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Prisoners of their step counters

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prisoners of their step counters

Every evening before bedtime, teacher Pauline Craven-Lee checks her fitness tracker to see how many steps she’s clocked up during the day.

If it doesn’t say at least 30,000 — roughly 13 miles for her — she’ll put on her trainers and either head out for a walk with the dogs or start jogging up and down her stairs until she has reached that magic number.

She’s even been known to head out into the driving rain or a gale, and admits she would find it hard to fall asleep if she went to bed without hitting her target.

‘I’ve been addicted to step counting since getting a Fitbit three years ago,’ she says.

And while Pauline, 30, is by no means the only one who’s become borderline obsessive about their daily step count — Sex And The City actress Sarah Jessica Parker has apparently been counting her steps for years — two new studies indicate that ‘10,000 steps a day’, a mantra for so many women, may be nothing more than a catchy slogan for companies selling pedometers.

Sadie Nicholas examined the trend for using fitness trackers (pictured) to achieve a minimum of 10,000 steps a day

Sadie Nicholas examined the trend for using fitness trackers (pictured) to achieve a minimum of 10,000 steps a day

Sadie Nicholas examined the trend for using fitness trackers (pictured) to achieve a minimum of 10,000 steps a day 

Walking a minimum of 10,000 steps a day — around four miles — has become the benchmark for adequate physical activity, thanks to fitness trackers such as Fitbits that push users to hit a target now endorsed by the World Health Organisation.

But a study conducted by the Harvard Medical School looked at the step habits of nearly 20,000 women aged 62 and over and found there was no reason for step-count enthusiasts to set themselves such unrealistic targets.

While a 41 per cent reduction in mortality rate for those who averaged 4,400 steps a day was found, the rate improved progressively until hitting 7,500 steps and tapering off.

More recently, an Australia-based dietitian, Susie Burrell, cast further doubt on the 10,000-steps-a-day myth, saying it isn’t enough to counteract the hours spent sitting — and actually 10,000 steps weren’t enough to make a difference to a person’s weight.

But no matter, the 10,000 steps ‘holy grail’ is being chased by millions worldwide — with many aiming for higher and higher step counts.

Pauline says: ‘The most I’ve achieved in one day was 68,000 steps — almost 26 miles. I set aside a day in the school holidays to achieve 60,000 because Fitbit awards a ‘badge’ for every 5,000 steps done in a day.

‘From 6.30am, when I took my dogs out for a walk, until 10.30pm, I exercised non-stop, including two gym classes and a long run on the treadmill.

‘But although I was elated, I really paid for it the next day with sore feet and aching hips.’

Mary Pearson, 34, (pictured)  from Northamptonshire, who has a Garmin fitness tracker, challenges herself to walk 20,000 steps each day

Mary Pearson, 34, (pictured)  from Northamptonshire, who has a Garmin fitness tracker, challenges herself to walk 20,000 steps each day

Mary Pearson, 34, (pictured)  from Northamptonshire, who has a Garmin fitness tracker, challenges herself to walk 20,000 steps each day 

But it’s not just the idea of hitting a goal that is fuelling users. Trackers can be fiendishly addictive because, as well as giving virtual awards, they allow users to post details of their superior activity levels on social media — something Pauline often does.

Indeed, so ingrained is her habit that she says achieving fewer than 30,000 steps a day is simply unthinkable. Even with all the juggling and restrictions over the past four months, she hasn’t let things slide. Her record step count since the end of March is 58,000.

As well as 14-mile daily walks, pre-lockdown she also did vigorous daily gym classes, which she has tried to replicate online.

‘My daily walks during lockdown helped save my sanity. Nothing deters me,’ she says. But surely such devotion must take its toll on your social life — and make you stressed if you don’t get all your steps in?

David Stensel, professor of exercise metabolism at Loughborough University, agrees that such a habit can affect your state of mind. He notes: ‘With tracking, you can become addicted to exercise which could have some downsides, including isolating yourself socially from friends and family.’

