Usually travelling with a baby or a toddler is troublesome. Babies need some additional stuff. It may happen that parents forget to pack an essential thing before the journey or get frustrated by the agile child. To prevent such mishaps you need to be cautious. Whether it is a plane, train, or road trip with your infant or toddler, organised preparation can make your vacation easy, joyous and trouble free. Check here for proven tips for travelling with a baby. 15 Tips to Travel Safely with Babies Get to the spot early Remember flying with a baby takes crucially more time than travelling on your own. Try to arrive 30 minutes to 20 minutes before your flight so that you cannot sweat thinking about missing your flight. Here the simple fact is that travelling stress is dictated by your departure time. When you hustle to reach the bus terminal, train station or airport you go through extra stress. Therefore, it would be wise to reach the spot early to entertain your baby for a longer stretch of time outside the comforts of home. Besides, it gives you a chance to feed your baby, and do the other necessary procedures in a relaxed manner. Read Excessive Crying in Infants: Possible Reasons, Tips of Soothing Prepare for the climate While planning a vacation, it is a very essential part to be aware of the climate. Sometimes, you need to travel from a cold climate to a warm climate, or vice versa. If you are planning to travel to a cold destination, make sure you bring extra warm clothes for you and the baby. While touring in a hot destination with warm climate, pack comfy wear for the baby and for adults bring shorts, T-shirts and soft comfortable cotton wear. Travel light You can’t take everything when you make a journey with your baby. If you leave most of the baby stuff at home during travelling you may need those things. To avoid such a dilemma, you can make a list of essential stuff for your infant or toddler. Such you can make your baggage light without leaving essential things behind at home. Bring only what you need Don’t take so many things when you are travelling with your baby. If you take so many things, you cannot concentrate on your baby. You can buy your necessary items once you arrive. Read Breastfed Infant’s Slow Weight Gain: Common symptoms, reasons, solutions Take breastfeeding gadgets While packing bags, make sure you bring some type of relief for yourself in case the baby isn’t feeding well. Even if you don’t usually pump breast milk, take a manual pump so that it could be a vacation-saver if the baby is leaving you engorged. Diaper Of course, bring more diapers than you think you will need. However, you don’t need to bring the whole case. You can carry diapers in your back bag so that you can use them whenever you need them. Stay calm Travelling with a baby can be stressful, but most of that stress is due to worries. When you are anxious, you cannot calm your baby which can ultimately give discomfort to other passengers. Naturally, babies can cry on a journey, but you need to handle that situation with comfort and calmness. So, try to stay cool though it is not as easy as we know. The calmer you stay, the more your child will mirror your emotions. Read Why Self Care of Moms is Important: Tips for busy mothers Bring enough baby food If you breastfeed your baby, you do not have to worry about baby formula. But if you don’t breastfeed, you need to take formula. In the case of an older baby, you need enough food for him or her. Actually, once a baby finds a formula it likes, it’s typically the only one they will eat. So, make sure you bring enough baby formula or food for the length of your trip. Of course, you can buy formula or food for your baby after reaching your travel destination. But sometimes, you don’t get the right one you usually use for your baby. By taking unauthorised or unhealthy foods, your baby can become sick, then your journey will be difficult. If you are going on an air journey, you need to know that some foods are not allowed to cross borders, especially fruits and meats. So, check with border security ahead of time to determine what foods are allowed. Read Common Sleep Problems in Children: Causes, Symptoms, Ways to Help Buy the baby’s own seat When a baby naps in the parent’s arms, it is difficult to tolerate for a long time. While resting on mom or dad’s arms or shoulders, babies may not sleep so easily, which, incidentally, isn’t always comfortable for the parent either. If you have the ability, you can buy an extra seat for your baby. Definitely, this decision depends on your finances. If you can secure a restless baby in a seat rather than bouncing them on your lap for a long time. There’s a better chance they’ll actually sleep during the journey. Certainly, it can be a game-changer, to make your journey comfortable. Fly during nap or happy time If you book your seat beside the window and everything departs smoothly, your kid may be too distracted to sleep because they like to enjoy everything new. But booking seats that correspond with a child’s nap schedule at least gives you better odds for a smoother trip. Read Motivating Kids to Study, Do Homework, Get Good Grades: Know Secret Ways However, if you can’t fly when your lovely kid usually sleeps, try to plan the trip during periods of the day when your baby usually stays in a happy mood. You can take a journey in the afternoon or evening also. If the weather is fine and relaxing and your baby will enjoy that. Two aisle seats Booking two aisle seats so that you can provide a much-needed change of scenery for an infant-in-arms. Each time the child is taken on a journey, they’re reintroduced to a new environment and new neighbours. The new environment recaptures their attention. Besides, it’s much easier for you to get up and soothe your baby by walking up and down the aisle. Feed them during take-off and landing Feed your baby during take-off and landing. You need to feed your baby before landing as after you need time to settle off. And during taking off, you feed your baby as you may not get suitable time in the journey to feed your baby. Read How to Stay Physically Active during Pregnancy Babies are especially sensitive to the changes. Uncomfortable sensations make them exhausted. You can comfort the baby by nursing. But if they don’t want to eat, give them a pacifier. Bring cheap toys Toys can make babies pacify easily. To save money, make sure you take cheap toys so that you don’t mind losing or accidentally leaving on the plane. Wrap them in cheap wrapping paper like a gift. Whenever your child gets restless during the journey, give them a new gift and help them unwrap it. Definitely, they will enjoy playing with the paper, then the actual toy. Bring a tablet with shows When you are travelling with older babies, tablets have become an essential travel item for your baby. Your baby can have an enjoyable time playing games or watching kids' movies on the tablet. Besides, there are a lot of fun baby apps to download to give your baby a comfortable and relaxed journey. Read Eating Disorders in Children, Adolescents, Adults: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Ways to Help Make sure you bring a portable power charger. If possible, take two gadgets, like a table and a smartphone. One gadget should be typically available for the parents' usage. It can also support you if one gadget runs out of battery power. Slow down This is the most important baby travel tip. Don’t try to repeat the way you usually travel before a baby. Things are different now as you are a parent now. So try to avoid too many hustles, activities or sightseeing in one day. Plan your tourism activities or adventure itinerary ahead with a fresh and recharged mind. Break up the day and make a planned and nice routine. However, don’t worry if you don’t have to fill your days with constant activities. Read Learning Disabilities in Children: Types, symptoms, ways to help Bottom Line Journeys can give you the scope to make some amazing memories that last a lifetime. Though making a trip with your baby might be challenging, you can easily conquer it and make the journey enjoyable. A little precautions and planning can help you get the most out of your vacation time with your lovely baby. You can consider our above-mentioned tips to make a baby-friendly trip.
