“Flavaine Carvalho, sensing distress from an 11-year-old boy with his family, secretly flashed the boy a note asking him if he needed help. When the boy said yes, Carvalho called 911. The boy’s stepfather faces three charges of aggravated child abuse, and his mother faces two charges of child neglect.”
Category : Corporations/Corporate Life
Politicians are increasingly hiring private companies to spread disinformation online, according to researchers who found campaigns run by third-party contractors targeting 48 different countries over the past year.
The Oxford Internet Institute said the “disinformation-for-hire” market is booming, with advertising, marketing and public relations companies offering to manipulate online opinion for political parties and governments.
The OII said private contractors help to identify which groups to target with messages, and then “prompt the trending of certain political messages” either through fake accounts or with armies of bots, or automated accounts.
Researchers said they had found evidence of at least $60m of spending on such campaigns since 2009, although the real total may be far higher.
Researchers said they had found evidence of at least $60m of spending on disinformation campaigns since 2009, although the real total may be far higher https://t.co/NrzxWG0Yt3
— Financial Times (@FinancialTimes) January 13, 2021
Moderna Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine was cleared by U.S. regulators, the second vaccine to gain emergency authorization this month as a historic mass immunization effort ramps up across the country.
The Food and Drug Administration’s decision to grant the authorization Friday for the shot’s use among adults means that two of the six vaccine candidates identified by Operation Warp Speed are now available to the public, a feat accomplished in less than one year. Shots from AstraZeneca Plc and Johnson & Johnson that have also received U.S
— axelvento (@axelvento999) December 19, 2020
It was clear from the start that a cyber attack by suspected Russian hackers aimed at several U.S. government agencies was going to be bad. One clue: National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien cut short a trip overseas early this week to rush back to Washington to help manage the crisis.
But on Thursday, the reality of just how sprawling — and potentially damaging — the breach might be came into sharper focus. It started with a bulletin from the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, known as CISA, warning that the hackers were sophisticated, patient and well-resourced, representing a “grave risk” to federal, state and local governments as well as critical infrastructure and the private sector. It didn’t take long to see how accurate the agency’s assessment was.
Bloomberg News reported that at least three state governments were hacked. That was followed by reports of other breaches: the city network in Austin, Texas, and the U.S. nuclear weapons agency. Late in the day software giant Microsoft Corp. said its systems were exposed.
… effect of Thursday’s revelations was confirmation that no single person or agency — including the highest reaches of the U.S. government — is certain of exactly what the hackers had infiltrated, let alone the full extent of what was taken.https://t.co/vm8C7Ay8i2
— Rhiannon Fionn-Bowman (@RhiFionn) December 18, 2020
The coronavirus vaccine made by Moderna moved closer to authorization on Thursday, a significant step that would expand the reach of the nation’s vaccination campaign to rural areas and many more hospitals.
As the nation buckled from uncontrolled spread of the disease, with 3,611 deaths on Wednesday setting yet another horrific record, a panel of independent experts recommended, by a vote of 20 in favor and one abstention, that the Food and Drug Administration authorize the Moderna vaccine for emergency use. The formal decision, expected on Friday, would clear the way for some 5.9 million doses to be shipped around the country starting this weekend.
Moderna would be the second company allowed to begin inoculating the public, giving millions more Americans access to desperately needed vaccine. The first, made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, received authorization last week.
The Moderna vaccine can be distributed more widely because it can be stored at normal freezer temperatures and, unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, does not require ultracold storage. It also comes in much smaller batches, making it easier for hospitals in less populated areas to use quickly.
Breaking News: An expert panel endorsed Moderna’s vaccine, moving it closer to FDA authorization and giving Americans another tool to fight the coronavirus. https://t.co/KCBsdDkc7k
— The New York Times (@nytimes) December 17, 2020
For Dr Sahin and Dr Tureci — whose insistence that the technology they have helped develop could herald a medical revolution was once dismissed as “science fiction” — the successful coronavirus vaccine has provided as much vindication as relief.
The couple, who between them have authored hundreds of academic papers, filed hundreds of patents, founded two non-profit organisations and two billion-euro businesses, faced scepticism from much of the medical establishment right up until this year.
The groundwork that led to their breakthrough was laid over several decades, in which the two softly-spoken researchers were forced to move out of the comfort zone of their labs and to become entrepreneurs, educators and evangelists.
