Baan Dusit Thani, Dusit International’s unique group of restaurants in the heart of Bangkok, is giving diners a chance to enjoy complimentary accommodation of up to two nights at participating Dusit Hotels and Resorts in Thailand.
From now until October 31, diners who spend Bt7,000 or more on food and beverage at any of the outlets in the Baan Dusit Thani complex – Benjarong Thai Restaurant, Thien Duong Vietnamese restaurant, or the Dusit Gourmet and Garden Bar – will be instantly rewarded with a Dusit Treats Stay Voucher redeemable for a midweek stay at a Dusit property of their choice through March 31 next year.
Voucher holders can choose to spend one night at Dusit Thani Hua Hin, Dusit Thani Pattaya, Dusit Thani Krabi Beach Resort, dusitD2 Ao Nang Krabi, Dusit Suites Hotel Ratchadamri, Pathumwan Princess MBK Centre or ASAI Bangkok Chinatown or two nights at Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket or dusitD2 Chiang Mai.
Voucher holders who are members of Dusit Gold will receive an exclusive complimentary room upgrade.
DailyPass.com, a website offering “daycation” deals, has gone into a partnership with Marriott hotels to offer customers all-day access to swimming pools and other facilities at the group’s hotels without having to book a room.
The website is operated by Travel Ads Network (Thailand).
Every daycation booked on DailyPass.com comes with a voucher that offers a discount on food and drinks based on how much is spent.
Participating Marriott properties include Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers, W Hotel, Plaza Athenee, Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, Marriott Marquis and Marriott Surawongse.
Since the Thai tourism industry is suffering from the lack of foreign travellers, many companies are looking at domestic alternatives.
Chris Secher, co-founder and CEO of Travel Ads Network (Thailand), said this link-up will allow local people a chance to experience the luxury offered by Marriott hotels.
“We focus on day guests for our hotels and we are the first to do so in Asia. It’s a great way for locals to enjoy some time at the hotel and offer support while we wait for international tourism to gradually restart,” Secher said.
DailyPass is linked to more than 300 hotels and resorts in Bangkok, Pattaya and Hua Hin, with more cities to be added later this year.
#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation.
Coronavirus and weddings: Tying the knot in virus times
LivingSep 13. 2020Workers disinfect a wedding venue in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, on Aug. 19. (Yonhap)
By Korea Herald
Without a doubt, 2020 has not been a great year to hold events. Some events, however, cannot easily be canceled or postponed.
Like most other countries, weddings are big business in Korea, and celebrations are typically planned out at least a year in advance.
People often travel across the country to attend, and guests are tightly packed in during a ceremony, which is followed by a reception that often involves buffet stations.
With the government imposing stringent health measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, wedding ceremonies in Korea are under close scrutiny.
Limits on crowd size and specific guidelines are causing widespread confusion for those preparing for their big day.
A wedding venue in Seoul is empty on Aug. 22, the first weekend after the government strengthened social distancing guidelines in the Greater Seoul area. (Yonhap)Wedding day disasters
Under the Level 2 social distancing rules, gatherings of 50 or more people indoors and of 100 or more people outdoors are restricted, which means weddings cannot be held in the usual way. With the government requiring wedding venues to comply with the guidelines, conflicts between the venue operators and couples are deepening.
Most wedding halls require a certain “minimum guaranteed guests.” The number depends on the venue, time slot and date. This number refers to the minimum number of meals a couple will be required to pay for as part of the wedding reception.
Wedding halls in Seoul often require couples to sign a contract for at least 200 guests. Under the contract, couples have to pay for the meals of those 200 guests, whether all 200 dine at the venue or not. If the number of people who actually dine exceeds the agreed upon number by more than 10 percent, there may not be sufficient food to go around.
Though strengthened social distancing guidelines mandate wedding halls restrict the guests to 50 per wedding, some wedding venues are refusing to reduce the number.
Some couples have taken the issue to the Blue House petition board, pleading that wedding halls be made to drop their minimum guarantee for now.
The Korea Fair Trade Commission has stepped in, suggesting a federation of wedding halls allow the postponement of ceremonies without extra charges for six months, and to temporarily suspend their minimum guaranteed guest policy.
Wedding halls have likewise taken to the Blue House petition board, insisting the minimum guest requirement is needed for them to pay their employees and meet rent.
Confusion walking down aisle
Compounding the confusion of couples are the varying guidelines issued by regional governments.
Though the Level 2 social distancing plan was enforced on Aug. 16, and was strengthened on Aug. 19, the KCDC announced the specific guidelines on wedding ceremonies on Aug. 23.
Before the announcement, each regional government imposed different guidelines on weddings, causing confusion for couples and wedding halls.
According to KCDC guidelines, the bride, groom and their families are counted among the 50 persons allowed, but wedding hall staff are not. Everyone at the wedding venue has to wear masks at all times — except for the bride and groom when they enter or leave the wedding hall and during the photo shoots. Others have to wear masks during the photo shoots. Also, when taking photos each attendee should be 1 meter apart from one another. It is recommended that meals be replaced with gifts. However, if meals have to be served, under 50 people can dine 1 to 2 meters apart from each other.
If the guidelines are not followed, those who were present at the wedding may be fined up to 3 million won ($2,500) each.
“Even for us, everything is so confusing. Direct guidelines are not given, but responsibilities are heavy,” a wedding venue employee said. “We are sorry that weddings have turned into nightmares for brides and grooms.”
Weddings evolve into new forms
Those who are going forward with their wedding plans are coming up with creative ways to cope with the situation.
Some are preparing their weddings in two parts of one hour each. Kim Ji-eun, 29, an office worker in Seoul, is one of them. The first part of her wedding in early September will be held with the presence of extended family, while the second part will be attended by the couple‘s close friends and colleagues.
Kim had to pay more for the wedding venue in central Seoul to make the arrangements. But the additional charge was relatively small compared to the charges that would be incurred if she postponed or canceled the wedding.
Kim already made reservations for her wedding dress, photographers, video recording staff and more, which would all charge her for a change of date. And though her wedding venue was offering to delay her wedding without an additional charge until February, all the “golden times” had already been taken.
“I just want to get it over with. After all, married life is important, not the wedding itself,” Kim said. “Even if we postpone the wedding to winter, we cannot be sure that this would not happen again. I cannot take chances anymore.”
Some are taking their weddings online, livestreaming the ceremony for guests unable to attend the wedding due to the heavy restrictions.
“I livestreamed my wedding via Instagram,” an online user who said she held her wedding over the prior weekend wrote on an online wedding community website. “My friends and my extended family who could not come watched the livestream and left messages congratulating me on my marriage.”
“I felt like an influencer and was surprised that many watched the livestream,” the bride wrote. “Of course, it was sad that we could not have all of our loved ones at the wedding. But at times like this, we cannot compromise anyone’s health.”
#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation.
Under the brightest spotlight yet, Jill Biden takes on her biggest role
LivingAug 18. 2020Jill Biden, shown introducing her husband at a 2013 event, is taking an active role in his campaign for president. MUST CREDIT: Photo for The Washington Post by Astrid Riecken
By The Washington Post · Jada Yuan, Annie Linskey · NATIONAL, POLITICS, WHITEHOUSE On the chaotic day that Joe Biden called Sen. Kamala Harris to ask whether she’d be his running mate, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s phone rang.
As one of four co-chairs on Biden’s vice-presidential selection committee, Garcetti was one of a handful of people on the planet privy to that extensive and secretive process. On the other end of the line was someone even more involved in the decision: Joe’s wife of 43 years, Jill.
So central was Jill Biden’s role in the process that the selection committee had presented their initial findings to the Bidens as a pair. With Jill’s input, Joe narrowed the field of more than 20 to the 11 whom he then interviewed one on one. Joe called the other contenders to tell them Harris was his choice, and Jill was the one calling the four selection committee co-chairs to tell them the news.