When the Tokyo Olympics began during a worsening pandemic in Japan, the majority of the host nation was in opposition, with Emperor Naruhito dropping the word “celebrating” from his opening declaration of welcome. But once the Games got underway and local media switched to covering Japanese athletes’ “medal rush,” many Japanese were won over. They watched TV to cheer on Japanese athletes in an Olympics that ended Sunday with a record 58 medals for the home nation, including 27 gold. There are still worries that Japan will pay a price for hosting these Games; recent days have seen record numbers of virus cases. But for now, among many, a sense of pride and goodwill is lingering. “Having the games in the middle of the pandemic didn’t seem like a good idea, and I did wonder if they should be canceled,” said Keisuke Uchisawa, 27, an office worker. But the medal haul, he said, was “very exciting and stimulating. Once the Games started, we naturally cheered the athletes and simply enjoyed watching them.” Read: Olympic photos from far above and underwater His wife Yuki, a medical worker, worried especially about the pandemic. But she began cheering when she noticed patients at her hospital beaming as they watched the Games. “I saw the power of sports, and I thought it was wonderful,” she said. “Athletes made outstanding performances, and we wanted to cheer for them.” The couple were recently picking out matching Olympics shirts and pandemic masks from an official goods store in downtown Tokyo. The store, almost empty before the Games, was crowded on a recent weekday toward the end of the Olympics. Many customers appeared to be workers from the neighborhood dropping by during lunch breaks. Beforehand, a lot of Japanese expressed reluctance or opposition to holding the Olympics during a pandemic that, for them, was worsening. A series of resignations of Olympic-linked officials over sexism, past bullying and Holocaust jokes also hurt the Games’ image ahead of the July 23 opening. There were protests on Tokyo streets and on social media. After the opening ceremony, however, many opponents started to cheer. More than half of Japan’s population watched the event, according to rating company Video Research — the highest rating for an Olympic opening ceremony in Japan since 61% for the 1964 Tokyo games, a time when far fewer people had televisions. Outside the National Stadium, where dozens of demonstrators regularly held anti-Olympic rallies, many fans stood in a line next to the Olympic rings waiting to take selfies. It was the closest they could get to locked-down, spectator-free stadiums. Opposition to the Olympics has steadily dropped in recent weeks. One poll taken by the Asahi newspaper just ahead of the Olympics showed opponents fell to 55% from around 70% earlier this year, and 56% of the respondents said they wanted to watch the Games on TV. And separate surveys taken by the Yomiuri newspaper and TBS Television at the end of the Games showed more than 60% of their respective respondents said it had been good to hold the Games. Those who felt intimidated by the unwelcome mood in the beginning began to feel relieved. “It was a bit scary to get on a train wearing an Olympic volunteer uniform” early on, when people were still more strongly opposing the Games, said Asuka Takahashi, a 21-year-old student who helped at the beach volleyball venue. She felt less tension after the Games started, and thought more people were interested in them than she had initially believed. Read: Over 450 Covid cases confirmed during Tokyo Olympics And when Takahashi recently visited Olympics stores, she also saw that lots of merchandise was sold out. “Many Japanese,” she said, “are enjoying the Olympics in the end.” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, criticized for insisting on hosting the Olympics despite the virus, was likely hoping for this evolution in sentiment. He has been trying to reverse nosediving support ratings for his government ahead of general elections expected in the autumn. “Japanese Olympians’ outstanding achievements will give us strength, too,” said Tateo Kawamura, a veteran lawmaker of Suga’s governing party. Suga called and congratulated judoka Naohisa Takato, who won the first gold for Japan, and has since publicly congratulated medal winners on Twitter. Suga has repeatedly said there is no evidence linking the upsurge in cases to the Games — and, in fact, barely more than 400 positive cases were reported inside the Olympic “bubble” from early July until the closing ceremony. But whether the Games lift public sentiment in a lasting way could hinge on how the virus plays out. “The government has forced the holding of the Olympics and Paralympics in order to regain popularity ... but it’s a risky gamble,” Seigo Hirowatari, a University of Tokyo law professor emeritus, said during a recent online event. While some have tried to see the positive side of the Olympics, others remain opposed. There’s a new word floating around to describe what some see as a growing pressure to support or even to talk about the Games: “Oly-hara” or Olympic harassment. Medical experts have raised alarms as virus infections accelerate in Tokyo; daily cases surged to new highs during the Olympics. On Aug. 5, Tokyo logged 5,042 cases, an all-time high since the pandemic began early last year. Experts say the ongoing infections propelled by the more contagious delta variant could send the daily case load above 10,000 within two weeks. Nationwide, total cases exceeded 1 million, with more than 15,300 deaths. Last week, Japan’s government introduced a contentious new policy in which coronavirus patients with moderate symptoms will isolate at home as the surge of cases strain hospitals. That policy was needed, the government said, in spite of an expansion of the state of emergency from Tokyo to wider areas that will last until the end of August. Read: Mixed bag: Erratic Pandemic Olympics come to a nuanced end “If you turn on the TV, there is nothing else but the Olympic Games, and people are not sharing in a sense of crisis” about the exploding infections amid the festivity, said Dr. Jin Kuramochi, a respiratory medicine expert. “People will see the reality after the closing ceremony.” Those who opposed the Games say the money should have been spent on health care and economic support for pandemic-hit people and businesses. The $15.4 billion cost of the Games — largely shouldered by Japanese citizens’ tax money — has caused concerns. That leads to sentiments like the one from Yoko Kudo, a preschool teacher. “I hope” she said, “at least the rest of the world will thank Japan for achieving the Games despite the difficulties.”