After meeting as trainee doctors on a blood cancer ward in south-west Germany in the early 1990s, the couple discovered that they shared similar backgrounds — both sets of parents had migrated from Turkey in search of economic opportunity. They also realised that their core interest was not in purely academic science, but in applied science.
“First and foremost, we are physicians,” says Dr Tureci, who ran the duo’s first company, Ganymed, and is chief medical officer at BioNTech.
FT People of the Year: BioNTech’s Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci https://t.co/hucJp6X9de
— FT Health (@fthealth) December 16, 2020
A U.S. government advisory panel has endorsed Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine, in a major step toward an epic vaccination campaign that could finally conquer the outbreak.
The Food and Drug Administration is expected to follow the recommendation issued Thursday by its expert advisers. The advisory group, in 17-4 vote with one abstention, concluded that the shot appears safe and effective against the coronavirus in people 16 and older.
A final FDA decision is expected within days. Millions of shots would then ship to begin vaccinating health care workers and nursing home residents. Widespread access to the general public is not expected until the spring.
#BREAKING: A U.S. government advisory panel has endorsed #Pfizer's coronavirus #vaccine, in a major step toward an epic vaccination campaign that could finally conquer the outbreak. https://t.co/18qG8JTt2e
— ABC7 News (@abc7newsbayarea) December 10, 2020
At Friday’s event Glencore pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, including “scope 3” created when customers burn raw materials, to net zero by 2050.
It plans to do this mainly by placing its coal business into managed decline in which reserves are not replaced as they run down.
By setting out a credible pathway to net zero, Mr Glasenberg believes Glencore will be able to hang on to a business it can milk for cash and not be penalised by investors.
Coal accounts for about 10 per cent of earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, and 5 per cent of revenue, so it is not a huge part of its business.
The move has met a positive response. While Glencore’s commitments require careful consideration, they are “significant”, according to Adam Matthews, director of ethics and engagement at the Church of England Pensions Board and co-chair of the Transition Pathway Initiative.
Glencore needs to decide what it wants to be in the post-Ivan, ESG world,” said Paul Gait, a mining expert at Azvalor Asset Management. “My gut feeling is that coal will be separated eventually.”
— Anne-Sylvaine Chassany (@ChassNews) December 8, 2020
But while he directly (by the tens of thousands) and indirectly (by the millions) delivered on making other people smile, Hsieh was privately coping with issues of mental health and addiction. Forbes has interviewed more than 20 of his close friends and colleagues over the past few days, each trying to come to grips with how this brightest of lights had met such a dark and sudden end.
Reconciling their accounts, one word rises up: tragedy. According to his friends and family, Hsieh’s personal struggles took a dramatic turn south over the past year, especially as the Covid-19 pandemic curtailed the nonstop action that Hsieh seemingly craved. According to numerous sources with direct knowledge, Hsieh, always a heavy drinker, veered into frequent drug use, notably nitrous oxide. Friends also cited mental health battles, as Hsieh often struggled with sleep and feelings of loneliness—traits that drove his fervor for purpose and passion in life. By August, it was announced that he had “retired” from the company he built, and which Amazon had let him run largely autonomously since paying $1.2 billion for Zappos in 2009. Friends and family members, understanding the emerging crisis, attempted interventions over the past few months to try to get him sober.
Instead, these old friends say, Hsieh retreated to Park City, where he surrounded himself with yes-men, paying dearly for the privilege. With a net worth that Forbes recently estimated, conservatively, at $700 million, Hsieh’s offer was simple: He would double the amount of their highest-ever salary. All they had to do was move to Park City with him and “be happy,” according to two sources with personal knowledge of Hsieh’s months in Utah. “In the end, the king had no clothes, and the sycophants wouldn’t say a fucking word,” said a close friend who tried to stage one of the interventions, with the help of Hsieh’s family. “People took that deal from somebody who was obviously sick,” encouraging his drug use, either tacitly or actively.
“He fostered so much human connection and happiness, yet there was this void,” the close friend continued. “It was difficult for him to be alone.”
Ultimately, that may have been a fatal trait. “When you look around and realize that every single person around you is on your payroll, then you are in trouble,” Jewel wrote in that August letter (a representative for Jewel declined to comment). “You are in trouble, Tony.”
