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David, to be deported from his home country


When David* stepped into the headquarters of the Belgian Immigration Department to apply for asylum he immediately felt out of place. “I looked around and thought: ‘These people don’t speak French, they had to flee their country, they have good reasons for asking for protection. I’m going to get laughed at.’” The clerks at the welcome desk did not laugh, but they did give him “a weird look,”  David says. “When they heard my accent and saw my dyed blond hair, they seemed to think: ‘What are you doing here?’” 

David recounts that day last year with a flawless bruxellois accent. Born on the outskirts of Paris to parents of Congolese descent, he arrived in Belgium when he was still a toddler. He is now a slender 22-year-old with a seductive smile and big, velvety eyes of which he is rather proud. We meet close to where he lives, in Brussels’ university district, on a sunny mid-April afternoon. His outfit — black ripped skinny jeans, black polo shirt and two white wireless earbuds — is carefully chosen: David is set on a career in fashion. 

In the same month that he applied for asylum, January 2019, Belgium saw 2,765 applications, mainly from Palestinians, Afghans and Syrians. Why does David, who grew up in Brussels and never set foot outside the European Union, have to ask for international protection in what he feels is his home country? Because he is at serious risk of being deported to the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country his parents left when they were children, following their own refugee parents. 

David’s mother was only seventeen when he was born. She soon separated from David’s father, who did not recognise David as his son. A few years later she left France for Brussels, where David’s father was living. The young, single mother entrusted her son to his paternal grandmother. “My mother wanted to live her life, my father was in jail by then,” David said. “But I had a happy childhood. I had a lot of cousins, uncles and aunts, I had my friends in school. I didn’t know anything about my immigration issues.”

Best estimates suggest between 100,000 and 150,000 undocumented people live in Belgium. No one seems to know how many of them are children, growing up with limited rights. “They have the right to education,” says Melanie Zonderman from the Platform for Minors in Exile, a network for migrant children’s rights, “and, like undocumented adults, the right to emergency medical services.”  That is it. 

Humanitarian permits

In Belgium, as in other European countries, the paths to legal status are confusing and difficult to navigate, let alone for a child. They can apply for humanitarian permits to stay in Belgium under article 9bis of the Belgian Aliens Act, but whether these are granted or not depends on opaque decision-making by the Belgian Immigration Department, which does not explain its criteria for success.  The process can take years, costs 358 euros for adults (it’s free for children), and in the meantime children are at risk of deportation. 

David’s situation was complex. His best option seemed to be “family reunification” with a parent living legally in the country. But his mother, who suffered from mental illness and addiction, had not kept up her residence permit. His father, who was released from prison when David was about 10 years old, still had not recognised him as his son. 

With David’s 18th birthday getting closer, his father finally accepted to do a DNA paternity test. When he was 16, David received a five-year permit based on “reunification” with his father. Two years later, he was informed there had been a mistake: as the child of a refugee, not a Belgian citizen, he was only eligible for a renewable one-year permit, which would become permanent after five years. David felt the blow, but told himself that he just had to hold on for a few more years. 

Then he did something that blew it all: coming out. “When my father got out of prison, he soon realised I was not the son he would have wanted,” David said. “I have always been effeminate. He started making comments: ‘Why is he like this, why does he dance like a girl?’ And I thought: ‘I don’t even know you, and you want to change me… I don’t like this.’” During his adolescence David felt like he had a split personality: “At school I was extroverted, sociable and good-humoured, while at home I was silent, almost embittered.” 

One day in January 2018, “I was fighting over the phone with my dad, and I just threw it in his face: ‘By the way, I’m gay!’ He hung up. I sent a group message to inform all my relatives and I started packing my things.”  In the following months, David felt relieved (“I started wearing make-up at school”, he tells me). But then October came, and he had to renew his residence permit. Among the criteria was that David’s father lived with his son and had a stable income. “When the clerk at the city council asked me for my father’s pay slip, I realised my situation,” he says. “I told him I wasn’t even talking to my father anymore.” David became undocumented, yet again.

“It was an extension of what I had gone through since entering the asylum system. The human side is totally lacking. All they see in you is a ‘sans-papiers’.” 

He tried applying for a permit under article 9bis, but his pro bono lawyer turned out to be not so pro bono: “He kept asking me for money.” The lack of transparent criteria also made this route risky. He went to France, his country of birth, to see if he could get papers there, but he was not eligible under French nationality laws.  