Ready to go out on the town before summer ends? In parts of the U.S., you might have to carry your COVID-19 vaccine card or a digital copy to get into restaurants, bars, nightclubs and outdoor music festivals. After resisting the divisive concept of vaccine passports through most of the pandemic, a fast-growing number of private venues and some local officials are now requiring proof of immunization in public settings to reduce the spread of the highly transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus — and to assuage wary customers. It’s unlikely the U.S. will adopt a national mandate like the one in France, which on Monday began requiring people to show a QR code proving they have a special virus pass before they can enjoy restaurants and cafes or travel across the country. Read: COVID vaccines to be required for military under new US plan But enough venues are starting to ask for digital passes to worry some privacy advocates, who fear the trend could habituate consumers to constant tracking. ___ WHO’S ASKING FOR VACCINE PASSPORTS? New York City set the tone last week when Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city will soon require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for anyone who wants to dine indoors at a restaurant, see a performance or go to the gym. But a growing number of private venues, from Broadway theaters to music clubs in Minneapolis and Milwaukee, have established their own similar rules for patrons. “I’m a firm believer in the right for people to choose whether or not they get the vaccine,” said Tami Montgomery, owner of Dru’s Bar in Memphis, Tennessee, which will start asking for paper vaccine cards along with photo identification on Thursday. “But it’s my business and I have to make decisions based on what will protect my staff, business and customers.” Organizers of the Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago said on its opening day in late July that more than 90% of some 100,000 attendees presented proof of a vaccination, while most of the rest showed they’d recently had a negative COVID-19 test. Hundreds of others were turned away for lack of paperwork. Only in a handful of states — Texas and Florida are the biggest — are private businesses prohibited from requiring proof of vaccination. HOW DO THEY WORK? In some places, venues are simply asking you to bring your vaccination card — the same piece of paper you get from health providers and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Taking a picture of that card at home and then showing the image to the bouncer at the club can also work. New York City offers a streamlined way of showing a photo through its NYC COVID Safe App, in which people can store images of their vaccine cards and then display them in the app when needed. Other places are encouraging people to register their credentials using a scannable digital pass like New York’s statewide Excelsior Pass or similar systems adopted by California, Hawaii and Louisiana and private companies like Walmart and the airport security app Clear. Some of the state-sponsored digital passes verify a person’s vaccine credentials through a state or local immunization registry. Read: Canada begins allowing vaccinated US citizens to visit again Such passes are designed for convenience and to prevent fraud. But that’s also where the biggest privacy concerns emerge, said Adam Schwartz, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. ___ WHAT’S WRONG WITH QR CODES? The barcode known as a QR code was originally designed to help track products in a factory. These days, it’s increasingly being used to track people’s devices. “Those systems are a giant leap towards tracking people’s location,” Schwartz said. “There’s a very real risk of mission creep once there are scanners at doors and people are showing their scannable token to pass through.” But the coalition that helped create the Smart Health Card framework used by New York, California and the Canadian province of Quebec say they’ve already set privacy safeguards to guard against misuse of health data. So long as a venue is using a VCI-compliant scanner, there shouldn’t be anything to worry about, said Dr. Brian Anderson, chief digital health physician at MITRE and co-lead of the Vaccination Credential Initiative, which counts Apple, Microsoft and the Mayo Clinic among its members. “That app won’t store an individual’s data beyond the time that the QR code is scanned,” he said. ___ WHY NOT STICK WITH PAPER? Proponents of digital passports say they’re more convenient for already-overwhelmed restaurants and other venues because workers don’t have to peer at everyone’s vaccine cards before letting them in. Lines move faster, and the digital scan reassures those who don’t want to risk damaging or losing their paper cards. It’s also easy to fake a paper card or a photo of one. The startup CrowdPass, which generates QR codes so vaccinated people can attend events, said it helped get about 15,000 people swiftly admitted into the recent Newport Folk and Newport Jazz festivals in Rhode Island. The events required attendees to digitally upload proof of full vaccination or a recent negative test. Demand was slow at first, said Duncan Abdelnour, the startup’s co-founder and president. “But since the delta variant has sprung, we’ve had a huge uptick.” Among its clients are couples planning weddings and organizers of other small events. Abdelnour said the biggest spike in calls came after New York City’s announcement. Read: Saudi Arabia opens Umrah pilgrimage to vaccinated worshipers from abroad It’s a crowded market that includes apps made by Clear and Walmart, many of which have now signed onto the VCI’s privacy standards and code of conduct. But for Schwartz, of the EFF, the best advice for venues that need to see proof of vaccination is to stick to asking for the CDC card or a photo of it. The process of making vaccination checks should end when the pandemic does, Schwartz said. “Some of the companies that are in this space have a track record of being in the business of monetizing data,” he added. “I’m not going to name names, but they’re the last people that should be involved in developing scanners for proof of vaccination.”
