UK staff: where are you working from?

We would like to hear from those who are working in places other than the office or their homes

Some people who are working from home have been looking for alternative workplaces, such as fitness clubs and cocktail bars, to break the monotony of working at the kitchen table.

Guardian business reporter Joanna Partridge said: “Businesses are hoping that the offer of a desk, reliable wifi and refreshments will attract workers weary of half a year of working from home, while boosting their income in challenging times.”

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UK residents: tell us about the impact coronavirus is having on your household

We would like to hear how your livelihood and income have changed since the start of the pandemic

A joint report has called for a “family stimulus” package to help parents and children from falling below the poverty line this winter.

The IPPR thinktank and the TUC have said hundreds of thousands of are at risk with more families being forced to rely on food banks.

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Scorching deserts to green pastures: Jordan’s diverse climate

Country encompasses hills, desert and the lowest point on Earth

Roughly the size of Portugal, and bordered by Israel to the west, Syria to the north, Iraq to the east and Saudi Arabia to the south, Jordan is virtually landlocked – its only port being Aqaba, at the northern point of the Red Sea. Almost all of the country, roughly 90%, is desert. There is hardly any rainfall, which occurs sporadically in spring.

The climate of the Jordanian desert is, as you might expect, hot in summer, with temperatures sometimes reaching the low 40Cs; but in winter it can be surprisingly cold, averaging about 10C, with occasional flurries of snow in the hillier areas.

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‘He beat me many times’: how trafficked women are sexually exploited in UK

Victims reveal broken promises, physical and verbal abuse and almost constant surveillance

Elena was enticed to the UK by a Romanian man she met online. He promised they could live together and that he would find her work in a restaurant.

But as soon as she arrived in London in 2016 she was told she was in debt to a criminal gang, who had paid for her travel and accommodation.

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Our Brexit future? Come January, it looks more and more like 1980s Russia

The shorthand we used to understand Russia back then was: nobody could get a pair of Levi’s. An upcoming VAT change could create something similar in the UK

Masochistically, if I ever see a story about VAT, I’ll read it. In the old days, it just made my brain ache (17.5%? What kind of maths even is that?). This year, it has been the symbol of the seriousness of the coronavirus crisis (I’ve known cuts to it and bumps to it, in the service of a choppy economy, but until the pandemic I had never known payments be suspended). From here on in, I suspect, VAT stories will be all about Brexit, because from 1 January, EU sellers will be liable for VAT to the UK government.

For smaller EU businesses, especially those whose UK markets aren’t huge, it just won’t be worth selling to us. To look on the bright side, this might be a bonanza for small UK businesses, which will have less competition. To unpack that hard economic jargon for the layperson, “less competition” means we won’t be able to buy stuff, and the stuff we can buy will be more expensive and possibly not as good, because there’s no other stuff we could buy instead.

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Build your own US election result: plot a win for Biden or Trump

Biden may be ahead in the polls, but key battlegrounds that the Democrats lost unexpectedly in 2016 could come through again for Trump on 3 November. Use our simulator to build your own election result map

US swing state polls tracker

The electoral map has shifted in 2020, amid new challenges from misinformation to mail-in ballots. Previously reliable states on both sides are now looking more competitive.

In the interactive graphic below, you decide which way these closer states will vote, and try to pave Joe Biden or Donald Trump’s path to victory.

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Mick Hugo obituary

My friend Mick Hugo, who has died aged 73, was active in the squatters movement of the early 1970s and helped to set up the Hackney Housing Co-Operative, which has provided homes in London for hundreds of people over the years.

Born in the Hoxton area of Hackney to Florence (nee Bartrip), a dressmaker, and her husband, James Hugo, a demolition worker, Mick went to Shoreditch secondary school and joined the merchant navy in 1961 aged 15, mainly to avoid the temptation of drifting into crime, as many of his friends had done.

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‘Just like propaganda’: the three men enabling Trump’s voter fraud lies

The hysteria over voter fraud has reached an alarming pitch – and this dangerous moment in US democracy wouldn’t be possible without the work of these men

One night in late February 2017, Hans von Spakovsky, a lawyer at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative thinktank in Washington DC, fired off an email.

The White House was creating a commission to investigate voter fraud, an issue von Spakovsky had long pursued. But he was concerned the Trump administration was considering Democrats and moderate Republicans for the panel, and “astonished” no one had bothered to consult with him or J Christian Adams, a friend and fellow conservative lawyer.

