How to manage feelings of anger

It’s a common and valid emotion, which can have positive benefits, but if you’re worried that your outbursts are spinning out of control, there are techniques to help you curb your temper

We all get angry. It’s a natural emotion that we may experience from time to time, but the way it presents itself can be different for everyone – and how we deal with anger often reflects our personality. We might become overwhelmed by the anger we’re feeling, and this is especially true for some mental illnesses, such as borderline personality disorder (BPD), bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

I live with bipolar disorder, and during manic episodes I struggle with explosive anger. For instance, I once punched a wall because I couldn’t find my hairbrush. It was very awkward and embarrassing to explain to my landlord why there was a dent in the bedroom wall. Like everyone though, even when I’m stable, I also have times when I struggle with moments of anger.

Many of us often feel uncomfortable and even embarrassed by our anger. The physical reactions in our bodies, and the feeling of being out of control, can be really difficult to deal with.

Counsellor and psychologist Philip Karahassan explains: “Anger is a response to a stimulus, or to something happening that you need to take action on. It’s a normal bodily response that is simply letting you know that something needs to get done. So, it’s a motivator. However, anger gets a bad reputation as it is seen as something destructive that takes you over.”

I spoke to Liz, who has BPD with mixed anxiety and depressive disorder, about the anger she experiences, and how she’s learnt to manage it.

“Anger can be quite a big thing in BPD, as our emotions are so extreme, so anger can explode. I’ve found that to deal with my anger in a healthy way has been hard, as I used to self-harm and turn it all inwards. Now I try to force myself to take a step back and evaluate the situation. Kind of checking the facts (a dialectical behaviour therapy skill), and seeing if my anger is justified – but also not allowing myself to explode, and instead show my anger in a more constructive way.”

It’s important to accept when we feel angry. Sometimes, showing we’re angry can be a positive thing, as it can help us share our worries or concerns. It can show someone how passionate we are, how much we care about a subject or a problem. It can help us stand up for ourselves when we feel we’ve been wronged. It can motivate us to do something positive. It’s OK to be angry.

Our anger can sometimes become a problem if we don’t manage it in a healthy way though. We can feel overwhelmed by it, and can’t see a way to move past it. With bipolar, I often feel trapped by my anger. I get stuck in what feels like a never-ending cycle, and it can be over the most trivial of things. Maybe there’s a problem we can’t fix, we feel frustrated with someone or something, but don’t know how to express it. Or maybe we’ve learnt to internalise our anger, and let it build up until it explodes. Either we turn it on ourselves, or on the people around us. When it becomes all-encompassing, and we can’t move past it, then we need to find remedies to deal with it.

So how can we learn to manage our anger?

Keep an eye out for warning signs that you’re becoming angry. These are physical responses we can all identify with. It might be that your heart starts beating faster, you feel your body becoming tense, and you’re clenching parts of your body, such as your fists or jaw.

Philip Karahassan suggests some techniques to manage your anger. “You have to be aware that if you haven’t taken control over the parts of your life that made you angry, then they will build up, causing you to get angry when you feel a similar way to the initial response to anger that you never dealt with.

“Learn to pause for a moment and see the anger as something that is positive and useful to you. Work out a way to use the anger to solve the problem or gain control over the situation. Ask yourself if you are angry at that situation, or maybe a similar situation from the past, that you need to understand and rectify.

“Start using anger as a signpost to let you know that something is wrong and you need to take action to fix it. Then the anger will be used adequately and eventually dissipate.”

Start using anger as a signpost to let you know that something is wrong and you need to take action to fix it

Walk away from the situation, if you can. Go for a walk, or have a good vent and rant with someone you trust, and who doesn’t mind you letting off some steam. Learn some breathing techniques, and count to 10 before answering or reacting. There are a number of breathing apps that can guide you through some useful techniques.

It might also help to work off the anger. Exercise is a positive way to expel unwanted anger. It doesn’t just have to be exercise; you can use other tools to manage an outburst of anger. Sometimes we just want to hit something, so try hitting a pillow. I have a big bag of ice cubes in my freezer that I’ll smash on the kitchen floor or in the sink. It’s oddly therapeutic!