The extent of Jill Biden’s influence on big decisions in her husband’s campaign to unseat President Donald Trump is both mysterious and not. “It’s a marriage” is her standard line, which is to say, of course they’ve talked about this, they bounce things off each other all the time, and we don’t get to know the details. (Her staff declined to make her available for an interview.)
Here’s something we do know: The Jill Biden who will address the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday night is playing a far more active role in her husband’s campaign than she has in his past two White House bids, in 1988 and 2008, according to close friends and confidants. Though she’s spent eight years in and near the White House, her speech at the virtual convention will probably serve as a reintroduction to voters – a big moment for a potential first lady, even under these circumstances.
And what kind of first lady would she be? By all indications, a hands-on one. “I think she has a combination of Michelle Obama, Eleanor Roosevelt and Hillary Clinton,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO, noting that all three were passionate about education but the latter two operated in the foreground, while Obama seemed more comfortable asserting her power behind the scenes. It’s likely Jill Biden would be a far more public and active first lady than Melania Trump.
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Jill likes to tell the story of how in 2003, when party brass were at her house trying to get Joe to run, she marched past them in a bikini with “NO” written in marker on her stomach. This time, she’s pitched in on the campaign’s education unity task force, helping merge policy ideas from Sen. Bernie Sanders’s camp and her husband’s. She’s reached out to Hispanic leaders, trying to forge a tie with a group of voters that has been slow to warm to her husband. She has taken on routine but meaningful duties like informing Garcetti and other members of the vice-presidential search team of her husband’s pick, which was first reported by USA Today. At times, she’s even taken a turn as impromptu bodyguard, twice fending off protesters storming the stage while Joe was speaking.
With Joe largely campaigning from their home in Wilmington, Del., because of the coronavirus pandemic, she is the one who is physically with him on most days, while top advisers have scattered across the country. Family dynamics have changed, too, since the last time Joe ran for office – particularly after Beau Biden’s 2015 death of brain cancer at 46. Beau’s absence as his father’s confidant has left a vacuum that Jill has filled, according to friends.
And Jill herself has changed.
“When we started campaigning in 2008, she was a little nervous,” says Cathy Russell, Jill’s former chief of staff, who’s known and been working with the Bidens at different times since 1987. This time around, Russell was in Iowa for a month, sometimes meeting up with the former second lady as she maintained a packed schedule – often busier than Joe’s, according to staffers and outside observers. Jill would invite Iowa grandmothers out for wine and give her contact information to people who told her of sons dying of cancer or in the military. “She’s just really good!” says Russell, who recalled Jill going around to small crowds in rural towns trying to convince every reluctant voter individually. “She’s just so much more experienced and self-assured, what is it? Twelve years later?” (For all her effort, Joe Biden came in fourth in Iowa this year.)
The Iowa caucuses, too, feel like they were, what is it, 12 years ago? Since then, Biden has managed to become his party’s nominee, and the situation in the country he’s trying to inherit has only become more dire. Beating Donald Trump is not Jill Biden’s job, but she’s made it clear that she intends to help her husband do it, and that she, too, is eager to get to work.
During the Obama presidency, Michelle Obama and Jill Biden traveled together as part of their Joining Forces initiative in support of military families, and the former first lady once described what it was like flying with her counterpart.
“Jill is always grading papers,” Obama said in their joint 2016 White House exit interview with People Magazine. “Which is funny because I’d forget, ‘Oh yeah, you have a day job!’ And then she pulls out her papers and she’s so diligent and I’m like, ‘Look at you! You have a job! Tell me! Tell me what it’s like!’ “
Jill Biden had been a rarity: a second lady with a second gig. She was an English composition professor at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), a job she started in 2009, part of a long career in education that included stints at public high schools, at an adolescent psychiatric facility and at Delaware Technical Community College.
The enduring image former staff members repeatedly say they have of Jill Biden during the Obama administration is her carrying a stack of papers she had to grade on state trips to places like Israel, Japan or the Democratic Republic of Congo. One time, Jill asked to leave her office hours 10 minutes early, recalls Jim McClellan, NOVA’s liberal arts dean, because Joe was sitting in Air Force Two waiting for her to show up so they could do a three-country tour of Latin America. “I said, ‘Well, since the jet is revving up and using gas sitting on the runway, go ahead,’ ” McClellan says. She left with a stack of papers to grade and had them all done in time to be back in the office at 7 a.m. for her Tuesday classes.
If Joe Biden, who is 77, wins the presidency, Jill, 69, would not be the first first lady with an education background – Michelle Obama has been an associate dean of student services at the University of Chicago, and Laura Bush was a schoolteacher and a librarian – but she is among the most accomplished. Campaign and Obama-era staffers call her “Dr. Biden” in recognition of the PhD it took her 15 years to get while raising three children – Beau and Hunter from Joe’s first marriage and Ashley, the daughter they had together. At NOVA, she works out of a cubicle and goes by the quasi-clandestine moniker “Dr. B.” (Her name isn’t listed in the course book.) When she had a Secret Service detail, she asked them to dress like students.
Her first year, she taught English as a Second Language and was so moved by her students’ stories that, according to McClellan, she’d write them on Post-it notes and leave them on the bathroom mirror of the vice president’s residency for Joe to read. Since then, she’s preferred teaching freshman composition and developmental English, which is meant to bring remedial students up to college writing level. Her reviews on RateMyProfessors.com, a website where users leave anonymous notes on college teachers, range from effusive – “literally my favorite professor” – to skull-and-crossbones-level warnings, all about her making them endlessly write journals and being a tough grader: “No sense of humor even though she tries to look nice.” “Be ready to writeeeee alotttttt !!”
– – –
This year’s campaign marks the first time she’s taken a break from teaching since she gave birth to Ashley in 1981. “She said she felt that if she didn’t give it her best shot, and that the election turned out not to be favorable to her husband, that she would regret not having done more,” McClellan says. Still, she’s attended voluntary training in online teaching and has said she intends to go back to NOVA even if Joe wins and they move into the White House. It would be the first time a first lady kept a day job outside the home, according to Anita McBride, who runs the First Ladies Initiative at American University and was Bush’s chief of staff. “This would be a precedent,” she says.
Education activists are practically giddy about the prospect of having Jill Biden in the White House, bending Joe’s ear. “They sit and talk about education issues over breakfast every morning,” says Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association, which is also Jill Biden’s union.
Weingarten, the American Federation of Teachers president, tells the story of how in 2010, a high school in Central Falls, R.I., fired all 93 teachers and staff members because of failing test scores – a move that President Barack Obama and his education secretary, Arne Duncan, backed publicly. Weingarten, who was vehemently opposed to evaluating teachers by test scores, says she had “a very heated discussion with the vice president,” who over the next few days got “very involved.” The educators were rehired later that year.
“He said to me, ‘I did my homework,’ ” Weingarten says, and she suspects Dr. B might have had a hand in that education. (The Biden campaign declined to comment on a personal conversation.)
Lately, Jill Biden has been chatting with lawmakers in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus over Zoom. Joe has promised to pass comprehensive immigration reform in his first 100 days in office, and for six weeks beginning in April, Jill’s job was to listen while members of the caucus talked about their hopes for higher education and vented their frustrations with the 3 million deportations that took place under the Obama administration. Her placement on the issue seemed to signal how serious the campaign is about wooing their support. Jill is also working on learning Spanish via the Babbel app.
She’d take notes, said she’d convey their concerns to Joe and report back on her conversations with him at the next meeting. “And when we did meet with him on certain issues, he’d say, ‘Yeah, my wife, Jill, talked to me about that, and I’m all over it,’ ” says Rep. Tony Cárdenas, D-Calif., who chaired the meetings. Every person who asked Jill to meet with their district got an immediate follow-up and usually saw her jump onto their Zooms that week.
As for Jill’s language skills, “It’s always kind of cute when somebody speaks Spanish and their accent is not as organic,” Cárdenas says, politely. Overall, “The big theme that emerged to me is that everyone was nodding their heads, saying, ‘I’m looking forward to working with her,’ ” he said. “She’s going to be a very active first lady.”
