Griner freed in U.S.-Russia prisoner exchange

Russia is freeing WNBA star Brittney Griner in a prisoner swap, according to U.S. officials.

The United States will release Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in the exchange, according to multiple reports Thursday.

Griner had been imprisoned in Russia since her arrest Feb. 17 on drug charges. She had been convicted and given a nine-year sentence.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Baker Mayfield’s arrival is another ‘unprecedented’ chapter in the Rams’ season

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — As Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay was answering questions about quarterback Baker Mayfield on Wednesday afternoon, he paused to do the math.

“It’s 12 o’clock right now,” McVay said. “Literally he just got here about 14 hours ago, when we ended up starting to meet with him.”

As McVay discussed whether Mayfield could play against the Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday night, two days after the Rams claimed him off waivers, he said he thought Mayfield would be “capable of it if we ask,” but that “it would be unprecedented.”

The truth is, so much of this season has been “unprecedented” for the defending Super Bowl champions.

The Rams have dealt with injuries to several position groups including quarterback. Matthew Stafford is out because of a spinal cord contusion and not expected back this season. Backup John Wolford is also on the injury report with a neck injury. The Rams’ 3-9 record is the worst 12-game start by any team coming a Super Bowl victory. Los Angeles turns to Mayfield in the hopes it can salvage something — whether it’s Thursday night (8:15 p.m. ET, Prime Video) or for the final four games.

The Rams have not officially been eliminated from playoff contention, but according to ESPN Stats & Information, they have a 0.0% chance to make the postseason. Now, Los Angeles can essentially use the rest of the season to evaluate for 2023 and beyond.

One of the reasons the Rams brought in Mayfield, offensive coordinator Liam Coen said, was not only to evaluate him in their offense, but also to help evaluate the rest of the offense for the Rams, a unit without wide receivers Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson.

Mayfield is coming off seven games with the Carolina Panthers, where he had a total QBR of 18.2, the worst in the NFL this season among qualified quarterbacks and the second worst ever among 521 qualified passers since tracking of the stat began in 2006, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Still, McVay said he thinks the Rams will be able to accomplish their evaluation, because it won’t be exclusive to what happens on the field during games.

“It’s the weekly rhythm, it’s the daily rhythm, how you practice, how you meet and then how you put yourself in a position to play well in that window of time,” McVay said. “Then just some of the abilities that he has gives you an opportunity to be able to see some different things relative to the skill positions, and maybe open up certain portions of your playbook.”

McVay wouldn’t commit to whether Mayfield could be with in Los Angeles long term. “We feel good about our room and the quarterback that we have for the future of the Los Angeles Rams, which is Matthew Stafford,” Coen said. “But, [we] feel obviously pretty good about somebody to come in here and compete at a high level for us.”

The Rams have two backup quarterbacks on the roster right now — Wolford and Bryce Perkins — but neither has won a game since taking over for Stafford. Wolford, who has been with the Rams since 2019, will be a free agent after this season.

If Mayfield is willing to back up Stafford next season, this trial period could lead to filling an important need for Los Angeles going forward.

McVay said the Rams weren’t actively looking to add to their quarterback room, but “when you have a player of his caliber come available and you look at just the circumstances in the situation surrounding our quarterback room, we felt like it was the right move for us.”

“I’ve always respected his game [and] liked a lot of things that he brings to the table,” McVay added. “… [He’s an] incredibly sharp guy. It was good to be able to be around him, but really, we felt like it upgraded our quarterback room. It gives us a chance to have him in the building, and we’ll see how it goes.”

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Awards predictions: Who will — and should — win?

The 2022 season was chock full of brilliant performances on some of the biggest stages, from Caleb Williams helping transform USC into a playoff contender to Blake Corum‘s eight straight 100-yard games in helping Michigan win back-to-back Big Ten titles to Marvin Harrison Jr.‘s emergence as arguably the country’s most exciting receiver.

They’ll be among the stars on hand for the Home Depot College Football Awards on Thursday (7 p.m. ET on ESPN/ESPN App) as the top players are honored and many of the country’s most prestigious awards are handed out.

Here are our picks for who should — and who will — pick up some prized hardware Thursday.

Chuck Bednarik Award (defensive player of the year)

Finalists: Will Anderson Jr., Alabama; Ivan Pace Jr., Cincinnati; Tuli Tuipulotu, USC

Who should win: Anderson. The Alabama edge rusher had 51 tackles, 17 going for a loss, 10 sacks and 12 QB hurries — all of which counted as something of a down year by his standards. There’s no defender in the country more feared — and more productive — than Anderson.

Who will win: Anderson

Biletnikoff Award (outstanding receiver)

Finalists: Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State; Xavier Hutchinson, Iowa State; Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee

Who should win: Harrison. With a number of Ohio State’s key skill position players injured, Harrison blossomed into the most formidable pass-catcher in the country this season. His 1,157 receiving yards were second most in the Big Ten, his 12 receiving TDs tied for the national lead, and he was Pro Football Focus’ highest-graded receiver in the nation. For the season, Harrison had just two drops and reeled in 56% of his contested catches, the second-best rate in the nation.

