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Snitch season

People have always had fun speaking out against the hypocritical acts of politicians, but over the past year the locked up masses have started to look at each other with the same suspicion.

When the spring locks were put in place, people started sharing social media posts to prove their peers weren’t distancing themselves or to identify companies that weren’t enforcing security measures. In Wisconsin, a local doctor was suspended after being photographed during a rally against masks in April; Across the country, governments have created hotlines for people to raise concerns about the pandemic. Last March, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti urged people to speak out against companies that violate Covid-19 security laws, saying, “Cookies get rewards.” (The rewards weren’t actually offered.)

The NBA also created a hotline for its players to report while playing in their sealed quarantine bubble for the 2019-20 season. “To all my fellow NBA players, don’t call the snitch hotline,” Brooklyn Nets player Spencer Dinwiddie told Bleacher Report, after several players reportedly called to complain. But also: “Don’t cross the line to get Postmates.”

College campuses have emerged as hotspots: in some cases, universities like Yale and NYU have set up hotlines for students to report Covid-related complaints; in other cases, the students took action on their own. A Cornell student has publicly apologized after being ashamed of posting a Snapchat from a party. “Nobody likes the snitch – it’s not comfortable,” Cornell sophomore named Melissa Montejo, who signed a petition criticizing the student, told The New York Times. “I’m really not the type to tell people what to do, but for me it was unsettling. Three months of being careful and not engaging in problematic behavior is worth saving a life. “

It seems inevitable that some students will choose to socialize despite the risks; By reopening their campuses, universities have essentially forced panicked students into the difficult position of being accountable to their peers for protection.

It hasn’t always worked. Even as their peers took photos of them through their windows, many students from campuses across the country continued to party. At the University of North Carolina, an account titled “Where Y’all Going?” posted unmasked socializing photos among the students; the same was true for one at Santa Clara University called “Snitch SCU” and another at Cornell called “Cornell Accountability”.

Students weren’t the only ones using anonymous accounts to enforce Covid-19 safety standards. An account called “Gaysovercovid” was just one of many accounts that have sprung up over the past summer to post user-submitted photos, this time of crowded, mask-less beach parties. in vacation destinations like Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Much of the reprimand on social media from those posting the rules could fall under the category of “corona-shaming”. The roasting was intended to embarrass, not to appeal to the authorities.

But it has created an energizing flashpoint in the ongoing culture wars. An August 2020 segment of Fox News’ show “The Ingraham Angle” – titled “Colleges Turning Students Into Keen Covid-19” – denounced campus hotlines, while a February 2021 segment of the program called “Biden’s Snitch Patrol” mentioned that of Mayor Garcetti. pro-lively comments and a teenage girl who denounced her mother for rioting on Capitol Hill, declaring that “these bubbling snitches have more in common with old-fashioned Soviet thought police than with free speech liberals of the 1970s ”.

In some cases, the backlash has left the realm of televised grievances and entered the real world, with disturbing effect. In a December speech, Dallas Heard, an Oregon state senator, encouraged local businesses to file public record requests to find out the names of people who had complained at their workplace about of Covid concerns – cookie about cookies, so to speak.

Then a group called Citizens Against Tyranny to which Mr Heard belongs posted the names of two elderly people on their website, accusing them of filing a complaint and describing them as “dirty traitors” in a font designed to make it look like ‘she was spattered with blood, according to The News-Review, a local newspaper in Roseburg, Ore.

The message was subsequently deleted. On February 22, Heard was elected president of the Oregon State Republican Party.

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For Christmas, pastors offer comfort and joy in a dark season

When Reverend Timothy Cole learned he had Covid-19 in early March, it was the first known case of the virus in Washington. Mr. Cole, the rector of Christ Church Georgetown, was hospitalized for three weeks.

Now fully recovered, the Episcopal Priest leads his church through what is typically one of the busiest and most festive seasons on the Christian calendar. In a typical year, up to 800 people could attend just one of the church’s Christmas Eve services. There would be a children’s show and Christmas carols and benches full of worshipers.

This year, pandemic restrictions cap attendance at the sanctuary at 100. Singing is now known to be one of the most dangerous activities for virus transmission, so the annual Christmas carol service has been put into effect. line. The children took photos in their pageant costumes at home.

“The darkness looks pretty dark right now,” Cole said a few days before Christmas. But he finds hope in the spiritual significance of the Christmas story: a small event, the birth of a child, which turned out to be a turning point in human history.

On Christmas Eve he will preach hope in the face of fear and sadness, drawing on his experience as a chaplain in the British Army. “Just as wars end, so do pandemics,” reads his sermon. “Until then, we are supported and made strong by what we celebrate on this day.”

When Easter arrived in April, the United States was about a month away from widespread shutdowns. Then, many pastors were still adapting to the restrictions of the pandemic and working on the technological problems of the services broadcast on Zoom or Facebook. But relatively few had been personally affected by the virus.

Eight months later, the virus is more than just a symbol of fear. At least 18 million Americans have been infected, and more than 325,000 have died, or nearly one in 1,000 people nationwide. Almost everyone knows someone who has had the virus.

“What was once an abstraction is now very real,” said Reverend George Williams, who will preside over Christmas Eve Mass at St. Agnes Catholic Church in San Francisco.

The priest contracted the virus in June while serving as chaplain at San Quentin State Prison, where more than 25 inmates died from the virus. Watching him spread around the prison was an experience of “real terror,” he said.