The eruption of COVID-19 last year caused the proportion of people working from home in the U.S. to nearly double, with the shift most pronounced among college graduates and workers in such fields as finance and professional services. The share of employed people working from home shot up from just 22% in 2019 to 42% in 2020, the Labor Department said Thursday. That was among the striking findings of an annual government survey that documents the far-reaching impact the viral pandemic has had on Americans’ everyday lives since it struck in March of last year. The American Time Use Survey details how people spent their time in 2020, from working to relaxing to sleeping. The survey participants, all of whom are ages 15 or over, are interviewed by phone about everything they did in a 24-hour period leading up to the interview. (For 2020, the report covered only May through December, after the virus caused the suspension of data collection earlier in the year.) Because of the pandemic and the widespread social distancing it required, people on average spent more time last year sleeping, watching TV, playing games, using a computer and relaxing and thinking — and less time socializing and communicating in person — than in 2019. Adults also spent more hours, on average, caring for children in their household. Read: What is a COVID-19 vaccine “breakthrough” case? The survey also lends support to concerns that the pandemic worsened isolation for millions of Americans. With people working from home or attending school online, the time they spent alone increased. Among Americans ages 15 and over, time spent alone each day increased by an average of an hour. For those ages 15 to 19, it rose 1.7 hours per day. Among workers with at least a bachelor’s degree ages 25 and over, 65% who were employed reported working from home in the 24-hour survey period in 2020 — a 28 percentage point increase from 2019. By contrast, only 19% of employed workers in the same age bracket whose maximum education level is a high school diploma worked at home in 2020, up from 13% in 2019. The transition to remote work was less common in sectors of the economy that involve face-to-face contact or specialized commercial equipment — from leisure and hospitality to transportation and utilities — than in sectors that do not. While the share of people working remotely rose for both men and women, the increase was slightly higher among employed women. The share of women working from home jumped by 23 percentage points in 2020 compared with a 16 percentage point increase among men. More time spent at home, working or otherwise, meant that Americans spent less time on the road. Average time spent on travel, such as commuting to work, declined by 26 minutes per day from 2019 to 2020. Liana C. Sayer, director of the Maryland Time Use Laboratory at the University of Maryland, suggested that the shift to telework has likely accelerated Americans’ preference for flexibility in setting their work schedules — and perhaps raised expectations that employers will accommodate them. Read: China rebuffs WHO’s terms for further COVID-19 origins study “Workers have indicated in surveys done by companies and other research groups that they prefer having the ability to work at home and set their starting time and their ending time as they find most appropriate for their other needs,” Sayer said. “Some are signaling that they don’t really want to go back to life as it was in the office before the pandemic.” The Labor Department’s annual survey seeks to measure how, where and with whom Americans spend their time. The latest results revealed that the increased time spent on child care in 2020 reflected the cancellation of in-person school instruction, sports and other events for children. Adults whose youngest child was between ages 6 and 12 spent 1.6 hours more per day caring for a child while doing something else as their main activity than in 2019. At the same time, fewer adults living with children provided child care on a given day in 2020. That might have reflected less time devoted to picking up and dropping off children from in-person activities. The data also showed increased gender differences in child care: Women spent 13 more minutes a day in 2020 on direct care for children in their household in 2020 compared with 2019, while men spent roughly the same amount of time in 2020 as in 2019. And women spent 46 minutes more than men doing education-related activities for children in their household in 2020. In 2019, men and women had spent roughly the same amount of time on these activities. An analysis of the survey data by the Brookings Institution found that mothers of children 12 and under at home spent, on average, more than eight hours on child care. The Brookings analysis also found that working mothers provided 7.4 hours of child care on weekdays in 2020, spending more time than employed fathers, unemployed fathers and fathers not in the labor force. Read:It was premature to rule out Covid lab leak: WHO “Child care is now a full-time job for mothers,” said Lauren Bauer, a fellow in economic studies at Brookings. “They’re spending more than eight hours a day doing child care, and their work hours have suffered. Even if they’re juggling both child care responsibilities and working, they’re now working less than they would before.” With many businesses closed because of public health recommendations, the survey found less time spent at bars, restaurants, grocery stores and shopping malls and more time spent at home. People ages 15 and over also spent more time with members of their own household than in 2019 and fewer hours with everyone else. People spent, on average, 32 minutes per day more on sports and leisure in 2020 — a function, in part, of the decline in employment and travel during the pandemic. They also watched more TV and benefited from a few more minutes of sleep each day. “If people are well-rested, I don’t think that’s the worst thing in the world,” said Daniel Hamermesh, an economist at Barnard College who studies the economics of time use. “I’m in favor of more leisure. So I don’t think this implies anything negative about the economy that we didn’t already know.”