If you’re not comfortable expressing your anger in a physical way, distraction might be the way to go. Keeping your hands busy, such as making something, crafting, or painting may help. You might want to confront the root cause of the anger, and this is where journaling comes in. Writing down your thoughts can help you work through emotions.

Use whatever techniques work for you. If anger continues to be a problem, seek out some therapy. This could help identify any underlying issues that are causing the anger, or a potential undiagnosed mental illness. Remember, you’re not alone in your anger. We all have times when we struggle to manage it.

Nine techniques to try

• Step away for a moment
• Vent to someone you trust
• Utilise breathing techniques
• Count to 10 before responding
• Work it off with some exercise
• Try physical outlets such as hitting a pillow, or breaking ice cubes
• Distract yourself
• Try crafting or creative outlets
• Explore journaling to work through the emotion

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Anger Mounts in Armenia Over Karabakh Peace Deal

Several thousand demonstrators protested Wednesday in the Armenian capital Yerevan as anger mounted over Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s decision to cede swathes of disputed territory to Azerbaijan under a controversial peace deal.

Pashinyan announced a Russian-brokered peace agreement with Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region in the early hours of Tuesday, ending weeks of intense fighting that left more than 1,400 dead and displaced tens of thousands.

The peace accord sparked celebrations in Azerbaijan but fury in Armenia, where demonstrators stormed government buildings and demanded Pashinyan’s resignation.

“It’s our history, our culture, our soul that we’re losing. Not to mention the useless sacrifice of thousands of our men, killed or injured,” said Jenny, a student in Yerevan.

More than 400 Russian peacekeepers deployed on Wednesday to Nagorno-Karabakh, a region of Azerbaijan seized by ethnic Armenian separatists in a 1990s war, where fierce clashes had raged for more than six weeks.

In Yerevan, police hauled off demonstrators from a gathering of several thousand who were calling the prime minister a “traitor” in front of government headquarters.

“You will not be able to stop the whole country,” a member of the Prosperous Armenia party, Arman Abovyan, shouted through a megaphone to protesters who had rallied despite a ban on public gatherings while martial law was in place.

Police said 135 people were detained and then released. High-profile opposition figure Gagik Tsarukyan was among them.

In New York, the UN Security Council held an informal meeting on the ceasefire deal at Russia’s request, diplomats said.

But it was not immediately clear whether Moscow would seek a resolution or declaration backing the pact.

Clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenian separatists broke out in late September. 

More than 1,400 people were confirmed killed, including dozens of civilians, but the real death toll is believed to be significantly higher.

Russian peacekeepers deploy

Speaking with wounded servicemen on Wednesday, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev accused Armenians of destroying “99 percent of the liberated territory” including hospitals, houses and monuments, adding that he wanted Armenia to pay compensation.

“They will have to answer for their dirty deeds,” he said.

In Armenia, deputy culture minister Narine Tukhikyan voiced Yerevan’s own concern over the fate of the historic, religious and cultural heritage in territory taken by Azerbaijan.

“We are extremely worried because we have already seen the desecration and destruction of Khachkars (traditional Armenian stone steles) by the Azeris,” she told AFP.

The peace deal stipulates that Azerbaijan’s forces will retain control over areas seized in the fighting, including the second-largest town of Shusha, while Armenia agreed to a timetable to withdraw from large parts of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The region’s separatist leader Arayik Harutyunyan called on those who had fled to come back and not to take part in protests, saying the ceasefire was justified.

“We didn’t have enough resources, not enough reservists or volunteers,” he said, adding that despite his pleas, a special elite division of Armenia’s security forces refused to come to fight on the front.

As part of the accord, a Russian force of 1,960 military personnel and 90 armoured personnel carriers are deploying to the region as peacekeepers for a renewable five-year mission.

The military said on Wednesday that 414 Russian servicemen as well as helicopters and military vehicles had arrived in Armenia, adding that the peacekeeping force was now in control of the crucial Lachin transport artery connecting Armenia to Karabakh.