— Kate Kelly (@katekelly) December 6, 2020
Now that vaccines are awaiting approval, the question looms: To what extent will remote work persist? In this article, we assess the possibility for various work activities to be performed remotely. Building on the McKinsey Global Institute’s body of work on automation, AI, and the future of work, we extend our models to consider where work is performed. Our analysis finds that the potential for remote work is highly concentrated among highly skilled, highly educated workers in a handful of industries, occupations, and geographies.
More than 20 percent of the workforce could work remotely three to five days a week as effectively as they could if working from an office. If remote work took hold at that level, that would mean three to four times as many people working from home than before the pandemic and would have a profound impact on urban economies, transportation, and consumer spending, among other things.
More than half the workforce, however, has little or no opportunity for remote work. Some of their jobs require collaborating with others or using specialized machinery; other jobs, such as conducting CT scans, must be done on location; and some, such as making deliveries, are performed while out and about. Many of such jobs are low wage and more at risk from broad trends such as automation and digitization. Remote work thus risks accentuating inequalities at a social level.
Remote work may increase gender disparity in the workplace, exacerbating the regressive effects of #COVID19. Our new article explores what’s next for remote work https://t.co/sNt86P24PH pic.twitter.com/FsJqcaULm7
— McKinsey Global Institute (@McKinsey_MGI) November 26, 2020
(Science Magazine) ‘Absolutely remarkable’: No one who got Moderna’s vaccine in trial developed severe COVID-19
Continuing the spate of stunning news about COVID-19 vaccines, the biotech company Moderna announced the final results of the 30,000-person efficacy trial for its candidate in a press release today: Only 11 people who received two doses of the vaccine developed COVID-19 symptoms after being infected with the pandemic coronavirus, versus 185 symptomatic cases in a placebo group. That is an efficacy of 94.1%, the company says, far above what many vaccine scientists were expecting just a few weeks ago.
More impressive still, Moderna’s candidate had 100% efficacy against severe disease. There were zero such COVID-19 cases among those vaccinated, but 30 in the placebo group. The company today plans to file a request for emergency use authorization (EUA) for its vaccine with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and is also seeking a similar green light from the European Medicines Agency.
'Absolutely remarkable' : No one who got Moderna's vaccine in trial developed severe COVID-19 | Science | AAAS https://t.co/Hrtfy4XmWW
— Carl Zimmer (@carlzimmer) November 30, 2020
(LA Times) Muslims reel over a prayer app that sold user data: ‘A betrayal from within our own community’
Five times a day, tens of millions of phones buzz with notifications from an app called Muslim Pro, reminding users it’s time to pray. While Muslims in Los Angeles woke Thursday to a dawn notification that read, “Fajr at 5:17 AM,” users in Sri Lanka were minutes away from getting a ping telling them it was time for Isha, or the night prayer.
The app’s Qibla compass quickly orients devices toward the Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia — which Muslims face when praying. When prayers are done, the in-app Quran lets users pick up reading exactly where they left off. A counter tallies the days of fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. Listings guide users to halal food in their area.
These features make it easier to practice the many daily rituals prescribed in Islam, turning Muslim Pro into the most popular Muslim app in the world, according to the app’s maker, Singapore-based BitsMedia.
But revelations about the app’s data collection and sales practices have left some users wondering if the convenience is worth the risk.
⚡️ Muslims reel over a prayer app that sold user data: ‘A betrayal from within our own community’https://t.co/8vCe8xDPLO
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) November 24, 2020
The promising news that not just one but two coronavirus vaccines were more than 90 percent effective in early results has buoyed hopes that an end to the pandemic is in sight.
But even if the vaccines are authorized soon by federal regulators — the companies developing them have said they expect to apply soon — only a sliver of the American public will be able to get one by the end of the year. The two companies, Pfizer and Moderna, have estimated they will have 45 million doses, or enough to vaccinate 22.5 million Americans, by January.
Industry analysts and company executives are optimistic that hundreds of millions of doses will be made by next spring. But the companies — backed with billions of dollars in federal money — will have to overcome hurdles they’ve encountered in the early days of making vaccines. Moderna’s and Pfizer’s vaccines use new technology that has never been approved for widespread use. They are ramping up into the millions for the first time. Other challenges include promptly securing raw vaccine ingredients and mastering the art of creating consistent, high-quality batches.