Trina Kavanagh Thomas (pictured) from rural Nottinghamshire, sets herself the goal of walking between 20,000 and 35,000 steps a day

Trina Kavanagh Thomas (pictured) from rural Nottinghamshire, sets herself the goal of walking between 20,000 and 35,000 steps a day

Trina Kavanagh Thomas (pictured) from rural Nottinghamshire, sets herself the goal of walking between 20,000 and 35,000 steps a day

Pauline admits this can be the case, saying: ‘I get anxious if I don’t do enough steps. Prior to lockdown, I often felt added pressure to ensure I got my quota of steps before meeting friends.’

Far from losing weight as a result of her quest for 30,000 steps a day, Pauline says she’s actually gained a few pounds.

‘Losing weight isn’t what motivates me. It has just become a personal challenge that makes me feel good,’ she says.

Exam board moderator Mary Pearson, 34, from Northamptonshire, agrees. For her, hitting 20,000 steps a day is a must.

She and her 30-year-old husband Dan, an IT manager, got rid of one of their cars three years ago to save money, forcing a then pregnant Mary to walk everywhere.

‘I invested in a sophisticated Garmin fitness tracker, determined to stay fit during pregnancy,’ says Mary, who now has a two-year-old son, Oscar, and is an avid long-distance runner.

‘I was easily hitting 10,000 steps a day, so I decided to challenge myself to 20,000 a day, which has been easy. Before becoming a mum, I was a full-time teacher, but I’m much more active now.’

Tracey Sheppard, 41, (pictured) revealed she's shed 2st and dropped two dress sizes, since she began tracking her steps 18 months ago

Tracey Sheppard, 41, (pictured) revealed she's shed 2st and dropped two dress sizes, since she began tracking her steps 18 months ago

Tracey Sheppard, 41, (pictured) revealed she’s shed 2st and dropped two dress sizes, since she began tracking her steps 18 months ago

For Mary, 20,000 steps equates to around 15.5 miles according to her tracker — which she checks every hour.

‘If I’m behind, I think of activities to increase my steps, such as taking a walk to the park with Oscar. It’s addictive,’ she says.

But does all this activity place your body under undue strain?

In a new study, scientists at St George’s Hospital in London found that walking for just five minutes extra a day may reduce your risk of a heart attack, diabetes, stroke or broken bones.

But Professor Stensel notes there can be risks if you overdo it, saying: ‘Typical overuse injuries from walking include shin splints, or pain in the hips, knees or feet.’

Regardless, for hours every day, you’ll find Trina Kavanagh Thomas tramping the fields near her village home in rural Nottinghamshire, in pursuit of between 20,000 and 35,000 steps a day — up to 14 miles.

Although now working as a personal trainer and health coach, she previously spent years in a sedentary office job.

‘Now, if I spend too long sitting indoors, I get stressed and agitated,’ says Trina, 38, who’s married with three children.

Tracey (pictured) who lives in Chelmsford, Essex, said she can't imagine ever settling for fewer than 20,000 steps

Tracey (pictured) who lives in Chelmsford, Essex, said she can't imagine ever settling for fewer than 20,000 steps

Tracey (pictured) who lives in Chelmsford, Essex, said she can’t imagine ever settling for fewer than 20,000 steps

‘Since I began counting my steps, I’ve lost a stone and I’ve got greater mental clarity, plus my cardiovascular fitness has improved dramatically.’

Tracey Sheppard, 41, a mother-of-two, says she’s become a ‘bit addicted’ to hitting 20,000 steps — around eight miles a day. Over the past four months she’s managed to hit her target, supplementing a shorter daily walk by doing PE with Joe Wicks and playing football and badminton with her children.

Her obsession has led to her losing 2st and dropping two dress sizes since she started tracking her steps 18 months ago.

‘I’d become really lazy until a friend and I made a pact late last year to lose a bit of weight together,’ says Tracey, a part- time cleaner who lives in Chelmsford, Essex, with husband Steve, 36, a taxi driver, and their children Thomas, nine, and Kayleigh, seven.

‘At first, I had to push myself to clock up 20,000 steps, but now I enjoy it so much it’s no effort. I can’t imagine ever settling for fewer than 20,000 steps.’

