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Health

How Can I (Kindly) Tell People to Wear Masks in Public?


NORA

I’m sorry you mistook a “serious” relationship for one that was permanent (or might yield great-granddaughters). That doesn’t always happen, as you now know. The ex is under no obligation, other than a sympathetic one, to return gifts that were freely given to her. Givers retain no ownership in gifts.

But perhaps a call from you to the ex about the sentimental value of the jewelry may help? When something similar happened in my family, my mother agreed to buy back the heirlooms. (She was furious about it, but she did it.) Is that possible? And next time, think twice before handing over a tiara you intend to take back if circumstances change.

My brother and I were estranged for 15 years. The pandemic helped us break through our silence. Now, he has invited me to his 60th birthday party in September, which would require a six-hour flight. Obviously, I’m not getting on a plane now. How can I preserve our relationship? (He’s sensitive.)

SISTER

I’m sorry the pandemic threw a wrench into your reconciliation with your brother. Call him and say: “I’m so happy we’re talking again! I missed you. If there was anyone I would get on a six-hour flight for, it’s you. But I can’t do that safely now. I hope you’ll understand.” Then send him a thoughtful gift, cross your fingers and keep talking. It’s not as if you have a sensible alternative, right?

For the last four years, since I was 9, I went to summer camp with my older brother in August. We love it. This year, after making many rules about masks and social distancing, our camp announced it would reopen. But my parents aren’t letting us go. They don’t think it’s safe. Can we add your name to the list of people protesting our parents’ decision?

AUSTIN

Permission denied, camper! I’m sorry you’re disappointed. But I suspect the low adult-to-kid ratio at camp would put too much pressure on you to behave responsibly all the time. (And if my math is correct, you’re only 13 or 14.) Instead, use the leverage of your parents’ guilt to persuade them to buy you some nice swag or adopt a dog.


For help with your awkward situation, send a question to SocialQ@nytimes.com, to Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on Twitter.





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Politics

Trump’s Remedy for Low Poll Numbers: Reminding People Polls Can Be Wrong


The president also unceremoniously demoted his longtime campaign manager, Brad Parscale, and his campaign has shifted the majority of its advertising resources to a message of law and order, claiming inaccurately in a new television ad spot that if Mr. Biden is elected, the country’s police departments will cease to exist.

His political opponents assume he knows he is losing, and badly, and that his blanket dismissal of public polling as “fake” is part of a strategy to sow doubt and confusion in November. “Saying the polls are fake helps in laying the predicate for claiming the election is rigged,” said William Kristol, the conservative writer and prominent “Never Trump” Republican. “Because his brand going forward depends on his being a victim of a rigged system, not accepting defeat. He has a general interest in discrediting the truth, and this is part of an assault on the truth.”

But aides said that even in private conversations, Mr. Trump has not let the reality of his current political standing fully sink in.

“No one’s ever come back from something like this,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, referring to Mr. Biden’s polling lead over Mr. Trump. Indeed, it has been almost 25 years since Bill Clinton sustained such a gaping advantage over his opponent, Bob Dole, in 1996.

But when donors and outside allies have been blunt with Mr. Trump and told him that he is, in fact, losing, the president has pushed back, claiming that things are getting better and there’s still plenty of time for improvement, according to Republicans familiar with these conversations who spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose private exchanges.

“My polls show we’re getting real movement since Rushmore,” Mr. Trump has told multiple associates, referring to his Fourth of July address at Mount Rushmore, in which he framed the campaign as a battle against a “new far-left fascism” seeking to wipe out the nation’s values and history. White House advisers viewed the speech as a success, if a temporary one that was quickly overtaken by Mr. Trump’s defense of the Confederate flag. Yet the Biden campaign has not seen a real improvement in how voters view Mr. Trump since the beginning of the pandemic, according to a person who was familiar with the campaign’s data. Voters’ impressions of Mr. Trump, the person said, have only grown more negative.

In private conversations, Mr. Trump has also brought up the general election debates as an opportunity for him to improve his standing in the race, telling allies he expects his opponent to perform poorly in that format.



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Health

Young People Are ‘Propagating’ the Pandemic


July 18, 2020 – The nation’s top infectious disease expert said public health officials have to do a better job of reaching the nation’s young people, who have been driving a surge in COVID-19 cases in the South and West.

Anthony Fauci, MD, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also said he is “cautiously optimistic” about having a COVID vaccine by year’s end and that optimism isn’t “hype.”

The remarks came during a wide-ranging interview on “Coronavirus in Context,” a video series hosted by John Whyte, MD, WebMD’s chief medical officer.