And now comes Christmas. Culturally, this is the time for family reunions, cross-country trips, intergenerational gift exchanges, and sprawling group meals – rituals made difficult or impossible by the pandemic. Spiritually, it is a time to celebrate the arrival of God in human form on earth.

“How do we reconcile the hopeful theme of Christmas with the desolate year we have just experienced?” Father Williams wondered. His homily at his new ward on Thursday evening will focus on “the heart of the Christmas message: the Incarnation,” where God enters the mortal experience of pain, sorrow and death.

Across the country, other Christian leaders were making similar attempts to reconcile spiritual hope and situational despair. “In my heart, I really don’t feel like Christmas because it didn’t look like Thanksgiving, and it didn’t look like Labor Day, or July 4th,” said Reverend James Riley, senior pastor of the House of Baptist Prayer Church in Baton Rouge, La. “It’s hard to bring this joy together.”

Still, he plans to preach on God’s faithfulness, even in dark times, during a brief Christmas service on Friday.

Participants will wear masks and will be spaced around the small shrine singing “Joy to the World”. Large white cardboard letters on the front of the pulpit, visible to those looking from home on Facebook, read “HOPE”.

In Dallas, the Abundant Life African Methodist Episcopal Church has been worshiping online since March. The church held its main Christmas service last Sunday, along with a virtual children’s program with song, dance, poetry and a play, all digitally stitched from children in their homes.

Reverend Michael Waters, the founding pastor of the church, preached a sermon inspired by the Biblical account of Mary and Joseph’s arduous journey to Bethlehem, where they were told there was “no room for them to the hostel ”. Mr Waters compared the perilous situation of Mary and Joseph to the recent announcement of low intensive care capacity in Southern California and a potential wave of evictions if a national moratorium is not extended.

‘No room’ are scary words and scary experiences’ that have a deeper resonance at the end of this grueling year, he said in an interview. The sermon was titled “Make Room”.

The pandemic has prevented pastors from preaching in crowded benches, but it has also prevented them from other duties: sitting with the sick and comforting the grieving.

“This loss is just huge and cavernous because you not only have death but the inability to connect,” said Reverend Carol Howard Merritt, pastor of Bedford Presbyterian Church in Bedford, NY. give those hugs or cry with people the same way.

Ms Merritt became a pastor at the church in September and still has not met all of her congregants in person.

On Thursday afternoon, Ms. Merritt’s Church will host a Christmas Eve ‘Pop-Up Show’, where children will receive masks on site and join in a small procession outside. The windows of the church will be open and organ music will float in the air. In the evening, Mrs. Merritt will preach outside, with a small group of parishioners gathered in front of the church.

The childbirth-centric vacation reminds her to be a new mother, to watch her baby girl, and to feel overwhelmed by the potential of a new life – hopefully 90 years of life in a six-pound baby.

This year, “there is so much death and horror all around us, but somehow we have the audacity to come together and remember life, hope. and the beauty of potential, ”she told herself. “We are seeing glimmers of that with the arrival of the vaccine. We can see enough around the corner to know there will be life.

Across the country in California, the First Presbyterian Church in Palo Alto has not met in person since March and has no plans to meet in person until late next summer.

During the Advent season leading up to Christmas, Reverend Bruce Reyes-Chow, the senior pastor, found himself reverting to the word “Emmanuel.” a name for Jesus which means “God with us”.

“’God with us’ takes on a whole new meaning this year,” he said. “He is with us who lives sorrow and lamentation, but also joy and hope and peace.”

Mr Reyes-Chow’s grandmother died of the virus on December 11. She was buried on Wednesday, the eve of Christmas Eve.

In preparation for the Christmas Eve service broadcast live this week, the church sent candles and the words of the Christmas carol “Silent Night” to worshipers, some now in remote locations.

At 5:00 p.m. and again at 11:30 p.m. Thursday, members will gather on Zoom, dim the lights in their homes, and sing “Silent night, holy night / Everything is calm, everything is bright.” On the screens in front of them, a grid of rectangles will glow by candlelight, a glimpse of warmth in the long dark night before Christmas morning.

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For millions of unemployed, Christmas is a season to experience, not to celebrate

Nicole Craig, an unemployed Pittsburgh mother of two, will not have Christmas presents for her two children, and the ham she bought with food stamps will be far less than their usual holiday dinner. Months behind on her rent and utility bills, she struggled to purchase infant formula and diapers. But there is one thing she couldn’t give up: a little Christmas tree and the trimmings to go with it.

Ms Craig spent the last 7 dollars in her bank account on garlands, a light-in-the-dark symbol of 2020. “It’s my baby’s first Christmas,” she says. “I wanted him to be able to see a Christmas tree.”

Although Ms Craig, 42, lost her job as an at-risk youth counselor through no fault of her own, she can’t help but blame herself when she sees Christmas decorations and other holiday reminders that she can hardly celebrate. “I don’t even want to think about it because I feel so bad for my kids,” she says. “It makes me feel like such a failure.”

For Ms. Craig, and millions of other Americans who have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s a holiday season more to experience than to savor. With the exhaustion of unemployment benefits and a ruthless job market with few places, many will remember this Christmas for painful sacrifices, not the joy of exchanging gifts and having festive meals with the family.

The arrival of vaccines and the approval of a new federal relief program offer hope, but they come too late to save this year’s celebration – especially with the prospect that this winter could bring the most days of the year. gloomy pandemic.

