme.

‘Many parents will be concerned that this political correctness is replacing common sense.’

Richard Lucas of the Scottish Family Party said: ‘Pushing this sort of feminist extremism is an attempt at social engineering and indoctrination, starting with the very youngest.

‘Why can’t they just accept that boys and girls are different?’

Gordon Weir, interim chief executive of the Care Inspectorate, said: ‘The role that early learning and childcare can have in promoting gender equality can’t be overstated. That’s why we’ve produced this resource with our partners.

‘This is about asking everyone to think about how they approach gender equality in play and early learning, and how we can support and promote it.’

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Hospital discharge times can be shortened if people volunteer

Hospital discharge times can be shortened if people sign up as NHS volunteers to collect patients’ medication

  • Chelsea and Westminster Hospital launched ‘bleep’ volunteering programme
  • Came after noticing long waits for discharge medications were causing delays
  • Since it asked volunteers to take over deliveries, around 100 hours were saved 

Hospital discharge times can be improved by using volunteers to collect medications, a trust has found.

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust launched its ‘bleep’ volunteering programme in March after noticing long waits for discharge medications were causing delays.

The hold-ups meant patients well enough to be discharged were stuck in hospital, blocking beds needed elsewhere. But since the London hospital asked volunteers to take over deliveries, more than 100 hours have been saved.

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust found long waits for discharge medications (pictured stock image) were causing delays

Volunteers: The number of readers who’ve signed up to the Mail’s new NHS campaign has hit more than 21,500

Desiree Benson, a volunteer co-ordinator for the charity Helpforce, said analysis showed the system saved staff 12 minutes per prescription, ensuring doctors and nurses can concentrate on clinical care.

She said: ‘Prescriptions for patients who were ready to be discharged were dependent on staff having the time to collect those from the pharmacy. In some cases, discharges could be delayed as a result of not receiving the take-out prescription. Patients can be sat waiting for hours, because there’s no-one to get it.’


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Bleep volunteering is one of the many roles readers could be assigned after pledging to join the Daily Mail’s NHS recruitment drive with Helpforce.

Around 22,000 generous readers have pledged their time to help staff and patients within the NHS.

Patients commonly need their medications altered in line with their treatment before they can go home.

Join the hospital helpforce 

Whatever your skills or experience, you can make a valued and lasting impact. 

You will join the volunteers working in hospitals or with organisations that support the NHS, such as the Royal Voluntary Service, Marie Curie, British Red Cross, and others. 

Join us by pledging your time in 2019 at www.hospitalhelpforce.com and clicking on the ‘pledge now’ box. 

Thank you – and welcome aboard! 

These are issued from the hospital pharmacy, which relies on a staff member or relative to collect it.

During the pilot project, volunteers using walkie-talkies would be bleeped by staff to respond to where they are most needed. Tasks carried out included escorting patients between appointments, directing lost patients or visitors, rounding up wheelchairs and returning them to reception, as well as collecting discharge medication.

The team have delivered an average of 70 take-out prescriptions a day, saving staff a total of 116 hours in around six months.

Rising waiting lists and hospital admissions has made reducing ‘bed blocking’ or delayed discharges of care a priority. Health professionals have hailed bleep volunteers a success, with other hospitals expected to roll out the scheme next year.

Aju Chacko, 40, who works at a cinema but volunteers at the Chelsea hospital on days off, said it was a rewarding role. He said: ‘The best bit is I can spend quality time with the patients. Sometimes they are really lonely so it’s nice to cheer them up.

‘Nurses can’t spend much time chatting to them but I can. It makes a real difference to people.

‘It’s really good fun and can be really busy. When it’s really busy we’re running around delivering medicines, transporting patients to different wards.’

Living alone dives OAPs into hospital  

Older people who live alone are 50 per cent more likely to visit A&E than those who live with their families.

They also visit their GPs more often and have a higher risk of becoming a hospital inpatient, warns the Health Foundation.

Researchers also found that pensioners living solo are 25 per cent more likely to have a mental health condition.

One in three over-65s now live alone. Many are socially isolated, which raises the risk of a stroke by a third and is as bad for you as 15 cigarettes a day.

Age UK said: ‘We have to provide the help and services they need and not assume there will always be a willing family member around to step in.’