Who will win: Harrison

Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award (outstanding place-kicker)

Finalists: Christopher Dunn, NC State; Joshua Karty, Stanford; Jake Moody, Michigan

Who should win: Dunn in a close one. While Karty didn’t miss a field-goal try this season, he had seven fewer attempts than Dunn, who was also perfect on PATs (while Karty was 24-of-25). Dunn connected on 24 field goals, was 10-of-11 beyond 40 and hit on both of his attempts of 50 yards or more.

Who will win: Dunn

Ray Guy Award (punter of the year)

Finalists: Mason Fletcher, Cincinnati; Bryce Baringer, Michigan State; Adam Korsak, Rutgers

Who should win: South Carolina‘s Kai Kroeger wasn’t a finalist, but he’s likely to top plenty of All-America lists after leading the country with 51.9% of his punts downed inside the opponent’s 20-yard line and 25% inside the 10.

Who will win: Baringer. This award tends to come down to the headline numbers, and Baringer has a handle on those. He led the nation with an average of 49 yards per punt and 45.7 net.

Maxwell Award (college player of the year)

Finalists: C.J. Stroud, Ohio State; Hendon Hooker, Tennessee; Caleb Williams, USC

Who should win: Hooker. Perhaps this is a chance for a makeup call for snubbing Hooker as a Heisman Trophy finalist, but the truth is, until his injury, he was clearly the best player in the country. His 89.4 Total QBR is ahead of Stroud (87.7) and Williams (86.5), and his 27-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio is tops in the country. More importantly, he completely elevated Tennessee football this season, putting the Vols within striking distance of a playoff bid before getting hurt in the penultimate game of the regular season against South Carolina.

Who will win: Williams. He finished third nationally in total yards and first in touchdowns while turning the ball over just four times. That’s a pretty simple case to make.

Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award (best quarterback)

Finalists: Max Duggan, TCU; CJ Stroud, Ohio State; Caleb Williams, USC

Who should win: Williams. How close are the numbers between Stroud and Williams? Stroud completed 66.2% of his throws. Williams completed 66.1%. Stroud threw 37 touchdowns. So did Williams. Stroud averaged 9.4 yards per pass. Williams averaged 9.1. Stroud had seven turnovers. Williams had five. But the slight edge goes to Williams, who did more with his legs and dealt with a much less consistent offensive line (29 sacks compared with just eight for Stroud).

Who will win: Williams

Outland Trophy (most outstanding interior lineman)

Finalists: Calijah Kancey, Pittsburgh; Olusegun Oluwatimi, Michigan; Peter Skoronski, Northwestern

Who should win: Kancey. The ACC’s defensive player of the year was an absolute monster on the interior of Pitt’s defensive line in 2022. Kancey racked up seven sacks and 14 tackles for loss while adding 10 QB hurries on the season. He was the second-best Power 5 interior lineman, according to Pro Football Focus, after Georgia’s Jalen Carter, who missed multiple games. While it’s impossible to directly compare Kancey’s performance with two offensive linemen, his work was awfully reminiscent of another Pitt great — Aaron Donald. And if a player is drawing those comparisons, it’s easy enough to see why he might win the Outland Trophy, just as Donald did in 2013.

Who will win: Kancey

Paycom Jim Thorpe Award (best defensive back)

Finalists: Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, TCU; Clark Phillips III, Utah; Devon Witherspoon, Illinois

Who should win: Witherspoon. Yes, Phillips is among the most impressive players in the country, and his six interceptions will turn heads with voters, but on a down-for-down basis, Witherspoon has the edge. He was the top-graded Power 5 corner, according to Pro Football Focus, allowing just 16 completions on 54 targets — with none going for touchdowns. He bested Phillips in yards allowed per coverage snap, yards per target and contested targets. And while Phillips did have a distinct edge in INTs (six to three), Witherspoon added another 14 pass breakups to Phillips’ six.

Who will win: Phillips. Hey, interceptions look great on a box score, and the truth is, Phillips genuinely is among the best players in the country — even if Witherspoon’s stat line was a tad better.

Doak Walker Award (premier running back)

Finalists: Chase Brown, Illinois; Blake Corum, Michigan; Bijan Robinson, Texas

Who should win: Robinson. Playing behind either a freshman or backup QB all season, Robinson was the focal point of every defense Texas faced, and he still finished the season with 1,580 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns. His 1,894 scrimmage yards led the nation, and his 20 total touchdowns ranked second behind Pitt’s Israel Abanikanda. Robinson also finished the season as the hottest player in the country, topping 100 yards on the ground in nine of his last 10 games, including more than 200 twice.

Who will win: Corum. Robinson might edge him out after Corum was injured late in the Nov. 19 win over Illinois, but for the first 10 games of the season, Corum was the clear-cut top back in the country and a Heisman contender. He still finished with 1,463 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns — numbers comparable to Robinson — and voters might forgive the late-season absence to reward the player who carried his team the furthest. That’s clearly Corum.

