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Fears for workers excluded from government’s furlough scheme – Channel 4 News

17 Apr 2020

The Government has today extended its multi-billion pound support scheme to pay an 80 per cent wage subsidy to firms forced to furlough their staff during the crisis.

Now the Government has today extended its multi-billion pound support scheme to pay an 80 per cent wage subsidy to firms forced to furlough their staff during the crisis. It will now run until the end of June.

But there are gaps – hundreds of thousands of workers who were about to start a new job were not eligible. After pressure from campaign groups, the government this week extended that cut off date. But experts say huge numbers of workers are still excluded.

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The Masked Singer’s Joel Dommett fears axe after revealing Queen Bee’s identity

The Masked Singer fans think Nicola Roberts is Queen Bee – but is she? (Picture: ITV Picture Desk)

Joel Dommett has revealed he fears he won’t be asked back to host The Masked Singer after he ‘told everybody’ who Queen Bee is.

The final of the ITV talent show will come to an end on Saturday night, and there are just three contestants left including Queen Bee, Hedgehog, and Octopus.

And although the secrecy on the show is second to none, the former Extra Camp presenter revealed he let slip the identity of our favourite bee.

‘The prospect of not being asked back for series two because I had told everybody who Queen Bee is, is enough of a scare not to tell anybody,’ he told the Daily Mirror.

After a tense semi-final episode, which saw both Denise van Outen revealed as Fox and CeeLo Green unveiled as Monster, we’re left with just three stars in disguise.

As it stands, Queen Bee is the favourite to win, and fans are convinced they already know who’s under the costume, with Girls Aloud singer Nicola Roberts the hotly-anticipated favourite to be unveiled.

Is Nicola Roberts Queen Bee? (Picture: Dave Benett/Getty)
Who will win The Masked Singer? (Picture: ITV)

Jason Manford is a popular guess for Hedgehog due to clues involving links to the West End – he has appeared in a couple of plays including Sweeney Todd and Curtains – and belting out Oasis’ Don’t Look Back in Anger.

As for the Octopus, there is no clear winner at the moment with a number of names swirling around social media including Jane McDonald, Ashley Roberts, Kerry Ellis, Emily Symon, Lucy Pargeter, and Katherine Jenkins.

The 34-year-old also appeared on This Morning earlier this week where he laughed off how hard it has been to keep the hidden celebrities a secret.

But while he was remaining tight-lipped, Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby couldn’t help but push for spoilers.

Joel called the Octopus a ‘mad one’ (Picture: Rex/ITV)

‘Hedgehog has thrown a lot of people off,’ the presenter smirked: ‘They were posh at the beginning, and then a bit Mancunian, and now it’s back to [Michael] Bublé again.’

He then looked really shocked as he squirmed: ‘It’s not Bublé, oh gosh, I almost just gave it away!’

Turning his attention to Hedgehog’s competition, Joel added: ‘Octopus, this was a mad one.

More: Joel Dommett

‘I think they were kind of hiding their voice in the early stages and now it is starting to come out, so it’s getting better.

‘But people like to disguise their singing voices and their talking voices.’

The Masked Singer concludes Saturday at 7pm on ITV.

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MORE: The Masked Singer winner: Can Octopus claim a shock victory over Queen Bee? It’s bad news for Hedgehog

MORE: The Masked Singer’s finalists have lied online to hide identity, Joel Dommett reveals

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‘It’s terrible’: Fears grow that Trump is kneecapping the Pentagon

Questions about the Pentagon’s credibility carry a host of real-world implications, from allies not trusting America’s word, to worries that more troops will commit war crimes, to growing skepticism over intelligence the Pentagon uses to justify military action.

“It’s terrible,” Eric Edelman, who served as undersecretary of Defense for President George W. Bush, said of the impact Trump is having on the Pentagon’s ability to make its case. “Trump is basically essentially doing things that make the Russians and Chinese happy. They can say, ‘They are just like us. They do what’s in their interest. The notion that America is different is all bullshit.’”

As the military conflict with Iran deepens, the president’s behavior is hamstringing the U.S. military, warned nearly a dozen current and former officials. In particular, Trump’s threats to commit violations of international law are fueling perceptions in the Muslim world that the U.S. military is little more than an imperial occupying force.

And the Pentagon’s credibility faces its next big test Wednesday, when senior military leaders brief skeptical lawmakers in the House and Senate on the decision to conduct a drone strike on Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, a move that sparked the missile attack that struck Iraqi bases that house U.S. troops.