Sakina, who is 11, maybe 12, walked with her family for 10 days after the Taliban seized her village in northern Afghanistan and burned down the local school. They are now among around 50 families living in a makeshift camp on a rocky patch of land on the edge of the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif. They roast in plastic tents under scorching heat that reaches 44 degrees Celsius (110 degrees Fahrenheit) at midday. There are no trees, and the only bathroom for the entire camp is a tattered tent pitched over a foul-smelling hole. As the Taliban surge through northern Afghanistan — a traditional stronghold of U.S.-allied warlords and an area dominated by the country’s ethnic minorities — thousands of families like Sakina’s are fleeing their homes, fearful of living under the insurgents’ rule. In the last 15 days, Taliban advances have driven more than 5,600 families from their homes, most of them in the northern reaches of the country, according to the government’s Refugee and Repatriations Ministry. Read: US left Afghan airfield at night, didn’t tell new commander In Camp Istiqlal, family after family, all from the Hazara ethnic minority, told of Taliban commanders using heavy-handed tactics as they overran their towns and villages — raising doubts among many over their persistent promises amid negotiations that they will not repeat their harsh rule of the past. Sakina said it was the middle of the night when her parents packed up their belongings and fled their village of Abdulgan in Balkh province, but not before the invading Taliban set fire to her school. Sakina said she doesn’t understand why her school was burned. In Camp Istiqlal, there’s not a single light, and sometimes she hears noises in the pitch blackness of night. “I think maybe it’s the Taliban and they have come here. I am afraid,” said the girl, who hopes one day to be an engineer. Yaqub Maradi fled his village of Sang Shanda, not far from Abdulgan, when the Taliban arrived. He said they tried to intimidate villagers into staying. Maradi’s brother and several members of his family were arrested, “held hostage to stop them from leaving,” he said. “Maybe he is released today, but he cannot leave,” Maradi said from inside his small sweltering plastic tent pitched over a sunbaked mud floor, with mattresses folded in one corner. A howling, brutally hot wind ripped through the tent as Mohammad Rahimi, the self-appointed camp leader, who also fled from Abdulgan, recalled how a poorly equipped militia force in his Zari district tried to defend against a larger Taliban force. Rahimi named a handful of militia fighters he said died defending their district. In areas they control, the Taliban have imposed their own fees and taxes. Ashor Ali, a truck driver, told The Associated Press he pays the Taliban a 12,000 Afghani ($147) toll for every load of coal he brings from a Taliban-controlled part of neighboring Samangan province to Mazar-e-Sharif. That amounts to more than half of what he makes on each haul. The Taliban are attending international conferences, even sending their ex-ministers on missions to Afghanistan from Qatar, where they have a political office, to assure Afghans they have nothing to fear from them, especially minorities. The group still espouses Islamic rule but says its methods and tenets are less severe. But if it’s a gentler face they are seeking to portray, fleeing residents say it seems many Taliban commanders in the field either haven’t gotten the message or aren’t listening. Read:US vacates key Afghan base; pullout target now 'late August' A February 2020 agreement the Taliban signed with the United States reportedly prevents the insurgents from capturing provincial capitals. Yet two — Kandahar in the south and Badghis in the north — are under siege. In the capital of Kabul, where many fear an eventual Taliban assault, a rocket defense system has been installed, the Ministry of Interior said over the weekend. The statement offered no detail about its origin or cost. The U.S., Russia, China and even Afghanistan’s neighbor Pakistan, where the Taliban leadership council is headquartered, have all warned the Taliban against trying for a military victory, warning they will be international pariahs. Taliban leaders have vowed they are not doing so, even as they boast of their gains in recent meetings in Iran and in Russia, The Taliban blame the Afghan government for foiling efforts to jumpstart stalled talks that would elevate discussions to include leaders on both sides of the conflict. Suhail Shaheen, the Taliban’s political spokesman and a member of its negotiation team, told the AP that on three different occasions his side waited for a high-level delegation from Kabul to come to Doha for talks. They never came, he said. The Kabul delegation was to include former President Hamid Karzai, as well as Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the National Reconciliation Council, and senior warlords like Ata Mohammad Noor, one of the most powerful northern commanders. Afghan officials familiar with the planned meetings confirmed their intent to travel to Doha and participate, but said President Ashraf Ghani has been reluctant, often obstructing efforts. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the negotiations with reporters. Last week, President Joe Biden urged Afghanistan’s leaders to find unity and said it was up to Afghans to bring an end to decades of war. With 90% of the final U.S. and NATO withdrawal completed and its top commander Gen. Scott Miller having relinquished his command, Washington is nearing the end of its “forever war.” Maradi, whose brother was refused permission to leave, said he doesn’t trust the Taliban promises. Many are still haunted by memories of the tit-for-tat massacres that had characterized the Taliban rule in areas dominated by Afghanistan’s ethnic minorities in the late 1990s. Read:Taliban gains drive Afghan government to recruit militias Mazar-e-Sharif was the scene of horrific bloodletting. In 1997, Uzbek and Hazara fighters killed some 2,000 ethnic Pashtun Taliban, who were captured in the city after a truce deal fell through. In some case, they forced the captives to jump into pits on the plains north of the city, then threw in grenades and sprayed them with automatic weapons. The next year, the Taliban rampaged through Mazar-e-Sharif, killing thousands of Hazaras and driving tens of thousands more out fleeing to Kabul. At Camp Istiqlal life is brutal. There’s little water to wash, most meals are bread and tea brought to the camp by Rahimi, the leader. Fatima, who cradled her sickly 2-month-old daughter Kobra, said she hadn’t had much food or drink since arriving about one week ago and was unable to produce enough milk to feed her infant. Another mother showed blisters covering the arms and legs of her 2-year-old son, Mohammad Nabi. In the nighttime blackness he knocked over scalding water. They said they have no money for a doctor. The camp residents say no one has come to help them. At the edge of the camp, Habibullah Amanullah cried, his 7-year old daughter hiding behind his arm. “She asks me for something to eat. What can I tell her? We have nothing.”