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The great rebalancing: working from home fuels rise of the ‘secondary city’

A fall in commuting due to the pandemic is already prompting workers to move out of the major metropolises

Amy Kaper has never met her colleagues. Though her employer is based in Washington DC, she works from her apartment in Arizona. Kaper’s chronic health issues made an office job difficult, and working remotely – in IT in the healthcare industry – gives her more autonomy, and more time. “It was a huge adjustment – but I feel really lucky,” she says.

This year, the proportion of Americans working from home like Kaper has skyrocketed – from 8% in February to 35% in May. Most countries have experienced a similar jump during the pandemic, as remote working has gone from a fringe benefit to a necessity. Analysis suggests roughly 28% of jobs in Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden and the UK can be carried out remotely, and as many as 37% in the US.

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Thousands of waterbirds flock to Australia’s Lake Cowal – in pictures

At approximately 21km long, Lake Cowal is the largest natural inland lake in New South Wales. After years of drought it began filling in March this year, and native and migratory waterbirds started returning to its wetlands. Above-average rainfall throughout the winter months have now filled the ephemeral lake to 40% of its surface area

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Portraits of families living together through coronavirus

Photographer Mattia Crocetti’s project COndiVIDendo 19 looks at people living together during the coronavirus crisis, a time when groups have had to isolate and form a variety of family and community units, in Italy and across the world

COndiVIDendo 19 is a photographic and social project about the cohabitation of Italian citizens during the Covid-19 crisis. The title comes from the Italian condividere, which means sharing, and the images show groups of people living together in isolation, whether they are families, single people or mixed groups.

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Australia demands answers after women taken from Qatar Airways flight and strip-searched

Government says treatment of women after newborn found abandoned at Doha airport was ‘offensive’ and ‘grossly inappropriate’

The Australian government says it is “deeply concerned” at the “offensive, grossly inappropriate treatment” of women passengers on a Qatar Airways flight to Sydney, who were ordered to disembark the plane in Doha and were subjected to a strip search and a medical examination.

Flight QR908 to Sydney was due to leave Hamad International airport at Doha at 8.30 on Friday 2 October, but was delayed for four hours, apparently after a newborn infant was found in the airport.

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John Gray: ‘What can we learn from cats? Don’t live in an imagined future’

The philosopher’s new book attacks the idea that any ideology has the answers to life’s questions – but advice from cats might be his exception…

What’s it like to be a cat? John Gray has spent a lifetime half-wondering. The philosopher – to his many fans the intellectual cat’s pyjamas, to his critics the least palatable of furballs – has had feline companions at home since he was a boy in South Shields. In adult life – he now lives in Bath with his wife Mieko, a dealer in Japanese antiquities – this has principally been two pairs of cats: “Two Burmese sisters, Sophie and Sarah, and two Birman brothers, Jamie and Julian.” The last of them, Julian, died earlier this year, aged 23. Gray, currently catless, is by no means a sentimental writer, but his new book, Feline Philosophy: Cats and the Meaning of Life, is written in memory of their shared wisdom.

Other philosophers have been enthralled by cats over the years. There was Schrödinger and his box, of course. And Michel de Montaigne, who famously asked: “When I am playing with my cat, how do I know she is not playing with me?” The rationalist René Descartes, Gray notes, once “hurled a cat out of the window in order to demonstrate the absence of conscious awareness in non-human animals; its terrified screams were mechanical reactions, he concluded.”

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Forward poetry prize goes to ‘audacious, erotically charged’ The Air Year

Caroline Bird, whose book was inspired by the first year of a relationship, takes £10,000 honour for best collection alongside awards for Will Harris and Malika Booker

British poets have won all of this year’s Forward prizes for poetry, with Caroline Bird’s “audacious and erotically charged” The Air Year taking best collection, Will Harris’s RENDANG winning best debut, and Malika Booker winning for best single poem.

Bird’s sixth collection The Air Year, named for the first 12 months of a relationship before the “paper” anniversary, was announced as the winner of the £10,000 prize in an online ceremony Sunday afternoon. A playwright, and published poet since the age of 15, Bird saw off competition from the acclaimed Native American-Latinx Natalie Diaz and the award-winning Pascale Petit.

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Dawn French: ‘I feel genuine grief about what is going on in the arts’

The comedian on working under Covid restrictions, exploring the nature-nurture debate in her new novel, and debating politics with her uncle

Dawn French, 63, is a comedian, actor and writer who began her career as a comic double act with her friend Jennifer Saunders. Her TV work includes French and Saunders, The Vicar of Dibley and, more recently, Delicious and The Trouble With Maggie Cole. French has written several books, including three bestselling novels – A Tiny Bit Marvellous, Oh Dear Silvia, and According to Yes. Her fourth novel, Because of You, about two families whose babies are born at the start of the millennium, has just been published (Michael Joseph, £20).