 

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Steve Bannon still has bluster and bravado, but is he old news?

LONDON – Once portrayed as one of Washington’s most powerful men, Steve Bannon is either back or he’s still out in the political wilderness. He’s either a dangerous xenophobe who trades in conspiracy theories or a Harvard-educated former investment banker who claims his true mission is to stand up for the little guy at any cost.

Nobody knows for sure — apparently not even Bannon himself. 

What’s clear is that nearly 18 months after the architect of President Donald Trump’s “America First” national populism was fired as White House chief strategist, Bannon insists he remains a key player in an ongoing global political insurrection he defines as a clash between the legitimate demands and grievances of working-class citizens versus a corrupt, out-of-touch, cosmopolitan, liberal elite.

Bannon’s many critics counter he’s more a skilled provocateur whose Svengali-like instincts propel him to controversial political battlegrounds where he sows confusion and discontent. Think of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, corruption probes in China, far-right nationalist campaigns in France, Hungary and elsewhere.

“There’s populist movements everywhere, whether it’s with Brazil and (new President Jair Messias) Bolsonaro, in Pakistan with (Prime Minister Imran) Khan, in India (with Prime Minister Narendra Modi) or throughout Europe. I go all over the world to give talks. And if I wanted to, I could stay outside the United States for a whole year doing just that,” Bannon said in a recent interview with USA TODAY in Britain’s capital.

“This populist movement is all over the world. People are looking for assistance. They are looking for guidance. They keep coming to me and saying hey, ‘Tell me we’re not alone, tell me this is all interconnected,'” Bannon said in London. 

But his remarks come amid at least a trio of accusations leveled against the 65-year-old former Hollywood producer and ex-chairman of far-right media outlet Breitbart: 

  • That since leaving Trump’s inner circle in August last year and effectively acquiring pariah status, few people are really interested in what he has to say. Campaign rallies Bannon held ahead of the U.S. midterm elections were poorly attended; 
     
  • That his attempts to launch a populism-focused think tank-cum-foundation in the heart of Europe’s political capital Brussels ahead of European parliamentary elections in May are being hampered by campaign-finance laws, as well as lukewarm interest from some of Europe’s most high-profile populist politicians;
     
  • And that his efforts to investigate abuses of power by President Xi Jinping and China’s ruling Communist Party, as well as unite far-right political groups across borders, represents not only the internationalism he roundly rejects, but the latter may also be a form of election meddling or interference that succeeds by appealing to voters’ insecurities about immigration, jobs and cultural change.

“One wonders how an ‘America First’ ideologue can pursue his political project anywhere other than in America,” political scholars Kemal Derviş and Caroline Conroy wrote in an op-ed published by Project Syndicate, an online hub for commentary and analysis, in late November. “By joining forces with the French far-right leader Marine Le Pen – herself an open supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin – Bannon seems to have in mind a new type of ‘neo-nationalist international,'” they wrote. 

In “Populism: A Very Short Introduction,” the political scientists Cas Mudde and
Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser write that “by itself populism can offer neither complex nor comprehensive answers to the political questions that modern societies generate.” They describe it as a “thin-centered” or “host” ideology politically left or right.  

Yet none of this, perhaps predictably for a political operative who rose from relative obscurity to help Trump win an improbable election victory, appears to bother  Bannon. 

In the interview, he countered that his campaigning for the U.S. midterms did not bring out large crowds because it was deliberately focused on “grassroots leaders.”

He said he went into “living rooms, to prayer groups” to reach people who had a “force multiplier effect” – influential members of a community who can be relied on to get out the vote. “Our mission was to support the Trump program,” he said. “Go back and look at Buffalo, at Staten Island, all the districts we went to – you’ll see packed audiences.”

In Staten Island, where Bannon screened his documentary “Trump at War,” 38 people showed up. The event in Buffalo drew a few hundred Trump supporters. 

Bannon spoke to USA TODAY last month, a few days after he appeared at a media conference in Scotland where there were calls, including from Scotland’s top politician Nicola Sturgeon, for him to be dropped from the event over claims he normalizes far-right, racist views. Later the same day, he took part in a debate at Oxford University. Bannon’s presence there, too, sparked protests and calls for a boycott. 