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Fat Bear Week 2020: Voters decide on Alaskan animals’ weight gain

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fat bear week 2020 voters decide on alaskan animals weight gain

An internet competition in which users vote for their favorite ‘fat bear’ has kicked off for another year, providing some light relief amidst the stresses of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Fat Bear Week is an annual online tournament which takes place each October, requiring voters to choose which Katmai National Park bear has piled on the most pounds over the summer.  

The competition is organized by the Alaska’s Katmai Conservancy, with employees taking photos of the animals each June before they gorge themselves on salmon ahead of winter hibernation. 

The ‘before’ photos are then contrasted with snaps of the bears at the end of the summer, with users subsequently deciding which one has fattened up most effectively. 

Fat Bear Week is an annual online tournament which takes place each October, requiring people to choose which Katmai National Park bear has put on the most weight over the summer. This year's schedule is pictured

Fat Bear Week is an annual online tournament which takes place each October, requiring people to choose which Katmai National Park bear has put on the most weight over the summer. This year’s schedule is pictured 

The competition is organized by the Alaska's Katmai Conservancy who take photos of the animals in the early summer and then again several months later, following their impressive weight gains

Entrant 719 is pictured 'before' and 'after' their summer of salmon gorging

The competition is organized by the Alaska’s Katmai Conservancy who take photos of the animals in the early summer and then again several months later, following their impressive weight gains 

‘These bears get massive,’ Katmai Conservancy media manager, Sara Wolman, told The Washington Post

She says some of the predators can weigh in at a whopping 1,200 pounds by the time fall comes around.  

This year, 12 bears are involved in the single elimination competition, including last year’s champion, Holly. 

However, the incumbent will be going head-to-head with fan favorite Chunk, who also piled on an impressive number of pounds last year.   

This year, 12 bears are involved in the single elimination competition, including last year's champion, Holly

This year, 12 bears are involved in the single elimination competition, including last year’s champion, Holly

Fan favorite Chunk is back in the running after a summer spent feasting on salmon

Fan favorite Chunk is back in the running after a summer spent feasting on salmon 

Entrant 747 has stacked on an impressive number of pounds of the summer and is sure to be a competitive candidate

Entrant 747 has stacked on an impressive number of pounds of the summer and is sure to be a competitive candidate 

Those interested in joining in the fun can visit the competition’s official page. 

Each day, the bears are pitted off against each other with users choosing which one goes through to the next round. 

This year’s competition commenced on Wednesday, and more than 100,000 votes have been cast in the first 24 hours. 

Two bears have already been booted from the contest, with bear 856 and bear 402 both failing to adequately impress voters with their weight gain. 

Popular and portly Walker is seen eyeing off salmon before he spends the next several months hunkered down

Popular and portly Walker is seen eyeing off salmon before he spends the next several months hunkered down 

In recent years, the competition has put the Katmai National Park on the map, with enthusiasts often flocking to the site to see the bears in the flesh. 

This year, however, due to the coronavirus pandemic, users are only able to view the bears on six separate webcams set up across the park. 

The competition has brought joy to Twitter users, with several encouraging their friends and followers to play along. 

‘This is amazing!!!’ one cooed, while another declared it ‘the best news of the week’. 

Those wanting to compete can enter here: https://explore.org/fat-bear-week#vote 

Grazer by name, but not by nature! Given his sizable shape, it seems Grazer has been doing much more than grazing this past summer

Grazer by name, but not by nature! Given his sizable shape, it seems Grazer has been doing much more than grazing this past summer 

Booted! Despite racking up thousands of votes, Entrant 856 has already been kicked out of this year's competition

Booted! Despite racking up thousands of votes, Entrant 856 has already been kicked out of this year’s competition 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Trump’s campaign calls debate bosses ‘swamp monsters’ over mute button threat

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trumps campaign calls debate bosses swamp monsters over mute button threat

President Donald Trump and his campaign objected Thursday to the Commission on Presidential Debates making changes to the rules for his second and third face-offs against Democrat Joe Biden. 