Until recently, a lot of families with children were rejected for “9bis” or asylum, says Selma Benkhelifa, a well-known lawyer and activist from the Progress Lawyers Network: “The minors weren’t even mentioned in these decisions. They were literally treated like part of their parents’ luggage.” So lawyers started filing separate asylum requests for the children, arguing that reintegrating in countries they barely knew, after spending their childhood or adolescence in Belgium, would not only be impossible but would also expose them to serious risks.

On Benkhelifa’s advice, David decided to apply for asylum, based on the persecution he would face in the DRC because of his sexuality.  Robin Bronlet, a colleague of Benkhelifa’s, is optimistic about David’s case. But he points out the absurdity of the rule by which children inherit the nationality of their parents. “As immigration lawyers, we must identify the risks David would be facing in case of ‘return’ to his ‘country of origin’, meaning the DRC,” he says, “even though David was born in Europe and never set foot in Africa.” 

Today, undocumented children are scattered all over Belgium. Some of them make the news when they suddenly disappear from school, are detained and sometimes deported. But most, like David, keep their worries to themselves and blend in with their classmates, hoping for some miraculous solution. 

None of David’s closest friends from school know that he has lost his residence permit and has applied for asylum. “If I told them, they would worry, and it would be too stressful”, he says, “and I don’t want to be pitied.” Since leaving his grandmother’s house, David has moved around a lot. He stayed with friends and even spent a few nights in a hotel when he didn’t have anywhere else to go. In September 2019, he moved into a flat with three other gay asylum seekers through Le Refuge, an organisation supporting isolated LGBTQI+ youth. 

Slowed down by corona

At the end of 2019, David’s mother was arrested following an identity check, and brought to Belgium’s only immigration detention centre for women in Holsbeek. While he remains estranged from his father and grandmother,  his mother accepted his homosexuality.  She spent six months in detention before the coronavirus outbreak forced Belgian authorities to release half of its immigration detainees.  David visited her several times. “To me, it was an extension of what I had gone through since entering the asylum system”, he says. “The human side is totally lacking. All they see in you is a sans-papiers.” 

David is now eagerly awaiting his interview with asylum authorities. “Everything is slowed down by the coronavirus, but I’m really sick of waiting. I feel stuck,” he says. And yet David is making plans for his future. He wants to start a YouTube channel offering advice on makeup, fashion, wigs, and how to “boost the confidence of LGBT young people.” Now that the coronavirus restrictions have been lifted, he will look for a job to save money and enrol in fashion school. “Will the asylum authorities believe me?” he wonders. “I will tell them my truth. If it’s not enough, too bad. If it’s enough, so much the better. I just want to get it over with.”

*Name has been changed to protect his identity.

This article is part of the Europe’s Dreamers series, in partnership with Lighthouse Reports and the Guardian. Check the other articles of the series here.



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Trump appears with hostages he helped bring home to U.S.


President Donald Trump appeared Monday during the Republican National Convention with six people who his administration helped free after they had been taken into custody in countries around the world and held sometimes for years.

In a short video, Trump said they were among more than 50 people who have been freed from 22 countries during his administration.

“We’re very proud of the job we did,” Trump told the group, noting that National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien had been involved in the negotiations.

One of the men, Michael White, was a U.S. Navy veteran arrested in Iran in 2018 while visiting a girlfriend he’d met online. After being convicted of insulting the country’s top leader, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison.

With the help of Swiss officials, who have overseen U.S. interests in Tehran for four decades, White was released earlier this summer. He had been in captivity for 683 days.

Another person, Sam Goodwin, spent two months in custody in Syria after visiting that country without a visa. Lebanese officials helped negotiate his release last year.

“I think I speak for my former fellow hostages and detainees here when I say I am just as grateful as I have ever been for anything to be home safely,” Goodwin said to Trump at the White Hosue.

“We got you all back,” Trump responded.

From left, former hostages Josh Holt, his wife Tammy Holt, and Pastor Bryan Nerran.RNC

In Turkey, Pastor Andrew Brunson was accused four years ago of following Fethullah Gulen, the Turkish cleric who that country’s president, Tayyip Erdogan, has said was behind a 2016 coup.

Brunson, who was charged with terrorism, was released on Oct. 12, 2018, after Trump said he had a “few conversations” with Erdogan.