What did you want to explore with Because of You?
I wanted to investigate what would happen if you really challenged the idea of: who is your parent? Somebody steals a baby at the beginning of this book. That shouldn’t be something you could ever, ever forgive – but I’ve tried to write a character that you might forgive for doing that. The moral dilemma is: was this daughter raised in the right family for her after all? Who makes us: those who raise you or those whose biology you carry – or a mixture of both? Or is it people who step up for you?

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Sacha Baron Cohen: After Borat, what’s left for the savage satirist?

From Ali G to the latest outing for his monstrous Kazakh journalist, the comic has delighted and offended for 20 years

Thirteen years ago Sacha Baron Cohen announced that he was retiring the character of Borat Sagdiyev, the Kazakh journalist in the ill-fitting grey suit and Saddam moustache. It was a logical step in what is, as Baron Cohen has called it, a “self-defeating” line of work.

Borat’s satirical power was dependent on being unknown. But the global success of the 2006 mockumentary feature film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, for which Baron Cohen won a Golden Globe, rather blew the fake Kazakh’s cover. Hence his discontinuation.

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James O’Brien: ‘I saw everything as a fight’

The highly combative star of talk radio is adopting a mellower approach. James O’Brien talks about trust, therapy and knowing when you are wrong

On the day we meet, the broadcaster James O’Brien begins his popular LBC talkshow with a sorry acknowledgment. “I am very conscious of the Groundhog Day nature of some of our encounters,” he says. For the past six months, the pandemic has dominated the three hours he spends on air every weekday. And, alarmingly for a talkshow host, things have become a bit samey. “Normally, I like to have three or four conversational topics in my pocket before we go on air,” he tells me later. “But since February I have been able to turn up at 10 to 10 knowing we’re going to talk about coronavirus, all day every day, in slightly different ways and forms.”

The LBC studios are in London’s Leicester Square; O’Brien and I meet at a restaurant nearby. It is the middle of September, cold and damp, ugly weather. Boris Johnson has just announced amended lockdown measures: pubs will close at 10pm, the rule of six reapplies. A second wave is imminent, despite forewarning, and it has the nation in a muddle. “I had a fortnight off two weeks ago,” O’Brien says. He arrived today straight from his show but refreshed-seeming. We elbow-tapped a greeting; he is easy company. “And I realised that I had to come back happy, upbeat, even as we report negativity, even as we continue to report on this catastrophic handling of the coronavirus.”

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Girlhood: Girlhood review – breezy, 90s-tinged electropop

(Team Talk)
The shape-shifting duo, who met on a boat, channel Moby and the Avalanches on their solid debut

Singer-songwriter Tessa Cavanna and producer Christian Pinchbeck first crossed paths in 2017. He heard her singing, so the story goes, when she walked past his narrowboat in east London and was so impressed he invited her to hop on board and record in his studio. The resulting project, Girlhood, marry sweet, soaring vocals with iPad instrumentals, channelling the expansive spirit of the Avalanches and the gospel-tinged beats of Moby. In other words, at times they can sound anachronistic.

It’s the older tracks, such as Bad Decisions and Milk & Honey, that really shine on their self-titled debut – the former with its taut percussion and uplifting vocals; the latter all spiralling melodies and trip-hoppy scratches. Queendom, meanwhile, is smooth and soft, while Fever Sweat recalls the atmospheric warmth of producer Flume, and Keep On and The Love I Need possess a housey euphoria. So, while there’s nothing especially fresh-sounding here, Girlhood is a solid set of breezy electropop with a hint of future possibilities.

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Land, Birmingham: ‘Vegan cookery to file under thrilling’ – restaurant review

In a world where meat-free cuisine can still be dreary and predictable, Land is designed to take you somewhere new

Editor’s note: we have decided that, while restaurants remain open, we will continue to review them

Land, 26 Great Western Arcade, Colmore Row, Birmingham B2 5HU (0121 236 2313). Two courses £20, three courses £26, five-course tasting menu £35, wines from £29

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The dementia that can be cured

There are more than 200 subtypes of dementia. And researchers have found that in one, confusion and memory loss can be treated. But the trick is to spot it…

When John Abraham began to lose his mind in late 2019, his family immediately feared the worst. Abraham had enjoyed robust health throughout retirement, but now at 80 he suddenly found himself struggling to finish sentences.

“I would be talking to people, and all of a sudden the final word wouldn’t come to mind,” he remembers. “I assumed this was simply a feature of ageing, and I was finding ways of getting around it.”