John Mackey Award (outstanding tight end)

Finalists: Brock Bowers, Georgia; Michael Mayer, Notre Dame; Sam LaPorta, Iowa

Who should win: Mayer. He was the point man in Notre Dame’s offense this season, and he delivered huge results. Mayer was second nationally among tight ends in catches (67), yards (809) and yards per route (2.57), and he led all tight ends with nine touchdown grabs and 20 contested catches. But what sets him apart from Bowers and others is his impressive blocking. He blocked on 417 snaps this season and missed just two of them.

Who will win: Mayer

Rimington Trophy (outstanding center)

Finalists: Olusegun Oluwatimi, Michigan; John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota; Brett Neilon, USC

Who should win: Oluwatimi. The Virginia transfer blossomed as the leader of Michigan’s offensive line this season, allowing just two pressures and no sacks while missing just a handful of blocks on the year. Oluwatimi blocked for one of the most effective ground games in the nation and kept QB J.J. McCarthy in a clean pocket routinely. The result was a second straight Big Ten title for the Wolverines.

Who will win: Oluwatimi

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MLB winter meetings winners, losers and takeaways: Our favorite (and least favorite) moves of the week

In the lead-up to the MLB winter meetings in San Diego, the buzz was that it could be a wild week of rumors, news and moves — and the meetings delivered all of that and then some.

When the dust settled, we saw a stretch of moves that included Aaron Judge returning to the New York Yankees for $360 million, Trea Turner getting $300 million from the Philadelphia Phillies and Justin Verlander snagging more than $40 million a year to join the New York Mets.

Need a breakdown of everything that happened this week? We asked our MLB experts who were on the scene in San Diego to identify the moves that impressed — and confused — them most and to give their biggest winners and losers of all the hot stove action.

What is your biggest takeaway from Judge’s deal with the Yankees?

Bradford Doolittle: Yankees mystique still matters, especially when it’s bolstered by a third of a billion dollars. Look, the Yankees had to get this done. If they can’t keep a player and personality like Judge in the fold, then they really are just another big market team. And maybe that’s all they are anyway, but as long as Judge is bashing homers in the Bronx, they will remain in the spotlight. He’s a pretty good player, too.

Alden Gonzalez: Simply put: This is what needed to happen. The Yankees have no identity without Judge, no obvious place to pivot to fill what would have become a massive hole both on the field and in their clubhouse. As the process played out, it became clear that the San Francisco Giants were motivated to present the highest offer. The Yankees needed to elevate to a place that felt uncomfortable. And they did.

Jeff Passan: Judge played his free agency to near-perfection, knowing that the pain the Yankees would feel from losing him exceeded the discomfort that comes from the $40 million-a-year price tag over the next nine seasons.

Joon Lee: This might not have been the best move when it comes to building a baseball team for the long term, given how much the Yankees will be paying Judge in the last few years of his contract — but New York needed to close this deal. Sometimes you need to make a move that will make the fans happy at the expense of future financial flexibility, and owner Hal Steinbrenner knew that.

Jesse Rogers: That leverage works. If Judge waited for the Yankees to bid up the price just because he’s Aaron Judge, he’d still be waiting. Players don’t get leverage of this kind often. He used it and it paid off.

What was your favorite move of the winter meetings, aside from Judge’s contract?

Doolittle: The St. Louis Cardinals had to get a starting catcher and I love that they went the free agent route to find a worthy successor to Yadier Molina. Willson Contreras has different strengths from Molina, but his individual winning percentage through age 30 (.517) is actually better than Molina’s was at the same age (.512). He isn’t the defender Molina was — few catchers are or have been — but he’s at least league average by the metric and his bat is a big upgrade. Contreras’ competitiveness will also help replace some of Molina’s omnipresent intensity. The Cardinals haven’t had to worry about catching for a long, long time and now they won’t have to for another half-decade at least.

Gonzalez: Turner’s 11-year, $300 million deal with the Phillies. Not because the Phillies will attain proper value for the length of that contract — chances are they won’t, of course — but because of what it represents. Turner is a perfect fit for them now, as a rangy shortstop who will be dynamic in the leadoff spot of a lineup that looks appreciably more menacing at the moment. The Phillies, who also added to their rotation and their bullpen, did what they needed to do coming off a pennant. The National League East is going to be a lot of fun.

Passan: There’s no such thing as a bad one-year deal, and to get a player of Cody Bellinger caliber – elite center field defense and a bat that in 2019 was good enough to win the NL MVP award – for $17.5 million, in his age-27 season no less, is the sort of value bet that in this market stands out for its minimal downside and significant upside.

Lee: A move I thought went a little bit under the radar was Josh Bell going to the Cleveland Guardians. Bell struggled once he got to San Diego, but he’s historically a streaky player. Cleveland needed to find some power from someone other than José Ramirez and acquiring a slugger on a pretty reasonable two-year deal for $33 million adds a lot of potential firepower to this lineup, a difference that could have helped the Guardians push past the Yankees in the playoffs in 2022.

Rogers: Oh, it’s definitely Contreras leaving the Chicago Cubs for their archrivals in St. Louis. After he spent 14 years in the organization, the Cubs didn’t make him a single offer this offseason while St. Louis made him rich. They believed in him, and now the Cubs are searching for his replacement. It’ll make for not only some juicy head-to-head matchups over the next five years, but also a motivated player. Fans will undoubtedly have mixed emotions seeing him wear red instead of blue, though time will tell which team got it right.