“I’m really scared of what’s going to happen,” Ms. Craig said.

The long delay in reaching a Congressional deal on an aid bill has meant fewer freebies under the tree even as the pandemic has separated families and shifted the holiday cheer this year to reunions of video chat.

And for many families, the stimulus payments of $ 600 per person approved by Congress are already earmarked for rent and other necessities.

In the meantime, unemployed Americans like Monica Scott of Lakeland, Florida, look to the past for comfort.

“This year the only thing I can do is talk about memories,” said Ms Scott, who was five months pregnant and had to quit her job at an Amazon warehouse due to the risk of miscarriage from loading and unloading. unloading of heavy packages. “The past year has been great – so many toys, clothes and shoes.”

Ms Scott, 34, wants to cook a Christmas dinner with her three boys – 14, 10 and 8 – but food will be limited as it will depend on food stamps and lack of cooking. Ms Scott lives in a motel after being evicted from her apartment last spring, but hopes to find permanent accommodation soon.

“It’s just a bedroom with a bathroom,” she says. “The rent is due and I don’t know where it will come from. I could move in with my sister, but she has her kids and it’s just not comfortable.

Ms Scott and others will also look to food banks to prepare Christmas dinner.

“We usually do rib roast, Martinelli apple cider, a few desserts,” said Jessica Hudson, a full-time student and mother of two from Millbrae, Calif. “We won’t be able to do any of that this year. “

Ms Hudson and her partner, who is unemployed, do their best to make Christmas as merry as possible: They bought stockings and candy at the dollar store, and they have spent the last few weeks searching the local streets. more nicely decorated. so they can take their children by car to see them on Christmas Day.

Ms. Hudson’s 13-year-old Marleigh only had one thing on her Christmas list this year: a family camping trip to Yosemite National Park. Ms. Hudson struggled to find a way to say no. “She’s basically getting an iou for Christmas, that when the pandemic is over and we’re able to travel, we’ll take her,” Ms. Hudson said. “But the truth is, we just can’t afford to do something like this right now.”

Jamie Snyder, who lives in Grayling, Michigan, bought his kids some big-ticket items last Christmas: a new TV for his daughter, an Xbox for his son. But since her husband was fired in June and then accepted a job with a $ 20,000 pay cut, money has been tight.

To buy simple gifts for the kids – a video game, a new sweater – Ms. Snyder used the money she would have spent on the electric bill. When this payment comes due on January 10, she worries that her electricity will be cut.

“We just want them to have something to look forward to,” Ms. Snyder said. For Christmas dinner, she will rely on a program from her daughter’s school that provides meals to families in need.

There is a touch of Dickens in this year’s celebrations, except that the relevant story is not “A Christmas Carol” but “A Tale of Two Cities”. Even as the stock market hits record highs and waiting lists grow for luxury items like Peloton exercise bikes, around 20 million workers were receiving unemployment benefits through state programs or federal governments at the end of November, according to the Department of Labor.

Some of the lucky ones try to give back. Sterling Beau Schecter, a machinery and equipment appraiser, received a 20% pay rise in October and increased his charitable donations to a local church accordingly.

“I am very grateful for the blessing of having a job and I try not to take it for granted,” he said. Mr Schecter, 26, lives in Chicago but was able to return home to Fort Worth for Christmas.

In a typical year, around 30 members of his extended family get together on Christmas Eve. This year, to comply with pandemic guidelines, only his immediate family will be spending time together indoors.

Nonetheless, her mother is cooking up a Christmas treat – with turkey, mashed potatoes, and rolls. Mr Schecter and his friends plan to rent a local movie theater this week for a private screening of a Christmas movie.

Workers like Mr. Schechter have generally been more resilient in the pandemic recession than those in the service sector with fewer skills and lower pay. Although the unemployment rate fell to 6.7% in November from 14.7% in April, the pace of hiring has slowed. At the same time, new claims for state unemployment benefits amount to nearly a million per week.

Many of the unemployed come from industries like hospitality, travel, dining and entertainment, which were still suffering from the initial pandemic strike in the spring when a new round of lockdowns and restrictions arrived this fall.

At 10.2 million, restaurant employment is down more than two million from February and fell again in November after rebounding in the spring and summer.

Few experts expect these sectors of the economy to experience a significant recovery until mass vaccination takes hold and consumers feel comfortable eating indoors again. – or, in places like New York and California, are even allowed to do so. Likewise, stadiums, airports and amusement parks will likely remain dormant until temperatures rise and the virus is repelled by herd immunity induced by inoculation next year.

One of those people on hold is Tresa Watson, 44, who worked as a server and host for four and a half years in the premium suite at Fiserv Forum, home of the National Basketball Association’s Milwaukee Bucks. Until she was laid off in March, she was making $ 35,000 to $ 40,000 per year, enough to buy a $ 199 car seat last year for her new grandson, Khalil. .

This year, she gives him a laptop, stuffed animals and a broom and dustpan set from Melissa & Doug, the maker of children’s toys. Most importantly, she focuses on vacation experiences that are priceless, like spending time with Khalil, and feeling grateful that she can pay the rent and keep the lights on for now.

“I will offer love, hope and prayer,” she said. “And keep hope that that too will pass.”

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Impacting Travel

Fewer Americans plan to travel this holiday season

Regardless of the surveys and analysis you follow, one thing is for sure: Fewer Americans will be traveling during the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Both AAA Travel and the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) predict that up to two-thirds of Americans will end up staying home as the coronavirus continues with a surge in the second wave of positive tests across virtually the entire country.