– – –
Jill was not a professional model like Melania Trump, but she did pose for local advertisements shot by a photographer friend, one of which caught the eye of 32-year-old first-term Sen. Joe Biden as he walked through the Wilmington airport in 1975.
As it turned out, his brother Frank knew Jill and gave Joe her number. The rest is history, which the Bidens have written themselves in their many books: Jill was about nine years younger, a tough-cookie “Philly girl,” the oldest of five girls who had once punched a bully in the face for throwing worms on one of her sisters. He was a widower who had lost his wife in a 1972 car crash that also killed his baby daughter and badly injured his young sons. Jill and Joe’s romance was a whirlwind, but it took five marriage proposals before she said yes; she’d been married and divorced young (“to a tall ex-football player who drove a fast yellow Camero,” she wrote in her 2019 memoir, “Where the Light Enters”) and she wanted to make sure, for the sake of Beau and Hunter, that this wouldn’t end in another divorce. She adopted the boys and raised them.
Senate payroll records reviewed by The Washington Post also show that Jill worked as a “staff assistant” for four and a half months in Joe Biden’s office, from Sept. 10, 1975, until Jan. 25, 1976. This was before they married in 1977, and she used her prior married name, Jill T. Stevenson. It is not mentioned in her book and seems to be mostly lost from their biographical narrative. A Biden campaign aide downplayed her role, saying she was answering the phone in a front office when he was short-staffed.
A 1977 newspaper article says that a month after their wedding, she was still traveling once a week to work at his downstate office in between volunteering at a child abuse center and learning to play the piano. (Joe, laughing, said he’d had no idea she was working for him.) Jill didn’t speak for that article, either, and Joe asked for privacy on her behalf, telling Wilmington’s Sunday News Journal, “I don’t want to get her into the political thing.”
– – –
Tragedy struck again when Beau, an Iraq War veteran and former attorney general of Delaware, died in 2015 after two years with cancer. Jill, who lost her mother during the 2008 campaign, writes candidly about how grief changed her, describing herself as feeling “like a piece of china that’s been glued back together again” and admitting that she lost her faith and stopped going to church.
“I thought at the time, and I still think now, that when she wrote it, she didn’t think her husband was going to run,” says Connie Schultz, a journalist and wife of Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, who reviewed Jill’s memoir for The Washington Post. The book came out in May 2019, a couple of weeks after Joe declared his candidacy. “If he had been planning to run, I have to believe there are people in the campaign who would have said, ‘I don’t think you want to be telling Catholic voters you no longer know what you think about God.’ ” (Jill told PBS’s Judy Woodruff that she’s regained her faith on the campaign trail.)
Jill Biden has become, in her own way, a vessel for other people’s grief just like her husband is. She stayed in touch with the woman who came up to her after Beau’s death in a nail salon and burst out weeping, telling Jill she was a Gold Star mother. The same year Beau died, Jill’s social secretary, Carlos Elizondo, lost his mother, and the Bidens hosted a memorial mass for her, with 100 of Elizondo’s friends, at the vice president’s residence. Her first communications director, Courtney O’Donnell, tells the story of how her husband went into the intensive care unit for 10 days. One day, she left to take a shower and came back to find her unconscious husband covered in a new blanket with a tin of cookies by his bed. “I asked a nurse,” O’Donnell says, “and she said, ‘Oh, your boss came by. Sweet lady.’ “
This year, perhaps more than ever, America feels broken and in need of gluing back together. Nearly 170,000 Americans have died in the coronavirus pandemic, and families across the country are facing all kinds of losses. Jill Biden’s empathy could give shape to her potential role as first lady beyond issue advocacy. In June, Jill flew with her husband to Texas to sit down with George Floyd’s family before his Houston memorial service. After an hour-long meeting, she gave her cellphone number to one of Floyd’s sons who was having a particularly difficult time, recalls Ben Crump, the Floyd family’s attorney.
“She gave the number,” Crump says, “and said, ‘You call me anytime.’ ”
– – –
But before Jill Biden and her husband can try to make the White House empathetic again, they have to win an election that promises to be a knife fight. Trump is not above attacking the spouses of his opponents. He went after Ted Cruz’s wife, Heidi, for her looks during the 2016 primary and gleefully highlighted Bill Clinton’s sexual indiscretions during the general election. And while Trump hasn’t gone after Jill Biden yet, he’s made Hunter Biden a prime target.
When asked about Trump investigating Hunter’s work for a Ukrainian energy company while his father was vice president, Jill has appealed to unenforceable rules of decorum: “My family is not fair game. Joe is running against him. That’s different. Not my children,” she said on a CBS “Sunday Morning” special. (Hunter Biden is 50 and has made the news before, opening up about his drug addiction and leaving his wife to marry Beau’s widow, which Joe and Jill publicly said they support.)
When it comes to accusations of impropriety against her husband, Jill has carefully played the apologist. “I think it was a space issue. They felt like they wanted more space,” she said on the CBS special, addressing accusations from Lucy Flores, a member of the Nevada State Assembly, and six other women who’ve accused Joe Biden of inappropriate touching. “Joe realized that and learned from it.” On former Senate aide Tara Reade’s claim of sexual assault against Joe, which he has denied, Jill has remained silent.
When it comes to Joe’s former opponents, Jill has played a diplomatic role. Though she has said Harris’s attacks on Joe over school busing during a June 2019 debate “felt like a punch in the gut,” Jill reached out to Harris’s husband, Doug Emhoff, when Harris dropped out in December, wanting to convey that she understood how difficult and painful that decision must have been, said a person close to the Bidens who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private conversation. Harris’s friendship with Beau when they were attorneys general in California and Delaware was also a key factor to her selection.
Jill has also had a collegial relationship with Jane Sanders, wife of Bernie Sanders, Joe’s foil on the left flank of the Democratic Party and someone whose voters he needs in November. Bernie’s fans don’t like Joe’s politics, but Jane likes Jill. “It was clear to me then, and it’s clear to me now that she’s a really decent human being and a person who lives by the creed, which I do, of ‘treat others as you would want to be treated,’ ” Jane Sanders said.
They texted back and forth throughout the primaries and were often seated together at debates because their husbands were often close together in polling. Jill struck Jane as a well-grounded person who genuinely cares about people. “Washington is not the most authentic place,” Jane said, “and when you find people that you know mean what they say and say what they mean, that’s something to treasure.”
Jane still wishes it was her husband accepting the Democratic nomination this week, of course, and says she and Bernie plan to keep pulling Joe Biden to the left on the issues; a former college president herself, Jane hopes to work with Jill on student debt and free college. (Jill currently supports free community colleges.) “Jill cares. She’s from a working-class background. That’s going to be good for America,” Jane said.
“This is odd,” she said, “but I said to Bernie long ago, ‘Wow, you know, I’d vote for you for president, but I think I’d vote for Jill as first lady if I had the option.’ “
#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation.
Why Kamala Harris chose Howard University
LivingAug 12. 2020A Howard University yearbook contains Kamala Harris’s photo. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Marvin Joseph
By The Washington Post · Valerie Strauss · NATIONAL, POLITICS, EDUCATION, RACE Kamala Harris, the California senator tapped by Joe Biden on Tuesday to join him on the Democratic presidential ticket, attended schools with majority-White populations from elementary school through high school. But when it came time to go to college, she was determined to have a different experience: She wanted to attend a Historically Black College or University (HBCU).
So in the early 1980s, she chose Howard University in Washington, at the time perceived as the most prestigious HBCU, once called the “Black Harvard.”
“When you’re at an HBCU,” Harris was quoted as saying in a 2019 Washington Post article, “and especially one with the size and with the history of Howard University – and also in the context of also being in D.C., which was known forever as being ‘Chocolate City’ – it just becomes about you understanding that there is a whole world of people who are like you. It’s not just about there are a few of us who may find each other.”