During the interview, Fauci said he didn’t blame young people for the rise in cases, many of which have been linked to bars and parties.

Since younger people usually have mild or no symptoms — they may not think they’re vulnerable. Fauci said this type of thinking is “understandable and innocent” but “not correct.”

“By allowing yourself to get infected or not caring if you do get infected, you are propagating a pandemic,” Fauci said.

“It doesn’t end with you,” he said. “The chances are you’re going to infect someone else, who will then infect someone else, and then someone who’s vulnerable … will get infected.”

That’s why he’s made an effort to appear on various livestreams in recent weeks to spread the message. He also appeared on Julia Roberts’ Instagram and Lil Wayne’s podcast.

“We’re not operating in a vacuum, and we have to keep getting the message across,” he said. “Blaming won’t help.”


Vaccine Optimism Isn’t ‘Hype’

Fauci told Whyte that he is “cautiously optimistic” about having a vaccine by the end of the year or beginning of 2021.

Others have pushed back against the idea, calling the timeline unrealistic. This week, Merck CEO Ken Frazier said in an interview with Harvard Business School that the hype around a vaccine is a “grave disservice” to the public. But on Friday, Fauci reemphasized his message of optimism about vaccine candidates that are in clinical trials.

“I don’t think that it’s hype. It’s real,” he said.


“There are risks that we’re taking, but they’re financial risks,” he said. “They’re not risks to safety. They’re not compromising scientific integrity.”

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and federal government are subsidizing at least four vaccine candidates that are quickly moving along in clinical trials, he added.

Although no one can guarantee anything with vaccine development, Fauci believes that the end of 2020 will bring good news about a safe and effective vaccine

“We will get there,” he said. “We think it’s realistic.”


Reopening Schools

Universities, colleges and schools are wrestling with the question of what to do in August and September for the beginning of the academic year. Parents are trying to make decisions about whether to send their kids back to school, and teachers are attempting to find the best ways to keep everyone safe.



Fauci called it a “critical question” and said the “default position” of the American Academy of Pediatrics and other major medical groups is to send children back to school and keep schools open as much as possible, particularly due to the “ripple effect” of negative consequences that can occur when students stay home.

At the same time, decisions must depend on the viral activity in the local community, he said. The U.S. has more than 3,000 counties, and some have few coronavirus cases, but many others have a high enough number of cases to cause a concern. This could either mean not restarting school in person or bringing students back in a safe way that protects both students and teachers.

“That might be simple logistic things” such as spacing desks, alternating schedules to clean classes and teaching outside, he said. “There are creative ways of doing that.”

Although some people have stated that the risk of infection and transmission is lower in younger children, Fauci called the claims “anecdotal” and said there’s not enough data to know for sure. The NIH has started a study of 2,000 families to understand the way infection occurs between children and family members and how underlying conditions such as asthma and allergies play a role, but researchers don’t yet have an answer.


Even still, Fauci reminded people to be hopeful.

“This will end. It doesn’t seem that way now because we’ve been immersed in it for the last 5 to 6 months,” he said. “But it will end, and we will get back to normal.”




Sources

“Coronavirus in Context,” July 17, 2020.



© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.





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Entertaiment

Four People Charged In Rapper’s Shooting Death


Two men and two teenagers have been charged with shooting and killing rapper Pop Smoke during a home invasion in Los Angeles in February.

Pop Smoke, whose real name is Bashar Jackson, died at age 20. His track “Welcome to the Party” was one of last summer’s biggest songs.

Corey Walker, 20, and Keandre Rodgers, 18, were charged Monday by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for murder during a robbery, which is a charge eligible for the death penalty.

Prosecutors said in a statement that “a decision on whether to seek capital punishment will be made at a later date.”

The complaint against Walker and Rodgers also lists gun charges and that investigators believe the robbery was gang-related.

Two teenage boys who were not identified — one 15, the other 17 — were also charged in juvenile court with one count of murder and robbery.

Pop Smoke, who grew up in Canarsie, southeast Brooklyn, died on Feb. 19 around 4 a.m. during a home invasion in the Hollywood Hills. The LAPD said the attackers got the address from photos the rapper posted on social media.

The house was reportedly a rental owned by John Mellencamp’s daughter, Teddi Mellencamp Arroyave, who stars on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

The Los Angeles Police Department reported at the time that a “number of suspects in masks” entered the residence and shot Jackson.

The day before his death, Pop Smoke had landed in the Top 10 of the Billboard charts for the first time with his mixtape Meet the Woo 2.



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Breaking New

Historical Figures Transformed Into Modern-Day People


From the distant past to 2020.