Sergei Rudskoy of the Russian General Staff said the servicemen had previous experience on humanitarian deployments in Syria, where Russian forces deployed in 2015 to support the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

The army was in “constant contact” with the military leadership in Azerbaijan and Armenia to prevent further clashes, Rudskoy said, adding that a total of 16 observation points would be established along the line of contact in Karabakh and along the Lachin corridor.

Azerbaijan has been pushing for Ankara’s involvement in a settlement and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday his country would jointly supervise the ceasefire with Russia.

Turkey, a staunch ally of Azerbaijan, voiced strong backing for Baku’s military intervention and was widely accused by Western countries, Russia and Armenia of dispatching mercenaries from Syria to bolster Azerbaijan’s army.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday however that the deployment of joint Turkish-Russian patrols had not been discussed.

The mountainous region declared independence from Azerbaijan nearly 30 years ago but it has not been recognized internationally, even by Armenia.

Fighting between Azerbaijan and the separatists had persisted despite efforts by France, the United States and Russia to broker three separate ceasefires that collapsed as both sides accused the other of violations.

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Election 2020 ends, with elation and anger in US streets

As soon as the news buzzed on their phones, Americans gathered spontaneously on street corners and front lawns – honking their horns, banging pots and pans, starting impromptu dance parties – as a vitriolic election and exhausting four-day wait for results came to an end Saturday morning. And for all that joy, there was equal parts anger and mistrust on the other side.

Across the United States, the dramatic conclusion of the 2020 election was cathartic. Just after The Associated Press and other news organizations declared that former Vice President Joe Biden beat President Donald Trump, fireworks erupted in Atlanta. In Maine, a band playing at a farmers’ market broke into the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

People waved Biden signs from car windows and balconies, and a massive pro-Biden crowd gathered in the streets outside the White House. In New York City, some stopped their cars wherever they happened to be, got out and danced in the streets. Car horns and bells echoed through neighborhoods across Puerto Rico. In Kansas City, Biden supporters swayed in a park to the song “Celebration” by Kool & the Gang.

Mr. Trump’s supporters have for days been protesting outside of ballot-counting operations, alleging without evidence that the slow-moving results were proof of cheating. “This isn’t over! This isn’t over! Fake news!” some shouted Saturday as about 1,000 gathered at the Georgia State Capitol after news organizations’ decision to call the election.

Frank Dobbs of Henderson, Nevada, brought a bullhorn and a Trump 2020 flag that he wrestled with in a stiff wind during a rally outside the Clark County registrar of voters office in North Las Vegas.

“It’s not over until it’s over. There’s still the courts. If ever there’s ever a time to expose widespread fraud, this is the president to do it,” Dobbs said. “The media doesn’t decide who wins the presidency. The legal voters of this country decide.”

But across America, it was mostly the Democrats taking to the streets in jubilant displays, celebrating what was to them an end to four years of constant crises, chaos and anxiety.

The nation paused, too, to reflect on electing its first woman vice president, Kamala Harris. Amid a celebration in Berkeley, California, where Harris spent much of her childhood, Mayor Jesse Arreguin said the liberal city’s diversity and progressive values helped shape Harris into a “leader that stands for equality, empowerment and justice.”

The news for some collided with the constant churn of crises the country has faced – the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 236,000 Americans, the economic recession that accompanied it, gun violence and police killings that have forced a national reckoning on racism.

“America can exhale. Decency, civility and democracy won,” said Fred Guttenberg, who became an outspoken opponent of the president after his 14-year-old daughter Jaime was one of 17 slain by a gunman at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018. He had been sitting in front of his television since waking up Saturday, waiting for the news. He said it made him “ecstatic.”

In Minneapolis, Pardha Ponugoti visited the memorial at the street corner where George Floyd died, saying it was important to be at the Floyd memorial to mark Mr. Biden’s win. “It’s like a reminder of the problems that still exist in our society. Just because Biden is president doesn’t mean that all these systemic issues are fixed.”

For many, Nov. 7 at 11:25 a.m., became a moment of such historic magnitude that they say they will forever remember what they were doing, even those engaged in the most mundane weekend activities.

Retired teacher and school principal Kay Nicholas, was vacuuming in her home northwest of Detroit when she heard Mr. Biden had been declared the winner.