Now she is the first graduate of an HCBU tapped for a presidential ticket.
It was not necessarily an obvious choice for her. Her father, from Jamaica, was an economist at Stanford University, while her mother, from India, did graduate work as a cancer researcher at the University of California at Berkeley and later taught at McGill University in Canada.
The schools Harris attended from kindergarten until college had majority-White student populations – including Thousand Oaks Elementary School, which she attended as part of an experiment with school busing
After her parents divorced, she moved with her mother to Quebec for middle and high school, where her mother, who wanted her to learn to speak French, enrolled her in a middle school for French speakers, Notre-Dame-des-Neiges, or Our Lady of the Snows. She wrote in her recent memoir, “The Truths We Hold: An American Journey,” that she did not know much French when she got to the school: “I used to joke that I felt like a duck, because all day long at our new school I’d be saying, ‘Quoi? Quoi? Quoi?’ ”
She attended suburban Westmount High School – where until now Leonard Cohen was the most famous graduate – and finished in 1981.
When it was time to go to college, she wanted a different experience. At Howard, she majored in political science and economics – and became a social justice activist as soon as she got there. She spent many weekends protesting against apartheid in South Africa on the National Mall in Washington, and she took part in a 1983 sit-in at an administration building to protest the expulsion of the student newspaper’s editor.
Harris wrote in the memoir: “That was the beauty of Howard. Every signal told students that we could be anything – that we were young, gifted, and black, and we shouldn’t let anything get in the way of our success.”
After graduating from Howard in 1986, she moved back to California and attended the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, and became a lawyer in 1990.
Here’s what The Post’s Robin Givhan wrote in 2019 about Harris’s choice of Howard:
“Kamala Harris wanted to go to a black school. That’s what black folks called Howard University in the early 1980s when Harris was a teenager considering her future.
“Harris, she would say later, was seeking an experience wholly different from what she had long known. She’d attended majority-white schools her entire life – from elementary school in Berkeley, Calif., to high school in Montreal. Her parents’ professional lives and their personal story were bound up in majority-white institutions. Her father, an economist from Jamaica, was teaching at Stanford University. Her mother, a cancer researcher from India, had done her graduate work at the University of California at Berkeley, where the couple had met and fallen in love. And Harris’s younger sister would eventually enroll at Stanford.
“Harris wanted to be surrounded by black students, black culture and black traditions at the crown jewel of historically black colleges and universities.”
#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation.
They were family and fought Beirut’s fires together – including their last
LivingAug 09. 2020Charbel Hitti’s mother, second from left, sits next to Charbel Karam’s father as they cry for the young men feared lost in the blast. Hitti, 22, and cousin Najib Hitti, 20, were firefighters along with Karam, 32, their uncle. The three grew up as best friends in the village of Qartaba. CREDIT: Photo by Lorenzo Tugnoli for The Washington Post
By The Washington Post · Sarah Dadouch · WORLD, MIDDLE-EAST BEIRUT – Shortly after Charbel Hitti got to Beirut’s port on Tuesday, he felt something was off. He turned to a colleague behind him as he put on his black-and-yellow firefighter gear and said so. And then everything went black.
Hitti, 22, along with his cousin and uncle, all Beirut firefighters, had responded to what they assumed was an ordinary blaze in a warehouse at the city’s port. Hitti and his cousin, Najib Hitti, 20, had sped off in a firetruck while his uncle, Charbel Karam, 32, had jumped into an ambulance.
On the way, Karam had taken the chance to place a video call to his wife and 2-year-old daughter. “We’re firefighters!” he told his daughter playfully. “We’re going to put out a fire.” He hung up as the firetruck sped past, with Najib at the wheel, and the ambulance raced to catch up.
When they arrived at the port, grayish white smoke was billowing above the sea. There was a weird clanging sound. Someone yelled, “Yallah, yallah, yallah, yallah,” Arabic for “Let’s go; hurry up.”
Charbel Hitti turned to another firefighter, who was recording the scene on her cellphone, and he shared his sudden misgivings.
He never had a chance to explain what seemed so wrong.
A tremendous explosion, ignited in a warehouse storing about 2,750 metric tons of highly volatile ammonium nitrate, instantly obliterated much of the port, sending a huge mushroom cloud of reddish smoke into the air and a staggering shock wave across much of downtown Beirut.
At least 10 firefighters and other emergency responders are thought to have been killed. (The cellphone recording, however, survived.)
Charbel Hitti, his uncle and cousin had grown up together as best friends in the small mountain village of Qartaba an hour outside the city, got jobs together as Beirut firefighters and made sure they had shifts together so they could put out fires as a team. As a result, they almost certainly lost their lives together.
But no one is holding a funeral so far, not until they recover at least some of their remains.
On the night of the explosion, family members scrambled down to Beirut, frantically rushing from the port to the destroyed firefighter headquarters to every hospital that was treating the injured.
“I was praying that I find . . . ” said Najib’s sister, Marinella Hitti, her voice trailing off. “Their head. Or their hand. Or their foot. I was praying I find a part of their body, any part I can identify them by.”
She tore through the hospitals, lifting sheets off injured men. One blackened victim, not yet dead, could have been her brother Najib. She grasped at his arm, trying to locate the Chinese character tattoo he had.
“I was praying, when I was searching the body of this deformed man, that God willing this deformed man is him. I don’t care if he’s deformed or broken or missing limbs or whatever. I just want to find him.”
But it wasn’t him.
Her uncle George rushed to the hospital morgue, opening every refrigerated mortuary cabinet. One body looked like that of his son, Charbel Hitti, and he started searching for a telltale tattoo. “He started flipping his body left and right to see if it’s him,” Marinella recalled. “But there was no tattoo.”
And there is still no news. The families cannot turn on the television anymore. Marinella continues to urge on her friends who work with Beirut’s civil defense force: “I tell them, “These are your brothers, like they’re my brothers. Shout out for them, maybe they’ll answer. Because I need him.'”
The nights are the hardest, because that is when the search parties stop their work, unable to continue because Beirut lacks the electricity needed to provide light for the searches.
Karam’s wife, Karlin Hitti, 24, said she does not sleep, waiting for any word of any remains of her husband, brother and cousin. (Karlin is also Najib and Marinella’s sister.) She goes to church and screams, confident she says that the Virgin Mary is listening to her.
Karlin passes her time running through the memories of the three firefighters. Her sentences are halting, incomplete. Her words get caught in her throat. She rocks back and forth in her seat, her eyes glazed from exhaustion and days of crying.
“When they would come back from their service, they would come here and reach the top of the street and would call out to me: ‘The Nescafe is finished, can you make us Nescafe? Let’s drink more Nescafe.’ ” Her voice broke as she spoke. “They would come after every shift and sit next to me.”
A ghost of a smile appeared when Karlin recalled her husband. “We’ve all been together since we were children. I used to say, if I ever got the chance to be with someone like Charbel, I would immediately marry him,” she said. “I used to say, ‘What a guy, handsome and green eyes.’ “
They’d had an affair, keeping it secret from the tightknit village, she recounted. The secret lasted all of one week. On June 25, they’d celebrated their third anniversary in the best way they could under coronavirus lockdown: alone in their RV under the trees, dining on delivered sushi. Karlin laughed at the memory, visibly surprised by her own peals.
“I want them to bring me his smell. Just his smell. I just want his smell,” she said.
Her sister Marinella will sleep only in their brother Najib’s bed. She has placed his motorcycle helmet in a place of honor in the living room and holds on to a tiny Velcro patch bearing the Lebanese flag – part of Najib’s uniform.
“Usually, when one person is lost in a family, it’s a tragedy in every sense of the word,” Marinella said. “We have three. Three heroes that left us here. And all we can do is pray for them.”
Then anger took over.
“No one told them what’s inside. No one told them,” Marinella said, referring to the ammonium nitrate in the warehouse. It had been stored there for six years despite repeated warnings by government officials of the peril it posed. “If they had died martyrs for Lebanon, we wouldn’t have a problem. But they died as martyrs for what? For what? So the thugs on the seats keep money in their pockets?”