“The biology of scaling manufacturing is a very temperamental activity, and there were many, many different attempts over the months until we cracked it,” said Paul Mango, deputy chief of staff for policy at the Department of Health and Human Services.
The federal government once set a goal of 300 million vaccine doses by the end of the year. But the tricky nature of manufacturing vaccines means they are nowhere near that goal. https://t.co/QH5fvoqJsj
— NYT Business (@nytimesbusiness) November 18, 2020
(Washington Post) Walter Isaacson–I was part of a trial for Pfizer’s covid-19 vaccine. It’s a miracle for genetic medicine.
Vaccines work by stimulating a person’s immune system. One traditional approach is to inject a weakened version of the dangerous virus. That’s the way we now fend off measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox. Another method is to use a version of the virus or a part of the virus that has been totally killed.
The success of the Pfizer vaccine means that the plague year of 2020 will be remembered as the time when traditional vaccines began to be supplanted by genetic vaccines. Instead of delivering tiny and safe doses of the virus itself, these new vaccines deliver a piece of genetic coding that will instruct human cells to produce, on their own, components of a targeted virus. These safe components can then stimulate the patient’s immune system.
It is another wondrous miracle from a biotech revolution in which knowledge of genetic coding will become as important as digital coding and molecules will become the new microchips.
“It is another wondrous miracle from a biotech revolution in which knowledge of genetic coding .. as important as digital coding & molecules will become the new microchips.” @washingtonpost @pfizer #COVID19 #Vaccine @BioNTech_Group https://t.co/AcBu40iSPS
— Christina Ayiotis (@christinayiotis) November 10, 2020
A Fantastic development–(Stat News) Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech is strongly effective, early data from large trial indicate
Pfizer and partner BioNTech said Monday that their vaccine against Covid-19 was strongly effective, exceeding expectations with results that are likely to be met with cautious excitement — and relief — in the face of the global pandemic.
The vaccine is the first to be tested in the United States to generate late-stage data. The companies said an early analysis of the results showed that individuals who received two injections of the vaccine three weeks apart experienced more than 90% fewer cases of symptomatic Covid-19 than those who received a placebo. For months, researchers have cautioned that a vaccine that might only be 60% or 70% effective.
The Phase 3 study is ongoing and additional data could affect results….
BREAKING: Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech is strongly effective, early data from large trial indicate https://t.co/mPdGZj8OpE
— STAT (@statnews) November 9, 2020
(C of E) Global investors engage top mining companies on Indigenous community rights & social licence
Australia, London, – a group of 64 investors and their representatives with USD $10.2 trillion in Assets Under Management have today written to the Boards of mining companies operating in Australia and internationally to seek assurances about how the sector obtains and maintains its social license to operate with First Nations and Indigenous communities.
The investor group of long-term institutional investors is considering the implications of what occurred at the Juukan Gorge on the wider mining sector to support alignment between best-practice and company action.
The investor group is seeking information on the action companies are taking to understand and manage the risks. The group is clear that although the example of the destruction of the Juukan Gorge has arisen in Australia, the principles apply to projects across the world.
The letter from global investors states:
“As responsible investors and their representatives, we are committed to working with the mining sector to support verifiable outcome-oriented processes and standards that ensure that such events are not repeated. To do so, we need to better understand your approach to management of the cultural heritage and First Nations and Indigenous community relations.”
The experimental COVID-19 vaccine codeveloped by the U.S.’s Pfizer, Germany’s BioNTech, and China’s Fosun Pharmaceuticals may reach market as early as this December, according to the chairman of Fosun Group.
“Once the vaccine is proved to be safe and effective [after trial results are posted in November], the vaccine will be made available in the market by December  or January next year,” Guo Guangchang, chair of the parent company of Fosun Pharmaceuticals, said Tuesday at the Fortune Global Forum.
— WBMN Groovin' 24/7 (@RadioBlackOn) October 27, 2020
Pfizer Inc.laid out a timetable for reaching key milestones in the development of its Covid-19 vaccine that could mean the shots start becoming available in the U.S. before year’s end.
Chief Executive Albert Bourla said Friday the company could start to see from a large study whether the vaccine works by the end of this month and would have data on its safety by the third week of November. If the preliminary results indicate the vaccine can work safely, Pfizer could ask U.S. health regulators to permit use by late November, Mr. Bourla said.