In Venezuela, Mormon missionary Joshua Holt was arrested after an anti-gang police squad accused him of stockpiling grenades and an AK-47 assault rifle. Holt had gone to the country to marry a Venezuelan woman, Thamara Candelo, whom he;d met online, but authorities said they were keeping the weapons at her family’s home.

Holt was held in a Caracas prison for two years without a trial. Several U.S. lawmakers helped secure his release in 2018.

In India, Pastor Bryan Nerran was arrested last year after not declaring $40,000 in cash on his way to Nepal. He was freed in May.



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Ireland’s Missing Amy Fitzpatrick ‘made it home’, believes friend of teen who was last to see her alive


Missing Dublin teen Amy Fitzpatrick made it back to her Spanish home before she disappeared on New Year’s Day 12 years ago, her friend who was the last known person to see her alive believes.

nd it was an interview she subsequently saw on ‘The Late Late Show’ that convinced her that Amy did not come to harm on her way home, which has been the main line of inquiry in the investigation.

Amy had spent the night babysitting with her pal Ashley Rose in Riviera del Sol near Mijas Costa in Malaga before leaving at 10pm on January 1, 2008.



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California, USC, oil, gas, home sales, PG&E, Father Serra: Thurs news


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Under pressure to resign, USC President C.L. Max Nikias left with a generous separation package, tax records show. And why a bankruptcy by the state’s biggest oil and gas producer could cost taxpayers big. Plus: Home sales see a resurgence. 

It’s Arlene with news for Thursday. 

But first, Northern California residents may catch a rare glimpse of Comet Neowise during its first visit to the inner solar system in 6,800 years. No binoculars are needed (though they help!).

In California brings you top stories and commentary from across the USA TODAY Network and beyond. Sign up for weekday delivery straight to your inbox. 

USC president’s walk-away package: $7.7 million

The former president of the University of Southern California received a hefty compensation package on his way out. (Photo: Getty Images)

USC President C.L. Max Nikias, who stepped down in the wake of a sex abuse scandal, walked away with a compensation package worth nearly $7.7 million, a USA TODAY review of just-released tax documents show. 

University officials declined to talk to USA TODAY, but a statement from the USC Board of Trustees said the board voted to honor Nikias’ contract and agreed “to certain other provisions to accelerate his departure.”

The tax filing revealed a $3 million, no-interest housing loan for Nikias, who lived in the on-campus president’s home through the end of 2018. 

Nikias, who began his tenure in 2010, agreed to step down in May 2018 amid a sex scandal involving George Tyndall, a gynecologist at the university for three decades who was charged with sexually assaulting female students.

Hundreds of students, professors and alumni demanded Nikias step down, alleging USC had long failed to respond to complaints of misconduct involving Tyndall, detailed by the Los Angeles Times in its Pulitzer-Prize winning investigation. 

Speaking of the Times and USC, here’s a story about the prince of Qatar’s time at USC, where he once had a chauffeur deliver his final paper with a Rolex.

Juvenile hall costs, expanding the jury pool and about the police response during protests…

Thousands of demonstrators gathered in Hollywood, California to protest racism and police brutality. (Photo: Marcus Nëither of Hyyer Creative via Storyful)

Orange County families who owe money for their children’s juvenile hall housing before 2018 won’t have to pay it after supervisors voted to forgive $18.5 million in fees. San Diego, Riverside, Los Angeles and Stanislaus counties have in recent months done the same. 

Worried that juries deciding criminal and civil cases are whiter and wealthier than the rest of the population, some lawmakers introduced a proposal to add all taxpayers to the eligible pool of who can be summoned. 

ProPublica reviewed 400 social media clips taken from protests denouncing police brutality and found troubling conduct in at least 184 of them. Two police experts weighed in on four specific ones, including a May 30 protest in L.A.  

Residents secure Father Serra’s removal; students want UCLA’s Janss staircase renamed

A statue of Father Junipero Serra, which stands in front of Ventura City Hall and overlooks California Street, is now protected by a chain link fence. The statue is scheduled to be removed. (Photo: JUAN CARLO/THE STAR)

The city of Ventura’s elected officials voted Wednesdayto remove a statue of Father Junipero Serra from in front of and inside City Hall. One’s headed to the San Buenaventura Mission a couple of blocks away and the other to a site TBD.

A growing number of students are calling for UCLA to rename a staircase named for the family who sold the land on which UCLA is built. Janss Investment Corp., founded in 1895, apparently used racial covenants in the 1920s to bar people of color from owning homes or patronizing businesses.