‘Why would I allow the Debate Commission to change the rules for the second and third Debates when I easily won last time?’ Trump tweeted Thursday afternoon as he traveled to his Bedminster, New Jersey resort for campaign events.

That was echoed in a call with reporters with Campaign Manager Bill Stepien and senior adviser Jason Miller, who attacked the Commission as a partisan entity, pointing out that even some of the Republicans on its board of directors had said negative things about Trump.  

‘Rather than a cross section of America, this group very much comes across as what you might see at an evening gala at the Metropolitan Club in D.C.,’ Miller said. ‘For the most part, these are permanent swamp monsters.’  

The Trump campaign officials claimed only the Biden campaign had requested changes be made to the rules, including letting moderator Steve Scully turn off the candidates’ microphones. 

Tuesday night’s debate was marked by interruptions and name-calling, with the president blasting moderator Chris Wallace for, in his view, coddling Biden for trying to rein in the back-and-forth.

On Thursday, Wallace appeared on Fox News Channel and called the debate a ‘total mess’ and ‘disservice … to the country,’ adding that Trump ‘bears the responsibility for what happened on Tuesday.’ 

‘I think he would have been well advised to pull back and let Biden talk more because Biden’s answers weren’t always great,’ Wallace said. ‘In fact, I think if the president had stepped back and let Biden give his answers he could have been more effective in picking them apart.’   

President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday, 'Why would I allow the Debate Commission to change the rules for the second and third Debates when I easily won last time?'

President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday, ‘Why would I allow the Debate Commission to change the rules for the second and third Debates when I easily won last time?’

The Trump campaign firmly came out against any rule changes for the second and third debate, following up Trump's tweet with a press call where they suggested the Commission on Presidential Debates was biased in favor of Joe Biden

The Trump campaign firmly came out against any rule changes for the second and third debate, following up Trump’s tweet with a press call where they suggested the Commission on Presidential Debates was biased in favor of Joe Biden 

The next presidential debate may give moderator Steve Scully of C-SPAN the ability to turn off President Donald Trump's microphone

The next presidential debate may give moderator Steve Scully of C-SPAN the ability to turn off President Donald Trump’s microphone

President Donald Trump

Joe Biden

The Commission on Presidential Debates is weighing new rules for President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden – which neither campaign would be allowed to negotiate

‘THE FAIREST MAN IN D.C.’ FACES BIGGEST NIGHT OF HIS CAREER

Steve Scully might be little known to those who do not tune in to C-SPAN but to those who do he is known for his scrupulous evenhandedness.

Scully, 60, is the network’s senior executive producer and political editor, and for viewers, the host of Washington Journal, its morning call-in show. 

Although it does not attract mass ratings it is vital viewing for political insiders trying to take the temperature of the nation, as well as a place for political figures to appear if they want to try to set the D.C. agenda. 

Most of all it is TV’s only national call-in show on politics. Callers are screened by ideology with separate numbers for Republicans, Democrats and independents, and often express robust and unexpected views. 

The Trump campaign’s belief it could win in the mid-West was partly based on disaffected former Obama supporters calling in to Washington Journal.

Scully is known for his calm approach, never expressing a personal view, and his ability to listen. Comedian John Oliver called him ‘the most patient man in television.’

He has been C-Span political editor since 1990, having worked in local television.

Scully’s political views are unknown but he did however volunteer for the Jimmy Carter campaign in 1976, aged 16, and worked for Joe Biden, as a mail room intern in 1978 and Ted Kennedy as a media intern in 1979 – both before he graduated college. 

He has said he was brought up with a Republican father and Democratic mother and since becoming a journalist, has never been known to express a partisan view.

A devout Catholic father of four with wife Katie, he is the 14th of 16 children from Erie, PA – his parents had five sets of twins – and is on the board of two charities for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, having lost a baby daughter in 1996.

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The two candidates will face each other next on October 15 in Miami for a town-hall style debate moderated by the C-SPAN host. 

The rules of engagement will be different at that meeting, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced Wednesday, in an attempt to curb the chaos from Tuesday night’s debate, which was compared to a dumpster fire.  