“People can play gotcha all day long but it’s not going to work. It’s a lie. I have done thousands of interviews, speeches, broadcasts and there’s not one racist statement,” Bannon said, responding to those claims. “People think the Muslim (travel) ban is racism, it’s not. The Supreme Court upheld up it. They think the immigration policy at the (Mexican) border is racist, it’s not. It’s a humanitarian policy,” he added.

Immigrant-rights groups and federal and district judges concluded both of these Trump policies were guided by racial animus. They were condemned on moral grounds by allies such as British Prime Minister Theresa May and by religious leaders, including Pope Francis. “Let them call you racist,” Bannon told a crowd at a far-right rally in France in March. “Let them call you ‘nativist.’ Wear it as a badge of honor,” he said.

Less than a week after the interview, Bannon was in New York City, where he announced during a press conference he was partnering with Guo Wengui, an exiled Chinese billionaire, to form something called the “Rule of Law Fund.”

Bannon described this as a $100 million effort to come to the aid of Chinese executives, politicians and government officials unfairly targeted by China’s government for persecution. He said he would serve as the fund’s executive chairman. No details were released on how it would operate, why this was happening now or indeed how the fund’s managers would select appropriate cases. However, Bannon has for years argued that China is waging an economic war against the United States, a line of thinking that is thought to have inspired his former boss – Trump – who has threatened to slap more tariffs on China if trade-deal talks with Beijing fall apart. 

“China’s my baby,” Bannon said in the interview in London. 

He then took from his bag a book he said he always carries with him. In the book, “Unrestricted Warfare,” two former senior military officers in China’s People’s Liberation Army argue that since no country can hope to challenge the United States’ military supremacy the next best option is to wear it down gradually through economic and information warfare. Bannon’s copy was well thumbed and full of Post-it notes.

Fledgling think tank

Bannon also said that next month the Movement, his fledgling think tank operation based out of a “chateau” in a wealthy suburb of Brussels, will start hosting conferences, dinners and other events that allow for the “exchange of ideas.”

These “ideas” will reflect his longstanding political beliefs, chiefly economic nationalism and anti-establishment populism. It will seek to unite anti-immigration, “nativist,” eurosceptic political groups as they prepare for battle in European Parliament elections next year. Mainstream political parties have historically controlled the parliament. A surge in support for populist parties could disrupt the European Union’s broadly centrist policies on migration, economic policy and other salient issues. 

Bannon referred to the Movement as a “loose association” that will be “totally voluntary.” He said he also wants to undertake “detailed polling” and to use data analytics to “drive where the voters are” – those persuadable ones who can sometimes determine the outcome of an election. It’s all part of a “what I call a war room,” he added, noting that “it’s what we did for Trump in the U.S.: writing op-eds, booking people on media, surrogate media – all that. The last part of it is to do with grassroots social media and getting organized physically and getting out the vote.”

Nigel Farage, a Trump ally credited with helping to engineer Brexit, Britain’s 2016 vote to the leave European Union, said “eurosceptic groups in the EU have never been well coordinated despite similar goals.” He said Bannon’s “idea of a clearinghouse for ideas and sharing best practice is a good one – if parties choose to do it.”

Bannon and Farage, and Brexit have history. 

“I got my chops here (in Britain) back in 2014 following Nigel Farage around” when he was campaigning for the European parliamentary elections, Bannon said in the interview. Information unearthed by Emma Briant, a British academic, revealed Bannon’s name was on Brexit-related corporate emails dating to October 2015, when he was a vice president of Cambridge Analytica, the same American-owned firm that has faced scrutiny as part of Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. Like in the U.S., British law prohibits foreign contributions to political campaigns. Bannon did not respond to a question on whether he ever worked for Brexit campaigners.  

Legal hurdles

Still, election-law experts say Europe’s campaign-finance laws are a major obstacle in the Movement’s way because only four out of 28 EU member states have no restrictions on foreign funding: Belgium, Denmark, Italy and the Netherlands, according to Kristine Berzina of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, a think tank.

And the British newspaper The Guardian reported that these restrictions apply even to “in-kind donations,” meaning that Bannon could not legally provide polling and other campaign-related services in many of the European countries he wants to operate. 

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Family restaurants are serving up food with 45 per cent more calories than a Burger King meal

Just one in ten dishes from high street chains is healthy, experts say.