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AAA expects at least 34 million fewer travelers compared to last year’s holiday season, although it said that as many as 84.5 million Americans can still travel from Dec. 23 to Jan. 3, a decrease in travel from to minus 29 percent.

“While Thanksgiving is traditionally devoted to getting together with friends and family, the end of the year holidays are when Americans often venture out for a longer and more elaborate vacation. That will not be the case this year, ”said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, in a statement. “Public health concerns, official no-travel guidance and a general decline in consumer confidence have encouraged the vast majority of Americans to stay home for the holidays.”

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Travel technology, man with airplane and laptop.

The CDC has urged Americans not to travel during this year’s vacation, warning that traveling increases your chances of contracting and spreading COVID-19.

But not even a drop in prices will move travelers, AAA said.

“Normally, cheaper gas prices are an incentive for last minute trips, especially during vacations. But lower prices and less traffic aren’t driving decisions to hit the road. Americans are looking at the public health landscape, including COVID-19 case numbers, to make their travel decisions, ”said Jeanette Casselano McGee, AAA spokesperson.

A recent national survey commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association came to the same conclusion. The AHLA also shows that nearly two-thirds (69 percent) of Americans will not travel for Christmas.

“We understand the importance of following CDC guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and support government actions. However, with the dramatic drop in travel, hotels will face a harsh winter through no fault of our own, ”said Chip Rogers, AHLA president and CEO in a statement.

Rogers used the occasion to advocate for the approval of a second round of stimulus from the federal government.

“The hotel industry needs help to survive until the demand for travel returns. Given this current environment, Congress cannot and should not contemplate a recess until a relief bill is passed now, ”said Rogers. Millions of Americans are out of work and thousands of small businesses are struggling to keep their doors open. We cannot afford to wait until the next Congress is sworn in for relief. We need help now. “

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It’s the season for in-laws. Here’s how to get along.

– Geoffrey Greif, co-author of “Relations between parents-in-law: mothers, daughters, fathers and sons”.


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Spouses aren’t the only result of the two million marriages concluded each year in the United States – step-parents are made, too. But unlike spouses who (hopefully) decide together how their marriage works, in-laws usually have no say in what their new roles will involve. They are pushed together, invited to navigate the most intimate moments of life – birth, divorce, aging, illness and death – without ever having discussed the length of time too long to sit on the foldout couch.

Mothers-in-law in particular have an uphill battle. Not only do they catch the heat of negative cultural stereotypes, but they are constantly vilified and the butt of countless jokes, which stepfathers are not.

But we don’t need to despair, says Geoffrey Greif, professor in the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Maryland and co-author of the new book “In-Law Relationships: Mothers, Daughters, Fathers and Sons”.

After conducting 1,500 interviews with in-laws, Dr. Greif found that not all in-laws relationships are passive and aggressive. Many of the in-laws he studied were incredibly affectionate, while others were distant, strained, or barely there. But the majority, Dr Greif said, were “achievable and satisfactory”.

While “achievable and satisfying” isn’t really overwhelming, Dr Greif thinks it’s a good place to start building something stronger.

It’s a bit like that, he explains: it was only when the “Mona Lisa” was stolen from the Louvre in 1911 that it gained – due to its new context – more awareness and public appreciation than she had ever had before. “A spotlight has been put on it,” said Dr Greif. “Like that, we want people to become more aware of their relationships in the law.

With the holidays upon us, in a year like no other, now is a good time to take a closer look at these often overlooked but very important relationships.

My conversation with Dr Greif has been edited for length and clarity.

How have relationships between in-laws evolved over time?

A hundred years ago, parents would have a better idea of ​​who their children were getting married to because they mostly met people in their community. Also, compared to pre-industrial societies where you chose people for their strong backs or for their fertility, we now have a greater belief that their emotions are important: we are more likely to choose a spouse we like and someone. one that is not as influenced. by in-laws. So there is now a steeper learning curve between in-laws and in-laws, but there is also less dependency on in-laws than there used to be. which means the relationship is not as intense.

You often mention the relationship between in-laws as ambiguous in your new book. Explain.

We live in a society where the roles of in-laws are less clearly defined. The advantage is that people are more able to define themselves than ever before, but stepping out of prescribed roles can also be awkward. When one does not know how to act in relation to each other, it can lead to greater anxiety.

What can we do to avoid this discomfort? Should everyone sit down before the wedding and discuss their expectations?

The answer will vary greatly from family to family. Some families are comfortable with a more open form of communication than others. You must be wondering, what kind of family do I get married to?

In heterosexual couples, the husband also plays a key role in signaling to his wife the best ways to communicate with his family. He can also talk to his mother about how to approach his wife. It is the third part of the triangle and must be thought about.

In popular culture, accounts are not kind to the stepmother, portraying her as interfering and intrusive. Is it harmful even if it is done in a light way?

A lot of the mother-in-law we have spoken to are very afraid of this trope and of ending up like this. We believe reframing is needed – instead of ‘interfering’ we should try to see them as ‘concerned’ and ‘loving’.

But women also occupy a much more important place than men in the families we interviewed. If you are more central, you are more likely to pass off to interfere.

Why is that?

Greater centrality means greater contact and more interactions, sometimes around more interpersonal issues.

So just by being more engaged there is a higher chance of causing friction. Does the relationship between a son-in-law and a stepfather tend to have a different dynamic?