What one move had you scratching your head the most?

Doolittle: I kind of talked myself into not loving the Jameson Taillon/Cubs fit but even then I gave it a B-. If the Cubs manage to make an even bigger splash or two, the context on that signing would shift and I’m not sure I’d be as blasé about it. I don’t really have a big problem with any of the bigger moves. The Baltimore Orioles made me roll my eyes by signing Nomar Mazara to a free agent deal, but that was just a minor league contract. Good job, baseball.

Gonzalez: The Cardinals’ five-year agreement with Contreras. Contreras is going to provide the Cardinals with far more offensive value, but he is not very well regarded for his game-calling or his overall defense. And he’ll be succeeding one of the greatest ever in those aspects in Yadier Molina. Still: Contreras gives the Cardinals a major boost as someone who will produce in the middle of their lineup while handling a premium position. They needed a catcher. And if it wasn’t going to be the Oakland Athletics’ Sean Murphy, this was the best they could do.

Passan: Signing stars is the sort of thing winning franchises do, so it’s difficult to fault the San Diego Padres’ full-tilt pursuit of Turner and Judge. But $280 million for 11 years of shortstop Xander Bogaerts – who is 30 years old – constituted an industry-rocking contract. The runner-up: Boston giving Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida a five-year deal that, including the posting fee, will cost $105.4 million. Bogaerts is a potential Hall of Famer and Yoshida has All-Star-level talent, but the price tags staggered rival executives.

Rogers: Since it technically happened within the past week, I’d say the Texas Rangers giving all that money to Jacob deGrom. Why five years? Why not three? Ok, maybe four to make sure you got him — but five? Yikes.

Lee: Committing that much to deGrom concerns me. The Rangers are certainly spending a lot of money, but how all of it actually fits together is the actual question. Some of the big-ticket free agents signed over the past few years have a lot of questions for this year and beyond.

Who is the most interesting player who didn’t sign — and where do you see him going?

Doolittle: I think Carlos Correa is perhaps the most interesting guy in baseball who could be like a latter-day Connie Mack if someone just let him do all of the jobs. He hasn’t signed, so there’s my default answer. Rocco Baldelli talked about how engaged Correa has remained with pretty much everyone in the Minnesota Twins organization, from the hitting coaches to the players to Baldelli himself. Maybe I’m reading too much into that, but I feel like if the Twins can match the number Correa gets from the marketplace, they have a great shot of bringing him back. But I’m not sure that the number is going to end up being something they can match.

Gonzalez: I’ll go with Dansby Swanson, simply because Turner and Bogaerts found a home this week. Swanson — unlike Correa — hasn’t been prominently linked to his former team. His market still seems a bit hazy. The Cubs feel like a natural fit, but perhaps the Los Angeles Angels make a run. GM Perry Minasian, who knows Swanson from their days in Atlanta together, said Wednesday that the team would be willing to exceed the luxury-tax threshold for the right player. Swanson would certainly qualify.

Rogers: Carlos Rodon. From questions about his durability a couple years ago to the next best thing after deGrom and Verlander, he’s going to get a huge payday. The Yankees could use him but don’t count out the silly money the Rangers have been throwing around. And there’s always one player that signs with a team that seemingly comes out of nowhere. I give that possibility to Rodon as well. He’s the best of the rest.

Lee: Rodon. Some team is going to pay him like the premium pitcher he’s been the past few years, but I’m curious what kind of length and financial commitment he’ll end up getting, especially with the market blowing up the way that it has and deGrom and Verlander both signing for more money than expected.

Who is your biggest winner — and loser — of the winter meetings?

Passan: The biggest winner: Players. With MLB revenues reaching record levels in 2022 and a new collective-bargaining agreement helping push along the market, big leaguers are poised to set a record for guaranteed money in one offseason. Salaries grow, yes, and inflation is very real, certainly, but nearly every deal exceeded expectations, perhaps portending a sea change in how players are paid.

The biggest loser: Bargain hunters. Perhaps once the best players get off the board, the lower-revenue teams that have been spooked by free agent prices will enter the fray and try to grab players at depressed prices. And yet the lingering specter of FOMO could compel even the tightwads of the game to reconsider their postures, lest they enter the 2023 season with a roster that could deepen the have/have-not divide fomented by teams unwilling to do what the Padres

Doolittle: No one who works in the commissioner’s office will admit this, especially Rob Manfred, but they have to feel like huge winners now that Judge is headed back to New York. Anyone who knows me understands that I write these things as anything but a Yankees fanboy, but I do think it’s good for baseball that Judge will continue to play at Yankee Stadium.

As for the loser, for a while it seemed like the San Diego Padres would have to be it after reportedly trying to blow away the market on perhaps the top two free agents out there, depending how you rank them, and coming away with neither of them — but then San Diego made a huge splash late Wednesday night, bringing in Bogaerts and shifting a lot of pressure to the Boston Red Sox.

Gonzalez: The biggest winner is, of course, Judge. He made a massive bet on himself this season, then won the MVP and secured nearly $150 million more with his massive nine-year, $360 million deal.