An average main meal at a pub or family restaurant — such as a Wetherspoon pub or Nando’s — contained 1,033 calories, researchers found.

It was 45 per cent higher than the 711 calories found in an average Burger King meal.

And it was 38 per cent more than those at other fast-food outlets such as McDonald’s or KFC.

Liverpool University scientists analysed 13,500 dishes.

Lead researcher Dr Eric Robinson said: “Many people will be surprised how many more calories exist in sit-down restaurant meals. Many people are unknowingly eating their entire day’s calories in a single sitting.”

Public Health England recommends a daily intake of 2,000 calories for women and 2,500 for men.

Two in three UK adults are too fat, putting them at raised risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and several cancers.

Officials from PHE want calories in popular meals — such as pizzas and burgers — slashed by 20 per cent in a bid to tackle the nation’s bulging waistlines.

BIGGEST BURGERS

Restaurant chain / Avg calories in burger meals

1. Hungry Horse / 1966

2. JD Wetherspoons / 1565

3. Old English Inns / 1543

4. Sizzling Pubs / 1521

5. Chef and Brewer / 1459

McDonalds [for comparison] / 907


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Mum kept stepson, 5, in 'Harry Potter room' under stairs, starved him and made him wear a nappy

Tammi Bleimeyer was jailed for 28 years after starving the child and making him wear a nappy at their home in the town of Spring.

The 37-year-old was found guilty of injury to a child by omission after forcing Jordan Bleimeyer, now aged nine, to sleep in the tiny crawlspace under the stairs with his lone mattress surrounded by exposed nails and wiring.

Jordan weighed just 29lbs (2st 7oz) when he was finally rescued from his hellish ordeal.

Doctors said he was days from death when he was found, and compared his state of malnourishment to that of a Holocaust survivor.

The child’s dad Bradley Bleimeyer was found guilty of the same charges as his wife in 2016 and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The case was brought to the attention of authorities in March 2014, when the evil stepmother’s then 16-year-old son reported her.

The unnamed teenager told authorities his mum and 24-year-old step dad were abusing the boy, and had put him in a diaper.

He told police he believed someone had slammed the child’s head into a wall, and had even tasered him.

Tammi was six months pregnant at the time of the report, and vanished from the family home taking Jordan with her when police arrived.

Using mobile phone records, police traced her to a nearby motel where they found her with her severely underweight stepson.

Jordan was also found to be covered in bumps and bruises and was rushed to a nearby hospital.

According to a paediatrician, the five-year-old had suffered “severe physical abuse and habitual starvation” and was just days away from death.

Court documents revealed the child was not allowed to eat at the family dinner table with his siblings, who were all the children of his stepmother.

He was given just one slice of bread to eat daily – and that too would be snatched away if he didn’t eat it fast enough.

Prosecutors also revealed that the child would be drugged up by his dad in order to keep quiet when guests were at their home.

Officials claims the child’s health had deteriorated rapidly following a visit from Child Protective Services, who had made numerous visits to the Bleimeyer home in 2014.

The stepmother was arrested and charged in February 2015 and she was sentenced following a 10-day trial.

Two of her biological sons took to the stand to testify against her.

In a prepared statement, one of the boys addressed his mother saying: “You made a big mistake, and ultimately have to face the consequences.

“I'm up here to ask a rhetorical question of how, how could you put your children through all that?

“The people who should be your pride and joy.

“You caused me feelings of sadness, anger, confusion, and emptiness.

“I can't say that I'll ever be the same emotionally because of this.”

Jordan, now aged nine, was reunited with his biological mother and made a good recovery from his ordeal.

Child Protective Services took custody of Tammi’s six children, while her seventh – a newborn – was given to a foster family.



 

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EU 'ready to examine' more Brexit assurances to Britain: draft

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union “stands ready to examine whether any further assurance can be provided” to Britain over the Irish “backstop” and their tentative divorce agreement, a draft seen by Reuters showed on Thursday.

The draft, a six-point document the EU is preparing for British Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday to help convince the divided UK parliament to approve their Brexit deal, said any such assurances would not “change or contradict” the agreement.

The other 27 EU states are not yet in agreement on large parts of the draft text and diplomatic sources expected it to change considerably. The paragraph on the EU’s readiness to provide more assurances to Britain was likely to change later in the day because of opposition from Ireland and others.

