World News

Woman accused of ‘claiming to be her ex to pocket £40,000 in life insurance’

A woman accused of claiming to be her ex-partner to pocket nearly £40,000 in life insurance has been bailed.

Jennifer Burton, 50, appeared before magistrates charged one count of fraud by false representation on Monday.

She was sent to crown court after Teesside Magistrates Court heard she allegedly carried out the fraud for five months in 2012.

Prosecutor Rachel Butt said during the hearing that Burton falsely signed forms in relation to Phoenix Life and received a cheque of just under £40,000, TeessideLive reports.

Burton, of Ingleby Barwick, Stockton-on-Tees, was accused of committing the crime in Stockton between September 1, 2012 and November 7, 2012.

She was charged with dishonestly making a false representation that she was the male victim and entitled to the proceeds of an endowment policy in order to gain a cheque of £39,646.74.

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The blonde defendant appeared in the dock wearing a black blazer and trousers and a spotted white shirt.

She entered no pleas during the short hearing.

Chair of the bench Martin Slimings told Burton that her case would have to sent to Teesside Crown Court.

He said: "Because of the high value of this offence and the breach of trust we cannot deal with this at the Magistrates' Court.

"Therefore we are going to send this at the Crown Court.

"You will make a first appearance at Teesside Crown Court on 21st December at 10 o'clock."

Burton was handed unconditional bail until that date.

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Price of NHS dental treatments to rise by up to £13 post-lockdown

Dental treatments like crowns and root canals look set to be made more expensive as prices are hiked by £13.

Standard operations such as dentures and removing teeth will be made more expensive as NHS dental charges are set to surge by 5%.

The changes were set to be enforced on April 1 but were pushed back due to the pandemic, The Sun reported.

But the increases will take hold from December 14 meaning patients have just two weeks to avoid the extra charge.

Experts estimate that nearly 19 million dental appointments have been missed this year due to coronavirus.

Under the new prices, a routine check-up will increase by £1.10 from £22.70 to £23.80.

Treatments such as root canals or removing teeth will rise by £3.10 from £62.10 to £65.20.

Meanwhile, more complex procedures like crowns, dentures and bridges rise by £13.50 from £269.30 to £282.80.

Dentists have since fumed that health professionals are "not tax collectors" as they fear expensive procedures will put patients on.

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Speaking To The Sun, Dave Cottam, Chair of the British Dental Association’s General Dental Practice, said: "This inflation-busting hike won’t put an extra penny into a service in crisis, or help millions currently unable to get an appointment.

"We’ve appealed to the government for support to bring down the backlogs. Sadly this short-sighted approach will only give lower-income, higher-risk patients more reasons not to attend."

It comes after the BDA warned that practices are operating at a fraction of their usual capacity.

  • Nearly 2,500 coronavirus deaths in 1 week in England and Wales – highest since May

Hundreds of dentists could be forced to close in the next year without extra support, according to reports, as patients avoid sitting in the chair.

Coronavirus regulations mean dentists have had to reduce the numbers they treat in order to clean the surgery between patients to minimise the risk of transmitting the virus.

NHS data shows 19 million fewer treatments – which includes both appointments for emergency treatment and check-ups – were offered in England between March and October in 2020, compared to 2019.

The BDA previously warned that the reduction in the number of patients seen, paired with the closing of dentists, could have a dramatic impact on patients' oral health.

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World News

Beautician blocked by Facebook over nipple tattoos for women with breast cancer

A beautician who offers women 3D nipple tattoos post-breast cancer surgery has slammed Facebook and Instagram after her accounts were blocked for sexual imagery.

Helen Frost, from Melling in Merseyside, was first introduced to the process by one of her beauty salon clients.

The 45-year-old initially offered half-price brow tattooing to those who lost their eyebrows through chemotherapy, before giving support to women suffering from breast cancer.

However, she was unable to post images of her work on Facebook or Instagram.

Helen told the Liverpool Echo her accounts had previously been blocked for weeks or even months.

She said: “Women who’ve had surgery can get a semi-permanent service on the NHS but they’ve got to go back regularly to get it done, and it can be a painful reminder.

“What I offer is a permanent procedure and I personally think my work looks better.”

Helen offers the service for free but is now struggling to promote her work.

She added: “The women I tattoo are putting up images of their scars to help other people and they are getting banned.

“It was a girl in a wet t-shirt and these don't get banned but these medical tattoos get banned.”

Helen added: “It’s dead emotional, the only way I can explain you know at the end of the tattoo is it’s like a kid on Christmas morning.

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“‘It makes women feel normal again, that’s what every woman says who I've worked on.

“I've done some fabulous work and I can't even post it.

“It’s such a massive thing for someone who has had cancer, I feel privileged to be working with them but I can't show them my work.”