Men have been socialized not to be so expressive physically or emotionally with each other. I paint men with a large brush; there are incredible individual differences. But men tend to deal with more concrete things, like talking about work, sports, or doing tasks together. This means that they can avoid some of the pitfalls that occur in the more gray areas around emotions.

Historically, women have interacted in these more difficult areas, these more gray areas, like: How do I keep the house? Am I raising children well? There is therefore more ambiguity for them to navigate than for men.

So while there is more potential for conflict for women, there also appears to be more potential for proximity.

When we asked stepchildren if they were closer to their stepfather or stepmother, the vast majority were closer to their stepmother. Also, if you have a series of questions and the answers are on a 5 point scale – strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, strongly disagree – men tend to choose all three. midpoints, but many women have come to extremes. They have stronger feelings about these relationships.

In your research, you also confirm what many have suspected – that many stepmothers believe they have to walk on eggshells around their stepdaughters. Why?

There are things at stake that are very important to the mother-in-law. She wants to stay in touch with her child. She also wishes to have access to the grandchildren and, again, in the majority of families, this access goes through the daughter-in-law. At the same time, she often doesn’t know what role she is supposed to play. For example, she may know that her stepdaughter is close to her own mother, so she may be wondering where and how she fits.

The is much at stake to get along.

Yes, the stakes are high and there are a number of things that can be done. On the one hand, all in-laws need to look more at what they have in common and minimize disagreements. One of the messages of the book is in fact that most of these relationships are job.

Yes, in-law relationships seem to be more positive than popular perception suggests, even though there is an underlying tension.

In a mature relationship, you accept ambiguity and ambivalence. Very few relationships are perfect. You say, this is who my son married or he is the parent of my spouse, and I need to focus on what works. To quote Ruth Bader Ginsburg about her marital relationship, “You have to be a little deaf.”

Tips from in-laws in your book for maintaining a positive relationship include variations on “bite your tongue” and “keep your mouth shut”. Is this good advice?

Communication with a family member, especially a brother-in-law, should not be free unless both parties come from families where this type of communication is encouraged and valued. Advice can be perceived as criticism if it is not carefully crafted and if it is not requested.

What surprised you the most about your research?

I was surprised that these issues concerning men and women are still there. I knew they were there, but still, it continues. If I had written the book 20 years ago, I think the results would have been similar. It’s not what I was looking for, but often you don’t find what you wanted the company to be, but you find what the company is. I would like men to mobilize and feel more comfortable being more at the center of the family.

The holidays are a festive time, but also difficult for families to negotiate where and how to celebrate. This year, there’s an added layer of stress as family members decide what to do – or not to do – during a pandemic. Often, both sides (or more) disagree on what is right. How should they navigate it?

Families need to let go of the idea that everything must be fair because you can’t treat everyone the same this year. It is a matter of love and comfort. Frame your decision with love and communicate that, We decided to do it this way because of our love for you, not our lack of love for you.

What impact could the coronavirus pandemic have on the relations between the in-laws? Could there be a way out-makes-the-heart-grow-more loving?

Tense and distant relationships are unlikely to improve significantly, but distant and unstrained relationships – in other words, not particularly close or problematic – can change as family members gain a new appreciation, maybe existential, for each other and the importance of staying more connected in the future.


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Video: A ‘season of hope’ says a dime of possible vaccine approval

new video loaded: A ‘season of hope’, says Pence of possible vaccine approval

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A ‘season of hope’, says Pence of possible vaccine approval

Vice President Mike Pence visited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday, offering an optimistic assessment of the coronavirus pandemic with the likely approval of the first coronavirus vaccine as early as next week.

First and foremost, on behalf of President Donald Trump and all of the members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, just to thank you. Thank you to the men and women of the CDC, who have literally dedicated their lives over the past 10 months to saving lives across America. We are going through a difficult time during this pandemic. And we all have a role to play – washing our hands, social distancing, wearing a mask when appropriate. But we are also in a season of hope. To be as we may be, Bob, only a week and a half away from what the likely approval of the first coronavirus vaccine will be for the American people. He inspires the people of this country. We are going to put our seniors and the staff in our long-term health care facilities first. And we’re also going to be a priority for healthcare workers so that we continue – not only to put their health first – but also to make sure that we have staff in our hospitals, in our clinics to provide care to the people. continue to be affected by this pandemic.

Recent episodes of Coronavirus pandemic: latest updates

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Travel News

In a dark season we went in search of poetry

In their Times articles, the writers thanked certain phenomena specific to their states – “the proximity to the water in August at Narragansett Beach / and the lobster” in Rhode Island, for example. But there were also many things in common: gratitude for natural wonders, for neighbors, family and healthcare workers, for health itself.

However, the realization of the project was not without drama.

Illinois, for example, had no Poet Laureate since 2017. We got a pretty good submission from the former Laureate, but then got an urgent call from Chicago. Governor JB Pritzker would nominate a new Poet Laureate on Monday, November 23, an aide assured me – plenty of time to include him in our story on Thanksgiving Day. But Monday came and went without announcements. Tuesday too. Finally Wednesday arrived and with it a new bard for Illinois: Angela Jackson, just in time.

Some poets were difficult to find. The writer from Vermont does not have an email address. But her friend, the Rhode Island poet laureate, knew her phone number and texted her to make sure she had received our request.