“All I could say is ‘thank God,’” she said, choking up. “It has nothing to do with Democrat or Republican. It has to do with decency. This country has got integrity and hopefully we can get decency. I think Joe Biden can do it and bring back kindness.”

Some Republican elected officials around the country began to distance themselves from Mr. Trump and urge him to accept the outcome gracefully.

The utter rejection of Mr. Biden as the legitimate president by Mr. Trump and many of his supporters appears to represent something new in American political history, said Barbara Perry, presidential studies director at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center.

“We typically haven’t had a leader who loses the presidency who then tells his followers, `This is false. This has been stolen from us,’” Perry said. “Incumbent presidents have been mad, so mad they didn’t go to the inauguration, but not like this, where they are leading those people to say this is fraudulent.”

A couple of thousand Trump supporters gathered at the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg. Pennsylvania played a crucial role in Mr. Biden’s victory.

“If we don’t stop this today, it’ll all be over,” Bruce Fields said of news organizations declaring Mr. Biden the winner. “Otherwise we can kiss freedom goodbye.”

About two dozen heavily armed men, some wearing camouflage, joined the rally.

At the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix, a crowd swelled to more than 1,000 within hours. Mr. Biden won Arizona on his way to victory in the Electoral College.

“It’s very suspicious that President Trump, with the red wave we’ve been seeing in Arizona, is struggling,” Kelli Ward, former state senator and chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party, told boisterous pro-Trump demonstrators. “I want to know if there is any discrepancy with the numbers coming out of the machines.”

In Lansing, Michigan, about 50 Trump supporters and a smaller group of marchers carrying Black Lives Matter flags converged on the state Capitol, where they pushed, shoved and shouted at one another in a tense standoff. But within moments of the race being called, a few from both sides broke into prayer, and at least one pair hugged.

Anita Snow, David Goldman, Lisa Marie Pane, and other Associated Press writers contributed to this article.

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Amid Tears and Anger, House Democrats Promise ‘Deep Dive’ on Election Losses

WASHINGTON — Democrats wept, cursed and traded blame on Thursday during an extraordinary party confab to dissect the disappointing results of this week’s elections, agreeing on little except that they needed a “deep dive” into how they had ended up with painful losses that weakened their House majority instead of the big gains they had boldly predicted.

In a caucus meeting held by telephone that was their first group conversation since Election Day, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Representative Cheri Bustos of Illinois, who led the party’s campaign arm, defended their efforts. Democrats expressed frustration over the loss of eight of their members — and a net loss of six seats, with 36 races still undecided — that had left them with a slimmer margin of control.

Party leaders noted that Democrats appeared on track to hold the House, thanks to hard-fought victories by incumbents in competitive districts, and that former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. appeared headed toward a victory, according to seven people on the call who requested anonymity to divulge a conversation that was intended to be private.

“We did not win every battle, but we did win the war,” Ms. Pelosi said.

But during the call, which lasted three hours and previewed divisions among Democrats over how to wield their power and define their message, Ms. Bustos conceded that things had gone badly awry. She said she was “gutted” and “heartbroken” by the losses.

“Something went wrong,” Ms. Bustos said, blaming incorrect modeling of the electorate in polling, and promising a “deep dive” on the matter. “They all pointed to one political environment, but voters who turned out looked a lot like 2016.”

“We protected the lone firewall in our democracy,” she added. “Now hopefully and probably with Joe Biden to take back the White House, we are now in a position to put our priorities into action because we held on to this fragile majority.”

It was a bitter pill for Democrats who had been ebullient only days before about their chances. On Election Day, Ms. Pelosi and Ms. Bustos had crowed about their likelihood of success, citing predictions that the party could pick up five, 10 or even 20 seats while the speaker said she was worried about “fewer than a handful of incumbents.”

But by Thursday, one of the incumbents they had not been worried about, Representative Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who was defeated Tuesday night as President Trump won a resounding victory in her Miami-area district, broke into tears as she spoke out to her soon-to-be former colleagues about internal divides in the party.

“We have a divided America,” Ms. Mucarsel-Powell said during the call. “Continue to fight for kids or what you believe in, but if you have a problem, pick up the phone — don’t tweet it out.”