Earlier this year, we wrote about Royalty Now, an incredible project where graphic designer Becca Saladin photo manipulates historical figures into what they’d look like if they were alive today, and people couldn’t get enough.

You may remember how Saladin envisioned what Abraham Lincoln might look today:

She imagined what Mona Lisa — the subject of Leonardo da Vinci’s famous portrait — could look like in 2020:

And she created this image of what Julius Caesar might look like as an iPhone-carrying, modern-day man:

One of the coolest things about this project is how far Saladin goes to ensure her images are as historically accurate as possible. She tries to only use contemporary portraits of the figures (that is, portraits made while they were alive), and does meticulous research to find historical records of their physical appearance.

Saladin tells BuzzFeed that since we last checked in with her, she has set out on a “world tour” to shine a light on what a new group of historical figures from all over the globe might look like today.

She modernized Egyptian queen Hatshepsut, who ascended to the throne in 1478 BC and is regarded as one of the most successful pharaohs in Egyptian history.

She brought to the year 2020 legendary Venezuelan leader Simón Bolívar, who liberated much of modern-day South America from the Spanish Empire in the early 1800s.

And she envisioned Pocahontas as a 21st century woman.

Saladin — who has almost a quarter of a million followers on Instagram — says that one of the ways she chooses her subjects is by asking her followers who she should do next. A popular request was for the powerful 19th century South African king Shaka Zulu.

Saladin tells BuzzFeed, “I did a lot of European figures at the beginning, because those were the figures I knew best and learned about growing up. The best thing about gaining new followers has been learning about new figures in history from so many cultures and being able to bring them to life.”

Some of these portraits were harder to realize than others. Saladin says, “The challenge with creating certain figures came from the portraits themselves. For instance, my portrait of Queen Mother Idia was challenging because it was created from a mask. When I first started creating this art, I didn’t think I’d ever get good enough to create something from a mask, but I attempted it and I’m really happy with how it turned out.”

Her modernization of Mumtaz Mahal — the woman for whom the Taj Mahal was built — was also challenging because it was based on a very stylized portrait. Saladin says, “I’ve finally figured out how to translate stylization into more of a realistic portrait, which opens up a lot of doors. Many cultures portray their leaders as more of a stylized ‘essence’ rather than a photorealistic image, which has presented a huge challenge for me. Now that I’ve improved my skills, I’m getting better at navigating those.”

Saladin is proud of her new work and believes it to be of a higher quality than her earlier work. Below she brings Akhenaten — the ancient Egyptian pharaoh who reigned circa 1353–1336 BCE — into the modern day.

As for the future, Saladin is excited to expand what she’s doing and has been working on new offerings like bookmark designs, prints, and digital downloads. She’s even on TikTok, where she makes videos showing the transformation process.

Nostalgia Trip

Take a trip down memory lane that’ll make you feel nostalgia AF





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Breaking New

Chicago violence: 11 people killed, including 4 children, over Father’s Day weekend



This weekend’s youngest victim, 3-year-old Mekhi James, was shot Saturday evening when someone opened fire at his father’s car as they traveled through the city’s Austin neighborhood, according to Chicago police records and the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.

The boy’s father rushed him to West Suburban Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead a short time later. The father, 27, sustained graze wounds to the abdomen during the incident.

The shootings happened from 6 p.m. Friday to 11:59 p.m. Sunday. The weekend of violence came just a few weeks after Chicago experienced its deadliest Memorial Day weekend in four years, with 10 people fatally shot and 39 injured.

As of June 20, Chicago has seen a 33% increase in shooting incidents and a 22% increase in murders from the same time last year, according to police data reviewed by CNN.

Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said Monday that multiple teenagers were shot. Two of them had walked to a nearby store and were shot multiple times while walking into their backyard.

Both teenagers died after being transported to the University of Chicago hospital, police said.

“Children in Chicago should not have to worry about walking just blocks from home to buy candy and never returning,” Brown said at a news conference.

Brown also said Chicago Police recovered 77 guns and made 43 gun arrests over the weekend and have confiscated 4,468 guns this year in an effort to curb the violence.

He said there are too many violent offenders who are not in jail.

“We need violent felons to stay in jail longer,” Brown said. “We need improvements to the home monitoring system.”

When asked what the issues were that lead to the violent weekend across the city, Brown answered with three things: “Gangs, guns and drugs.”

Mayor Lori Lightfoot called the shooting of the 3-year-old “a heinous, unconscionable act of cowardice” and said the boy “had his whole life ahead of him.” Lightfoot has urged community members to come forward with information for police.