The Oregon poet, like all ever-satisfied journalists in the world, continued to refine his poem, even as our deadline approached. A poet feared she had contracted the coronavirus, but she still managed to send in a submission.

Jeanetta Calhoun Mish submitted a poem in a long time, but something about her ode to Oklahoma sparked suspicion from the Times mail system and it ended up in my spam folder, hidden from view. “This message seems dangerous,” my computer warned, when I finally found it. We quickly added her – not at all scary – piece to our collection after its initial release.

Shawn Hubler, a California-based national correspondent, skillfully weaved a story out of the three dozen submissions we collected, highlighting some of the most evocative terms and ideas, like that of Beth Ann Fennelly of Mississippi, which was ” grateful to be counted on: One Mississippi, Two. Thankful for the word all of you. Grateful for the empathy to all.

Clinton Cargill, another associate editor at the national office, commissioned several beautiful illustrations to accompany the story. And Carrie Mifsud, a designer, created a graceful spread for the Thanksgiving Day newspaper.

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Travel News

It’s the holiday season at the White House. Masks are encouraged, but not required.

WASHINGTON – The red and gold party invitations make no mention of the coronavirus, nor do they recognize the holiday message public health officials have tried to convey to Americans: stay home.

Instead, the invitations are the latest example of how President Trump spends his final weeks in power in an alternate universe, denying the realities of life during the pandemic.

“The President and Mrs. Trump are asking for the pleasure of your business at a holiday reception to be held at the White House,” reads the cursive text, displayed under a presidential seal.

Invitations to at least 20 White House parties, the first Monday at 7 p.m., have been sent so far, administration officials said. Guest lists include current and former officials and allies, some from out of state; Officials of the Republican National Committee; campaign staff; and a few Republicans on Capitol Hill.

Vice President Mike Pence, who heads the White House Coronavirus Task Force, is also hosting at least one ‘Christmas celebration’ at the Naval Observatory, according to a copy of the invitation, which states a dress code of “cocktail dress” as well as all guests over the age of 2 and all staff working at the event and serving food wear masks.

Social distancing will also be enforced, and guests will have their temperature checked upon arrival at Mr Pence’s residence, as per the invitation.

In more than half a dozen interviews on Tuesday, many guests said they did not plan to attend the White House rallies due to the personal risk required. Others joked that since so many in the president’s orbit had already tested positive for the virus, the White House had achieved herd immunity and was now a safe space for a shutdown. quick to see the Christmas decorations.

The holiday season, canceled across much of Washington, will be a rare time when the White House feels busy.

Inside the West Wing over the past few weeks there has been significantly less foot traffic inside and outside the Oval Office as staff members reflecting on their career development give a little space for the president who refuses to concede the loss of the election. Mr. Trump himself has made few public appearances since the election was called for Joseph R. Biden Jr.

As Mr. Trump retreated from public view, Mr. Biden attempted to put himself in a vacuum. Last week, for example, he gave a crude but upbeat Thanksgiving speech in which he begged Americans to stay home for the holidays, telling them it was a patriotic duty to take the necessary precautions.

But the White House holiday season – with a gingerbread house made with 25 pounds of chocolate and 25 pounds of royal icing by the in-house pastry team – is one area where the president breaking the standards seems determined. to savor the tradition, even if that means flouting the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Among the holiday events is a party Mr. Trump is hosting on the afternoon of December 11 for West Wing staff members and their families. There are also receptions scheduled for the evenings of December 14 and 16, depending on the guests and copies of the invitations.

While the invitations did not mention any coronavirus safety precautions, Stephanie Grisham, chief of staff to Melania Trump, the first lady, said the White House was taking steps to ensure the safety of attendees. Guests would be strongly encouraged to wear masks when not eating and guest lists were smaller than usual, Ms Grisham said. She did not say how many people were invited to each event.

Other restrictions were put in place that were not instituted when the president hosted a large crowd for a White House indoor party on election night, she added.

“Customers will be able to enjoy dishes prepared individually by chefs at catering stations protected by plexiglass,” Ms Grisham said in a statement. “All past drinks will be covered. All service personnel will wear masks and gloves to comply with food safety guidelines. Attending the parties will be a very personal choice. It’s a long-standing tradition that people visit and enjoy the joy and iconic decor of the annual Christmas celebrations at the White House. “

The latest directives from Mayor Muriel E. Bowser of Washington, a Democrat, limit gatherings inside the city to 10 people. As of December 14, Washington restaurants are allowed to operate indoors at only 25 percent of capacity.

The White House is exempt from city restrictions as it sits on federal property.

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Travel News

Can Cannabis Farms Withstand Wildfire Season?

In 2013, Joy Hollingsworth moved with her family from Seattle to the country with a plan to start a cannabis business.

Washington State had recently legalized recreational marijuana and Barack Obama had just been re-elected. For Ms Hollingsworth, a former basketball player, and her brother, Raft Hollingsworth III, a former University of Washington student who cultivated medical marijuana, now seemed the best time to buy a farm and make a profit.

So began the Hollingsworth Cannabis Company, a black-owned family business in what has become a very white and increasingly corporate-dominated industry.

“Here are black people from the city moving to the middle of nowhere, a predominantly white area,” said Ms. Hollingsworth, 36, recalling the beginnings of Shelton, a small town near Olympic National Park where the family lived. built his farm. “I thought they were going to have a problem with us growing cannabis. The reality is that most of our neighbors love weed.

What worried them was the water.

