Tokyo, Aug 22 (AP/UNB) — Having trouble getting tickets for next year's Tokyo Olympics?
That's no problem if you have $60,000 to spare.
Tokyo Olympic organizers are offering high-end hospitality packages to Japan residents with prices soaring to 6.35 million yen — about $60,000. This is good for the opening and closing ceremony, nine days of track and field with luxury seating and sumptuous dining. Low-end packages dip down to about $1,500 for one session at a less popular event.
Tokyo is shaping up as a very pricey Olympics.
Ticket demand is unprecedented, so unofficial re-selling likely will flourish. Hotel rates are soaring. And getting here will be costly, particularly for people traveling from the Americas and Europe.
"I don't know if I can afford to go to the Olympics," Brant Feldman, a Los Angeles-based sports agent, told The Associated Press. He's attended seven straight Olympics and represents American and Canadian athletes for AGM Sports. "For the average family right now to head to the Olympics, it's going to be the most expensive in history."
Tokyo organizers say the luxurious hospitality packages are an "opportunity for family, friends and business contacts" to enjoy the Olympics. In the words of organizers, here's what's included with the tickets:
— specially selected Champagne, sake and beers
— gourmet dining menu prepared by top international chefs
— fine wines chosen by our sommelier
— elegant commemorative souvenir VIP access pass
— first-class personal service capable of dealing with any request
— event host and celebrity guests appearances.
Hospitality packages, of course, are aimed at the wealthy, targeting executives who treat the Olympics as a venue for doing business and schmoozing with sports as an alluring sideshow.
There's also an old-fashioned way for residents of Japan to get scarce tickets: a so-called "second-chance" lottery that closed Monday. Results will be announced next month, and another lottery for Japan residents will be held in the fall.
For now, those living outside Japan must go through Authorized Ticket Resellers , which are deluged with unprecedented demand. They also offer high-end packages and are allowed to tack on a 20% service charge to each ticket. And many of the best tickets are tied to expensive hotels.
A random search of well-known hotel booking sites by AP found prices for most 3-4-star hotels between $1,000-1,500 per night with few available. There have been complaints that many hotels are canceling previous reservations to secure the markup.
Even Japan's famous capsule hotels — or sleep pods — will cost more to crawl inside with prices up three or four times on booking sites.
In a statement to AP, Tokyo organizers said they are working with "the government and the accommodation industry and travel industry in order to control prices."
Quoting a government report, organizers say there are 300,000 rooms "in different classes" in Tokyo and in neighboring prefectures.
Olympic athletes are guaranteed housing and have access to a few tickets for event sessions in which they participate. After that, family and friends are on their own.
"If your son or daughter qualifies for the Olympics in 2020, I don't know how any of those families are going to be able to afford the airline tickets, the Airbnb, the hotels, or get the tickets," Feldman said.
Those planning to wait until the last minute to book rooms, which sometimes become available because organizers typically overestimate the number of rooms needed and the number of foreign visitors.
It may not happen this time.
Tokyo's demand is driven partly by a giant metropolitan area of 35 million, its safe streets, and long-time support for the Olympics.
Australia-based Kingdom Sports Group, an official reseller that deals primarily with Asia and Africa, said on a social media site that Tokyo is "30 times more popular" than London was in 2012. London is often seen as the benchmark for Olympic interest.
Ken Hanscom, a ticketing expert who runs Los Angeles-based TicketManager, told AP "this is the biggest (Olympic) demand ever — by far."
The big winner could be the Paralympics, which open a few weeks after the Olympics close on Aug. 9, 2020. The lottery in Japan for the Paralympics started on Thursday with 2.3 million tickets available.
Just over 80% of Japan residents who applied got nothing in the first Olympic ticket lottery earlier this year. Of those who landed tickets in June, many got far fewer than they expected.
Organizers say 3.22 million tickets were sold in the first phase. Demand appears to exceed supply by at least 10 times. Another 680,000 tickets are available in this lottery, but only for those who were shut out the first time.
Tokyo organizers say there are 7.8 million tickets for the Olympics. They estimate between 70-80% will go to the general public in Japan. The difference between the larger and smaller percentage is 780,000 tickets, giving organizers flexibility in how tickets are distributed.
The remaining tickets are sold abroad, or go to sponsors, national Olympic committees, and sports federations.
Organizers hope to earn $800 million from ticket sales, a big chuck of income for the privately funded, $5.6 billion operating budget.