Joanne Schofield, 43, from Aigburth, said it took her years to find Helen after her double mastectomy because she wasn’t able to find any examples on social media.

She explained: “After I had my mastectomy, it really knocked me, I suffered depression and anxiety and I struggled with what I saw in the mirror.

  • Police break up illegal rave after 20 revellers found partying inside locked nightclub

“It took me about 2 years to find Helen because they ban everything on Facebook and I couldn’t find her work.

“I just cried when I found her and now I've got them, it was instant. Confidence was restored, I’m thrilled I feel normal again and feel like I got my womanhood back.”

Joanne believes thousands of more women would be helped by Helen if she was able to show off her work.

A Facebook spokesperson told the Liverpool Echo: "Some of the posts brought to our attention were removed in error and we apologise for the mistake.

"We allow people to post images of post-mastectomy areola tattoos on Facebook and Instagram and have restored this content.”

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New nurse uploads pictures to show toll of treating coronavirus patients

A new nurse has revealed the punishing toll of treating coronavirus patients after uploading pictures of herself eight months apart.

In the pre-pandemic snap, the 27-year-old healthcare worker – known only as Kathryn – looks fresh-faced before she graduated, next to recent image of her face scarred by PPE (personal protective equipment) during a weekend shift.

It has since been shared 52,000 times on Twitter, with many saying the photo highlights the strains doctors and nurses battling Covid-19 are facing.

Kathryn, who works at a hospital in the US state of Tennessee, says the worst scar – the wound on her nose – normally disappears just in time for her to begin the next 12-and-a-half-hour shift.

She said: "On Saturday night I was in the middle of a shift, had just come out of a patient's room, and had just taken all my PPE off.

"I had the image in my head of the graduation, and I wanted to show the difference a couple of months can make, and the reality of being a nurse in the pandemic.

"Generally most of the marks fade within a few hours, but the one of my nose disappears just in time for the start of my next shift."

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The nurse said the hospital experience a surge of coronavirus cases in July, and is now in the middle of another spike.

Kathryn predicts things will get worse around Thanksgiving and Christmas as families and friends meet up, increasing the rate of infection.

She said: "I've resigned myself to the fact that things are going to be at their worst yet in a few weeks, but I just want it to happen now, so we can get it over with.

"We've kind of been in disaster mode, the entire time I've been a nurse. I've no idea what it's like to be a nurse under normal circumstances.

"There’s an antagonism now between doctors, nurses and the general public that there hasn’t been before."

There have been 4,220 deaths in the state of Tennessee and 257,000 deaths in the USA. The worldwide death toll stands at 1.4 million people.

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World News

Mass grave with 113 ‘dismembered’ bodies unearthed in Mexico drug cartel city

Over 100 bodies have been found crammed in a mass grave in Mexico, which resides within the territory of one of the country's most notorious drug cartels.

The harrowing discovery was made by cops, who found the bodies dismembered with skulls scattered in separate bags.

Out of the 113, only 30 have been identified so far, according to prosecutor Gerardo Octavio Solis who spoke at a press conference on Sunday, reports Newsweek.

The bodies were found in El Salto, Jalisco, the base of the deadly Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), headed by Nemesio 'El Mencho' Oseguera Cervantes, reports Mirror Online.

Jalisco has seen the highest number of bodies exhumed from clandestine graves since 2006 with 867 and has the highest number of missing persons, with 3,568 in the last two years, a Mexico Ministry of the Interior report said.

The CJNG ruthlessly operates a multi-billion pound drugs empire and is known to rip out victims' hearts and eyes, and dissolve bodies in acid, as well as even targeting pregnant women, reports The Sun.

In October, 60 bodies had been found in a different mass grave in the town of Salvatierra in neighbouring state Guanajuato.

  • Mass grave filled with 59 bodies found in the heart of Mexico's cartel territory

The army and National Guard provided security for the excavation due to the apparent dangers, with authorities shocked that the grave wasn't in a more deserted rural area.

Meanwhile, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Monday denied that Mexico had agreed to capture a cartel leader for the US in order to secure the return of ex-defense minister Salvador Cienfuegos from US custody.

Last week it was reported that Mexico agreed with US Attorney General William Barr to seek the arrest of a high-level Mexican drug cartel leader as part of a deal to get US drug trafficking charges against Cienfuegos dropped.

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World News

The Dreidel Is Skewered in This Hanukkah Treat

Yes, Dylan’s Candy Bar stores and website sell Hanukkah “gelt,” gold-covered chocolate coins. But even more fun is the company’s new kosher gummy kebab, with blue and white marshmallows and gummies strung on a festive stick. There are enough pieces for each night of the holiday and then some.