Big home sales, and the pursuit of the American Dream 

Bay Area home sales jumped 70% between May and June, buoyed by record-low interest rates and the loosening of some shelter-in-place guidelines. The median price: $1 million.

Anthony Hopkins sold the Malibu homehe bought in 2001 for $3.795 million for $10.5 million.

A new podcast tells the story of “California City,”where dreams were sold and in exchange buyers received … worthless land.

What else we’re talking about 

PG&E power lines started October’s Kincade Fire that scorched 78,000 acres and destroyed 374 buildings in Sonoma County, state investigators found.

Shut down again earlier this week, some salons wonder how — if — they can afford another closure. 

This evidence photo released by the United States Attorney Central District of California shows bogus artwork, a fake Jean-Michel Basquiat. Philip Righter of West Hollywood was sentenced Wednesday in a federal court in Miami in a Los Angeles case. (Photo: AP)

A West Hollywood man was sentenced to five years in federal prison after he tried to sell $6 million worth of phony paintings he claimed were created by Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and other modern masters.

Berkeley is moving forward with plans to replace police with unarmed civilians to enforce parking and traffic laws, a move designed to curb racial profiling.

The chairman of a Native American tribe continued advocating for a proposal to build an 8,400-bed prison on the tribe’s remote reservation near Salton Sea, even as some Torres Martinez tribal members thought the proposal was “dead.” 

Atmospheric rivers, explained. (Photo: NOAA)

Wilder, more severe weather in the Golden State could get substantially worse in years to come as warmer temperatures allow atmospheric rivers to hold and drop more water, new research out of UCLA finds.

Closing nail salons (again) leaves seniors at risk — for many, pedicures aren’t a luxury but a necessity to help prevent infections and otherwise help maintain foot health.

Social Security benefit cuts could happen sooner than we thought. Here’s why.

In bankruptcy, Golden State taxpayers could be the big losers

California Resources Corporation (Photo: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)

The state’s largest oil and gas production company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection late Wednesday, seeking relief from $5 billion in debt and looming interest payments.

The announcement by California Resources Corp. came just hours before the clock was about to run out on the last of several agreements with creditors. Like so many oil and gas companies, the pandemic and ensuing drop in energy demand hit CRP hard — as of mid-July, company share prices had plunged 92% in the past 12 months.

The company’s holdings include more than 2 million acres of reserves spanning four major basins.

Depending on how things shake out, taxpayers could be on the hook for cleanup costs.

“Bankruptcy proceedings like these are a threat to California because oil companies like CRC try to weaponize them to dump their environmental cleanup costs on the public,” Kassie Siegel, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, told the Desert Sun. “Given the huge number of wells at stake, the Newsom administration has to intervene quickly to protect the public and our environment.”

In California brings you top news and analysis from across USA TODAY Network newsrooms. Also contributing: Associated Press, Orange County Register, ProPublica, San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian, Thousand Oaks Acorn, LAist, Los Angeles Times. 

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/07/16/california-usc-oil-gas-home-sales-pg-e-father-serra-thurs-news/5452222002/





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Trump attacks plan to paint ‘Black Lives Matter’ outside his New York City home – live | US news


Arizona recorded more coronavirus deaths, infections, hospitalizations and emergency-room visits in a single day than ever before in a crisis, in a day across the Sunbelt that sent a shudder through other parts of the country and led distant states to put their own reopening plans on hold.

“Put a mask on it”Vice President Mike Pence waves as he arrives to meet with Arizona governor Doug Ducey to discuss the surge in coronavirus cases.

“Put a mask on it”

Vice President Mike Pence waves as he arrives to meet with Arizona governor Doug Ducey to discuss the surge in coronavirus cases. Photograph: Ross D Franklin/AP

In Florida, hospitals braced for an influx of patients, with the biggest medical center in Florida’s hardest-hit county, Miami’s Jackson Health System, scaling back elective surgeries and other procedures to make room for victims of the resurgence underway across the South and West, The Associated Press reports.

Vice President Mike Pence, head of the White House coronavirus task force, planned to visit Arizona today, where cases have spiked since stay-at-home orders expired in mid-May.

Arizona reported record single-day highs of almost 4,900 new Covid-19 cases, 88 new deaths, close to 1,300 ER visits and a running total of nearly 2,900 people in the hospital.