A report released last year by the national government's Board of Audit said Japan is likely to spend $25 billion overall to prepare the games. This is public money, except for the operating budget. Organizers dispute the figure and say it's about $12 billion, though what are Olympics costs — and what are not — is subject to heated debate.
Tokyo projected total costs of about $7.5 billion in its winning bid for the games in 2013.
Sunapee, Aug 22 (AP/UNB) — A woman has celebrated her 111th birthday in New Hampshire with a bunch of cupcakes and a tribute from singers.
Hazel Nilson was born Aug. 21, 1908, in Chicago. A lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, she likes to say she was born the last time the team won the World Series before their big comeback in 2016.
Nilson, a former physical education teacher, has been a resident of Sunapee Cove in Sunapee, New Hampshire, since October 2014. Before that, she lived in Stone Lake, Wisconsin.
Wearing a cake-shaped hat, Nilson sampled a peach cupcake at her party Wednesday. The Sunapee Singers sang "Take Me out to the Ball Game" in her honor.
When asked if she has any secret to her longevity, she said don't fret, smile, and enjoy life.
Geneva, Aug 22 (AP/UNB) — The World Health Organization says the levels of microplastics in drinking water don't appear to be risky, but that research has been spotty and more is needed into their effects on the environment and health.
Microplastics are created when man-made materials break down into tiny particles smaller than about 5 millimeters (roughly one-fifth of an inch), although there is no strict scientific definition.
In a report published Wednesday, the U.N. health agency said the minuscule plastics are "ubiquitous in the environment" and have been found in drinking water, including both tap and bottled, most likely as the result of treatment and distribution systems.
"But just because we're ingesting them doesn't mean we have a risk to human health," said Bruce Gordon, WHO's coordinator of water, sanitation and hygiene. "The main conclusion is, I think, if you are a consumer drinking bottled water or tap water, you shouldn't necessarily be concerned."
Gordon acknowledged, however, that the available data is "weak" and that more research is needed. He also urged broader efforts to reduce plastic pollution.
The report is WHO's first review to investigate the potential human health risks of microplastics. It said people have inadvertently consumed microplastics and other particles in the environment for decades without sign of harm.
Andrew Mayes, a senior lecturer in chemistry at Britain's University of East Anglia who didn't participate in the WHO report, agreed that microplastics in water don't appear to be a health worry for now.
"But I wouldn't want people to go away with the idea that microplastics are no longer important," because they might be harming the environment, he said. He said stronger measures to reduce plastic are needed.
"We know that these types of materials cause stress to small organisms," he said. "They could be doing a lot of damage in unseen ways."
"Even if we stop (adding) plastic to the environment right now, microplastics will increase as larger pieces divide into smaller and smaller pieces," Mayes said, adding scientists have little understanding of the long-term consequences.
WHO called for further analysis of microplastics in the environment and their potential health significance.
Gordon said that although WHO would continue to monitor levels of microplastics in water, the higher priority is proven risks in drinking water like bacteria that cause typhoid and cholera.
"These are things that cause immediate illness and can kill a million people," he said.
Dhaka, Aug 21 (AP/UNB) - There was a time not that long ago when designers were tearing out anything terracotta-colored, whether it was tile, painted walls or upholstered furniture. A darling hue of the '80s, the brownish orange — evocative of terracotta earthenware — was considered dowdy and done.
But like so many examples of decor's fickle temperament, terracotta's come roaring back for another turn in the spotlight.
And this isn't the muddy, old-fashioned color you might be remembering.
New takes on the hue bring in light to deep pinks, or the ochre tones of a sunset. Pair those with today's trending palette of graphite, blues and creams, and you've got something fresh yet friendly.
Benjamin Moore's color specialist Nivara Xaykao says the popularity of pink over the past few years has paved the way for stronger iterations of the palette. But there's also something more happening, she says.
"Because terracotta is literally drawn from the earth, it evokes that connection with nature and craft and working with the hands. It's a warm, rich color, so it has energy to it," she says.
Taking the edge off that intensity are terracotta's brown tones, making it comforting, something welcome in today's stressful world.
If you're thinking of paint, look at Benjamin Moore's Warmed Cognac, Audubon Russet or Saddle Soap. From Behr , there's Glazed Pot and Balcony Sunset. From Farrow & Ball , try Red Earth or Terre d'Egypt.
At the design site Modsy , Vice President of Style Alessandra Wood loves the new earthy neutrals.
"They're warmer and more inviting than some of the cooler color trends of the past few years," she says.
To avoid that '80s/early '90s, overly Southwest feel, she advises: "Opt for sculptural pieces, chic textures like velvet and minimal styling."