The timetable, which Mr. Bourla provided in a letter posted to Pfizer’s website, suggests the shots could start going into use in late November, or more likely in December, since regulators would probably need some time to review the study data as well as Pfizer’s manufacturing operations.
New York-based Pfizer is developing its vaccine candidate with German partner BioNTech SE.
It is far from certain the vaccine would prove to work safely in the trial now enrolling some 44,000 volunteers. And the timetable could be pushed back for a number of reasons, including if it takes longer than Pfizer expects for study subjects to get exposed to the virus.
Drug giant Pfizer said it could be ready to apply for emergency-use authorization of its Covid-19 vaccine by late November, assuming it receives positive efficacy and safety data from late-stage human trials https://t.co/qrffJBBO7S
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) October 16, 2020
When the coronavirus pandemic shuttered offices around the United States in March, many companies told their employees that it would be only a short hiatus away from headquarters.
Workers, they said, would be back in their cubicles within a matter of weeks. Weeks turned into September. Then September turned into January. And now, with the virus still surging in some parts of the country, a growing number of employers are delaying return-to-office dates once again, to the summer of 2021 at the earliest.
Google was one of the first to announce that July 2021 was its return-to-office date. Uber, Slack and Airbnb soon jumped on the bandwagon. In the past week, Microsoft, Target, Ford Motor and The New York Times said they, too, had postponed the return of in-person work to next summer and acknowledged the inevitable: The pandemic isn’t going away anytime soon.
“Let’s just bite the bullet,” said Joan Burke, the chief people officer of DocuSign in San Francisco. In August, her company, which manages electronic document signatures, decided it would allow its 5,200 employees to work from home until June 2021.
More companies are delaying return-to-office dates to next summer, an acknowledgement that the pandemic is unlikely to abate anytime soon https://t.co/LD5tInOoKd
— NYT Business (@nytimesbusiness) October 13, 2020
In a pandemic, it is better to own a company built on customer data than one with bricks and mortar retail outlets. Indeed, it may turn out to be smarter to own companies rich in intangible assets from any sector rather than bet on the Big Tech companies that have been driving the S&P 500. This will be particularly true if regulators begin to pick apart the business models of Facebook, Google and the like.
Finally, coronavirus-related digital shifts may put a lot more downward pressure on pricing power than expected, according to Robert Kaplan, head of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank. In a recent essay on US economic conditions and monetary policy in the wake of the pandemic, he noted how people’s work and shopping habits have changed. They are doing more online, which allows digital platforms to grow bigger, and this in turn has damped business pricing power.
“To respond to this trend, businesses are investing substantially more in technology to replace people, lower their costs and improve their competitiveness,” he wrote.
The economic recovery from the pandemic is likely to be led by digital firms and investment – that could mean a slower job recovery and reduced risk of higher inflation: FT column by @ranaforoohar https://t.co/q19enVV4DQ
— Tony Tassell (@TonyTassell) October 4, 2020
(CNBC) Google will try ‘hybrid’ work-from-home models, as most employees don’t want to come in every day
Google is rethinking its long-term work options for employees, as most of them say they don’t want to come back to the office full-time.
Sixty-two percent of Google employees want to return to their offices at some point, but not every day, according to a recent survey of employee office preferences the company released this week. So Google is working on “hybrid” models, including rearranging its offices and figuring out more long-term remote work options, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said in an interview with Time magazine on Wednesday.
“I see the future as being more flexible,” Pichai said in the interview. “We firmly believe that in-person, being together, having a sense of community is super important when you have to solve hard problems and create something new so we don’t see that changing. But we do think we need to create more flexibility and more hybrid models.”
The long-term planning comes as Google, which has been looked at as a model for Silicon Valley workplaces, slowly reveals more details of its plans to return its employees back to the office while also competing with other tech companies for top talent.
Most Google employees don't want to come back to the office full time, so company will go 'hybrid' https://t.co/wcbCY2QBwQ
— CNBC (@CNBC) September 23, 2020
‘For nearly a year, Lashenda Williams slept in her car in a Kroger parking lot. Now, the same supermarket has welcomed her with a job and a fresh start.’
The United States of America, heralded as the land of plenty, still doesn’t have enough paper towels.