The region is prone to drought and has faced increasing unpredictable weather conditions in recent years. “We get more rain in August and more snow in winter,” Ms. Hollingsworth said – so much snow, in fact, that last year one of her greenhouses collapsed under her weight.

Too much precipitation means too much water and humidity for crops to thrive. And in recent months, Ms Hollingsworth said, they must have been concerned about the fires.

The most destructive wildfire season on record on the West Coast raged this fall, amid the country’s most widespread drought since 2013. More than five million acres of land burned and many farms, of cannabis and others, had to evacuate.

While most farms are covered by environmental destruction insurance, insurers (including major banks) remain wary of cannabis farms. As of May 2020, just six companies nationwide were offering insurance to farms growing cannabis containing more than 0.3% THC, the plant’s main psychoactive compound.

Hemp, defined as cannabis containing 0.3% THC or less, was eligible for federal crop insurance as of that year of planting only. Many marijuana crops are uninsured, which means that following a fire, farmers can face financial ruin.

Jeff Nordahl, 47, runs Jade Nectar, a small, family-owned cannabis business in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Forest fires broke out within a mile of his farm this fall, and Mr. Nordahl and his workers had to evacuate for nearly a month. “Three weeks without being able to water cannabis on 90-100 degree days will kill the cannabis in three to four days,” he said.

Mr. Nordahl therefore found workarounds so that his crops had the minimum amount of water they needed. “It sometimes required a 12 mile hike with the blessing of the neighbors to cross their property, accessing rescuers who knew me,” he said. “I had helped their family many years ago by providing free cannabis oil to a family member who beat cancer, so they helped me gain access to our farm.

Although none of his crops burned, he still felt the effects of the fires keenly. “Even when your farm is not on fire, just the impact of smoke and the potential damage, and the sun being blocked and the like, the plant definitely suffers,” he said.

Keala Peterson, 31, and her mother, Kila Peterson, 60, known as Mama Ki, founded Sweet Creek Farm in Greenville, Calif., In 2014 after three years of pot growing for personal use on their 5,000 square foot farm. The youngest, Ms Peterson, called the fires “just another layer” in the struggles of being a small family farm.

“It’s such a shame because most of the people affected by these fires are small because by the nature of where we are located you cannot be a big farm,” she said. . “There is no big flat land to make acres. It is quite steep. And above all, these are just people who live on their property. In August, the fire destroyed 80 percent of Ms. Peterson’s marijuana crop, as well as her parents’ home.

Forest fires often occur at a time of year when cannabis can be vulnerable. Planted cannabis can survive fire if the soil has not been contaminated, but during flowering, the stickiness of plants can make them susceptible to being covered by falling ash, soot, or fire retardants.

Often, marijuana is harvested in September before the first frost, but marijuana farms on the west coast can have a longer growing season due to the generally temperate climate.

“Harvesting in the middle of September is probably very risky given that the fire season is peak these days,” Nordahl said. This year, Jade Nectar planted a strain to harvest in early August and another around Thanksgiving. “We want to avoid cannabis strains in late August and September, as these are the highest fire risk periods,” said Nordahl.

Sweet Creek Farm was able to do a “late replant” with new crops given to them by a local nursery. Members of the community came to help the Petersons replant their crops.

“We were a bit like cockroaches,” Ms. Peterson said. “As soon as it was safe to enter, we were able to water the 20 percent of the plants that survived. We pruned them to a third of the way up because the lower branches burned down, but they survived and we harvested them. We are able to save some sort of season.

Some cannabis growers have chosen to stay on their farms, in some cases defying evacuation orders, in an attempt to save crops from fire using methods like watering the plants. One of these farmers was the father of Ms. Peterson, a retired firefighter.

After surviving previous wildfire seasons, other marijuana farms have branched out into additional crops or focused on growing indoors (as the majority of Colorado cannabis farms do). But even indoor crops are not immune to damage from forest fires.

Ms Hollingsworth doesn’t yet know the impact of smoke on her crops, which are grown in climate-controlled greenhouses, but “they don’t straighten out as much as they usually do,” she said. At the moment, she is very worried about the sky. “The sun’s rays, they can’t filter through the smoke,” she said. “And we are truly relying on the greatest resource the planet has ever known, namely the sun, to grow.”

Yet Ms Hollingsworth has no plans to give up her family business. Last year, she and her brother were on the cover of Cannabis Business Times, and they appeared in an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown”. “I hope we can continue on this path of growing cannabis sustainably and showing people that it can be done,” she said.

Ms Peterson’s family plan to rebuild their home with forest fires in mind, including steel, solar panels and no windows facing the forest. “We will continue,” she said. “I want to raise my children on my family property. It would be the dream to continue the farm to the next generation.

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Travel News

As shoppers move online, so does the holiday shopping season

Holidays will be different at Macy’s this year. The Thanksgiving Parade will be without spectators and Santa Claus will not go through Christmas wish lists from his usual perch on 34th Street.

But while many of those traditions are likely to return once the coronavirus threat has passed, other changes at Macy’s this holiday shopping season – which traditionally begins with Thanksgiving – signal how the business of the company, and those of the entire retail industry, can be changed. forever by the pandemic.

Early last month, two Macy’s stores in Delaware and Colorado went “dark,” meaning employees primarily use the spaces as fulfillment centers where they process orders and returns online rather. than as a place where customers can browse and shop.