Florida recorded more than 6,500 new cases down from around 9,000 on some days last week, but still alarming and a running total of over 3,500 deaths.

Ahead of the Fourth of July, counties in South Florida are closing beaches to fend off large crowds that could spread the virus.

The run-up in cases has been blamed in part on what New Jersey’s governor called “knucklehead behavior” by Americans not wearing masks or obeying other social-distancing rules.

“Too many people were crowding into restaurants late at night, turning these establishments into breeding grounds for this deadly virus,” Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said in forbidding restaurants with seating for more than eight people from serving customers inside from midnight to 6am.

Health experts say the virus in Florida and other Southern states risks becoming uncontrollable, with case numbers too large to trace.

Marilyn Rauth, a senior citizen in Punta Gorda, said Florida’s reopening was “too much too soon.”
“The sad thing is the Covid-19 spread will probably go on for some time though we could have flattened the curve with responsible leadership,” she said.

“Experience now has shown most people won’t social distance at beaches, bars, etc. The governor evidently has no concern for the health of the state’s citizens.”

Some distant states and cities that seemed to have tamed their outbreaks, including Colorado, Virginia, Delaware and New Jersey, hit pause or backtracked on some of their reopening plans for bars and restaurants.

And New York and New Jersey are asking visitors from 16 states from the Carolinas to California to quarantine themselves for two weeks.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city is delaying its resumption of indoor dining at restaurants, and not because of any rise in cases there.

The number of confirmed cases in the US per day has roughly doubled over the past month, hitting 44,800 on Tuesday, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

That is higher even than what the nation witnessed during the deadliest stretch of the crisis in mid-April through early May.



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Canada has power to end Meng extradition, bring Canadians home from China, Kovrig’s wife says


Article content continued

Since January, China has prevented Canadian diplomats from visiting Kovrig and Spavor, citing COVID-19 restrictions.

Trudeau rejected suggestions that Canada should intervene to resolve the Meng case in an attempt to free Kovrig and Spavor.

“We continue to stand up both for the independence of our judicial system and Canadian interests and values,” the prime minister said. “We work behind the scenes and in public to ensure that everyone understands we will continue to work extremely hard to get these Canadians home.”

Garnett Genuis, the Conservative critic on Canada-China Relations, was critical of former Liberal cabinet minister John Manley and Eddie Goldenberg, a former aide to ex-prime minister Jean Chrétien, for advocating for a prisoner exchange to free Kovrig and Spavor.

“Conservatives continue to call on Justin Trudeau to respect the independence of Canada’s judicial system and reject this position by senior Liberal insiders,” said Genuis.

Meng, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, is living in a luxury Vancouver home while her extradition case wends its way through a British Columbia court.

The United States wants to prosecute Meng for fraud, alleging she lied to banks about her company’s connections with Iran, which could possibly violate U.S. sanctions.



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Victorian church hall turned into stunning home on sale for £1.4million


Spicer Hall, a two-bedroom home that was once a Victorian church, is now on sale (Picture: Portico)

In the market for a property… and happen to have £1,400,000 handy?

If so, you might be interested in this incredible open-plan home that started out as a Victorian church hall.

If not, not to worry – we can still look at the pictures and imagine how we’d decorate.

The James Spicer Memoral Church Hall School was opened in 1890 in Chingford, North London, and around 20 years ago was transformed into a residential property.

In 2013 interior designer Gianna Camilotti bought the property and set to work on giving it a stunning makeover.

Now it’s up for sale through Portico.

It’s going for £1.4million (Picture: Portico)
Here’s the ground floor, with open-plan living and dining areas and kitchen (Picture: Joas Souza)
Look at those beams (Picture: Joas Souza)

The converted church, named Spicer Hall, sits on a quiet residential street and is a short walk from Chingford rail station, Epping forest, and the golf club.

Inside it’s pretty special, with an open-plan ground floor with two living rooms, a fireplace, a baby grand piano, a dining room, and a work station. Upstairs is a long landing that faces the nine-metre-tall vaulted living area plus two bedrooms, both with their own en-suite bathrooms and dressing rooms.

The master bedroom also gives access to a two-storey loft, in case you need more space.

Much of the furniture, including this crystal dining table, is available with the home (Picture: Joas Souza)
There are 106 spotlights throughout (Picture: Joas Souza)
And underfloor heating, of course (Picture: Joas Souza)

There’s a front garden and a larger one in the back with a seating area, dining area, decking, and integrated heating so you can lounge outside year-round.

