Borrowing – PCCMPH Thu, 30 Sep 2021 18:14:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Borrowing – PCCMPH 32 32 How is it going for a long haul after COVID-19 in Charlotte Thu, 08 Apr 2021 02:38:32 +0000

Jillian Longsworth is a long-haul COVID-19 who has battled symptoms such as insomnia, fatigue, anxiety and neuropathy in her fingers and toes while taking her business, NoDa Yoga, virtual.

Jillian Longsworth is a long-haul COVID-19 who has battled symptoms such as insomnia, fatigue, anxiety and neuropathy in her fingers and toes while taking her business, NoDa Yoga, virtual.

My name is Jillian Longsworth and I am a mom and small business owner who is also a COVID-19 long haul, going through a year of change.

My company, NoDa Yoga, temporarily closed a year ago today on March 17, 2020, when the NC stay-at-home order has begun. Our team switched to virtual classrooms while suffering an 80% loss of income. We are fortunate that our yoga community made the change with us and supported us with a Go Fund Me which helped us through many months of the pandemic. The rest of the help to keep NoDa Yoga afloat came from government and personal loans and grants.

Then my daughter and I both caught COVID-19 in July. We don’t know how we got the virus and assume it came from an asymptomatic person we were often with.

The long-haul life of COVID-19

Since then, to be completely honest, it has been a roller coaster of emotions resulting from long-term symptoms that developed gradually after the initial coronavirus diagnosis. I developed insomnia, fatigue, a higher level of anxiety and neuropathy in my fingers and toes for several months.

About two months ago, I experienced symptoms similar to a stroke, with numbness in my tongue, legs and arms, followed by headaches and balance issues that left me feeling overwhelmed. sent to the doctor for blood tests.

I have joint pain in my fingers and toes that wakes me up every night around 3 a.m. My once nearly perfect blood pressure is now in the hypertension range, and my doctor and I are discussing blood pressure medication.

I’m 42, and with that, brings the stigma of being a woman in her 40s. If I had a dollar for every time I heard, “Well, you’re at this age where…” There’s a lot of denial and a lot of work around right now regarding COVID-19 and the long haul. My symptoms are mild compared to many others in the community and beyond.

Today, I feel lucky that my physical body is regaining strength. I also feel incredibly lucky to have lived the experience and to share stories with those in the communities around Charlotte who feel lonely on their long haul journey. To experience is to acquire knowledge and with knowledge comes a deep sense of empathy and compassion for humanity.

Misinformation rages on

In addition to the long-term symptoms, my daily interactions with members of my yoga community became like an Alice in Wonderland scene – only it was Alice in COVID Country. I found myself browsing the disinformation about the virus and saw the verbiage of the QAnon conspiracy theory start to make its way into my Instagram and Facebook stories on my news feed from people I thought I knew in the health and wellness industries.

A definite change for my daughter and I are the friends we interact with online or in public – with masks of course. We are no longer associated with certain people due to their outward portrayal that the virus is a hoax or the misinformation they were fed by wellness influencers. The idea that the virus is a bad cold or that we are all sheep has been widely shared on the foods I followed by yoga teachers and wellness influencers.

My daughter is doing well and we often share our feelings about what wrong means and who is vulnerable in our community. She has also seen the economic downfall of members of our community, including the homeless, and has a desire to help others. We have a lot of discussions about why it is important to take care of others while wearing a mask and to understand the difference between the me and us mindset.

During COVID-19, people sought answers from anyone they believed had a position of power. Yoga influencers have the opportunity for Charlotte to express themselves and stop the spread of disinformation. Instead, some choose to broadcast false claims. People want to feel a connection with these teachers and tend to believe every word they say, when in reality they themselves are brainwashed by misinformation. It is very sad to watch.

We all seemed to be seeing something very different through the looking glass. I watched the rabbit hole divide into masks and science spread to Charlotte. I felt that with each door I opened, the community’s window of tolerance grew smaller and smaller. I recently asked the question of how to widen this window of tolerance to be more human-centered and maintain a space of safety and inclusiveness for all in this pandemic.

Back to business

The main area of ​​NoDa Yoga still remains closed to in-person classes, and with the most recent study that came out on gymsIt is clear that we made the right choice by only offering virtual lessons for the past year, although the studio will reopen towards the end of March with a limited schedule.

The experience of all of the above was put into perspective and allowed me to clarify what our next steps were for NoDa Yoga. Our second location, which at times looked like the mid-pandemic of the ‘little engine that could’, is coming to fruition and will open for in-person classes in Oakhurst in late March or early April. We will follow the governor’s capacity mandate and we will need masks. We have also installed three HVAC systems with plasma air sterilizers and a cleaning crew will be coming regularly.