Soe Win stood in line at a plant to buy oxygen for his grandmother, who is struggling with COVID-19 symptoms. “I have been waiting since 5 in the morning until 12 noon but I’m still in line. Oxygen is scarcer than money,” said the resident of Myanmar’s biggest city, Yangon. Consumed by a bitter and violent political struggle since the military seized power in February, Myanmar has been slow to wake up to a devastating surge in cases since mid-May. It has left many of the sick like Soe Win’s grandmother to suffer at home if they cannot find a bed at an army hospital, or prefer not to trust their care to the widely disliked government. Read: Myanmar: UN expert calls for emergency coalition to end junta's 'reign of terror' Under Aung San Suu Kyi, the civilian leader ousted by the military, Myanmar had weathered its second coronavirus surge beginning in August last year by severely restricting travel, sealing off Yangon, and curbing election campaigning in virus hot spots where lockdowns were imposed. Suu Kyi appeared frequently on television with stern but empathetic entreaties to the public on how to deal with the situation. Vaccine supplies were secured from India and China. Her ouster came less than a week after the first jabs were given to health workers. Suu Kyi’s removal by the military sparked widespread protests, and medical workers spearheaded a popular civil disobedience movement that called on professionals and civil servants not to cooperate with the military-installed government. Military hospitals continued operating but were shunned by many, while doctors and nurses who boycotted the state system ran makeshift clinics, for which they faced arrest. The pace of vaccinations slowed to a crawl, threatening an explosion in infections. “No wise person with a good heart and a sincere desire for truth would want to work under the junta’s rule,” said Zeyar Tun, founder of the civic action group Clean Yangon who helped out at quarantine centers. “Under Suu Kyi, the government and volunteers worked together to control the disease, but it is difficult to predict what the future holds under military rule.” Photos and news stories early last week of people lining up to buy oxygen in the city of Kalay in the northwestern Sagaing region brought home the reality that Myanmar’s health care, already one of the world’s weakest, was on its knees. “From Myanmar, our U.N. colleagues on the ground say they’re concerned about the rapid increase in the number of recorded COVID-19 cases,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in New York. Read:In Myanmar, the military and police declare war on medics “The U.N. team warns that a major outbreak of COVID-19 would have devastating consequences on both people’s health and on the economy. They stress the importance of resuming the delivery of essential health services, implementing measures to prevent the spread of the virus, and to scale up vaccinations.” By the end of the week, residents of Myanmar’s two biggest cities, Yangon and Mandalay, were also having trouble finding oxygen supplies. Myanmar’s new leader, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, in a Friday meeting on COVID-19 response ordered oxygen plants to work at full capacity, including converting industrial oxygen for the needs of patients. Investment and Foreign Trade Minister Aung Naing Oo followed up on Saturday with an announcement that the government is dropping all duties and licensing requirements for the import of oxygen concentrators — devices that generate oxygen. The Health Ministry on Saturday reported a record 4,377 new confirmed cases for a total of 188,752, as well as a record 71 deaths, bringing the toll to 3,756. The number of tested people found to be infected is hovering around 25%, and equally alarming is how quickly the numbers have been rising. The data on vaccinations is not very clear, but it appears that as of last month, only 3.5 million doses had been administered to the country’s 55 million people, meaning a maximum of 3.2% of the population would be fully vaccinated with two doses. According to Johns Hopkins University, the seven-day rolling average rose from 1.18 cases per 100,000 people on June 25 to 6.08 cases per 100,000 people on July 9. In the same period, deaths jumped from 0.01 per 100,000 people to 0.08. Read:Washington announces further sanctions against Myanmar army personnel and enablers Even those numbers are likely an undercount. According to aid group Relief International, Myanmar’s major challenges are a lack of adequate screening, testing capacity and availability of vaccines. The Health Ministry announced Thursday night that all schools would be closed for two weeks. Stay-at-home orders had already been issued for badly hit neighborhoods in several cities, including Yangon, and basic field hospitals set up.