Several EU diplomatic sources said Britain was seeking to terminate the backstop after three years.

There was no immediate confirmation from the British side but the draft EU text had no end-dates and only reiterated the bloc’s long-standing line:

“The European Council underlines that the backstop does not represent a desirable outcome for the Union. The backstop is only intended as an insurance policy … It is the Union’s firm determination to work speedily on a subsequent agreement.”

Even if triggered, the backstop would “apply only temporarily unless and until it is superseded by a subsequent agreement,” the draft said.

The bloc also commits in the document to “best endeavors” to swiftly agree a new EU-UK deal even after the backstop is triggered “so that it would only be in place for a short period and only as long as strictly necessary.”

May is going to Brussels on Thursday for a two-day summit of all the bloc’s 28 national leaders that will be dominated by Brexit.

After listening to May and asking her questions, the other 27 leaders will stay in the room and try to agree on what to offer her.

Beyond the backstop, the draft currently reiterates that the EU wants to build “as close as possible a partnership” with Britain in the future, promises swift EU ratification of the tentative Brexit deal but also calls for preparations for a no-deal Brexit.

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While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Dec 13

Theresa May wins confidence vote but vows to quit after Brexit

Theresa May survived an attempt to oust her as UK prime minister, strengthening her position as she seeks to secure a deal for Britain to exit the European Union in March.

May won a vote of confidence in her leadership of the Conservative Party, with Tory members of Parliament backing her by 200 to 117 in the secret ballot.

The result means May’s enemies cannot try again to oust her as party leader for at least a year.

The pound, which had risen in advance of the vote, pared gains because of the tighter-than-expected margin of victory.

READ MORE HERE

Trump’s ex-lawyer given 3 years in prison, blames ‘blind loyalty’

President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison for orchestrating hush payments to women in violation of campaign laws before the 2016 election and financial crimes, posing potential legal and political risks to Trump.

In the courtroom, Cohen told US District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan that “blind loyalty” led him to cover up for Trump.

The sentence imposed by Pauley was a modest reduction from the four to five years recommended under federal guidelines but still highlighted the seriousness of the charges and possible implications for the president.

READ MORE HERE

Fentanyl surpasses heroin as deadliest drug in US

The synthetic drug, fentanyl, has surpassed heroin as the deadliest drug in the United States, taking more than 18,000 lives in 2016, federal health officials said.

In 2016, the latest year for which full data is available, “29 per cent of all drug overdose deaths mentioned involvement of fentanyl,” said the report from the National Centre for Health Statistics, part of the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Fentanyl is a powerful, synthetic narcotic that has been blamed for the deaths of rock stars including Prince and Tom Petty.

READ MORE HERE

Musical A Star Is Born leads film contenders for SAG awards

Musical drama remake A Star Is Born led a wide range of contenders for the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards, landing four nominations, including best movie ensemble.

The film will compete for SAG’s top movie prize in a diverse group that includes superhero movie Black Panther, romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians, rock biopic Bohemian Rhapsody and director Spike Lee’s historical drama BlacKkKlansman.

A Star Is Born, released by AT&T’s Warner Bros, features Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in a classic story about a young woman trying to make it in the music business. Both actors were nominated for individual awards for their performances.

READ MORE HERE 

CSKA dumped out of Europe despite stunning win at Real Madrid

CSKA Moscow stunned a much-changed Real Madrid with a 3-0 victory at the Santiago Bernabeu, but still finished bottom of Champions League Group G as Viktoria Plzen beat Roma.

The Russian side, who also downed Real 1-0 in the reverse fixture, had to better Plzen’s result to finish third and qualify for the Europa League.

But Plzen edged out Roma 2-1 in the Czech Republic to render CSKA’s famous victory ultimately meaningless, despite inflicting the heaviest ever European home loss on the record 13-time champions.

READ MORE HERE

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Budweiser hates the Holland Tunnel’s Christmas decorations too

Budweiser is supporting commuters who can’t stand the Holland Tunnel’s Christmas decorations — by putting up some cringe-inducing signage at its Newark brewery.

“We stand with @WhosCory. This is what our Newark Brewery will look like until they #MoveThatTree. #TunnelNotTonnel,” the Missouri-based company tweeted Wednesday, along with an image showing a wreath placed on top of the “U” in its Budweiser sign and a triangular tree slapped above the “E.”