Long after the coronavirus sparked a run on them, retailers can’t keep their shelves full. Target.com had no Bounty paper towels for delivery this week, though it had some at certain stores. At Amazon.com, a seller was charging $44.95 for a pack that normally goes for $15.
An average of 21% of household paper products were out of stock at U.S. stores as of Aug. 9, according to research firm IRI.
The situation isn’t likely to abate soon, because producers have no plans to build new manufacturing capacity. The central piece of the machinery needed to make paper towels takes years to assemble.
Americans have faced many stresses in the pandemic, of which paper-towel scarcity is hardly among the worst. Yet the forces behind the shortage nearly six months into the crisis help explain the broad lack of U.S. preparedness that has made the pandemic worse than it might have been.
Why are there still not enough paper towels? A decadeslong lean manufacturing trend left many makers unprepared when Covid-19 struck. https://t.co/vBKapxVN0d
— Anthony DeRosa 🗽 (@Anthony) August 22, 2020
Marking the end of the first half of London Climate Action Week, representatives from UK faith groups have signed an open letter to the UK Government urging it to ensure that its economic recovery strategy is centred on the urgent need to reduce the impact of climate change.
In the letter, the signatories, some of whom are members of the ‘Faith for the Climate’ network, also commit to the goals of the Laudato Si encyclical – an initiative of Pope Francis – to advocate for and model positive initiatives to continue to tackle the Climate Emergency.
The open letter [begins]:
COVID-19 has unexpectedly taught us a great deal. Amidst the fear and the grief for loved ones lost, many of us have found consolation in the dramatic reduction of pollution and the restoration of nature. Renewed delight in and contact with the natural world has the capacity to reduce our mental stress and nourish us spiritually.
We have rediscovered our sense of how interconnected the world is. The very health and future of humanity depends on our ability to act together not only with respect to pandemics but also in protecting our global eco-system.
At the same time, less travel and consumption and more kindness and neighbourliness have helped us appreciate what society can really mean.
We have also seen yet again that in times of crisis, injustice becomes more obvious, and that it is the poor and vulnerable who suffer most….
Marking the end of London Climate Action Week @london_climate on Friday UK faith leaders called on the Government to prioritise the environment, ensuring that the economic recovery is centred on the urgent need to reduce the impact of climate change.https://t.co/IH6AQyPha7
— Church of England Environment Programme (@CofEEnvironment) July 6, 2020
“Public health, when it does its work best, it’s not telling people what to do. It’s telling people how to keep themselves and their loved ones safe so people can make their decisions about how to do that,” Bibbins-Domingo said.
Lockdown fatigue is not a new phenomenon. During the 1918 flu pandemic, San Franciscans threw their masks into the air when they thought the pandemic was over, not realizing a new deadly wave of flu would hit within weeks, said Chin-Hong at UC San Francisco.
“People are afraid that history is going to repeat itself,” he said.
California’s exuberant optimism that the worst of the pandemic was behind us was fueled by the state’s early success. While many people in California might not know someone who died, Chin-Hong said, in New York, it seemingly felt like everyone knew someone who died.
The public increasingly ignored the rules and demanded their summer on the sand, swimming, sunbathing and just hanging out. Unable to stop the crowds, county officials simply gave up.https://t.co/K7Yiigfscp
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) July 3, 2020
(Local Paper) As holiday weekend approaches, Charleston-area restaurant workers fear what it might bring
By now, just about everyone in South Carolina is familiar with the graph charting the state’s new coronavirus cases. The trend line looks like a child’s drawing of a mountain cliff or a letter ‘L’ in repose, with a plateau followed by a sharp vertical flourish.
It also perfectly mirrors the fear and anxiety that food-and-beverage employees across downtown Charleston say they experience at work.
With positive tests for the coronavirus progressively thinning out local restaurant staffs, workers say they have less time to keep up with new sanitation protocols and more reason to worry about contracting the potentially deadly virus.
In interviews conducted over the past week by The Post and Courier, multiple employees at half a dozen leading Charleston restaurants have shared a remarkably similar story: They feel abandoned by public officials who championed reopening without restriction and endangered by patrons who mock their masks and flout social distancing rules.
Many front-of-house workers are so tired and stressed that they wish restaurants would revert to offering takeout exclusively, even if it would cost them tips.