Delicious Dreidel Gummy Kebob, $10.50; other Hanukkah candies $3.75 to $175;

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World News

For a Limited Time, the Cronut Will Travel

Cronuts for all, mailed to your home. Dominique Ansel will feature his famous croissant-meets-doughnut confection on his website for delivery in the contiguous United States starting Dec. 3 and at least until the end of the year. The flavor of the month will be chestnut milk chocolate, filled with chestnut and milk chocolate ganache. Mr. Ansel’s Christmas Morning Cereal, an annual specialty of puffed rice covered in chocolate, mini meringues and hazelnuts, is also available, as are gift boxes of individual kouign amann, canelé and Cookie Shots.

Cronut gift box, four for $35; Christmas Morning Cereal, $19; other items $21 to $90:

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World News

In Canada, a push to keep schools open in second coronavirus lockdown

TORONTO (NYTIMES) – Most stores were shut. Barber shops and salons shuttered. Restaurants and bars – including the outdoor seating where hardy souls had braved meals under heat lamps – were banned. Gyms, pools, even the beloved hockey arenas were closed in the strictest shutdown Toronto has confronted since the pandemic’s first wave last spring.

Except for the schools.

Facing a resurgence of coronavirus infections in Toronto, the fourth largest city in North America retreated back into lockdown on Monday (Nov 23), along with two booming suburbs. But in contrast to New York and other big American cities, officials are finding it more beneficial to keep schools open.

“We cannot put in class learning at risk,” Ontario’s premier Doug Ford who is ordinarily an advocate for business, said last Friday when announcing the closures.

Along with trying to avoid overwhelming the hospitals and to protect the elderly in long-term care homes, Mr Ford said, schools were “what matters most.”

Mr Ford’s announcement illustrated how Canada has followed the lead of much of Europe, prioritising the opening or reopening of schools, while just across the border many US states have focused on keeping businesses such as bars, restaurants and gyms at least partially open.

Since schools resumed classes in September across Canada after, in some cases, many months of remote learning, there has been strong enthusiasm to keep them open.

In most places there are no official thresholds for shutting schools down and there is little appetite to do so, according to Mr Ahmed Al-Jaishi, a public health researcher who is part of an academic team compiling school outbreaks across the country.

And, despite fears among parents that students would bring the disease home and among teachers that they would get infected in large numbers, such outcomes have been rare.

“The good news is that we’re not seeing much evidence of transmission within the schools,” said Dr Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate medical officer of health.

Even so, a significant minority of parents in Toronto, at least, have been reluctant to allow their children to return to in-class learning, particularly now, as the city is seeing the greatest surge of the virus since it arrived.

Last week the city reported a 6.2 per cent positive test rate – meaning that for every 1,000 people tested, 62 are infected. That is more than double the 3 per cent positive test rate in New York that triggered school shutdowns last week.

“We expect staff and students to be contagious, and come to school with infections. But the measures we have in schools have so far been effective at preventing the additional spread,” said Dr Vinita Dubey, Toronto’s associate medical officer of health.

Most schools across the country shut in March, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked Canadians to stay home and closed the border. In many cases, the schools didn’t reopen until September, after months of parental complaints, children falling behind in schoolwork and rising concerns about the effects of social isolation.

By then, the chorus of concern was met by growing scientific evidence that time outside of school was more dangerous to children than the risk of going back into classrooms.

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A report by Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children released this summer called for a full return to school, stating that while children under 10 were less susceptible to the virus and less likely to pass it onto others, they were already reporting increased rates of depression and anxiety. Experts said they believed that substance abuse and suicidal behaviour went up as well.

That was followed by a study in August, published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health, detailing a sobering list of long-term effects on young children who miss school, from less-developed cognitive skills and higher incidences of teen pregnancy to lower employment rates and higher arrest rates.

“You can close restaurants and bars and give financial handouts so they can reopen at a later date,” said Dr Michael Silverman, the chair of Infectious Diseases at Western University’s School of Medicine & Dentistry in London, Ontario, who co-authored that report. “What kind of financial handout can you give to a kid for the long-term cognitive development impacts, to make up for it?” He added, “Schools should be the very last thing to close.”

As a vast country with strong regional governments, back-to-school plans in September varied nationwide. For instance, in Quebec all elementary and high school students were required to attend classes in person, with masks required for grade 5 and up. In Alberta, children could return to school physically, or continue to attend online.

However, when schools opened in Toronto in September, about 30 per cent of elementary students and 22 per cent of secondary students in the public school system decided to attend virtually. Since then, those numbers have substantially risen, indicating persistent parental fears despite the expert assurances.

“There’s a reason why a very large percentage of parents and guardians chose not to have their kids in schools,” said Dr Charles Pascale, a professor of applied psychology and human development at the University of Toronto and a former deputy minister of Education in Ontario. “That’s the best evidence the school reopening in Ontario was a disaster – mainly because their parents were concerned the safety precautions were not enough.”