Representative Abigail Spanberger, who narrowly escaped defeat on Wednesday in a conservative-leaning district in Virginia that Democrats had also believed secure, chastised her progressive colleagues for embracing the “defund the police” movement and for not pushing back forcefully against accusations of socialism. If Democrats did not acknowledge the election results as a “failure” and change strategies, she said using an expletive for emphasis, they would get “crushed” in future elections.

To that, Ms. Pelosi objected.

“I disagree, Abigail, that it was a failure,” she said. “We won the House.”

Ms. Bustos, who herself won re-election only narrowly, emphasized the success of the so-called front liners, about 40 mostly freshmen Democrats including Ms. Spanberger who hold seats in traditionally conservative districts. While some lost this week, most were poised for victory.

“These were seats that were in Trump country, and we were able to hold onto 30 seats that are Trump districts, and that’s no small feat,” she said.

Ms. Bustos also defended the Democrats’ offensive push deeper into Republican territory, a move that yielded few pickups and some members said left incumbents inadequately protected.

Losses for Democrats included freshmen in swing districts — like Representatives Joe Cunningham of South Carolina, Xochitl Torres Small of New Mexico, Kendra Horn of Oklahoma and Abby Finkenauer of Iowa — but also a veteran, Representative Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota, who leads the Agriculture Committee and has served in the House for three decades.

One of the biggest surprises of the election came in South Florida, where Mr. Trump made significant inroads among Cuban-Americans. Along with Ms. Mucarsel-Powell, Representative Donna E. Shalala, another first-term Democrat representing the Miami area, lost.

Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the third-ranking Democrat, said the party needed to overcome racial animus in the electorate, and had to shy away from certain far-left policies that alienate key segments of voters if Democrats wanted to win a pair of Senate seats currently in play in Georgia.

“Those two seats offer us the opportunity to change the dynamics in the Senate, but we are going to have to win those seats to do it,” he said. He cautioned against running on “Medicare for all or defunding police or socialized medicine,” adding that if Democrats pursued such policies, “we’re not going to win.”

Representative Marc Veasey of Texas warned his fellow members against antifracking talk, saying it was turnoff to voters in South Texas: “They hear, ‘Take away jobs.’”

But some progressives urged against turning away from liberal policies they argued had galvanized the party’s core supporters.

Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington, a leader of the Progressive Caucus, said the “turnout of our progressive base” would be the crucial factor in electing Mr. Biden.

“This is a huge win,” Ms. Jayapal said. “We didn’t get the repudiation of Trump we wanted, but we turned out huge numbers of young people, brown and Black people. Don’t be so quick to blame the members who have been responsible for energizing these groups, who will ultimately save the day in the race for the White House.”

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How to cope with anger in grief

Grief is the normal and natural reaction to the loss of someone we love or something we value, but can you do when you’re also experiencing anger at the same time?

Grief is incredibly personal. When we suffer a significant loss, we go through a roller coaster of emotions – and in this mix of emotions, anger can be thrown up.

Anger is not an emotion in its own right, but stems from hurt, sadness, or fear. Grief makes us feel out of control and that in itself is scary. The anger can grow into a large ball and it can be easier to remain angry than to process the truth around the pain of our grief. And even though anger means we are not in control, it can trick us into thinking we are. It was CS Lewis who said, “No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear.”

If you’re experiencing anger while you’re working through grief, consider the following tips.

Is it fear disguised as anger?

Anger is a common reaction to fear. Fear makes us feel vulnerable. Anger makes us feel powerful. If we have been programmed to hide our fear then we have been taught that fear is not to be felt, but hidden, and this can manifest behind false bravado. A pattern may emerge where we revert to anger in response to the fear which comes with grief following our loss. In effect, as children, if we are told we shouldn’t be scared but instead be brave when we are hurt or sad, then we have been taught to mask our emotions instead of how to feel our emotions naturally and in the present moment.

Is it sadness disguised as anger?