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Breaking New

Charges dropped in Virginia against black pastor who was assaulted; now 5 people are charged with hate crimes



Leon McCray Sr. was arrested and charged with brandishing a firearm during a June 1 incident in the town of Edinburg in Shenandoah County, a news release from the Shenandoah County sheriff said.

When he confronted them and asked them to leave they “got irate” with him before leaving and then returned with three more people who began to threaten him and use “all types of racial slurs,” McCray told WHSV.

He told the station the group began using “racial epithets and the n-word,” saying, “your Black life, your M-F Black life don’t make, it doesn’t make a difference in this country, it doesn’t make a difference to me, and we will kill you.”

McCray pulled out his weapon after the group surrounded him and one man began headbutting him, he told WHSV.

“It got to the point where this is really getting really, really bad,” he told the affiliate. “I couldn’t leave, I couldn’t do anything, and with the threats, I felt to save my life, I had to draw my gun.”

However, when deputies arrived they arrested McCray and no one else.

Two supervisors in the sheriff’s office have been placed on unpaid administrative leave and an administrative review has been launched into their handling of the incident, Sheriff Timothy Carter said in a video message.
Carter met with McCray on June 3 to discuss the incident. Following the meeting, Carter met with the Shenandoah Commonwealth’s Attorney, who agreed that the charge against McCray was unwarranted and dropped it.

“After talking with him about the incident, it was apparent to me that the charge of brandishing was certainly not appropriate,” Carter said. “If I were faced with similar circumstances, I would have probably done the same thing.”

“I want the people of Shenandoah County to know I and the Sheriff’s Office staff appreciate and care about the minority communities, and especially our black community, in Shenandoah County,” he said. “Also, I continue to support and recognize the importance of your Constitutional rights, especially your 2nd Amendment right to protect yourself and your family.”

All five people accused in the attack were arrested Thursday and face a variety of charges related to the attack, including hate crime charges, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.

Donny Salyers, 43, and Dennis Salyers, 26, were charged with felony abduction, assault-hate crime, assault by mob, and assault and battery. Farrah Salyers, 42, was charged with felony abduction, assault-hate crime, and assault by mob. Christopher Sharp, 57, was charged with felony abduction, assault-hate crime, assault by mob, and trespassing. Amanda Salyers, 26, was charged with assault-hate crime, assault by mob, and trespassing.

The Salyerses and Sharp are being held without bond and the investigation is ongoing, the sheriff said.

CNN has not been able to determine whether any of those charged have legal representation.

CNN’s Patrick Cornell contributed to this report.



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Breaking New

Two Indiana billboards suggest people think twice about going to Michigan during the pandemic


As vehicles leave Indiana, they encounter an electronic sign that reads: “Now Entering Michigan: Really? You’re sure about this?”

Likewise, southbound travelers are greeted with a sign as they cross into Indiana that reads: “The Great State of Indiana Welcomes Michiganders To A Free-To-Roam State. We Thank You for the Revenue!”

But the man behind the billboards said they are actually meant to support Michiganders during their quarantine, not poke fun at the restrictions in place.

“It’s not politically motivated at all,” Steve Swick, president and owner of the Swick Broadcasting Company which purchased the billboards, told CNN.

“I did it just to do it,” Swick told CNN affiliate WOOD. “We hear and see all the frustrations of Michiganders that are going through. There was nothing political about it.”

Michigan has been on lockdown since March, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has extended the stay-at-home order several times. It’s now in effect until at least June 12.

Whitmer, a Democrat, has faced backlash regarding her closure orders. Last month, protesters carrying firearms descended on Michigan’s Capitol to pressure the governor to issue more relaxed measures.
President Donald Trump has also attacked Whitmer, a first-term governor, in personal terms over her criticism of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Swick said that he wants the billboards to get people “thinking.” He wants those who see it to know that the state of Indiana is open for their business.

So far, he said he feels that the message has been successful — though it’s unclear how long he will keep the billboards up.

“Maybe we’ll tweak something based on the government in Michigan, and in Indiana for that matter,” he said.

On Friday, Michigan opened the Upper Peninsula and the northern part of the state, with social distancing and other safety measures in place.
The state currently has over 55,611 cases of coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University data, and more than 5,334 deaths.

Indiana has 32,437 confirmed cases of the virus, and 2,030 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

CNN’s Kelly Mena and Eric Bradner contributed to this report.



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Breaking New

13 people wounded in shooting at a memorial in Louisiana



Bogalusa police received multiple calls around 9 p.m. Saturday about several people having been shot and in need of medical attention, the department said in a news release.

When police arrived, “shots were still being fired, and the scene was chaos,” Maj. Wendell O’Berry said Monday at a press conference. No eyewitnesses have come forward with information about the shooting, according to the police.