The coronavirus already changed the way we work. Now it’s changing the physical space, too. Many companies are making adjustments to their offices to help employees feel safer as they return to in-person work, like improving air circulation systems or moving desks further apart. Others are ditching desks and building more conference rooms to accommodate employees who still work remotely but come in for meetings. Architects and designers say this is a time of experimentation and reflection for employers. Steelcase, an office furniture company based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, says its research indicates half of global companies plan major redesigns to their office space this year. “This year caused you to think, maybe even more fundamentally than you ever have before, ‘Hey, why do we go to an office?’” said Natalie Engels, a San Jose, California-based design principal at Gensler, an architecture firm. Read:Asian shares track rebound on Wall Street Not every company is making changes, and Engels stresses that they don’t have to. She tells clients to remember what worked well — and what didn’t — before the pandemic. But designers say many companies are looking for new ways to make employees feel safe and invigorated at the office, especially as a labor crunch makes hiring more difficult. That’s what drove food and pharmaceutical company Ajinomoto to overhaul the design of its new North American headquarters outside Chicago last year. Ajinomoto’s employees returned to in-person work in May to a building with wider hallways and glass panels between cubicles, to give them more space and try to make them feel more secure. To improve mental health, the company transformed a planned work area into a spa-like “relaxation room” with reclining chairs and soft music. A test kitchen is wired for virtual presentations in case clients don’t want to travel. And a cleaning crew comes through twice a day, leaving Post-it notes to show what’s been disinfected. “Maybe it’s over the top, but maybe it provides comfort to those that have sensitivities to returning to an in-person work environment,” said Ryan Smith, the executive vice president of Ajinomoto North America. Smith estimates 40% of the new headquarters design changed due to COVID. Shobha Surya, an associate manager of projects and sales at Ajinomoto, is energized by the space. “The office gives you a balance of work and home life,” she said. “You are more focused here and don’t have any distractions.” Read:WTO talks on Trips waiver from June 30 Surya said she’s also thrilled to be working alongside her co-workers again. She’s not alone. Surveys show the thing employees miss most about office work is socializing and collaborating with colleagues, said Lise Newman, workplace practice director at architecture firm SmithGroup. Companies are trying to encourage that rapport by building more social hubs for employees. Some mimic coffee houses, with wood floors, booth seating and pendant lamps. “Companies are trying to create the sense that this is a cool club that people want to come into,” Newman said. Steelcase has divided one of its lobbies into cozy meeting spaces of varying sizes, separated by plant-filled partitions. Mobile video monitors can be wheeled in so that people working remotely can be included in discussions. But after a year of working from home, some employees crave privacy, so Steelcase added more glassed-in booths for private calls and cocoon-like cubicles with small sliding doors. Mark Bryan, a senior interior designer with Columbus, Ohio-based M+A Architects, expects a more fluid office culture in the future, with different places to work on any given day. Introverts might choose a small, private room; extroverts, a table in the office café. Some office changes reflect a new commitment to hybrid work. Valiant Technologies, which provides tech support and other services to businesses, is letting its employees work primarily at home but has them reserve a desk for the days they want to come to the office. The New York company has removed rows of desks and put more space between the remaining ones. Employees leave their keyboard, mouse and headsets in lockers. Read:OPEC to boost oil output as economies recover, prices rise Megan Quick, a sales associate with Valiant, said she appreciated the company allowing her to ease back into office life this month. “It will take a lot of time for us to readjust,” she said. “Valiant letting us set our pace for returning makes me feel safe.” Not every design change will stick. Last summer, when Steelcase started bringing back some workers, they pushed tables in the cafeteria far apart from each other and only allowed one person per table. It made the space so depressing that no one wanted to sit there, Steelcase CEO Jim Keane said. “An important lesson is that, yes, it has to be safe, but also has to be inspiring,” he said. “People are actually going to expect more from offices in the future.”
Customers wanting to wine, dine and unwind to live music at the City Winery’s flagship restaurant in New York must show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination to get in. But that’s not required at most other dining establishments in the city. And it’s not necessary at other City Winery sites around the U.S. If City Winery tried doing such a thing at its places in Atlanta and Nashville, “we would have no business, because so many people are basically against it,” said CEO Michael Dorf. Across the U.S., many hard-hit businesses eager to return to normal have been reluctant to demand proof of vaccination from customers. And the public and the politicians in many places have made it clear they don’t care for the idea. Read:5 dead after hot air balloon crashes in Albuquerque street In fact, far more states have banned proof-of-vaccination policies than have created smartphone-based programs for people to digitally display their vaccination status. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends masks when dining or gathering indoors for those who aren’t fully vaccinated. But few states require it, and most businesses rely on voluntary compliance — even in places with low vaccination rates where COVID-19 cases are climbing. Digital vaccine verification programs could make it easier to enforce safeguards and tamp down new outbreaks. “But that only works when you have mass adoption, and mass adoption requires trust and actual buy-in with what the state health department is doing, which is not necessarily present in all states,” said Alan Butler, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a Washington-based nonprofit organization. Hawaii is the only state enforcing some version of a vaccine passport. It requires travelers to upload a photo or PDF of their Hawaii vaccination document or pass a pre-arrival COVID-19 test to avoid having to quarantine for 10 days. Earlier this month, California became just the third state — behind New York and Louisiana — to offer residents a way to voluntarily display digital proof of their COVID-19 shots. None of those states requires the use of their digital verification systems to access either public or private-sector places. By contrast, at least 18 states led by Republican governors or legislatures prohibit the creation of so-called vaccine passports or ban public entities from requiring proof of vaccination. Several of those — including Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Montana, North Dakota and Texas — also bar most businesses from denying service to those who aren’t vaccinated. “Texas is open 100%, and we want