If we are not allowed to feel our sadness when something makes us sad, we will go into conflict with how we really feel. In being told we have to be strong, we are taught not to give our sadness our attention and not to burden others with our feelings. Sadness, just like happiness, needs our attention and expression. Not recognising what is making us sad can result in frustration. Frustration then can manifest into anger if we repeatedly ignore our sadness. Again, holding on to anger can be easier than admitting that we are in emotional pain. When we experience further losses, we will struggle to process the sadness and keep holding on to our anger until something gives.

Anger as a defence mechanism

If we have repeatedly resorted to anger when our needs have not been met, or we haven’t felt heard or listened to, anger can rouse others into doing what we want. If we have never had the opportunity to talk about our emotions with honesty and without criticism or judgement, our anger can be used to hide our pain and grief. We may resort to anger in an attempt to prevent being hurt again, to hide the vulnerability of exposing our pain. The pain that the child in each of us needs to be seen, heard and soothed.

Explore what is underneath the anger

It’s always a great exercise to put pen to paper. Take time to look back over your life and write down those losses that have affected you. Perhaps you can see a connection with your anger. What were you really feeling at the time? What was missing or what was it that you needed but didn’t get? Write down when you were sad or scared. You may feel uncomfortable especially if you have never explored yourself emotionally before. Really exploring these events can reveal patterns of behaviour, and can even uncover why you resorted to anger as a coping mechanism in the first place.

Reach out

Anger isolates us from the people who are important in our lives. It pushes everyone away and makes us miserable. Reach out and share how you feel. You are not broken therefore do not need to be fixed. Even though grief and all of the associated feelings are normal and natural, we are often told not to feel the way we feel. We need to give our feelings verbal expression in order to connect fully with what is going on inside. Speaking words out loud can help unravel emotional confusion and make sense of what is going around in our heads. Verbalising emotional pain is a powerful release and does not require any comment from others, apart from acknowledgement and acceptance.

In conclusion…

Am I really angry? Or do I just need to be kind to myself, accept that I am human, and allow myself to feel fear and pain and know that that is absolutely OK?

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Anger as Victorian Government allows crowds to attend

The Victorian Government will allow a crowd of up to 1250 people to attend this weekend’s running of the 100th Cox Plate at Moonee Valley.

But the decision has been met with fury, particularly from Melburnians who are still under lockdown.

Racing Minister Martin Pakula said 500 horse owners and connections would be able to attend Saturday’s race, in addition to jockeys, essential staff and media.

The same number would also be able to attend Friday night’s Manikato Stakes meeting.

While 1250 people can attend in total, a maximum of 1000 people will be allowed on the course at any one time.

The Moonee Valley racecourse normally hosts up to 38,000 people.

As part of COVID safety measures, there will be staggered arrivals, temperature checks and limits on how long owners can attend, while food and drinks will be takeaway only.

Mr Pakula said move followed advice from the state’s Chief Health Officer.

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“This will give connections the chance to see their horses compete under strict health protocols,” he said.

“The change has been closely considered by health officials, who will monitor the implementation of the plan to ensure the health and wellbeing of everyone involved.

“I know that connections will follow the lead of jockeys, trainers and stable workers and follow all protocols to the letter.”

No deal has yet been reached for crowds to attend next month’s Melbourne Cup at Flemington, however it’s possible similar provisions will apply.

“Changes to directions from the Chief Health Officer that allow persons with a business need to attend race meetings mean that connections will be able to attend metropolitan tracks that have COVID-safe plans in place ongoing, under set conditions,” a statement from the Victorian Government read.

While many in the racing industry have celebrated the move, it’s also drawn anger – not least because strict lockdown measures still apply in metropolitan Melbourne.

It also comes hot on the heels of Melburnians being warned against having mates over to watch the weekend’s AFL Grand Final.

Chief Health Officer Prof Brett Sutton said the timing of the all-Victorian decider between Richmond and Geelong in Brisbane was “unfortunate” as house visits still aren’t allowed in Melbourne.

“If we were at that point where we thought we could recommend those indoor household gatherings we would be saying that. It is not quite there yet,” Prof Sutton said on Monday.

“It’s not far away and, in a way, it is a little bit unfortunate that this is the timing of the grand final.”

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Anger in the Philippines as ‘political prisoner’ denied the right to hold her dying baby

Activists are demanding the release of Reina Mae Nasino – Rolex Dela Pena/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The harsh treatment of a young human rights worker whose newborn baby died while she was in jail on what her supporters claim are trumped up charges has sparked widespread anger in the Philippines. 