Officers found an “extremely” large crowd gathered for a memorial service for Dominique James, police said. According to O’Berry, it included as many as 800 people at one point.

“Officers located several victims with gunshot wounds and attempted to secure the scene” with help from Louisiana State Police and multiple local agencies, the release said.

Some were taken by ambulance, some went in private vehicles, O’Berry said, and there may be more victims. One person is in critical condition.

Investigators found more than 50 shell casings, leading police to believe multiple people were involved, O’Berry said.

The city has asked for local, state and federal help in investigating the shooting, O’Berry said.

A funeral for James had been held hours before the memorial, CNN affiliate WDSU reported.

The city did not issue a permit for the gathering, and no permit would have been granted because of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to O’Berry.

James had been missing for days when he was found dead inside his car in a wooded area outside Bogalusa, according to WDSU. He was thought to be going to pick up a four-wheeler, police said.

“There are people who know who did this,” O’Berry said. “We’re on your side. We need your assistance.”



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Breaking New

Blue Apron rebound may be on the menu as more people cook at home


Shares of Blue Apron (APRN) are up nearly 25% this year, a rally fueled in large part by the company saying in February that it was evaluating “strategic options.” That’s seen as the equivalent of slapping a “For Sale” sign on your lawn.

But February seems like eons ago. That was before many Americans were forced to shelter in place because of the Covid-19 pandemic. So instead of going out to eat or ordering takeout, more people are dusting off their kitchen supplies and cooking for themselves.

That’s led to a surge in demand for Blue Apron’s meal kits — and a need for more workers. CEO Linda Kozlowski told CNN Business in an interview Wednesday that while tens of millions have been laid off in the United States since mid-March, Blue Apron has gone on a mini hiring binge in the same period.

Blue Apron has hired more than 300 people at its fulfillment centers to meet demand — and it’s ready to add more jobs if sales continue to pick up, Kozlowski said.

Surge in demand for home cooked meals

“Coronavirus changed the situation at the company. It drove growth a lot earlier than expected,” Kozlowski said. “We’ve simplified orders to make and ship more boxes as quickly as possible.”

Kozlowski, who took over as CEO about a year ago, said many of the new jobs are for supervisory and fulfillment roles in its New Jersey and California distribution centers.

Many of the interviews are being conducted remotely, and employees working in Blue Apron facilities are social distancing to minimize the risk of infection — a problem that has plagued food workers at Tyson (TSN) and other big produce companies.

Despite the ramped-up hiring, Blue Apron is in the process of shuttering a third warehouse in Texas this quarter. The move will not only cut costs but make operations more efficient, Kozlowski said, as many of its fresh ingredients come from farms in California and the East Coast near its other two warehouses anyway.

“We expect an increase in quality, too, since the produce is getting to us faster,” she said.

Losing money in an insanely competitive business

Still, Wall Street remains skeptical about Blue Apron’s long-term viability as an independent company. Only three analysts follow Blue Apron and they all currently rate the stock a “hold” — often considered the nicer way of saying “sell.” They’re also forecasting more net losses for Blue Apron this year and in 2021.

Even though the stock is still up sharply this year, shares are down more than 70% from the peak that Blue Apron hit in mid-March when investors first flocked to it as a potential Covid-19 beneficiary.

The meal kit industry is also highly competitive. Blue Apron has to contend with companies including HelloFresh, Sun Basket and two others backed by grocery giants: Albertsons-owned Plated and Kroger’s (KR) Home Chef.
Competition could be coming to the broader food delivery business as well. Uber (UBER) has reportedly offered to buy rival GrubHub (GRUB) in order to combine it with Uber Eats.
Uber reportedly offered to acquire Grubhub

Kozlowski had no further comment about Blue Apron’s February statement regarding a possible sale of the company or acquisition of a competitor.

Blue Apron is trying to stand out with newer offerings, like a plan centered on preparing multiple meals for the week in one day, and a premium plan with fancier ingredients.

Kozlowski said the premium plan should be popular with more experienced chefs who may want a restaurant-quality meal — a night out that few are able to enjoy at this time.

“A lot of people think about meal kits as being for novices,” Kozlowski said, adding that she considers herself a passionate home cook. “But one of my favorite recipes that got me hooked on Blue Apron was for pan seared cod topped with pickled grapes. We want to be known for food discovery — a new ingredient or different technique.”

But while the company works to attract more customers from newbies to skilled home chefs, investors would love to see Blue Apron either post consistent profits…or throw in the kitchen towel and sell to a larger competitor.



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