Motorist Cory Windelspecht was so enraged by the Holland Tunnel’s Jersey-side toll plaza that has a tree over the letter “N” instead of the more logical “A” and a wreath hanging over the “U” — turning the word “Tunnel” into “Tonnel” — that he started a petition to change it, saying the sign is a holiday nightmare for people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

He’d collected 1,363 signatures by Wednesday, over 700 more than on Tuesday.

“Thank You @budweiserusa This is why you truly are the King of Beers. Hey @PANYNJ This Bud’s For You!!!” Windelspecht tweeted back at the brewery.

The Port Authority launched a poll Wednesday asking commuters to decide if the signage should change and how.

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Skripal cops to probe Russian involvement in death of tycoon who 'fell' from London flat

Just eight minutes earlier, Scot Young had conducted a perfectly normal and cheery phone call with his daughter.

His family has always maintained the 52-year-old must have been forced out the window of his fourth floor apartment in Marylebone, central London, in December 2014, and that it was no accident or suicide.

And now they could finally get justice.

Detectives who led the investigation into the poisoning of ex-Russian double agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury in March claim to have uncovered new evidence suggesting Scot was targeted by Russian killers.

The businessman had at one time hidden away assets in Russia, and had been embroiled in a failed Russian property deal which he claimed left him broke.

Scotland Yard’s Counter-Terrorism Command is reportedly set to appeal for new witnesses after discovering that Russian military intelligence agents travelled in and out of Britain around the time of Young’s death.

His ex-wife Michelle, 54, is furious that it has taken so long, saying: “It’s disgraceful. My hope is that the Government and the police do their jobs.

“He was murdered because he started ­telling the people he’d used to hide his money that he wanted it back.

“Scot trusted third parties to look after his financial matters and I believe third parties are implicit in his ­murder.”

While the Dundee-born businessman had been plagued by financial problems and was said to be struggling with his mental health, there is one key reason he could not have jumped, according to Michelle.

The former fashion buyer said: “He had a terrible phobia of heights.

“When we were married, whenever we stayed in a hotel he’d never look over the balcony because it petrified him. Scot would never have even leaned out of a window. so I can’t imagine it could have been an accident, either.”

Scot’s youngest daughter Sasha, now 24, also believes there is no way he could have committed suicide.

She spoke to her dad on the phone minutes before his death, and insists “there was absolutely nothing in his voice that indicated anything was wrong”.

Sasha added: “I asked how he was and he said it was all good.

“He said he’d call me the next day and that he loved me. I told him I loved him, too. He didn’t sound stressed or agitated.”

Meanwhile Michelle added: “I fear there are people involved in this who could be capable of murder, based on the number of worrying deaths of other people linked to Scot, his connections, and because the stakes are so high.”

Scot was part of a group of friends who called themselves “the Cipriani Five” after the London restaurant where they regularly met.

Every one of them died in mysterious circumstances between 2010 and 2014 — with Scot the last to perish.

First to die were property tycoons Paul Castle, 54, and Robbie Curtis, 47, who jumped in front of Tube trains in 2010 and 2012 ­respectively.

Then former rock manager Johnny Elichaoff, 55 — ex-husband of TV presenter Trinny Woodall — fell from the roof of a shopping centre in Bayswater, West London, in 2014.

And exiled Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, 67 — a former friend turned arch-critic of Russian president Vladimir Putin — was found hanged in his bathroom at Sunninghill, Berks, in March 2013.

He had previously survived several assassination attempts, including a bomb in his car that killed his chauffeur.

Berezovsky had befriended Scot after he bought a house from him.

He is said to have introduced him to the Russian business community, a connection that led to the Cipriani Five’s “Project Moscow”, a property deal Scot claimed left him broke.

But his ex-wife believes that Scot’s fortune — which she claims exceeded £770million — was squirrelled away in offshore tax havens, and could have been the motive for his murder.

She added: “The idea he lost all that is nonsense, it was a sham.”

His finances were analysed when the pair began a lengthy and bitter divorce battle in 2006, in which Scot branded Michelle a “greedy cow”.