Her voice growing strong, Marinella continued, her eyes fixed on a faraway spot in the room, giving the illusion she was speaking to herself.
“We’re going to the streets. We’re going to have a revolution,” she said, venting her rage at Lebanon’s political class, whose corruption and ineptitude are now widely blamed not only for the explosions but for the country’s wider economic collapse. “They took everything else from us, but not our brothers,” she said.
Marinella scrunched up the front of Najib’s Harley Davidson T-shirt, which she now wears, and inhaled the aroma.
“I can still smell him,” she said, closing her eyes and smiling peacefully. “He loved Harleys. He wanted to get one. He didn’t have time.”
#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation.
Hiroshima’s Enola Gay carried 12 men, hope and the world’s deadliest weapon
LivingAug 06. 2020A Boeing B-29 Superfortress nicknamed “Enola Gay” is seen at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va., on July 29, 2020. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Matt McClain
By The Washington Post · Michael E. Ruane · NATIONAL, WORLD, HISTORY, ASIA-PACIFIC The giant silver bomber roared along the runway on Tinian Island in the darkness, passing the firetrucks and ambulances parked every 50 feet, struggling to pick up speed.
“Dimples Eight Two” weighed 150,000 pounds, and with fuel for the long flight to Hiroshima, 12 men on board, and a five-ton uranium bomb in the bay, the B-29 was 15,000 pounds overweight.
The Enola Gay, the Boeing B-29 Superfortress that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, is seen on display July 29, 2020, at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Matt McClain
The pilot, Col. Paul W. Tibbets Jr., 30, had handpicked the airplane on the assembly line in Nebraska three months before and had just had his mother’s name, “Enola Gay,” painted in black letters on the nose.
As the plane rumbled down the airstrip at over 100 mph, he had his lucky cigarette case with him in one pocket, and a box containing 12 cyanide capsules in another.
On Aug. 6, 1945, 75 years ago Thursday, no one was sure how Special Bombing Mission No. 13, the world’s first atomic attack, would go.
Blast victims live in a fly-infested hospital improvised in a bank building after the attack. MUST CREDIT: National Archives
Would it end in disaster for the crew in Japan? Eight downed American airmen had been beheaded by the Japanese a few weeks before. Would it end in the obliteration of Hiroshima? Would the overweight airplane with the crazy call sign even get off the runway? Would the crew have need for the cyanide?
Two other B-29s, the “Great Artiste” and “Necessary Evil,” were supposed to go along to take pictures and record data.
But “Enola Gay” was the “strike ship.”
Fifteen hundred miles to the north-northwest, under a waning crescent moon, lay a 400-year-old Japanese city most Americans probably had never heard of but whose name was about to be etched into the pages of history.
A view upstream on the Motoyasu River at structures that would be adjacent to Ground Zero in the atomic blast. MUST CREDIT: National Archives
It was an important enemy military site with a wartime population about 280,000, according to the historians Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan-Witts.
Almost half of them were about to be incinerated, crushed, and irradiated by the crude atomic weapon named “Little Boy” that the Enola Gay carried.
Tens of thousands more would die the same way at Nagasaki a few days later, and the world would subsequently be hearing about megatons, mutual assured destruction, proliferation, nuclear winter, meltdowns and dirty bombs.
It would be the start of a frightful era of weapons that could defy control and menace civilization.
Commander A.F. Birch labels the bomb destined for Hiroshima as Unit L-11. MUST CREDIT: National Archives
But as “Dimples Eight Two” picked up speed that morning, its mission was born of its time: deliver a blow that the United States hoped might finally end the global butchery of World War II. (The war in Europe had ended in May.)
This week, commemorations are scheduled across the country, with socially distanced candlelight vigils and the tolling of bells, and because of the covid-19, ceremonies and remembrances have moved online.
More than 100,000 American soldiers, sailors and Marines had already been killed in the Pacific since Japan’s attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. At the time of the Hiroshima bombing, average of 5,000 were still dying each week.
The fighting on land, at sea and in the air had been savage. Naval and air battles had been sudden, brief and deadly. Huge ships went to the bottom with their crews. Japanese suicide pilots crashed their planes into American vessels. One air battle was so lopsided in favor of the Americans that it was called a turkey shoot.
The fighting on land was different. Battles went on for months and were often fought hand-to-hand, with rifles, knives and flame throwers. Grim engagements at places like Guadalcanal, Tarawa, and Iwo Jima became legendary.
The most recent, the battle for the Japanese island of Okinawa, had ended six weeks earlier, after two months and the deaths of 12,000 Americans and 100,000 Japanese.
And American units were already training for a massive invasion of the Japanese home islands of Kyushu and Honshu – in Operation Olympic, set for November 1945, and Operation Coronet, planned for March 1946, according to the historians Norman Polmar and Thomas B. Allen.
Landing beaches had been designated, and named after cars and car parts – Cadillac, Chevrolet, Gearshift and others. More than a million men would be involved.
The Japanese were expected to resist ferociously, and American casualties would be enormous. President Harry S. Truman feared “an Okinawa, from one end of Japan to the other.”
Tibbets’ task was to try to prevent that. If this frightening new weapon worked, the thinking went, it would shorten the war, albeit at a dreadful cost in human life.
But first the Enola Gay had to get off the ground.
The lumbering aluminum plane with a 141-foot wingspan had been stripped of its armor and all defensive weaponry but its tail guns. But it still weighed 65 tons by itself and carried 7,000 gallons of fuel.
As the plane strained to gain speed, Tibbets knew he was using up a lot of runway. Four B-29s had crashed and exploded on Tinian the night before, according to historians.
“If we crack up and the plane catches fire, there is danger of an atomic explosion that could wipe out half this island,” said Navy Capt. William Parsons, who flew on the mission as the bomb specialist.
And because of that risk, the 10-foot-long “Little Boy” had not yet been armed.
It was a “gun-type” bomb, one in which an explosive charge would fire a “subcritical” piece of uranium 235 down a six-foot-long “gun” barrel into a second subcritical piece of uranium, according to Thomas and Morgan-Witts.
This created critical mass and the explosive nuclear chain reaction that would lay waste to Hiroshima.
The four cloth bags of explosive and the detonator would not be inserted until the plane was in the air.
The Enola Gay was now doing 180 mph but was running out of ground.
Sitting beside Tibbets, the co-pilot, Capt. Robert Lewis, was alarmed.
“She’s too heavy!” he shouted. “Pull her off – now!”
When Tibbets, who was known as “Old Bull,” did not respond, Lewis reached for the duplicate steering yoke in front of him, according to Thomas and Morgan-Witts.
“No!” Tibbets said. “Leave it!”
Another crewman yelled, “Hey, aren’t we going to run out of runway?”
At the last second, Tibbets lifted the bomber’s nose and “Dimples Eight Two” was streaking over the dark ocean on its way to Hiroshima.
The hour was early; the morning still, warm, and beautiful. Shimmering leaves, reflecting sunlight from a cloudless sky, made a pleasant contrast with shadows in my garden . . . – Michihiko Hachiya.
About 6 a.m. in Hiroshima, the air raid siren went off and blared for a full minute. It was the third alert of the day. People didn’t panic at the sound, because the siren went off routinely every morning at this time when an American weather plane passed.
Hiroshima was sprawled across the flat delta formed by the multiple channels of the Ota River, which flows out of the highlands to the north and west and empties into Hiroshima Bay in southern Japan.
The city, whose name means “broad island,” was built on a scattering of islands and had 82 major bridges.
It was a city of mostly wooden houses, with bustling shopping districts lined with stalls. There was a Methodist cathedral, trolley lines, an airport and streets crowded with bicycles, horse carts and cars. It had a modern domed Industrial Promotion Hall, a 350-year-old pagoda-style castle, and a Red Cross hospital.