The two-week window gives the commission some breathing room to consider their options. 

One getting serious consideration is giving the moderator the ability to mute the president, according to reports. 

The Trump campaign confirmed this was discussed, along with having the candidates give opening and closing statements and cutting down on the time allotted for ‘open discussion,’ which sometimes devolved Tuesday night into name-calling. 

Whatever the new rules are the campaigns will have no say in them.

The campaigns will be informed of the new rules but they will not be subject to negotiation, a source told CBS News.

Neither candidate nor their campaigns have commented on the possible changes. 

It appears the initial rules will remain in place for the vice presidential debate in Salt Lake City on Tuesday between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris.

Chris Wallace, the Fox News host who moderated the first debate, said he feared not even muting Trump’s microphone would have stopped the president from talking.

‘As a practical matter, even if the president’s microphone had been shut, he still could have continued to interrupt, and it might well have been picked up on Biden’s microphone, and it still would have disrupted the proceedings in the hall,’ he told The New York Times.

And he worried about how supporters of the candidates would react if a moderator cut their microphone.

‘People have to remember, and too many people forget, both of these candidates have the support of tens of millions of Americans,’ he said.

Scully, in an interview with Erie News Now conducted just before the revelation of a possible rule change had said that he expected the town hall format to be like his Washington Journal show, which combines interviews and phone-in segments – and joked about the lack of a mute button.

‘The only difference is that I have the ability to hit the mute button, so I’m able to do that on the Washington Journal, not so much in a debate,’ he said.

But Scully being equipped with a mute button poses a number of technical challenges from a television production standpoint. 

Another option under consideration is to penalize an interrupting candidate by forcing them to yield more time back to the opponent. 

The next debate is the vice presidential one on October 7 in Salt Lake City. 

The next presidential one in Miami will feature undecided voters asking questions of the candidates. There will be only 15-20 people in the hall asking questions due to coronavirus restrictions.

The third and final debate will be in Nashville on October 22 and moderated by Kristen Welker of NBC News. It will have the same format as Tuesday night’s debate.

Wallace’s advice to Scully and Welker: ‘If either man goes down this road, I hope you’ll be quicker to realize what’s going on than I was. I didn’t have that advance warning.’ 

The Commission on Presidential Debates said Wednesday it was ‘clear that additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues.’ 

Currently, each candidate is given the opportunity to speak for two minutes – supposedly uninterrupted – in response to a moderator’s question, before being allowed to respond to one another. 

Trump routinely flouted those rules on Tuesday, despite agreeing abide by them before the showdown commenced.  

The changes will be announced ‘shortly,’ the commission said, declining to comment further.

In his first remarks after the crazy evening, Biden described Trump as a ‘national embarrassment’ and said he hopes the format is changed to the president’s mic can be turned off when needed.

Fox News' Chris Wallace, who moderated the first debate, said he feared even turning off President Donald Trump's microphone would stop him from talking

Fox News’ Chris Wallace, who moderated the first debate, said he feared even turning off President Donald Trump’s microphone would stop him from talking

‘I can understand it. I kind of thought at one point, and maybe I shouldn’t say this, but the president of the United States conducting himself the way he did, I think it was just a national embarrassment,’ Biden said Wednesday at a stop on his train tour of Ohio and Pennsylvania.  

Biden confirmed he will participate in the following two debates and floated the idea of using technology to rein in Trump.

‘I just hope there’s a way in which the debate commission can control the ability of us to answer the question without interruption,’ he said, suggesting his microphone be muted if the president interrupts him. 

President Trump complained about Wallace not allowing him to land a glove on Biden during Tuesday’s debate.

‘I said “Sleepy Joe, name one law enforcement group that supports [you]” and then Chris Wallace says, “Don’t do that.” Can you believe? This guy,’ Trump said. 

The president also blamed Wallace for not being able to fully deploy an attack Biden’s only living son, Hunter, who Trump smacked for his foreign business dealings.