Details-wise, you’ve got amazing high ceilings, original stained glass windows, oak doors and beams, 106 spotlights throughout, and, of course, under-floor heating to keep your feet nice and cosy.

Oh, and you might like that statement spiral staircase, too.

Upstairs are two bedrooms (Picture: Joas Souza)
The interior designer is selling the home so she can move back to brazil (Picture: Joas Souza)

The home has attracted three international interior design awards and has been featured in lots of magazines as a result of its looks, and now there’s the chance for someone to call it their own.

Gianna Camilotti, who’s responsible for the property’s interior redesign, said: ‘As soon as I saw it on the market I made an offer because it was absolutely love at first sight.

More: Property

‘As soon as it went up for sale, the next day I was there, I didn’t think twice.’

Ms Camilotti moved in straight away back in 2013 and got started on upgrading the building, completing an extensive interior redesign and furnishing the home completely over the following six months.

Gianna Camilotti, who’s responsible for the property’s interior redesign, said it was ‘love at first sight’ when she discovered the home (Picture: Joas Souza)
The original windows remain in place (Picture: Joas Souza)

Later on she also added insulation, a fireplace, a second dressing room for the master bedroom and a walk-in wardrobe for bedroom number two, as well as a state of the art CCTV security system.

‘It’s been unbelievable the way it’s caught people’s attention,’ Gianna adds.

‘It’s a house that has plenty of character and original features but at the same time, cutting edge interior design.

‘It’s very particular and absolutely beautiful – even delivery guys can never stay quiet, they always say, “wow, what a house!”‘

Each bedroom has an en-suite bathroom (Picture: Joas Souza)

Gianna is selling Spicer Hall in order to move back to Brazil, where her son is getting married.

The majority of the furniture, including a five metre long crystal table, is being offered with the house.

Gianna hopes that the house will find an owner who appreciates just how special it is.

‘If I could, I would take this house with me but I can’t, it will be painful to leave it behind,’ says Gianna.

The back garden, complete with a heated parasol (Picture: Joas Souza)
Perfect for having dinner outside (Picture: Joas Souza)

‘I never thought I would love something material but it’s something that transcends the material, it’s something spiritual that I have with this place.

‘I want a buyer who absolutely cherishes it because it is a treasure, someone that will love it the way I do.

More: Property

‘This is my biggest achievement as an interior designer.’

Vikki Bennett, spokesperson for OnTheMarket, said: ‘Spicer Hall is so much more than bricks and mortar, it is the perfect definition of a home built from one person’s vision.

The church before its conversion

‘It’s an enthralling place which has considered design throughout each of its many spaces.”

Daniel Cantle, from estate agents Portico in Woodford, added: ‘The vendor has created something truly astonishing with this property.

‘It captures the imagination of everyone who sees it and I know there’s a buyer out there who will cherish Spicer Hall just as much as its current owner has.’

Do you have a story to share? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]

Share your views in the comments section below.

MORE: A converted church with its own pool, sauna, and steam room is on sale in Knightsbridge

MORE: Is now a good time to buy or sell property?

MORE: This is what the most Instagrammable bedroom looks like





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How do coronavirus home antibody tests work, and how do I get one?



The Elecsys laboratory-based test requires a blood sample to be taken by a health professional. Blood serums are obtained, to which reagents are added, and then examined in machines known as cobas e analysers, already widely installed in NHS labs across the country.

The development of an accurate antibody test is seen as key to helping Britain get back to work.

Scientists believe people who produce antibodies after having coronavirus may develop immunity to catching the virus again, making them safe to return to work.

Dr Ron Daniels, a consultant in critical care at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, says: “If you test positive for antibodies, it’s likely you have a degree of immunity. We’re not sure for how long, and how much, so you shouldn’t stop [social] distancing, but best guess it is likely to be partially protective for at least a few months.”

The Government had previously hoped to roll out millions of antibody tests, but supplies from China failed to pass sensitivity and specificity tests. 

Ministers will attempt to recoup taxpayers’ money spent on the fingerprick tests after an Oxford University trial found they returned inaccurate results.

That failure was a significant setback because it had been hoped the antibody tests would show who had already built up immunity, therefore offering a swifter route out of lockdown.