Japan had been at war for 14 years in China and other Asian countries, and for 3½ years with the United States and the Allies. Many people were hungry and ragged.
In the previous 10 months, the Americans had dropped 157,000 tons of bombs on Japan, the military historian Richard B. Frank wrote in his 1999 book, “Downfall.”
In Tokyo, 97,000 people had been killed and 700,000 dwellings had been destroyed. In Osaka, 9,000 people had been killed. In Nagoya, 8,000 had perished. The bombings had killed 6,000 in Kobe and 4,000 in Yokohama.
Hiroshima, even though it was a regional army headquarters with 40,000 men, the site of large supply depots and a major military embarkation port, had been spared the attentions of “Mr. B” or “B-San” as the Japanese called the B-29s.
Some thought there were reasons that the bombers hadn’t come: Citizens of Hiroshima had relatives in the United States; the city was too beautiful, and Americans wanted to build villas there after the war; President Truman’s mother lived nearby; the city wasn’t on American maps.
Two days before, 720,000 leaflets had been dropped warning that Japanese cities would be destroyed if Japan did not surrender. “Bombs have no eyes,” the leaflets said, urging residents to evacuate. Tens of thousands already had.
That morning, people were going about their early chores, the psychiatrist and author Robert Jay Lifton wrote in his book “Death in Life, Survivors of Hiroshima.” Workers headed to factories. People read the morning paper, Chugoku Shimbun. Many were out in the open.
The all-clear sounded about 7:30 a.m.
“The sky was serene, the air was flooded with glittering morning light,” a history professor remembered. “I was in a state of absent-mindedness. The sirens and also the radio had just given the all-clear signal. I had reached the foot of the bridge where I halted.”
Thirty-one thousand feet above, the Enola Gay’s bombardier, Maj. Thomas Ferebee, 26, peered through the Norden bomb sight under the plane’s greenhouse-like canopy in the nose.
He was looking for the unique structure of the T-shaped Aioi Bridge, which was the aiming point for the drop. (The Japanese air raid system had just picked up the new intruders, but its warning would come too late.)
About an hour earlier, after the bomb had been fully armed, Tibbets had revealed to the crew over the intercom that they were carrying the world’s first atomic weapon.
Now, flying at 200 mph, they were almost over the target. Most of the crew put on dark welder’s glasses.
“I’ve got it!” Ferebee called when he spotted the bridge.
Fifteen seconds passed.
At 8:15 and 17 seconds, the doors of the bomb bay opened.
“Bomb away!” Ferebee yelled.
“Little Boy” tumbled out tail first, flipped over nose down, and began to fall through the last 43 seconds of the old era.
The bomb was designed to explode over the city at an altitude of about 1,900 feet. So it had an internal radar system that detected the ground, tripped the detonator at that altitude, and initiated the detonation sequence.
The bomb traveled for six miles and exploded just short of the bridge.
The Enola Gay, meanwhile, lurched upward on shedding the weight of the bomb and executed a hairpin turn to escape the expected shock wave of the blast.
At first, the crew saw and felt nothing. Then a giant slow-motion column of smoke and fire rose from the ground and blossomed.
Tail gunner George R. Caron, 25, who had with him his Brooklyn Dodgers baseball cap and a picture of his wife and infant daughter for good luck, could see the shock wave coming fast. He yelled, just as the wave slammed into the plane. Another one hit and passed.
Tibbets asked the men over the intercom what they could see so it could be recorded for posterity.
“A column of smoke rising fast [with] a fiery red core,” Caron said, according to the historians Thomas and Morgan-Witts. “A bubbling mass, purple-gray in color . . . like a mass of bubbling molasses. The mushroom is spreading out. It’s maybe a mile or two wide and half a mile high.”
“The city must be below that,” he said.
In Hiroshima, Michihiko Hachiya, a physician, had gotten home after a sleepless night as an air warden in his 125-bed government hospital. Clad in his underwear, he was resting on the living room floor.
Suddenly there was a brilliant flash of light that illuminated a stone lantern in his garden. He wondered whether it was sparks from a passing trolley.
Elsewhere, the Hiroshima history professor remembered that “a blinding . . . flash cut sharply across the sky . . .[followed by] dead silence . . . probably a few seconds . . . and then a . . . huge ‘boom’ . . . like the rumbling of distant thunder.”
“At the same time a violent rush of air pressed down my entire body,” he recalled. “I raised my head, facing the center of Hiroshima to the west . . .[and saw] an enormous mass of clouds . . .[that] spread and climbed rapidly . . . into the sky.
“Then its summit broke open and hung over horizontally,” he remembered. “It took on the shape of . . . a monstrous mushroom [with] with the . . . tail of a tornado. Beneath it more and more boiling clouds erupted and unfolded sideways . . . continuously changing.”
At Ground Zero, the bomb generated a hot core of about 7,000 degrees Fahrenheit. People nearby were turned to ash. One dead man was seen still on his bicycle, leaning against a bridge railing. Many had their faces and ears melted off. The odor of burned hair was in the air.
The rivers began to fill with corpses.
The blast blew away houses as if in a toy town. Many victims had their clothes and eyeglasses stripped off and found themselves suddenly naked.
Shadows cast by humans were burned onto buildings. Kimono patterns were burned onto skin. Skin was burned loose and fell away. About 80,000 people were killed immediately, and the toll quickly grew to at least twice that.
Windy firestorms developed, and an eerie black rain fell.
Hachiya’s house collapsed. His clothes had been torn off. He called for his wife, and, stunned and bleeding, they made their way outside.
“The shortest path to the street lay through the house next door,” he recalled in his 1955 memoir, “Hiroshima Diary.” “We went – running, stumbling, falling . . . until in headlong flight we tripped over something and fell sprawling into the street.”
“Getting to my feet, I discovered that I had tripped over a man’s head,” he wrote. “‘Excuse me! Excuse me, please!’ I cried hysterically . . . The head had belonged to a young officer whose body was crushed beneath a massive gate.”
The couple staggered toward the hospital. He was covered only with his wife’s apron. He remembered moving in silence through a fog of smoke and dust.
“There were the shadowy forms of people . . . like walking ghosts,” he wrote. “Others moved . . . like scarecrows, their arms held out from their bodies with forearms and hands dangling . . . I suddenly realized that they had been burned and were holding their arms out to prevent the painful friction.”
“A naked woman carrying a naked baby came into view,” he remembered. “I averted my gaze. . . . But then I saw a naked man, and it occurred to me that, like myself, some strange thing had deprived them of their clothes.”
“No one spoke,” he recalled. “Why was everyone so quiet?”
The hospital was on fire.
“The streets were deserted except for the dead,” he wrote. “Some looked as if they had been frozen by death while in the full action of flight; others lay sprawled as though some giant had flung them . . . from a great height.”
Another doctor had watched the sad parade of the injured pass his house trying to get out of town.
“The sight of them was almost unbearable,” he told Hachiya. “Their faces and hands were burnt and swollen; and great sheets of skin had peeled away from their tissues to hang down like rags.”
“They moved like a line of ants,” he said. “This morning . . . I found them lying on both sides of the road so thick that it was impossible to pass without stepping on them.”
The devastation was almost total. “Hiroshima was no longer a city,” Hachiya recalled.
As the Enola Gay and its two escort planes headed back Tinian, a young scientist named Luis W. Alvarez, who would later win the Nobel Prize in physics, sat aboard the “Great Artiste” flying at 28,000 feet and wrote a letter to his 4-year-old son.
Alvarez had been worried that all the kinks in the bomb had not been worked out. But over Hiroshima, as he had watched from a port hole in the plane, he had seen the flash – “many times brighter than the sun” – and knew that all had gone as planned.
“Dear Walter,” Alvarez wrote:
“This is the first grown-up letter I have ever written to you, and it is really for you to read when you are older. During the last few hours I have been thinking of you and your mother and our little sister Jean. It was tough to take off on this flight, not knowing whether I would ever see any of you again . . .”