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‘Paedophile manual’ sicko who filmed himself raping young girls jailed for life

A sick paedophile recorded himself raping girls as young as four-years-old, even 'stupefying' some of his victims to help him carry out his twisted assaults.

Jonathan Richard Maertens, 35, has been jailed for life with a minimum of 16 years at Isle of Wight Crown Court after he sexually abused nine children.

The Isle of Wight paedophile recorded footage of himself sexually abusing female children aged between four and 17, Hampshire Constabulary said.

A spokesperson for the force said: "Maertens in many cases edited the footage and stored it on hard drives at his home. At this stage, there is no evidence that this footage was distributed any further.

"The court heard the devices were seized when officers executed a warrant at his home address.

"Almost 2,500 pieces of footage and over 12,000 indecent images detailing his direct offending were found on the hard drives. In addition to this, a further 6,500 videos and 197, 000 indecent images of children were also located."

Maertens, of Richmond Meade, Freshwater, pleaded guilty to 34 separate indictments.

• 10 multiple incident counts of rape of a child under 13
• Three counts including two multiple incident counts of assault of a child under 13 by penetration
• Five counts of sexual assault of a child under 13
• Three counts including one multiple incident count of rape of a child
• Two multiple incident counts of assault by penetration of a child
• Three counts of sexual assault of a child
• Three counts of taking indecent photographs of a child
• One count of making indecent photographs of a child
• Three counts including two multiple incident counts of administering a substance with intent
• One count of possessing a paedophile manual

During their investigation, a specialist police team managed to identify all the children who Maertens abused.

The spokesperson added: "Their families have been provided with cross agency support throughout."

Maertens also pleaded guilty to one count of assault of an emergency worker by beating, and one of producing a controlled drug of class B – cannabis.

DI Toby Elcock, of Hampshire Constabulary’s Major Crime Team, said: “Jonathan Maertens manipulated situations to facilitate access to children, including in some cases stupefying them, before recording his abuse.

“His actions have caused unfathomable damage to the girls and their families and I hope that this sentence can provide them with the justice they deserve. Services will continue to support these children and their families so that they can start to move on with their lives.

"Our investigation has also sought to safeguard other children that may have been in contact with Meartens. I am therefore appealing to anyone who has concerns about their previous contact with him or has any wider concerns to contact Hampshire Police quoting Operation Foundry.

“This sentence reflects the severity of these crimes and we would encourage anyone who has been the victim of sexual abuse to report this to the police."

Superintendent Sarah Jackson, District Commander for the Isle of Wight, said: "The officers involved in this incredibly difficult and complex case have worked extremely hard to identify each of the victims and provide them and their families with the support they need, as well as ensuring they presented a case which saw a guilty plea, saving those involved the trauma of a trial.

"We take all reports of sexual assault very seriously, and will do everything in our power to bring those responsible to justice.

"It is so important to us that people have the confidence to report these incidents to us, whether they have happened to you or somebody you know. It is also important to us that survivors and their families are provided with the support they need, and we work in partnership with other organisations to ensure this happens."

Anyone who has been a victim of child abuse, or has any information about this type of abuse, is encouraged to contact police on 101.

Alternatively, contact Child Line on 0800 11 11, or if you are an adult who has been affected, you can call the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000

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World News

Boris says Brits could get ‘freedom pass to live normal life’ with Covid test

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The Prime Minister said Brits could get a "freedom pass" for a more "normal life" if they take a coronavirus test and it comes back negative.

Boris Johnson gave given millions of people hope last night and said Brits in Covid-19 hotspots could be allowed to meet with family and friends with the freedom pass.

A mass testing programme will initially be carried out in Tier 3 areas in a bid to tackle the disease and move towards a more normal lifestyle.

If the testing is successful, Brits may be back to normal by Easter, according to The Sun.

Speaking about the coronavirus winter plan, the PM said: “This system is untried. There are many unknowns.

“But if it works, we should be able to offer people who test negative the prospect of greater freedoms – to meet up in certain contexts with others who have tested negative.

“We will give support to those who have tested positive, to help them with isolation.

“But they will know that at the end of their isolation they too will have the prospect of greater freedoms.”

However, despite the announcement, Downing Street advisors say the programme will take time and the plan is still some "way off."

Brits would be given electronic documents to prove they tested negative for the bug.

Using a 15-minute rapid-results test, which is currently being mass-tested in Liverpool, Brits can get swabbed and return to normal life.

Earlier this month it was reported mass testing for coronavirus in Liverpool is having a positive impact after just one day of testing experts suggested.

Liverpool was the first area in England to be plunged into the third tier of the government’s alert levels in the fight against the virus.

Since the tier three order on October 14, the whole of England has been put back into lockdown – with new restrictions blanketing the country since Thursday 5 November.

  • Boris Johnson
  • Coronavirus
  • Lockdown

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