In April, however, Professor Karol Sikora, a private oncologist and Dean of Medicine at the University of Buckingham, validated a test kit using samples from staff at his clinics, which were then verified by a private lab.

Around 6 per cent of staff were found to have had the virus but, crucially, under-40s who had tested positive came back negative, suggesting the test may not be useful for the wider population. 

Siemens Healthineers, a German diagnostics and medical imaging firm, also announced on April 23 that it was producing an antibody blood test to identify past coronavirus infections.

The blood tests were expected to be available to large labs by late May, the company said, adding that it would be able to provide more than 25 million tests per month from June thanks to an upgrade to its manufacturing site in Massachusetts.

Another antibody test being pioneered by Oxford University could be available by the end of May, according to Professor John Newton, the UK’s national testing co-ordinator.

What is an antigen test?

An antigen test detects the presence (or absence) of an antigen, not antibodies. An antigen is a structure within a virus that triggers the immune system’s response to fight off the infection. It can be detected in blood before antibodies are made.

An antigen test is effective because it can take a few days for the immune system to build enough antibodies to be detected in a test, however, antigens can be detected almost immediately after infection. So, in theory, the test can tell much sooner whether someone has the virus.

Antigen tests are used to diagnose HIV, malaria and flu. 



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Woman and young boy drown at pool party at home of ex-MLB star Carl Crawford – The Sun


TWO people are believed to have drowned at a pool party at the home of ex-MLB star Carl Crawford.

One of the victims is believed to have been a young boy, aged around five years old.

 The incident happened at the Houston home of ex-MLB star Carl Crawford

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The incident happened at the Houston home of ex-MLB star Carl CrawfordCredit: Getty Images – Getty

The second victim is thought to be a woman who tried to save the child, TMZ reported.

The incident is believed to have happened at Crawford’s Houston home on Saturday.

Crawford, now a record label chief, is thought to have been hosting a small gathering of six people.

According to TMZ, the little boy wandered off and fell into the swimming pool.

The woman is believed to have gone into the water to try to save the boy but tragically, both drowned.

Both Crawford and paramedics tried in vain to revive the victims at the scene.

KHOU confirmed a drowning happened at a Houston home on Saturday afternoon, but TMZ Sports was the first to identify the house as Crawford’s.

It was reported by KHOU that the woman and boy died at the hospital, but TMZ said they died at the scene.

Footage recorded by the local station appears to show Crawford walking outside his house to speak to cops.

 The MLB star last played for the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2013 to 2016

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The MLB star last played for the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2013 to 2016Credit: Getty Images – Getty

Crawford last played for the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2013 to 2016 before being released by the team, according to Fansided.

After retiring from baseball, he has kept busy as the CEO of music label 1501 Certified Entertainment, which originally signed rapper Megan Thee Stallion.

The “Savage” rapper sued the record label to get out of her contract in March.





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Paris Jackson gives herself a foot tattoo while social distancing at home


Paris Jackson has decided to take tattooing into her own hands and decided to do-it-herself with a new inking.

With the coronavirue lockdown meaning that visiting a tattoo parlour has been ruled out, Michael Jackson’s 22-year-old daughter thought that she would give it a go herself.

Paris already has quite a collection of inkings, so is prepared for the pain and it is evident from her Instagram video that it was water off a duck’s back to turn the needle on herself.

In the video clip that she posted on her Instagram Story, Paris is seen adding a squiggle shape to her right foot, just below her pinky toe.

She was obviously pleased with her efforts, as she then posted a close-up pic of her finished design.

It looked like that this may not be the first time that Paris has inked herself as she seemed adept in pulling her skin tight on her foot as she worked with the needle in her other hand.

It would seem that Paris is not the only one who couldn’t wait for parlours to reopen, as 18-year-old model Kaia Gerber, who is the daughter of Cindy Crawford, has also spoken about tattooing herself.

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In an interview with Glamour, she said: “I’ve been struggling because one of my favorite pastimes was going and getting tattoos, and nobody’s been able to do that.

“So, in the meantime, I gave myself a stick and poke.”

This is not a pastime that she recommends people try at home as it is not as easy as Paris makes it look in her video – let alone the pain it brings.

Paris Jackson has a number of tattoos dotted on her body

Kaia adds: “”I think I have a newfound appreciation for tattoo artists. It’s not easy.

“I didn’t get too ambitious. I gave myself a dot, just so I could be like, ‘All right, I got a tattoo this month, I’m cool.'”

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