‘Protected by Chris,’ Trump sniped. ‘”We don’t want to discuss that,”‘ he said, mimicking the moderator. ‘Oh really Chris? It’s so sad.’ 

The president lumped Wallace in with the rest of the mainstream media during his Wednesday remarks. 

‘The liberal media is upset that I took the fight to Biden and exposed his dangerous agenda,’ Trump said. 

The president, meanwhile, initially indicated he would be at the next presidential debate.

‘I would like to,’ he told reporters at the White House Wednesday before he left for Minnesota. ‘We won the debate by almost every poll that I saw.’

He added of Biden: ‘I don’t mind debating him. I hear that he wants to get out of the debates. I don’t know. That’s up to him.’  

Trump made the same claim at his Wednesday night rally in Duluth, Minnesota. 

‘Now I understand he’s cancelling the debates,’ Trump said. ‘I don’t think that’s going to be a good look for him.’ 

The first presidential debate barely kicked off Tuesday evening before it devolved into a chaotic mess as the two candidates began name calling, fighting and cross-talking – ignoring pleas from Wallace to stand down.

‘Would you shut up, man?,’ a visibly exasperated Biden said about 20 minutes into the debate after Trump interrupted him.

Trump relentlessly went after Biden – frequently cutting him off mid-sentence. 

Biden, determined not to get out-muscled and mindful of Trump’s slashing 2016 attacks on Hillary Clinton, came armed with his own insults – branding Trump a ‘liar’ and a ‘clown’ and also ‘a racist’ – but sometimes merely sat back and smiled amid Trump’s own charges.

During one exchange, Biden told the president to ‘shut up.’ Later he said ‘you’re the worst president that America has ever had.’

Trump, for his part, brought up Biden’s son Hunter’s past cocaine use and inaccurately accused him of getting a dishonorable discharge from the Navy. He called his rival a ‘socialist,’ and repeatedly tried to tar him with ‘radical’ elements like Antifa. 

Wallace repeatedly lectured Trump, telling him ‘I’m the moderator of this debate’ at one point. His efforts were mostly fruitless.

Afterward, poll showed that Americans weren’t impressed by Trump’s viciousness. 

In Ipsos polling down with FiveThirtyEight.com, for example, only about one-third of those surveyed called Trump’s performance ‘somewhat good’ or ‘very good,’ while 50 per cent said it was ‘very poor.’ 

On the other hand, 60 per cent of those same respondents said Biden performed well.    

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Shocking moment gunman casually opens fire on a Brooklyn vigil and shoots man in the chest

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shocking moment gunman casually opens fire on a brooklyn vigil and shoots man in the chest

Police in New York City are searching for a gunman who was caught on surveillance video casually strolling up to a group of people holding a vigil before opening fire and hitting one man in the chest. 

According to the NYPD, the shooting took place in front of 542 Gates Avenue in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn just after 9.30pm on September 23. 

Several people were sitting on the sidewalk as part of a vigil when a man in a hooded sweatshirt and a mask walked up to them, with one hand tucked into his pocket and another holding a gun.  

The gunman appears to target a man sitting in a chair on the sidewalk and shoots him multiple times, causing him to fall

The gunman appears to target a man sitting in a chair on the sidewalk and shoots him multiple times, causing him to fall

The 34-year-old victim attempts to roll away from the gunfire, but the shooter continues squeezing off rounds at him

The 34-year-old victim attempts to roll away from the gunfire, but the shooter continues squeezing off rounds at him

The short surveillance clip released by the police shows the gunman immediately opens fire, sending the vigil attendees fleeing for their lives. 

He trains his gun on one person in particular, firing multiple rounds at him. 

The target of the attack falls off a chair and tries to roll away as the shooter continues firing on him, squeezing off at least three rounds. 

The 34-year-old victim was taken to Kings County Hospital with multiple gunshot wounds to his chest and right arm. He was described as being in stable condition and was expected to survive. 

The suspect was last seen wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt and a face mask

The suspect was last seen wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt and a face mask

Officials said it is unclear what the purpose of the vigil had been. 

A $2,500 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest. 

Anyone with information on the shooter is being asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS. 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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