“The restaurant industry feels unsafe,” says a former Leon’s Oyster Shop server who last month quit after learning co-workers who were exposed to the virus at a dinner party were still on the schedule.
“The restaurant industry feels unsafe. A lot of people want to get out of there, but it’s so hard to find another job,” a former Leon’s Oyster Shop server said.https://t.co/gU3ORr6ZBT
— The Post and Courier (@postandcourier) July 2, 2020
(Moultrie News) Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, mandates face masks at select establishments, effective July 1
Mount Pleasant has joined neighboring municipalities in mandating that face masks be worn in certain public spaces, effective at noon on Wednesday. Just three days prior to the celebration of Independence Day.
On Monday afternoon, Mount Pleasant Town Council met for an emergency special council meeting that would consider requiring face covering in “certain circumstances.” Council voted in favor 6-2, two-thirds majority, to pass Ordinance 20037.
Councilmember Brenda Corley was not present for the vote. Council explained the reasoning for Corley’s absence was due to showing COVID-19 symptoms.
— Kendall Harmon (@KendallHarmon6) June 29, 2020
If you thought the economic toll wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic was only going to be horrendous, you may have been overly optimistic. A combination of voluntary behavior changes and government-imposed lockdowns that choked-off social and economic activity are now projected to have even worse consequences than economists initially feared. Life may start returning to normal sometime next year, but there will be lasting pain even if we avoid another wave of the virus.
“Global output is projected to decline by 4.9 percent in 2020, 1.9 percentage points below our April forecast, followed by a partial recovery, with growth at 5.4 percent in 2021,” Gita Gopinath, Director of the Research Department at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), wrote this week.
As depressing as the IMF’s numbers are, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is actually more pessimistic. The OECD predicts that, if we’re hit by only one wave of COVID-19, global economic activity will fall by 6 percent this year, with five years of income growth lost. A second wave of infections would drive world economic output down by 7.6 percent in 2020.
“A combination of voluntary behavior changes and government-imposed lockdowns that choked-off social and economic activity are now projected to have even worse consequences than economists initially feared.”https://t.co/fpUfOARllh
— reason (@reason) June 27, 2020
China is testing restaurant workers and delivery drivers block by block. South Korea tells people to carry two types of masks for differing risky social situations. Germany requires communities to crack down when the number of infections hits certain thresholds. Britain will target local outbreaks in a strategy that Prime Minister Boris Johnson calls “Whac-A-Mole.”
Around the world, governments that had appeared to tame the coronavirus are adjusting to the reality that the disease is here to stay. But in a shift away from damaging nationwide lockdowns, they are looking for targeted ways to find and stop outbreaks before they become third or fourth waves.
While the details differ, the strategies call for giving governments flexibility to tighten or ease as needed. They require some mix of intensive testing and monitoring, lightning-fast response times by the authorities, tight border management and constant reminders to their citizens of the dangers of frequent human contact.
The strategies often force central governments and local officials to share data and work closely together, overcoming incompatible computer systems, turf battles and other longstanding bureaucratic rivalries. Already, in Britain, some local officials say their efforts are not coordinated enough.
How the World Is Learning to Live With a Deadly Pandemic.https://t.co/UvS4paxTLr
— Antonio Navalón (@antonio_navalon) June 24, 2020
As much as Samim Abedi loved his job as part of the team that managed Google’s corporate investment portfolio, he couldn’t always square the work with his Muslim faith. He worried that some of the companies whose securities he traded had ties to alcohol or tobacco or gambling.
So he quit to join Wahed Invest, which in July 2019 launched the first exchange-traded fund in the U.S. that’s compliant with Sharia, Islam’s religious law. It’s one of eight ETFs introduced in the U.S. last year that incorporate faith-based principles, raising the total to 11. More are coming: In June, money manager Global X filed to launch a bond fund aligned to Catholic values. “We’re all trying to solve the same question,” says Abedi, the global head of portfolio management for Wahed. “How do we invest our wealth in ways that align with our ethics?”
Religion-based funds can differ on what they consider ethical. A stock fund that caters to Catholics shuns companies that sell weapons or exploit child labor. Several ETFs for Muslims steer clear of anything related to interest-based finance, which the religion frowns upon. Those funds invest in a Sharia-compliant alternative to bonds called sukuk, which provide regular payments that are considered profit-sharing rather than interest.