The story of our mission will probably be well known to everyone by the time you read this, but at the moment only the crews of our three B-29s, and the unfortunate residents of the Hiroshima district in Japan are aware of what has happened . . .
“What regrets I have about being a party to killing and maiming thousands of Japanese civilians this morning are tempered with the hope that this terrible weapon we have created may bring the countries of the world together and prevent further wars . . .”
“We are . . . on the home stretch [now], so I’ll stop writing . . . I wanted to tell you about this while it was still fresh in my mind.
Japanese coffee manufacturer UCC Group officially opened its UCC Coffee Roastery in Thailand yesterday (August 5), its first concept store in the Asia-Pacific region.
Located at Bangkok Gateway Ekamai, M Floor, UCC Coffee Roastery provides a 360-degree experience, a coffee journey, where customers will have a unique opportunity to observe roasting, brewing and processing innovations live, the company said.
At the Premium Coffee Beans zone, for example, customers can take in the various aromas from a “fragrance table” exhibiting coffee beans from around the world and then select their favourite coffee and brewing method.
At the Art of Brewing Techniques zone, customers can experience a “unique brewing method”, choosing hand drip (pour-over), siphon, or the French press method to prepare their coffee.
Then at the Coffee Roasting Experience zone, customers will find the Aremde Nexus One, a truly innovative approach to an espresso machine, and the Loring smart roaster machine that creates genuine coffee profiles with rich aroma for that great taste of coffee, the company added.
“At our Coffee Roastery store, we aim to provide a 360-degree coffee experience and community, where people can share and exchange their ideas and experiences,” said UCC Ueshima Coffee (Thailand) chairman Nobuo Kinoshita.
“Here, each cup is tailor-made and customers can choose the type of coffee beans and the method of preparation. Indeed, this is the place where coffee lovers can gather and socialise. We are committed to customer centricity and focus on building relationships designed to maximise the product and service experience, aiming to be at the top of consumers’ minds whenever they think of quality coffee,” he added.
By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Berber Jin, Jack Witzig · BUSINESS
Jeff Bezos’s net worth has smashed through its previous peak, even after he relinquished a quarter of his stake in Amazon.com Inc. as part of a divorce settlement last year.
Shares of the Seattle-based retailer surged 4.4% to a record $2,878.70 Wednesday, boosting the founder’s world-leading fortune to $171.6 billion. That tops his previous high of $167.7 billion, set on Sept. 4, 2018, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
His gains — $56.7 billion this year alone — underscore a widening wealth gap in the U.S. during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Initial public offerings and buoyant equity markets have bolstered mega-fortunes, even as tens of millions of people have lost their jobs. This week, after receiving complaints about ending pandemic hazard pay, Amazon said it would spend about $500 million to give one-time $500 bonuses to most front-line workers.
The company declined to comment on its founder’s wealth.
Amazon has been on a tear, with the pandemic accelerating the consumer shift to e-commerce from brick-and-mortar retail. Bezos owns 11% of the stock, which comprises the bulk of his fortune.
Most of those with the biggest wealth gains also hail from the tech sector. They include Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk, who added $25.8 billion to his fortune since Jan. 1, and Zoom Video Communications Inc. founder Eric Yuan, whose wealth has almost quadrupled to $13.1 billion.
Mackenzie Bezos, who acquired a 4% stake in Amazon after the couple split, has a net worth of $56.9 billion and climbed to No. 12 in Bloomberg’s ranking. She recently leapfrogged Alice Walton and Julia Flesher Koch to become the world’s second-wealthiest woman, and now trails only L’Oreal heiress Francoise Bettencourt Meyers.
Not every billionaire has come out ahead this year. Spain’s Amancio Ortega, the titan behind the Zara fast-fashion brand, has lost $19.2 billion, the most of anyone on the Bloomberg index. Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Chairman Warren Buffett has dropped $19 billion and French luxury-goods tycoon Bernard Arnault is down $17.6 billion.
But most have weathered the downturn. The collective net worth of the world’s 500 richest people now stands at $5.93 trillion, compared with $5.91 trillion at the beginning of the year.
By Special To The Washington Post · Christie Aschwanden
With the Fourth of July just around the corner and many states and communities relaxing coronavirus restrictions, the warm sunny weather beckons. But infectious-disease experts warn that the virus remains a threat as we return to travel, swimming, barbecues, ice cream shops and restaurants.
So what do we need to know about the new coronavirus and covid-19, the disease it causes, that is important as we embark on summer activities? To start with, while some people had hoped that summer might bring a drop in covid-19 cases, in much the same way that influenza fades during warmer months, “many researchers have their doubts that the covid-19 pandemic will enter a needed summertime lull,” Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, recently wrote in a blog post. Instead, “humans’ current lack of immunity to SARS-CoV-2 – not the weather – will likely be a primary factor driving the continued, rapid spread of the novel coronavirus this summer and into the fall.”
Even if the covid-19 virus is as sensitive to climate as other seasonal viruses, Collins wrote, that wouldn’t be enough to slow its spread through the population right now – as evidenced by its rapid spread across such tropical nations like Brazil and Ecuador.
Still, summer does open up more opportunities for outdoor activities, which all agree are far safer than indoor ones. “We have very little evidence of outdoor transmission. It’s not zero – there are definitely cases reported – but it’s much, much lower than inside,” says Gretchen Snoeyenbos Newman, an infectious-disease physician at the University of Washington.
Of course, we can’t be outside all the time. When escaping the summer heat and mugginess indoors, try for as much ventilation as possible, and continue to observe safe behaviors: Wear a mask, keep interactions brief and make sure you’re not too close to other people, says Bhadelia Nahid, an infectious-diseases physician and the medical director of Special Pathogens Unit at Boston Medical Center.
A case study of indoor coronavirus transmission at an air-conditioned restaurant in China found that even people seated at a different table from the infected person were infected if they sat downstream from where the air conditioning was blowing. Tables in the restaurant were about one meter, or 3.3 feet, apart and the study’s authors hypothesize that strong airflow from the air conditioner may have spread respiratory droplets carrying the virus.
“To prevent the spread of the virus in restaurants, we recommend increasing the distance between tables and improving ventilation,” they wrote.
The basics of coronavirus spread haven’t changed now that it’s summer: Coming into close contact with infected people who have coughed, sneezed or breathed heavily or talked near you poses the greatest risk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The risk of catching the virus from close contact is much higher than from touching shared surfaces, it says. What makes this tricky is that “there’s a lot of data to show that even if you don’t have symptoms, you can still pass the virus,” says Marilyn Roberts, a microbiologist in the School of Public Health at the University of Washington.
With this in mind, here is some guidance from health experts for common summer situations and activities.
– Public restrooms. “Public restrooms are already gross,” Snoeyenbos Newman says. To make matters worse, they’re often poorly ventilated. Public toilets “have always been places where illness has been spread, so what I’m going to tell you – you should consider doing for the rest of time.”
First, wear a mask and clean your hands before you go in, she says. Once in the restroom, do your business, and before you flush, close the lid (if there is one). The coronavirus has been found in feces, and although it’s not clear yet whether it spreads this way, a new study suggests that “plumes” from the toilet when flushed may spread the virus.
When you’re done in the stall wash your hands with soap and water and dry them with whatever is available. Some studies have suggested that air dryers could potentially blow pathogens around the room, but it’s not clear that this is a source of covid-19 spread. “I would preferentially use a paper towel, but the air dryers aren’t enough of a worry to not use them,” Snoeyenbos Newman says. Don’t touch your phone or your face while you’re in the restroom, and as soon as you’re out, clean your hands again with a sanitizer, to make sure you didn’t pick up anything from the door. Do all of this, and you should be fine, Snoeyenbos Newman says.
As with other indoor space, don’t go into a crowded restroom, and if it’s a place that might be busy, look for some kind of monitoring to control crowding.