River, the three-month-old daughter of Reina Mae Nasino, tragically died of pneumonia just weeks after she was torn from her inconsolable mother despite a concerted campaign to keep the pair together and allow the infant to be nurtured and breastfed. 

The controversy has gripped a country where the contrast of the alleged VIP treatment of rich and well-connected prison inmates has already sparked deep-seated resentment within the general population. 

Ms Nasino, 23, who worked for the urban poverty group Kadamay, was arrested in November 2019 during a mass crackdown by President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration on dozens of Left-leaning activists.

She and two colleagues in the same office were charged with the illegal possession of firearms and explosives, which all three denied and said were planted by the authorities as a pretext to jail them.  

Ms Nasino's supporters say she is a political prisoner - Rolex Dela Pena/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Ms Nasino’s supporters say she is a political prisoner – Rolex Dela Pena/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Ms Nasino only discovered she was pregnant after her arrest, and campaigners persisted without success in appealing for her release, arguing that she had been jailed for political reasons.  

She gave birth on July 1. The child was underweight and, along with the support of National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), her mother pleaded for them to be allowed to remain together for six months. 

That request was denied, as was an urgent plea for permission to be with River to hold and comfort the baby when her health began to rapidly deteriorate and she lay dying in hospital from a bacterial infection in her lungs in early October. 

A new wave of public anger over the cruelty of the situation was unleashed this week after the prison challenged a court order to grant Ms Nasino a three-day furlough to attend River’s wake and funeral. 

Jail officials fought to shorten the period from three days to two, citing a lack of personnel, and Ms Nasino’s release on Wednesday morning has now become a media spectacle. 

“The reduction of political prisoner Reina Mae Nasino’s furlough is a ‘merciless act of torture and injustice’,” human rights alliance Karapatan said in a statement. 

Maria Ressa, a prominent journalist and government critic, said there had been a “tragic mishandling,” of Ms Nasino’s case. 

“Courts and the law are not just supposed to act for government. They are there to protect the rights of each Filipino,” she tweeted. 

Multiple rights groups have now asked for compassionate leave to allow Ms Nasino to grieve with her family. 

“We assert our call for the compassionate release of Reina Mae from prison to correct this blatant injustice done to her and her baby who was never given a chance to live,” said Kapatid, a support group for political prisoners, according to the Philippine Inquirer. 

Others have called for an overhaul of the rules governing the imprisonment of mothers and their babies. 

“No words can suffice for this monstrous lack of compassion by this rotten system for the baby and her mother,” said Arlene Brosas, a child’s rights activist and member of the House of Representatives.  


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Covid: Student anger over ‘junk’ food parcels in isolation

Image caption

A student isolating in Nottingham was given bread, jam and an apple for breakfast

Universities are facing anger from students over conditions some have faced while self-isolating in campus accommodation.

Students have criticised the cost and quality of food provided to them by universities while in isolation.

Undergraduates say food parcels have often been filled with “junk”, meaning they have had to request fresh fruit and vegetables from parents.

Institutions said they were working hard to provide students with supplies.

People told to self-isolate because of coronavirus must stay at home for at least 10 days under rules punishable by fines.

Universities UK has issued guidance on best practice for supporting students who are required to self-isolate.

‘Expensive prison’

First-year economics and politics student Tess Bailie, 18, began a social media campaign after hearing of especially poor conditions for those isolating on her campus.

Out-of-date food and a lack of catering for religious and dietary requirements are among the complaints at the University of Edinburgh’s Pollock Halls, dubbed the “UK’s most expensive prison”.

“Students are saying the only thing saving them was the fact that half of them have Covid and they can’t taste it anyway,” Ms Bailie said, referring to a common Covid-19 symptom.

The University of Edinburgh admitted there had been a “few occasions when students’ needs have not been met”. But it said these were addressed quickly with work taking place to improve its systems.

In a statement, the university said: “Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our students continues to be our absolute priority.