Lee: Judge is definitely a winner coming out of these meetings. He’s cemented himself as the face of the franchise and the heir apparent to Derek Jeter.

Rogers: Trea Turner is the biggest winner. There was a time that only .900 to 1.000 OPS players could get $300 million. Now, an .809 mark makes you one of the richest athletes in the country. Granted, he does so much more than slug and get on base. The point being shortstops are now commanding what slugging corner outfielders are getting. That position has come a long way. His deal can’t be something he even imagined a few years ago.

The biggest loser — so far — is the Boston Red Sox. Kenley Jansen? Eh. OK. Masataka Yoshida? We’ll see. And now losing Bogaerts is going to have a lot of fans in Boston wondering what their front office will do from here. They need to get it going.

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In More Trouble, Congress May Lose Leader Of Opposition In Gujarat – NDTV

Gujarat has 182 seats and a party needs 10% strength to send a Leader of Opposition, or LoP


The Congress will close 2022 with a handful of problems in Gujarat, where it managed to win only 16 seats in the assembly, as the party is likely to lose the post of the Leader of Opposition.

Gujarat’s assembly has 182 seats and a party needs at least 10 per cent strength to send a Leader of Opposition, or LoP. The Congress with its worst ever performance in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state doesn’t have the numbers needed to appoint a LoP.

In the centre too, the Congress couldn’t send a LoP after two national elections, one in 2014 and the other in 2019, as it won only 44 and 52 seats, respectively. It tried to make Mallikarjun Kharge the LoP, but the then Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan blocked the attempt, citing rules. A party needs 55 seats to send a LoP in parliament.

Mr Kharge is the first Congress chief who is not from the Gandhi family in two decades.

In the first term of the Modi government that began in 2014, Mr Kharge was invited to meetings of a panel to appoint the anti-corruption body Lokpal. But he turned down the invitation in protest against not getting the LoP’s post.

The Congress had also done the same with the opposition back in 1980 and 1984, when the LoP post was not given to any party after the Congress won with massive numbers in the national elections.

The BJP is set to create a record in Gujarat with another assembly election win this time. Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel won the Ghatlodia seat.

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Pregnant American Defends Using the U.K.’s National Healthcare Service

An American expat living in the U.K. has reacted to backlash online after revealing that she uses the country’s National Health Service.

Ally McGuinness has been in the U.K. for just over a year on a spouse visa since she married her husband. With thousands of followers on TikTok, she started sharing her experience of being an American living in Cambridgeshire, England.

Screengrabs of Ally McGuinness on TikTok. She took to the social-media platform to defend how she is using the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS) as an American expat living in the country.

“I started documenting my experience because at that point I hadn’t seen many others going through it in real time,” McGuinness told Newsweek.

Making videos about taking the English driving test, the cost of living in the U.K. and building credit in a new country—she quickly noticed that one topic seemed to get more attention than all the others.

“Anything I make about the NHS always gets a lot of views because it seems to be quite controversial. People always have something to say one way or another,” said McGuinness.

The NHS or National Health Service is the publicly funded health-care system in the U.K. It was established in 1948 as one of the major social reforms following World War II and is funded by citizen taxes. The NHS provides health care for all U.K. citizens based on their need for medical care rather than an ability to pay.

Because it is government-funded, the NHS means that anyone living in the U.K. can access services including visiting a doctor, getting hospital treatment, seeing a midwife if you are pregnant and getting urgent help if you have serious or life-threatening injuries—including transport to hospital.

Often referred to as “free at the point of access,” health care through the NHS can be used with no payment required at the time of treatment. However, the government allots money to the health service via taxes that are paid throughout a person’s lifetime in the U.K.

McGuinness fell pregnant and is expecting a baby with her husband in May 2023. As she is living in the U.K., she has started receiving maternity treatment through the NHS.

But, as she shared videos discussing her experience, she started to notice comments from people who slammed her for using the service.

“Some people in my comments told me to go back to America and accused me of being here just to get care,” said McGuinness. “I felt the need to address that because I would never want myself misrepresented.”

Being open and honest about her experiences, in one video she responded to comments saying that she should be paying for the NHS care. In the video with more than 540,000 views, she explains that she does financially contribute to the health service. When you are given a U.K. visa, part of the process means paying an NHS surcharge.

“It is £2,000 ($2,442) for the duration of your visa, which is two-and-a-half years for me,” McGuinness said in the video. When that visa expires, she will need to renew it and pay another surcharge for the new one.

On top of this, McGuinness is also working in the U.K., which means that money is automatically deducted from her income through taxes and a system called National Insurance. Both go to the government, and this money is used in various places, including to support the NHS. “So yes, I do contribute,” she said in the video.

But some TikTokers still took issue with McGuinness’s use of the health service. One commenter wrote: “Stop acting like you wouldn’t be paying far more than £2,000 in your own country for healthcare during your pregnancy.”

The state of the National Health Service in the U.K. has been a much-debated topic for decades, and this week, both ambulance staff and nurses have announced an intention to strike for better pay and working conditions.

On Wednesday, U.K. news outlet The Independent reported a “crisis” in the NHS as patients were unable to get the help they needed as staff struggled with the volume of patients in an overstretched system.