Three years later a judge ordered him to pay his wife £27,500 a month in maintenance. His failure to do so, and his refusal to provide a court with details of his finances, led to a six-month jail term for contempt of court in 2013. A year after his release he was dead.

Police officers quickly concluded that he had leaped to his death but an inquest returned an open verdict.

Daughter Sasha believes he was killed by a professional hitman on the orders of the Russian mafia.

She said: “After he died, we begged the police to investigate.

“But the forensic work that should have been carried out at the flat at the time wasn’t done.”

Scot’s ex-girlfriend — model Noelle Reno, now 34, — told the inquest into his death that he called her just minutes after had he phoned Sasha to say he intended to take his life.

She said he told her: “I’m going to jump out the window — stay on the phone, you will hear me.”

But his daughter, now working in the charity sector, claims the pair made a pact to ensure neither of them would take their own lives.

She explained: “One day, when I was sitting my GCSEs, everything in my life seemed scary.

“I felt desperate, suicidal, and I remember sitting crying and telling Dad I’d considered taking my life.

 

“He said, ‘Never think about doing that, ever again’. He told me it made him scared. He was crying. That day we made a pact. We promised each other we would never, ever contemplate taking our own lives.

“And he had a terrible fear of heights. He didn’t even like looking out of a high window. He would never have ended his life that way. Nobody wants to die like that, from impalement. The police said it was one of the worst deaths they’d seen.”

She believes that Russian associates could have been involved in hiding away her father’s money — and sent a hitman to kill him after Scot asked for his assets back.

Sasha continued: “People do crazy things for money. “Only my dad knew the truth about where it went.

“If I thought about it too much I’d go mad. There are too many unanswered questions, too many things I’ll never understand. But what I want to know is the truth about why he died. I want justice for him.”

One old friend claimed Scot had huge debts and had been dangled out of a window at London’s Dorchester Hotel by gangsters in 2012.

While Sasha now has a modest lifestyle, her and older sister Scarlet, 26, grew up in the lap of luxury on a 200-acre estate in Surrey. The girls had 12 ponies between them and Christmases where whole rooms would be stuffed with presents.

Even the tooth fairy was generous, leaving them £50 a time.

The family also had houses in Miami, Oxfordshire and half a dozen mansions in Belgravia. Scot also owned a collection of 40 watches worth £2million.

Michelle never saw a penny of her divorce settlement and is still searching for the money — and for answers.

She said: “Scot was no different to any other wealthy person that uses offshore structures to conceal their wealth.

“I think it’s immoral that this is allowed to happen.

“This is a financial crime, committed against my children and myself.”

“I know Scot was murdered. I’m not afraid to say it and I’ll never stop my pursuit of justice.”


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Threesome twist revealed during testimony in Denise Williams murder trial

Denise Williams, 48, (left) faced the second day of testimony Wednesday in her trial for allegedly conspiring to kill her 31-year-old spouse, Mike Williams, with his best friend, Brian Winchester (right).
(AP)

The murder trial against Denise Williams – who allegedly helped stage her husband’s death as a boating mishap – revealed a twisted web of extramarital affairs that included threesomes, according to court testimony.

Denise Williams, 48, faced the second day of testimony Wednesday in her trial for allegedly conspiring to kill her 31-year-old spouse, Mike Williams, who vanished in December 2000 on a duck hunting trip at Lake Seminole in Florida.

Prosecutors allege Denise was involved in an affair with Mike’s best friend, Brian Winchester, and they plotted to kill her husband so they could be together.

The pair is accused of staging Mike’s disappearance and collecting on his $1.75 million life insurance.

Mike, Denise and Winchester were close friends and attended North Florida Christian School together, along with Winchester’s wife, Kathy Thomas, according to officials.

FLORIDA WOMAN ACCUSED OF PLOTTING HUSBAND'S DEATH, MARRYING KILLER STANDS TRIAL

Both couples were high school sweethearts and would go on double-dates – even after they each married in 1994 and had children.

But court testimony revealed Wednesday that the relationships between all four became more tangled over the years.

TEEN PLEADS GUILTY TO MURDERING FATHER, 6-YEAR-OLD BOY

Scandalous photos of Denise and Kathy were shown to jurors Wednesday from when the two women went on spring break with Winchester to Panama City Beach.

Click to read more from The New York Post.

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