Lawmakers, mostly Democrats, have made it clear they’re in no mood to accept the administration’s claims that Soleimani was prepared to attack U.S. forces, especially since there’s no guarantee that the military tit-for-tat in the Middle East will die down anytime soon.

Trump’s defenders dismiss claims the president’s shoot-from-the-hip style is harming the military’s reputation. And the Pentagon says it’s still credible because it doesn’t get political.

“There’s a reason the U.S. Department of Defense remains the most trusted institution in American government — we stay out of politics,” the Pentagon said in a written response to POLITICO. “DoD also maintains a strong relationship with our allies through our [military-to-military] relationships with countries around the globe, where we do joint training, exercises, and serve together on the battlefield.”

But current and former administration officials worry the president’s growing pattern of breaking faith with some of those allies, ignoring the chain of command, and forcing Pentagon leaders to publicly defend his actions mean that the military’s word does not carry the same weight it once did — just as it tries to head off a major war in the Middle East.

“The institution is losing its credibility because it is continually being politicized, it’s politically being antagonized and it’s seen … as a Defense Department that’s either out of touch, that’s rogue, that’s partisan, [or] that’s lawless,” said a former senior military officer who served in the Trump administration and requested anonymity to speak freely.

“You don’t know what’s solid and what’s reliable,” added a former senior Pentagon official who served in the Trump administration.

The Defense Department’s credibility gap has been on display time and again, most recently this week when a draft letter from a U.S. general to an Iraqi counterpart laying out plans for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq was leaked to the media.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley quickly declared the U.S. wasn’t leaving Iraq and said the communication should never have been sent. But it made little difference; Iraq’s prime minister brushed off Esper’s and Milley’s statements and said he was treating the draft letter as official policy.

Even some of the Pentagon’s biggest supporters said they don’t know what to believe about the episode.

“I do think Esper and Milley have to explain what the hell happened with this unsigned letter that may or may not have gotten sent,” Rep. Mike Gallagher, a Republican from Wisconsin who served as a Marine Corps officer in Iraq, said in an interview. “Was this just pure incompetence or was this part of some deliberate messaging strategy?”

“We can’t be playing games like that, especially at times like this,” Gallagher added, saying he hopes to get clarity from the closed-door briefing Wednesday. “They seemed genuinely surprised. I’m struggling to make sense of it now. I hope they will take advantage of that opportunity … to tell us what exactly happened.”

Trump seems oblivious to how his words and actions forced Pentagon leaders to constantly scramble to explain away his comments.

Most recently, it was his threat over the weekend to bomb cultural sites if Iran retaliated for the Soleimani attack. If carried out, such an attack would violate both a United Nations-backed treaty calling for the protection of cultural sites in wartime as well as the Geneva Conventions.

After Trump’s comments, Esper hopped into damage control mode. “We will follow the laws of armed conflict,” he insisted to reporters on Tuesday, not directly commenting on the fact that the president had threatened to do something illegal.

Later on Tuesday Trump backed off, telling reporters, “I like to obey the law.”

But even some of the most hawkish voices winced at the episode.

“I don’t think we should be targeting cultural sites,” Gallagher said. “I do think we should avoid anything that would drive a wedge between us and our allies in the region.

“There is no decision more serious and consequential for presidents and commanders in chief than to order military action,” added Michael Rubin, a former adviser on Iraq and Iran at the Pentagon from 2002 to 2004 and resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. “Trump’s off-handed remarks about targeting cultural sites — an illegal order should he try which the Pentagon could never obey — highlights what happens when Trump’s political style clashes with the legal and planning processes developed by the Pentagon over decades.”

The threat came just weeks after the president took the extraordinary step of granting clemency to a trio of accused or convicted war criminals in the Army and Navy. It set off an outcry in the ranks and on Capitol Hill that Trump was meddling in the military justice system and was encouraging lawlessness and damaging good order and discipline.

After Navy Secretary Richard Spencer was forced out over his handling of Navy Chief Petty Officer Eddie Gallagher’s case, Esper followed Trump’s order and canceled an administrative board that could have removed Gallagher’s SEAL trident pin. In issuing the order, Trump ignored his military advisers in favor of a campaign in conservative media to restore Gallagher’s pin.

“There’s a sense of dejection by senior leaders in the Pentagon, that the president and the secretary of Defense are going to side with the loudmouths at Fox News against the reasoned opposition of senior military professionals,” a senior Pentagon official with direct knowledge of high-level discussions told POLITICO at the time. “That’s the sense in a nutshell.”

In another recent example, Trump gave voice to what many critics of U.S. military operations in the Middle East have been saying for decades: It’s all about the oil.