But it is unlikely that stretches to the healthcare system are as a result of expats utilizing the service—in fact, between 2009 and 2019, NHS budgets rose on average of just 1.4 percent each year, compared to the average 3.7 percent rises in the previous years since the service was established.

Alongside a backdrop of an increasing and ageing population that is still handling the backlash from the COVID-19 pandemic, many British people are angry that they cannot get the care they need.

While McGuinness was prompted to respond to the backlash from some commenters about her using the NHS, she also found that the majority of people were supportive.

“People always have something to say one way or another,” she said. “I feel, as an immigrant, many people don’t know the process we go through to get here and get access to care. Most people have been so kind and welcoming—it’s been nice to feel so supported.”

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Woman’s Fury at Friend Ditching Her 30th but Then Going on Vacation Blasted

A post about a person questioning a friendship after a friend didn’t attend their birthday party has gone viral on Mumsnet, the U.K.-based online forum.

In a post shared on Mumsnet’s Am I Being Unreasonable (AIBU) subforum, user Plantmum2047 said their friend of 10 years was invited to the user’s 30th birthday party with three months’ notice.

According to the user, two days prior to the birthday bash, the friend said “she feels ill and can’t come.” On the morning of the party, she allegedly said “she feels better but timings are too tight” for her to attend the event due to it being a 3.5 hour-drive away.

“She then goes abroad (long haul, far away destination) three days later. Did she just not want to come?…would you say something? I feel a bit hurt,” the original poster said, “because she was too ill to travel 3.5 hours but well enough to travel 14 hours.”

A stock image of a woman looking worried with arms crossed, sitting next to another woman looking upset at a table. A person who has hurt that their close friend couldn’t attend their birthday party, yet was “well enough” to travel abroad few days later has gone viral on Mumsnet, the U.K.-based online forum.
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Research has shown that intimacy and satisfaction levels of friendships in adulthood can be traced back to childhood.

A September 2020 study in the peer-reviewed journal Child Development, which looked at “the developmental roots of adult friendship intimacy and satisfaction” and “the early interplay between sociomoral sensitivity in friendship, insecurity in peer contexts, and peer rejection,” found that “sociomoral sensitivity in friendship protects adolescents from peer rejection and is reciprocally associated with insecurity.”

The study said: “Childhood and adolescent sociomoral sensitivity antecede early adult friendship intimacy, which, in turn, antecedes friendship satisfaction in mid-adulthood.”

Is the Friend Being Too Sensitive?

The sensitivity and hurt feelings expressed by the user in the latest Mumsnet post is something we tend to see play out “when we have a crush on someone,” life coach and author Marni Goldman told Newsweek. “However, it’s very pertainable with friendships as well.”

The life coach said while there is no right or wrong when it comes to feeling hurt in this situation, “what is wrong is putting a condition on a friend. If she’s close enough to be invited to your birthday, you should be close enough to believe her. Otherwise, why are you friends?”

Goldman advised the user can tell her friend how disappointed she was to not have her at the party. However, “by asking her to tell the truth, you’re not only putting her on the defensive, you’re calling her a liar indirectly. I’ve learned in life, we don’t owe people explanations. If they understand, great. If they don’t, that’s on them,” she said.

Is This a Sign of Another Issue in the Friendship?

“There must’ve been prior lies possibly being told in the past, which would explain the doubt towards her),” Goldman noted, adding “if there’s no trust in any relationship, friendship or marriage, there is nothing.”

The life coach said “the paranoia” expressed by the original poster “comes from low self-esteem and wanting to feel loved and validated.”

The author explained: “It’s human nature, nobody wants to feel rejected. Unfortunately, the red flags were there, and in this friendship, she saw ‘pink’ and overlooked the obvious signs.”

Learn How to Self-Love

Goldman said the original poster needs to “learn self-love,” noting it seems the user would “rather have ‘friends,’ not friendships” and that is the “ego and insecurity talking.”

The author said the poster needs to understand that “you should have zero expectations from people.”

She added: “If you don’t expect it, you can never be disappointed. There is a saying, ‘in life, if you’ve made one true friend, you are beyond blessed.’ Learning the difference between acquaintances and friends will save you a lot of heartache in the future.”

Feeling Better Three Days Later ‘Sounds Plausible’

Several users on Mumsnet were more understanding of the friend than the original poster.

Plumbear2 said: “Three days later she probably felt much better. Why should she miss her trip abroad as well as your birthday?”

Unexpecteddrivinginstructor pointed out that “she went on holiday [vacation] five days after first feeling ill and three days after she started to feel better? That sounds plausible to me…”

Nordix noted: “I don’t really get it? It sounds reasonable to me. She was too ill to do a long drive up North (didn’t wake up and get sorted on time as she was ill). Three days later she goes on holiday. Did you expect her to cancel her holiday?”

AbreathofFrenchair said: “She gave you a reason. You don’t have to like it or believe it and you are free to unfriend her. Would you have preferred her to have missed the holiday too?”

Newsweek was not able to verify the details of this case.

Do you have a similar dilemma? Let us know via We can ask experts for advice, and your story could be featured on Newsweek.