“We have teams of staff working 24 hours a day to provide those who are self-isolating in our catered and self-catered residences with three meals a day – including ready-to-heat meals – in line with their dietary requirements and preferences. Essential items are also being delivered on request.”

At the University of York, students are given the option of a £70 meal deal providing a sandwich, crisps, chocolate bar and water for every day they are in self-isolation. For three meals a day, students are charged £170 for the isolation period.

While the university said the food was freshly made, Claire Baseley, a registered nutritionist, said a daily sandwich would be unlikely to provide adequate nutrition for those self-isolating.

“It is important that people do get a variety of vitamins and minerals to support their immune system,” she said.

‘Send veggies’

A first-year psychology student at the University of Birmingham said she and her flatmates must now spend their weekly catering allowance on boxes of food that have included Pot Noodles and frozen ready meals.

They received an initial box free of charge as soon as they reported their self-isolation, but future supplies are uncertain and will come at a cost of £28 per person for six days.

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Students in Birmingham received one free box full of essentials but must now pay £28 each for similar supplies

She said: “We don’t know if that is enough food to last for our period of isolation in terms of fresh food and vegetables which are lacking. It’s a lot of just like frozen stuff in there.

“We don’t know what will be in the next box but because of the [first box] people from my flat have contacted home and asked for them to send things like vegetables.”

While online teaching has been working well, there are shortages of things such as toilet paper and a £30 charge for washing 7kg of clothes has gone down badly with many students, she added.

The University of Birmingham said its initial food boxes were designed to last two to three days and include ready meals cooked by in-house chefs, which are designed to be nutritious. It said responses to surveys of students were “very positive” and that the laundry service is offered at a discount by a local dry cleaning company.

Some universities are not charging for providing food and toiletries however, as this bundle of provisions from Lancashire’s Edge Hill University shows:

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Edge Hill University

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Part of the weekly provisions for a group of six to eight students

Vice Chancellor John Cater said anyone isolating was being given free food whether they were in catered halls or not.

Crisps for breakfast

At the University of Nottingham, one history student said the university should have been more prepared for possible cases – and students having to isolate – after it took a week for issues with food supplies to be resolved.

The teenager is in catered halls with breakfast and dinner usually provided and £25 for lunches each week – but she has been self-isolating after testing positive for coronavirus.

Meals have been provided – but she said some days, lunches weren’t brought. And one day, her breakfast was crisps, a chocolate bar, an apple and a juice box – while the person in a neighbouring room had bread, butter and jam.

“It was really bad,” she said. “They kept missing days. I tried calling as well, but no-one answered.”

Things have improved in recent days, she added.

A spokesperson for the University of Nottingham said it apologised to a small number of students in halls who had experienced issues with their catering and was working on a new process.

They said: “Our staff have been working hard to support our students who are self-isolating, along with their households, in accordance with public health guidelines.

“We recognise how difficult this will be for all our students who are affected, many of whom are away from home for the first time, and we thank them for their co-operation in following the rules, doing the right thing, and helping to contain the virus.”

One 18-year-old who recently started Durham University and told not to come into contact with anyone else said food boxes there were filled with “junk food and a lot of dry food”.

“I’ve been going to bed with stomach pains because I’m hungry. It’s making my throat hurt and making me dehydrated,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Durham pro-vice-chancellor Jeremy Cook said he apologised to those students who felt they had not been given sufficient, or healthy, food. “But we have acted fast, listened to our students and recognised their concerns.”

More than 1,000 people have signed a petition accusing Lancaster University of “profiting” from self-isolating students with food deliveries, while the University of East Anglia cut the cost of its food supplies after a backlash.

Hillary Gyebi-Ababio, vice-president of higher education at the National Union of Students, said students were being seen as “pounds not people” and universities need to remember their “duty of care” towards them.

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Tory MPs anger over government’s house building plans – Channel 4 News

The last thing the Conservative party needs is yet more rebellion with its own ranks.

But plans to build extra houses are causing uproar among some of its most prominent MPs, including former Prime Minister Theresa May.

An algorithm which gives new housing targets to councils in England has incensed many Conservative MPs, who believe it could mean more buildings being constructed in leafy shires – which some say flies in the face of the Government’s levelling up agenda.

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