Jeff Gennette, managing director of Macy’s, said dark stores were part of an experiment as the company responded to customers who buy more online and demand ever faster, free shipping. But converting a department store to a distribution center, even temporarily, reflects how retailers are succumbing to e-commerce dominance and struggling to reclaim increasingly unnecessary physical shopping space.

The forces driving online shopping were set in motion long before the pandemic. But to trace the decline of many physical stores and the concurrent growth of e-commerce over the past seven months is to observe the evolution of the industry and its impact on the economy as a whole. Going forward, 2020 will be seen as a major inflection point for retail.

“Covid has passed five years of fallout over an 18-month period,” said Vince Tibone, a senior analyst covering retail for Green Street Advisors.

Last week, Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, reported e-commerce sales rose 79% in the third quarter, while rival Target said its e-commerce business grew 155%. Amazon’s sales rose 37% and its profits rose nearly 200% in the last quarter.

Retail executives said the skyrocketing growth was not the result of pandemic lockdowns, but the result of a permanent change in the way people shop.

“We believe these new customer behaviors will largely persist,” Walmart chief executive Doug McMillon said in a statement last week as the company released its most recent sales and profit figures.

Across the industry, online sales are expected to grow at their fastest pace in 12 years, accounting for 20% of all retail purchases this year. This is 16% more in 2019, according to Forrester Research.

While a portion of these sales are in-store pickups, many are not and the impact on brick and mortar is undeniable. Earlier this month, the number of stores announced to close in 2020 peaked at 10,991, according to CoStar Group, a data provider for the real estate industry. Many malls are teetering as tenants reduce the number of stores, fail to pay rent, or go out into bankruptcy. Retailers that have filed for bankruptcy this year include JC Penney, J.Crew, Brooks Brothers and Neiman Marcus.

“The retail business has changed; Said Daniel Horrigan, the mayor of Akron, Ohio, where Amazon opened a fulfillment center this month, creating 1,500 jobs. “You cannot stay in front of this wave.”

The new Amazon Center replaces a once-beloved mall from a bygone era that included a Sears, RadioShack and York steakhouse.

But the 54-acre site remained vacant for a decade, a blatant reminder of the wider struggles of the town of Rust Belt: The body of a murder victim was discovered at the mall site and another man was found. electrocuted while trying to steal copper from empty building. “It looked like a giant haunted house inside,” Horrigan said.

A few years ago, Mr. Horrigan attended the South By Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, and pitched the idea of ​​redeveloping the mall property to Amazon.

City and state officials have agreed to upgrade roads and interchanges to make it easier for Amazon trucks to reach the building, which is near a major highway. Amazon has also marked tax incentives in the deal.

“The mall was teeming with life, kids, popcorn and concerts,” said Horrigan, who has spent most of his life in Akron. “Every Christmas it would be full of people. But we have to be realistic. “

This realism is also taking hold in other cities. Even before the pandemic, some of New York’s most famous retail corridors were emptying. Long stretches of storefronts along Madison Avenue and in Soho struggled with vacant storefronts, taking away some of the shine from these upscale neighborhoods. Macy’s, which has seen sales plummet by more than 20% in the past three quarters, has been particularly hard hit at its iconic flagship store and Bloomingdale’s with the temporary loss of tourists and office workers.

Workers say that since the retailer reopened in June, there have been more employees than customers in stores on some days. At Bloomingdales, some workers fill the time by packing orders online to ship from the store.

“There are people in the stores, but they don’t have the numbers,” said Brenda Moses, who started working at Bloomingdale during the Christmas season more than 30 years ago.

Across Manhattan, the number of commercial leases signed or renewed fell 31% in the third quarter from a year ago, and rents fell 13% in major commercial corridors, according to CBRE, a real estate services company. . This was the 12th consecutive quarter of declining rents. At Hudson Yards, the much-vaunted development on the west side of Manhattan, Neiman Marcus said he would vacate his 188,000-square-foot space just over a year after it opened.

“Some retailers will come back when prices drop,” said Santiago Gallino, a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania who studied retail. “But their stores won’t come back in the same format. They will need to be more integrated into their online business. “

Inevitably, however, retailers will need less physical space. And it’s unclear what type of business will fill the growing void, raising hopes that Manhattan storefronts may remain vacant for the foreseeable future.

“For the economy and for retail, this transition is exciting and good,” said Gallino. “But it’s also true, it’s not going to be painless.”

The rapid transformation of the retail industry is equally striking in the boroughs outside of Manhattan. Coming out of long inactive factory sites, more than a dozen e-commerce warehouses are being built to meet New York’s insatiable need for same-day deliveries. Warehouse leases increased 70% in the third quarter compared to the previous quarter.

At Red Hook, on the Brooklyn waterfront, work crews are building what will become one of the tallest warehouses on the East Coast: a three-story building with parking spaces for trucks and “sprinter vans” for deliver goods across New York City in less than a day.

In June, Amazon signed a lease on a 285,000 square foot “delivery station” in the Maspeth section of Queens. Amazon has also significantly expanded the space it leases in a series of giant warehouses on Staten Island. In addition to the 855,000-square-foot distribution center the company opened in 2018, Amazon expanded to an additional 1.4 million square feet this fall at the Staten Island site. In the Bronx, the company takes over a building recently vacated by its rival Walmart.

“I’ve been doing this for 30 years and it’s the best year we’ve ever had,” said Robert Kossar, director of industrial real estate for Northeast at JLL, a real estate services company. “We certainly don’t see any signs of slowing down.”