We will continue to follow the science and guidelines in place to open our doors safely and efficiently. I often tell my students that there is power in taking a break, and it has been a break that I will never take for granted.

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Deci named in 2021 CB Insights AI 100 list of the most innovative artificial intelligence startups Thu, 08 Apr 2021 02:38:19 +0000

NEW YORK, April 7, 2021 / PRNewswire / – CB Insights appointed today Deci in the fifth edition IA 100 ranking, presenting the 100 most promising private artificial intelligence companies in the world.

“This is the fifth year that CB Insights has recognized the most promising private artificial intelligence companies with the AI ​​100, and it is one of the most global groups we have ever seen. This year’s cohort covers 18 industries and works on everything from climate risk to accelerating drug R&D, ”said CB Insights CEO Anand Sanwal. “Last year’s 100 AI companies had a remarkable run after being named to the list, with over 50% of them to raise additional funding (totaling $ 5.2 billion), including 16 mega-towers over $ 100 million. Many have also come out via M&A, SPAC or IPO. As industry after industry embraces AI, we expect this year’s class to experience similar levels of interest from investors, acquirers, and customers. “

“We are honored to be recognized by CB Insights as one of the best deep learning accelerators in the AI ​​industry,” said Yonatan Geifman, CEO and co-founder of Deci. “The recognition only strengthens the validity of our mission, which is to make deep learning tools more accessible to AI developers across industries. skills to be overcome, otherwise companies will be unable to produce their solutions. AutoNAC (Automated Neural Architecture Construction) technology from Deci optimizes deep learning models and ensures that practitioners are able to solve the world’s most complex problems.

Using an evidence-based approach, the CB Insights research team selected the AI ​​100 from a pool of over 6,000 companies based on several factors including patent activity, investor quality, news sentiment analysis, proprietary Mosaic scores, market potential, partnerships, competitive landscape, team strength and technological novelty. The Mosaic score, based on the CB Insights algorithm, measures the overall health and growth potential of private businesses to help predict the dynamics of a business.

By harnessing AI to create better AI, Deci automatically transforms deep learning models to be ready for efficient large-scale production. Using Deci’s deep learning platform, developers can overload AI models and accelerate the execution of deep learning up to 10 times on any hardware, including including AI chips for Edge & Mobile, CPUs and GPUs, for any periphery or vision related task. The Deci platform can redesign any deep learning model to maximize inference throughput and minimize inference latency (even down to real-time performance), while reducing costs and preserving the precision.

This award follows many milestones for Deci, including a broad strategic collaboration with Intel Corporation to optimize deep learning inference on Intel Architecture (IA) processors. The two work together to deploy innovative AI technologies to common customers. Deci and Intel’s collaboration started with MLPerf where on several popular Intel processors, AutoNAC technology from Deci accelerated inference speed the well-known ResNet-50 neural network, reducing latency of submitted models by a factor of up to 11.8x and increasing throughput up to 11x. In 2020, Déci raised $ 9.1 million in a first round to advance its deep learning platform.

Quick facts about the AI ​​100 2021:

  • Equity financing and transactions: Since 2010, the AI ​​100 2021 cohort has brought together more than $ 11.7 billion in equity through more than 370 transactions involving more than 700 investors.
  • 12 unicorns: Companies with valuations over $ 1 billion on the list cover applications as diverse as data annotation, cybersecurity, sales and CRM platforms, and business research.
  • Geographical distribution: 64% of the companies selected are headquartered in the United States. Eight of the winners are based in the UK, followed by six each in China and Israel, and five in Canada. Other countries represented in this year’s list include Japan, Denmark, Czech Republic, France, Poland, Germany, and South Korea.

About CB Insights

CB Insights creates software that empowers the world’s best companies to discover, understand, and make technology decisions with confidence. By combining data, expert advice and work management tools, clients manage their end-to-end technology creation process on CB Insights. For more information, please visit

CB Insights
[email protected]

About Deci

Deci inaugurates a new AI paradigm by using AI to create and operate AI models. Deci’s deep learning platform enables data scientists to turn their AI models into production solutions on any hardware, creating the next generation of AI for businesses at all levels. Deci’s proprietary AutoNAC (Automated Neural Architecture Construction) technology autonomously redesigns a company’s deep learning models to get the most out of its hardware. Founded in 2019 and based in Tel Aviv, Deci’s team of deep learning experts are dedicated to removing production bottlenecks throughout the AI ​​lifecycle to give developers and engineers time to do what they need. ‘they do the best: creating innovative AI solutions for the complex problems of our world.