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American Bully Pleads With Owner To Open Dog Treat Advent Calendar Early

An American Bully has been filmed pleading to be given a treat from his special dog Advent calendar ahead of schedule this year.

Jefe was caught on camera howling at his human companion to get in the Christmas spirit by opening one of the windows on the Furry Little Christmas Advent Calendar.

The only problem was his demand came before December had even begun.

That didn’t stop Jefe from pulling well-known canine tricks to try and get what he wanted, including the all-too-familiar puppy dog eyes along with a few howls for good measure.

Jefe the American Bully gives his owner the all-too-familiar puppy dog eyes as he looks longingly at his dog Advent calendar. The pooch’s demand came before December had even begun.

Christmas is traditionally a time for indulgence, especially when it comes to canines. According to a poll of 2,000 pet owners in the U.S., conducted by OnePoll on behalf of MetLife Pet Insurance, 54 percent plan on feeding their pets more treats over the holiday season.

But while our four-legged friends undoubtedly appreciate the extra food, a study published in the PLOS ONE journal by animal behaviorists from the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna in Austria has found that giving dogs treats doesn’t necessarily mean they will like you more.

In fact, they found dogs can’t remember acts of generosity. The study saw six dogs and nine wolves watch a “generous” human feeding a dog followed by a “selfish” human who withheld food.

The test creatures were then tasked with choosing which of the two to approach. What they found was that the dogs and wolves did not flock to the more generous of the two humans.

But while treats might not win you any popularity contests among pups, some canines undoubtedly have a special bond with their owners.

Jefe is a case in point. Based out of Atlanta, Georgia, his owner told Newsweek how her beloved American Bully came into her life at a difficult time.

“My 18-year-old dog had passed away two months earlier and I was looking at pups,” she said. “I have a friend who is a breeder and he brought some puppies over for me to play with because I was very depressed after my dog’s death.”

On a whim, she asked if she could adopt one of the dogs, and, to her surprise, her friend said yes. That dog ended up being Jefe. “He came into my life at a low point for me and has been such a blessing. We are inseparable,” she said.

Despite being told he has to wait for his treat, Jefe isn’t willing to take no for an answer and can be heard howling his head off as he stands vigil next to the wall-mounted Advent calendar.

His owner said she stood her ground though. “I made him wait. It’s a special thing,” she said. “It is difficult to tell him to wait. He gets so many other treats and snacks, but he is quite captivated by the treat box.”

Jefe and his human companion are looking forward to a Christmas at home this year after suffering severe disruption to their holiday plans in 2021. “Last year, our house flooded and we were stuck in a hotel for six months due to reconstruction over the holidays so this Christmas is extra special being in our own home,” she said.

Jefe is a big fan of Christmas and while he may not have received his treat ahead of time, the video his owner shared to TikTok has won plenty of admirers, having already been watched over 370,000 times.

User Mi.randa3 said: “I don’t think I could resist that face! I’d give in and give him all the treats!” while user FredosMomm commented: “It’s going to be a long December…” Jcpalmer wrote: “Awwww my heart is broken,” with Cindy Perez Mendoza adding: “Oh the anticipation is going to make this cutie crazy.”

Jefe’s owner said she shared the clip as it perfectly captures her dog’s “funny personality.” “He is always getting treats, but he was just sitting and howling at this tree calendar like it was killing him to not get one,” she said. “I thought it was cute how he was in such sorrow over it.”

Though she didn’t expect the video to get quite such a big response online, she believes it provides further proof that our furry friends love the festive season just as much as we do.

“I think, because the holidays are coming up, people find it cute to see how dogs can be excited for Christmas as well,” she said.

Jefe is certainly counting down the days.

Do you have funny and adorable videos or pictures of your pet you want to share? Send them to with some details about your best friend and they could appear in our Pet of the Week lineup.

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Big Pregnant Death Adder Found in Family Backyard: ‘Don’t Bite Me’

An “extremely cranky” pregnant death adder has been found lurking in a family backyard in Australia.

A snake removal specialist from Australian Snake Catchers arrived at the home in Kurrajong, New South Wales, to find the venomous snake hunched up on some grass.

Death adders are one of the most venomous land snakes in Australia. They are also the fastest striking snake on the planet. It can strike and bite a victim in less than 0.15 seconds.

The snake season in Australia is currently in full swing, meaning snakes are becoming more active in the warmer, summer months. But this species is still not often encountered.

A photo shows a death adder lurking in a backyard in Australia. A snake catcher removing the snake believed it may be pregnant.
Australian Snake Catchers

“This particular species is an ambush predator, so not often encountered as much as other Elapids,” the snake catcher told Newsweek.

The family that owns the house would have “liked it visiting elsewhere,” the snake catcher wrote in a Facebook post.

“He or she is pretty cranky. Extremely cranky. But a cool snake,” the snake catcher says, in a video posted to Facebook.

In the video, the catcher attempts to get close up shots of the snake without being bitten.

“Don’t bite me,” the snake catcher says as he zooms in on the snake.

The snake catcher says this particular snake might be a gravid female, meaning she is pregnant and carrying eggs.

“You can see that she’s a bit chubby,” the snake catcher says in the video.