– Restaurants. The risk at restaurants is from other people, not food, says Donald Schaffner, a food microbiologist at Rutgers University. To date, there’s no evidence that anyone has contracted the coronavirus via food, he says.
If you’re going to eat out, takeout poses the lowest risk. Dining at a restaurant is far riskier, because it puts you in proximity to other people. Your server and other employees should be wearing masks, and ideally so should patrons when they’re not eating, Schaffner says.
Eating outside is your best option, as it allows for natural ventilation and may give you more space for social distancing, says Saskia Popescu, an infection-prevention epidemiologist at George Mason University. Even outside, it’s important that there’s plenty of space between tables and room for servers to move between them without getting too close. Time spent in proximity to others is part of the risk equation, so you don’t want to linger too long after your meal.
– Bike paths and other outdoor exercise spots. There’s been a lot of talk on social media and neighborhood message boards about the risk posed by people who exercise – breathing heavily – without a mask. But infectious-disease experts say that if you are outside and keeping a proper distance, the risk here is actually pretty low.
Although a European experiment that went viral earlier this year suggested that people who are walking, running or biking could spread droplets farther than six feet, the research wasn’t peer reviewed or published in a journal, and was widely criticized by public health experts for failing to understand transmissibility. Basically, outdoors in a non-crowded environment you’re unlikely to get a “minimum infectious dose,” Columbia University virologist Angela Rasmussen told Vox.
Even if they’re not wearing a mask, your exposure to people running or biking by you is very brief, and that reduces the risk, Popescu says.
– Farmers markets. Best practices here comes down to some basic principles: Everyone should be wearing masks, and the arrangements of booths and lines should ensure adequate social distancing, Schaffner says. “I’d look for some kind of crowd control.” There should be an orderly flow where you come in here and walk in a one-way pattern and exit there, he says.
The risk of picking up the coronavirus from fresh produce is minimal, Schaffner says. “As far as we know, there are no documented cases of transmission from food.” Even so, it’s worth it for things to be arranged so that the vendor handles the produce wearing gloves and patrons don’t touch the food until it’s purchased. “Do you want someone picking up five apples to find the perfect one? Probably not,” Schaffner says. In any case, wash your stuff when you get it home, as you should do even when not in a pandemic.
– Road trips with someone outside your household. A car is a confined space, and if you’re on a road trip, you’re probably sharing that space for multiple hours, which makes it a high-risk activity, Nahid says. You can reduce the risk by opening the windows, wearing masks and spacing yourself apart if you can (if you’ve got two people in the car have one of them ride in the back seat, on the passenger side), she says. But if you or someone you live with is in a high-risk category, you should probably drive separately when traveling with a non-household member.
– Hotels and other lodging. Hotels, Airbnbs and other similar rental lodging should be considered a moderate risk, Nahid says. As long as the linens are clean and the surfaces have been disinfected, you’re very unlikely to catch the coronavirus in your room. It’s the interactions with other people that pose the risk. “You’re leaving home and have the potential to run into other people,” she says. It’s these interactions with other people, particularly if they have come from areas where coronavirus rates are high, that pose your greatest risk at hotels.
Experts advise you to call ahead and ask what measures are in place to ready the room or rental place and how long it’s been since the last guest. Ask for a room that nobody has stayed in recently – one study found that under laboratory conditions the virus could last a maximum of 72 hours on a surface, Snoeyenbos Newman said. “If the time is less than that, I would consider wiping down hard surfaces like remotes, light switches, faucets, etc., There aren’t major concerns about linens or bedding,” she said. The Environmental Protection Agency keeps a list of disinfecting products suitable to use against the coronavirus.
Find out how hotels are monitoring employees for the coronavirus – ideally there should be daily temperature checks, and any employee not feeling well should not come to work or should be sent home right away. And, of course, make sure that employees will be wearing masks.
As for your behavior in hotels, avoid common areas – don’t congregate in the lobby or other shared spaces – and wash your hands after touching things in the check-in area.
And again, when you get back to your room, wash your hands and wipe down high-touch surfaces. Snoeyenbos Newman says.
– Barbecues. Barbecues can be a pretty high-risk activity, experts said, because they usually consist of people milling around the grill – and the chips and drink area – and socializing in close contact, Snoeyenbos Newman says. It’s hard to wear a mask in this situation, because people are eating and drinking. And people typically drink alcohol at a barbecue, which often further increases the risk.
“Most people, when they drink, tend to stand closer and talk louder, and both of those things increase the risk of transmission,” Snoeyenbos Newman says. Alcohol also decreases inhibition and so good intentions about social distancing can get pushed aside. If there’s going to be drinking, “you need to be really honest about how much you’re going to drink and how that will affect your group dynamic.”
If you’re going to host a Fourth of July barbecue, you should have some kind of stringent plan in place for ensuring that people don’t get too close (or too drunk). One way is to keep it small with widely spread out chairs and tables and assign people places to sit and hang out. Avoid shared utensils, and don’t have communal dip, but remember that your biggest risk is the person next to you, not the food, Schaffner says.
– Camping. If you’re camping with people you live with, you’re basically just taking your house to a different place, and that’s fine, Snoeyenbos Newman says. Most campsites provide a good buffer between you and other camping groups, and that’s also good, she says. If you’re camping together with other people, you want to make sure to keep the six-foot distance rule. That means separate tents and some plans on how you’ll enforce social distancing, especially for circumstances like eating or sitting around the campfire where it’s easy to slip. As for using public bathrooms at camp grounds, see above.
– Swimming (pools, lakes, oceans). There’s no evidence to suggest that the coronavirus is transmitted through water, so the danger from swimming, whether it’s a pool, lake or beach, is from interacting with other people outside of the water, Popescu says.
Locker rooms and indoor showers are close, confined spaces that are best avoided.
Ideally, pools and public beaches should provide some kind of crowd control to help people stay six-feet apart, whether in the pool, on the beach or sitting along the edge of the water (except for household members, who can be together). This might mean having sign-ups for a pool to limit the number of people using the space at one time, or it could mean marking off poolside or beach spaces where people lay down their towel and lounge about when they’re not in the water.
– Playgrounds. Playgrounds are a situation where there’s not much consensus on what to do, Snoeyenbos Newman says. One issue here, she says, is that a child with the coronavirus touches the monkey bars and then your child touches the monkey bars and then his face. “Kids are really just not reliable about not touching their faces,” she says, which is why in many areas where the pandemic has been severe, playgrounds have been closed.
Still, the biggest risk is probably interactions with other children or adults at the playground, which you’ll want to limit. The CDC and other public health groups have now said it’s unlikely – but not impossible – to get infected with the coronavirus from contaminated surfaces, Roberts says. Which means that the risk from your child touching the playground equipment is probably fairly low, though not zero. This is really an individual decision, Roberts says. If you allow your child to go to the playground, she advises you to monitor what they do and make sure you’ve got wipes and a means to wash their hands afterward.
– Recreational games. Whether you’re playing tennis, pickle ball or bocce ball, the things to think about are keeping your social distance and avoiding a lot of touching shared objects, Nahid says. Keep some sanitizer nearby to keep hands clean, and use your own equipment, rather than sharing. As long as you can do that, it’s probably low risk. Stick to games where players can be spaced six-feet apart, and avoid such games as volleyball or basketball where players come into close contact and everyone is using the same ball (and potentially breathing all over it.)
– Ice cream shops. There is evidence that the coronavirus survives better in low temperatures, so theoretically it’s possible that if someone with covid exhales into the freezer case you could be exposed via the ice cream, but to get infected you’d have to stick it up your nose very soon after, Schaffner says. Even if there was some exhaled virus on the ice cream, “it’s gross to think about, but there’s no evidence that it spreads that way,” he says. The single biggest risk – again – is going to be other people in the store. The clerk should be wearing a mask, and you need keep your distance from other patrons.
Christie Aschwanden is the author of “Good to Go: What the Athlete in All of Us Can Learn From the Strange Science of Recovery” and a co-host of the podcast Emerging Form.