After abruptly ordering most U.S. troops out of Syria, the president told reporters that “We’re keeping the oil, we have the oil, the oil is secure, we left troops behind only for the oil.”

“It can help us because we should be able to take some also,” he told reporters on Oct. 27. “And what I intend to do, perhaps, is make a deal with an Exxon Mobil or one of our great companies to go in there and do it properly.”

The Pentagon quickly pushed back. “The revenue from this is not going to the U.S.,” Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman said, insisting local Kurds will be “the sole beneficiary of the sale of the oil from the facilities they control.”

Esper weighed in, saying Trump meant that he wants to keep the oil from benefiting ISIS.

“It’s — it’s, you know, half dozen, six. I interpret that as deny ISIS access to the oil fields; secure them so that they are denied access to the oil fields,” he told reporters on Oct. 31.

The Pentagon and State Department have long sought to combat the public perception that the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 was designed to seize Mideast oil.

The former Trump Pentagon official said the president’s statements about the oil is particularly damaging to the Pentagon’s credibility at home and abroad.

“It’s is a pretty serious concern among the senior uniformed military,” said the former official, who declined to be identified discussing recent conversations with former colleagues. “The taking of the oil fields is exactly what the criticism was of almost every one of our activities in Middle East. It plays right into critics and skeptics and even conspiracy theorists and is against U.S. values.”

The oil field controversy sprang up weeks after Trump ordered troops out of parts of Syria after Turkey threatened to invade northern areas. The withdrawal left American’s Kurdish allies in the lurch, sparking outrage in the military and Congress who said the U.S. was betraying a partner that was instrumental in crushing ISIS.

“We are not abandoning the Kurds,” Esper insisted, even as Trump’s allies in Congress said the president was doing exactly that.

Edelman, the former Bush Pentagon official, said he’s worried about how the department can stop the loss of trust.

“We didn’t take anything over and establish puppet regimes in Europe after World War II,” he said. “The sense that the United States has acted more often than not in a disinterested way by creating some semblance of world order has given us enormous ability to do stuff around the world. Trump is undermining that.”

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Hollyoaks’ Luke Morgan ISN’T in the flash forward episode sparking fan fears he will die after dementia diagnosis

LUKE Morgan will not feature in the Hollyoaks New Year’s Eve flashforwarded episode fuelling fears he is going to be killed off next year.

Soap fans have been terrified Luke – who is played by actor Gary Lucy in the Channel 4 soap – is going to die next year after being diagnosed with dementia.

 Hollyoaks fans are convinced that Luke Morgan is leaving the soap again


Hollyoaks fans are convinced that Luke Morgan is leaving the soap againCredit: Channel 4

The Sun Online can reveal actor Gary will not appear in the special hour-long episode which will jump forward a yea rot explore the new drug dealing County Lines storyline, meaning he could die in the next year.

While Luke’s ex Mandy and his friend Nancy both appear in the flash-forward, Luke does not and his absence is conspicuous.

Taking to a fan forum, many asked if Luke’s dementia diagnosis meant he would be saying farewell to the village.

It comes after Luke dumped his girlfriend Cindy Cunningham just days after proposing to her.

Fans were left in tears at the emotional scenes and started questioning Luke’s future.

“Oh wow. Yeah. Not expecting this at all. I think he’ll die in late 2020,” one person wrote.

 Viewers were in tears as Luke dumped his girlfriend Cindy


Viewers were in tears as Luke dumped his girlfriend CindyCredit: Channel 4

A second viewer commented: “Unless it’s a misdiagnosis or something, I think this must be the end for Luke.”

And a third added: “Soaps do often kill off an iconic character in an anniversary year. But I think Gary is absolutely going to smash this and it will be heart-breaking to watch.”

A fourth fan was really upset at the possibility of Gary leaving, and wrote: “Not happy about it at all, plus they did change his character from when he left to how he was when he came back with Luke saying he’s a loser all the time.

“He was more positive when he first left. I really wanted to see him back to be more like his old self & move forward.”

Hollyoaks fans break down in tears as dying Luke dumps Cindy to save her from watching him die

Gary, 38, first joined Hollyoaks back in 1999 and was a series regular up until 2002.

During this time he received much praise for taking on the male rape storyline and won the Best Newcomer Award at the 2000 British Soap Awards.

He returned to the soap in 2017, and then again earlier this year following his character’s stint behind bars.

Hollyoaks airs weeknights on Channel 4 at 6.30pm with a first look episode following at 7pm on E4

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