Breeding season for Australian snakes usually starts in October. They are usually pregnant for around three months before giving birth.

“I don’t want to get too close because this thing will just wack me. It’s gonna wreck my week,” the snake catcher says in the video.

When removing this particular serpent, snake catchers take care not to touch it. The snake catcher removed the reptile by ushering it into a bag. After removing snakes from properties, snake catchers release them back into the wild.

Death adders possess a venom full of post-synaptic neurotoxins which can lead to death from suffocation and lack of oxygen. Bites can also cause paralysis within minutes.

But, despite its name, this species is shy and very reluctant to bite humans. Like most snakes, they do not strike unless they feel provoked or threatened. Bites and subsequent antivenom treatment for the species remain very rare.

There is antivenom treatment available for death adder bites in Australia but it is “a 50/50 situation,” the snake catcher said in a Facebook comment.

Do you have an animal or nature story to share with Newsweek? Do you have a question about snakes? Let us know via

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Meghan Markle Says ‘I Was A Daddy’s Girl My Whole Life’ After Family Drama

Meghan Markle has referenced her relationship with her father, Thomas Markle, for the first time in detail since her 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey, as part of her newly released Netflix docuseries Harry & Meghan.

Released on Thursday, the first three episodes of the season cover the former TV actress’s early experiences in dating Prince Harry, including discussions around the racist undertones of media coverage, meeting the royal family for the first time, and the public reaction to their engagement.

Meghan Markle photographed in Windsor, September 10, 2022. And (inset) poster art for the royal’s Netflix series “Harry & Meghan.” The former TV actress has opened up in the docuseries about her relationship with her father.
Chris Jackson/Getty Images/Netfix

In episode two, Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, is interviewed for the first time, giving her thoughts on Harry and also helping to provide background on Meghan’s upbringing.

“She was always so easy to get along with,” Ragland said of her daughter. “Very congenial, making friends. You know, she was a very empathic child, very mature.”

Meghan’s relationship with Thomas Markle has been the subject of close media attention since the time of her 2017 engagement, when it was reported that the former television lighting director had not yet met his future son-in-law.

Meghan’s relationship with her father publicly broke down over staged paparazzi pictures taken in the weeks before her wedding in May 2018. After suffering an alleged heart attack, Thomas did not attend his daughter’s nuptials at Windsor Castle, in Berkshire, England, leaving Prince Charles to walk her down the aisle.

When Thomas Markle released extracts of a letter written to him by Meghan in August 2018, urging him to stop speaking to the press to a British newspaper, a long court battle between the royal and The Mail on Sunday ensued, culminating in a win for Meghan over breach of privacy. During the course of the legal action, it was revealed that Meghan and her father were estranged.

Despite this, in Harry & Meghan‘s second episode, Meghan recounts, with no air of bitterness, her relationship with her father when younger.

“Even though my parents co-parented well, you think about how that informs what you grew up to be and what you want,” Meghan said about being raised by divorced parents.

“I was with my mom during the week and then with my dad on the weekends. And my dad lived alone. He had two adult children who had moved out of his house.

“I was a daddy’s girl my whole life and I was with him a lot,” she said, before adding: “but I do remember also feeling lonely when I was a kid and wanting to have more people around.”

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in a promotional photograph for their Netflix docuseries “Harry & Meghan,” 2022. The duchess discusses her early childhood in episode two of the series.

These comments, being a rare reference to the father who has, since their estrangement, been openly critical of his daughter and son-in-law to the press and on his own short-lived YouTube channel, are played over archive video clips taken from home movies of Thomas Markle and Meghan in the 1990s.

One set of clips from these videos shows the pair on a fishing trip, the other with Markle explaining to Meghan how to use a video camera’s wide-angle setting.

Another clip package shows Meghan’s school performances with the theatre department as it is explained what role her father played in his daughter’s love of acting.

“After school, I would see my dad who was a lighting director,” Meghan said. “I loved being on set. I loved it and I loved the comradery of a crew.”

“Tom did a lot for our school,” added Susan Williger, Meghan’s childhood friend, of Markle’s involvement with his daughter, “being a lighting director and Meghan being so involved with performances.”

Since her marriage, Meghan has rarely mentioned her father in public. She said in her landmark 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey that: “I grieve a lot. I mean, I’ve lost my father.”

The royal came under criticism in May for not breaking her estrangement and visiting her father after reports that he had suffered a stroke. At the time, he had been planning to travel to London at the invitation of a news channel to give an interview at the time of Queen Elizabeth II‘s Platinum Jubilee where Meghan would also be visiting the city.

Meghan’s relationship with her father is further complicated through his association with his two oldest children, Samantha and Thomas Markle Jr.

At the time of the Harry & Meghan docuseries release, Meghan is involved in a lawsuit with Samantha over the claim the duchess made to Winfrey that she was an “only child”, and information supplied to the authors of the biography Finding Freedom.

The first three episodes of Harry & Meghan are available to stream globally only on Netflix now. The final episodes will be released on December 15.

Do you have a question about King Charles III, William and Kate, Meghan and Harry or their family that you would like our experienced royal correspondents to answer? Email We’d love to hear from you.

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