On the furniture front, many pieces now are trim, tailored. Upholstered seating, matte-finished metal side tables, nubby textured fabrics; this is furniture with a modern vibe, so the color looks sophisticated. As for accessories and other elements, look for ceramics, glassware and hints of the hue in textile prints or wallcoverings.
Wood mentions the curvy Rory side chair from Harper, available at Chairish . Its mahogany frame is covered in a soft rust velvet. "It makes it feel super contemporary," she says. "And if you really want to lean into the earthy trend, the Terracotta Sperduti print bed from The Inside is an amazingly beautiful print that blends warm earthy tones with a terrazzo vibe."
Hem's Kumo modular sofa system from Norwegian design team Anderssen & Voll is offered in a fiery, rust-hued wool they call Canyon.
Joss & Main's Charlie sofa comes in a sumptuous rust velvet, and there are some lovely patterned rugs here too.
Target has several well-priced side chairs in versions of terracotta, from Ashley, Handy Living and Christopher Knight Home. Also here, Saffron's slipper accent chair, in a simple burnt orange/cream lattice pattern that would fit into many décor styles.
Big Chill , maker of popular retro-style appliances, offers a slim fridge in an earthy hue called "red beige." Kate Marker, a designer in Barrington, Illinois, put one in the kitchen of a rehab project; the fridge's toffee-like pop of color is a great foil for a mix of homey vintage furnishings, salvaged wood pieces and creamy white surfaces.
For smaller accessories, West Elm's terracotta floor vases bring in the handcrafted vibe. A hand-painted pattern of graphite, cream and terracotta makes the Sway Low bowls as much art pieces as serveware. Material Kitchen has a sandy-hued cutting board made of recycled plastic and renewable sugar cane.
Blueprint Lighting's Ludo wall sconce features a wine-glass-inspired aluminum fixture enameled in a rich, deep hue, clasped in an articulating brass arm — perfect for bedside, or to illuminate a cozy nook.
Xaykao says the key to using terracotta successfully is restraint.
"It's great on an accent wall to show off artwork, textiles, open shelving or a beautiful headboard in the master bedroom. It can also be used to evoke materials like wood or leather, so I'd take a cue from the fixtures around you," she says. "For example, terracotta could look lovely in a kitchen with gold hardware. A little bit of the color can go a long way, so it's all about balance. I wouldn't do a whole room in the color, especially if it's a large room — the color needs space to breathe, so mix in some whites, neutrals and paler colors."
Dhaka, Aug 21 (UNB) - Known for its aromatic flavour, tej patta or bay leaf is widely used as a culinary spice in Indian dishes. The herb, which is indigenous to the Mediterranean region, is full of essential nutrients and minerals like vitamins A and C as well as folic acid and also boasts of a variety of health benefits, reports The Indian Expess.
The nutrient-rich herb is considered to help prevent digestive troubles, protect the heart and even act as a stress buster. Even diabetics who consume this wonder herb are known to report improved insulin function. A 2016 study published in the Journal of Biochemical Nutrition, suggested that those with type 2 diabetes who consumed bay leaves had reported lower glucose levels and improved cholesterol profiles. The type 2 diabetes patients took capsules of 1, 2, or 3 grams of ground bay leaf per day for 30 days and a fourth group took a placebo. The three groups who consumed bay leaf had lower glucose levels and improved cholesterol profiles at the end of the trial.
The active component of bay leaves is a polyphenol, which helps control glucose levels. A health condition where the body experiences erratic rise and fall in blood sugar levels, diabetes is particularly widespread in India. According to one estimate, currently some 62 million Indians suffer from diabetes mellitus, which constitutes about seven per cent of the entire adult population of the country. According to Indian Heart Association, the number of diabetics in India will jump to 109 million people by 2035.
It is considered that one tablespoon serving provides about five calories, primarily in the form of carbohydrate. Micronutrients in bay leaves include vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, manganese, iron, and calcium.
Additionally, bay leaves were also found to improve the lipid profile of patients.
How to use
Most people use dried, crumbled, or ground bay leaves. Since ground bay leaves are considered too strong, usually a whole leaf is used in dishes while cooking and later discarded at the time of eating.
A single bay leaf used in cooking is not likely to change the nutritional value of the dish being prepared. Usually, the leaf is removed from the dish before eating it. However, if crumbled bay leaves are consumed in a dish, you may gain a few nutritional benefits.
Diabetics are advised to consume tej patta along with their regular medication as well as follow other healthy diet and lifestyle regulations.