to make sure that you have the freedom to go where you want without limits,” Gov. Greg Abbott said in signing a law against vaccine passports. The prohibition doesn’t apply to the demands employers make on their employees. Earlier this month, a federal judge in Texas threw out a lawsuit from 117 Houston hospital employees who challenged a workplace requirement that they get vaccinated. More than 150 were later fired or resigned for not getting their shots. In Louisiana, under a Republican-passed bill facing a potential veto from Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, public facilities would not be allowed to bar unvaccinated people until the COVID-19 vaccines have received full approval from the Food and Drug Administration. The vaccines for now are being dispensed under emergency FDA authorization. Read:Crews at collapse site find body, raising death toll to five In May, Louisiana launched a program allowing residents using the state’s digital driver’s license, LA Wallet, to add a record of their COVID-19 vaccination. But its reach is still limited. About 105,000 people have activated the COVID-19 verification function. That’s about 14% of those with a digital license and less than 4% of Louisiana’s 3.1 million people with valid driver’s licenses. Democratic state Rep. Ted James, who wrote the bill creating the digital driver’s license, said he has used the feature just once — to show an Uber driver in Nevada that he didn’t need to wear a mask. But James said he has never been asked to show it in Louisiana and doubts he ever will. “Earlier in the year, I felt that at some point we would be limited in travel, going to certain places, unless we had the vaccine,” James said. Now, “I don’t foresee us ever having some type of requirement.” As a step in reopening, New York in March launched its Excelsior Pass, the first state system to provide digital proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a recent negative test. As of early June, more than 2 million people had gotten the digital pass — about one-fifth of those who have been vaccinated. At the City Winery, most customers bypass the Excelsior Pass and instead show their paper CDC vaccination cards to gain entry, according to Dorf, who said patrons at the 1,000-person capacity venue “appreciate going into a bubble of safety, knowing that everyone around them is vaccinated.” Though larger ticketed events, like concerts at Madison Square Garden, require proof of vaccination, most businesses don’t ask. “Think of a bar,” said Andrew Rigie, executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance. “You have four friends that go in — maybe two of them have it, the other two don’t. You’re going to turn the other two away when small businesses are struggling so much?” Though most states have shied away from creating digital vaccination verification systems, the technology may soon become widespread nonetheless. Vaccine providers such as Walmart and major health care systems already have agreed to make digital COVID-19 vaccination records available to customers. Apple also plans to incorporate the vaccination verification function into a software update coming this fall. Read:Biden vows 'sustained' help as Afghanistan drawdown nears Within months, hundreds of millions of people across the U.S. will be able to access digital copies of their COVID-19 vaccination records, said Brian Anderson, chief digital health physician at the nonprofit MITRE Corp., part of a coalition of health and technology organizations that developed such technology. People will receive QR codes that can be stored on smartphones or printed on paper to be scanned by anyone seeking vaccine verification. Those who scan the codes won’t retain any of the information — a protection intended to address privacy concerns. The California Chamber of Commerce said it welcomes the state’s new vaccine verification system as a way for employers to check on their employees. California regulations require most employees who aren’t fully vaccinated to wear masks when dealing with others indoors. Digital vaccine verification “allows an employer who really wants to make sure the workplace is vaccinated to require that without having the impossible problem of ‘John says he’s vaccinated but he lost his vaccine card. What do we do?’ This solves that issue,” said Rob Moutrie, a policy advocate at the California Chamber of Commerce.
Will Smith is ready to open up about his life story. Penguin Press announced Sunday that Smith will release his memoir called “Will” on Nov. 9. The actor-rapper shared a photo of the book’s cover art to more than 54 million of his followers on Instagram. Read:Plans for movie on New Zealand mosque attacks draw criticism Smith said he is “finally ready” to release the memoir after working on the book for two years. His book will be published by Penguin Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House and co-authored by Mark Manson, the author of “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F(asterisk)ck.” “It’s been a labor of love,” Smith said in his post. Read:‘Conjuring 3’ tops ‘A Quiet Place 2’ as moviegoing returns Smith will also narrate the audiobook of “Will” from Penguin Random House Audio. “Will” looks to tell a story about Smith’s life and career. The book will delve into him being raised in West Philadelphia to entering superstardom as an actor and rapper. He’s a two-time Academy Award nominee and won a four-time Grammy winner. Read:What was with that weird Oscar ending? Smith starred in the “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” “Bad Boys,” “Men in Black” and “Pursuit of Happyness.” He’s won Grammys for “Summertime,” “Men In Black,” “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” and “Parents Just Don’t Understand.”
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday said the government with its limited resources is trying to improve the lifestyle of the people at the grassroots. "With our limited resources, we’re trying to reach the common people and grassroots ones for improving their lives and livelihoods. That's our aim," she said. Sheikh Hasina said this while distributing 53,340 well-built semi-pucca homes along with land ownership documents among homeless and landless families across the country in the second phase under the Ashrayan-2 project. Read:PM to distribute over 53,000 new homes to the homeless Sunday The highest 12,436 houses were given in Rangpur division, while 10,547 in Chattogram, 7,630 in Dhaka, 7,172 in Rajshahi, 7,153 in Barishal, 911 in Khulna, 2512 in Mymensingh and 1979 in Sylhet divisions. The Prime Minister virtually joined the distribution programme from her official residence Ganobhaban. Hasina said the government, since assuming power, has been trying to help the ultra-poor in every way and the result of which is now visible. "The ultra-poor are gradually learning to stand on their feet …they’re coming up…that’s what we want." She mentioned that the government’s main target is to improve the living standard of the people at the grassroots by engaging them in livelihood activities. Read:International vaccine institute to be set up in Bangladesh: Hasina The economic policy of the government is to ensure resources up to rural level in addition to ensuring their access to education and healthcare, Hasina said adding, ``That's the policy of the Awami League and that’s what the Father of the Nation taught us.” "When one gets a home, he or she is thrilled with joy and happiness, and that becomes visible on their smiling faces. I want nothing more than that," she said.