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‘Getting burgers delivered generally sucks’: Adam Liaw rates the best and worst food to order in

Most food wasn’t made to be sealed in plastic and bounced on the back of a scooter for 20 minutes. So what gets 10 out of 10?

The unique conditions of 2020 have seen eating habits change across the globe. Alongside the sourdough preppers and physically distanced diners, perhaps the biggest difference of all can be seen in the world of home delivery.

For some cities in lockdown the only life on the streets has been thousands of scooters, cyclists and drivers zipping from restaurant to house, feeding families and keeping businesses running.

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Joe Trivelli’s recipes for lamb chops, panada, bagna càuda and apples cake

A selection of hearty Italian classics to warm and nourish you

These are dishes with which to warm up. Hearty, simple, warming food that I like to share. It’s time to stoke the fire, or the bonfire, and treat yourself well.

Arrivals from the south of Italy have asked me why there isn’t a friggitoria (fry shop) in London. I pointed them to the chippies, to demonstrate there wasn’t the gap in the market they thought. The fried vegetables and lamb here is something that I am adding to the menu at my fantasy friggitoria. Something to eat with your fingers and worth the bother of disposing of the oil the following day.

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I’m secretly dating a reformed sex offender. Is it a terrible idea? | Dear Mariella

Forgiveness is important – but there’s something missing from your story, says Mariella Frostrup. One of you is not being entirely honest

The dilemma In high school, one of the boys in my group had a tough time in the final year. We lost touch, but recently we reconnected and have now started a relationship.

Back in his early 20s, he was making a lot of mistakes, taking drugs and hanging out with the wrong crowd. An underage girl he was friends with sent him a pornographic picture of herself, and one of her friends called the police, resulting in him becoming a registered sex offender for eight years. He’s now in the final year of this.

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How TikTok is proving beauty is more than skin deep

Social media smarts and a sense of humour are highly profitable for a new breed of ‘skinfluencer’

He grew up on a cattle ranch in Arizona before moving to New York to work on a department store makeup counter. Now at just 24, despite having no formal dermatology qualifications, Hyram Yarbro is a skincare guru to millions worldwide.

Yarbro is one of a new breed of superstar social media “skinfluencers” who have gained popularity during lockdown – especially on TikTok – and are changing what we buy and why.

Lockdown affected grooming routines, with a shift to skincare from make-up and perfume. It will come as no surprise to anyone who’s tried to book a salon appointment since March that home-treatment sales are up, with teeth-whitening products up 180% and hair-dye sales six times higher than last year.

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Twenty years of the International Space Station – but was it worth it?

Has the ISS benefited society? Scientists are divided: for some, it’s a beacon of unity; for others, just a set for an action film

Space scientists are preparing to celebrate a remarkable astronautical achievement. In a few days, they will mark the 20th anniversary of humanity’s continuous presence in outer space.

For two decades, teams of astronauts have made their homes 250 miles above our planet through their uninterrupted occupancy of the International Space Station (ISS). First inhabited by US astronaut Bill Shepherd and Russian cosmonauts Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko on 2 November 2000, the ISS has since provided shelter for a steady rotation of crews that has ensured the station has never been left unoccupied.

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Biden gains as suburban women and elderly voters turn backs on Trump

Nine days out from election day, polling shows the Democratic nominee with big leads in key demographics

Joe Biden’s hopes of reaching the White House could rest on two crucial demographic groups that appear to be deserting Donald Trump: elderly people and suburban women.

Related: Trump assaulted American democracy – here’s how Democrats can save it

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‘You have to be daring’: groundbreaking leader of Canada’s Greens ready to seize her moment

Annamie Paul, the first permanent Black leader of a federal party, believes after Covid politics cannot remain the same

As Annamie Paul waited for the results of Canada’s Green party leadership race, she started to worry that her months-long candidacy was about to end in disappointment.

Ballots had been cast virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the candidates were waiting in separate rooms at an Ottawa arts centre.

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The pioneering women who took on Hitler … and Fleet Street

Foreign correspondent was deemed ‘no job for a female’ between the wars. A new book celebrates the lives of the journalists who proved otherwise

An inky night in civil war Málaga, 19 February 1937. General Franco’s nationalist troops had taken the town days earlier. Political prisoners filled the jails; posters of Mussolini, Franco and Hitler, the “strong men” of fascist Europe, plastered the walls, and hit squads were executing republican sympathisers.

Into this maelstrom tripped a 23-year-old Englishwoman wearing a floral print dress. Her mission: to connect with the American consul and find the famous writer Arthur Koestler, who had been taken by Franco’s men. She was also secretly recording Italian troop movements to show how Italy had breached international neutrality agreements.

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