Garrett krivicich, Featured media
[email protected]
+1 786 233 7684


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House adopts $ 6 billion capital budget Thu, 08 Apr 2021 02:38:10 +0000

By Sydney Brown

WNPA Olympia Press Service

OLYMPIA – Lawmakers unanimously passed a $ 6.23 billion capital budget on April 2, allocating millions of state and federal funds to invest in community projects and public works.

“We have put in place a budget that not only meets the infrastructure needs of large urban centers, but prioritizes rural communities struggling to survive in the aftermath of the pandemic,” said Representative Mike Steele, R-Chelan, in a press release.

For education, the proposal provides $ 781.7 million for the K-12 school construction assistance program and $ 679 million for four-year public institutions. The proposal also offers $ 191 million for the construction of the University of Washington Teaching Hospital.

The budget also includes funding for local projects and grants, with $ 227 million in loans and grants for the Public Works Council and $ 94 million statewide for community projects.

Another $ 175 million would go to the Housing Trust Fund. Almost $ 26 million would go towards grants to increase the capacity of homeless shelters.

“We are investing $ 90 million in what we call rapid housing acquisition… What this is designed to do is help communities in immediate need house people,” said Senator David Frockt, D -Seattle.

Money for local health services would also get funding, with $ 69.5 million dedicated to Western State Hospital, Eastern State Hospital and other public facilities.

Improving state parks is also a priority in the capital budget. The State Parks and Recreation Commission would get $ 56.7 million for state parks. Longer-term projects would get $ 5.7 billion – some of which comes from general bonds – for schools, public works and parks.

The plan would spend $ 33.7 million for the Yakima River Basin and $ 31.7 million for the Columbia River Board. Another $ 189 million from the Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund would fund health surveillance and education projects.

The Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund is investing $ 400 million in expanding broadband access, water and wastewater.

A list by county of capital projects funded by this bill is available here:

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FDCDC announced the opening of registration for Virtual Money Smart Week | New Thu, 08 Apr 2021 02:37:54 +0000

The Fred Douglass Community Development Corporation (FDCDC) has announced that registration is now open for Virtual Money Smart Week 2021, which will run from Saturday April 10 through Saturday April 17.

This free week-long virtual campaign aims to help participants better manage their personal finances by focusing on those hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Virtual Money Smart Week will feature daily short webinars and helpful resources to improve the effectiveness of one’s financial well-being. Webinars provide informative, practical and engaging content that participants can apply in everyday life.

The webinar schedule is as follows:

• Saturday April 10, from 10:00 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. CST

Talking Cents (University of Chicago Financial Education Initiative)

• Sunday April 11 from 10:00 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. CST

Savings (FINRA Foundation for Investor Training)

• Monday April 12, from 12:00 p.m. to 12:15 p.m. CST

Basic banking services (Economic Awareness Council)

• Tuesday April 13, 12:30 p.m. to 12:50 p.m. CST

Student loans (US Department of Education, Federal Student Aid)

• Wednesday April 14, 1:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. CST

Fraud Protection (Internal Revenue Service)

• Thursday, April 15, 1:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. CST

Personal Finance (Global Center of Excellence in Financial Literacy)

• Friday April 16, from 12:00 p.m. to 12:15 p.m. CST

Housing Protections + Resources (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau)

• Saturday April 17, 10:30 am to 10:45 am CST

Budgeting (University of Wisconsin-Madison, Extension Division)

You will find more information about each event and a button to register on The events are free and open to the public, but registration is advised. Questions for panelists can be submitted during the registration process.

For a more detailed summary, visit

For more information contact Virginia Brown, or (713) 775-8167.

Fred Douglass Community Development Corporation is a 501 (c) (3) organization based in Jacksonville. FDCDC’s stated mission is to advance the social and economic well-being of low and moderate income individuals and families in Jacksonville and surrounding areas, Texas.

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Family of man who died in Fresno taco tasting contest sues Grizzlies owner – WWLP Thu, 08 Apr 2021 02:37:35 +0000

ValleyBike launches event showcasing local artists

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NTSB: Parking brake was not released on plane that crashed in Farmington, killing 4 people

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Amherst school vax mandate

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Massachusetts COVID-19 Daily Report: 22 new deaths, 1,380 new cases

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Salvation Army receives food and medical supplies ahead of potential Afghan refugee arrival

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South Hadley High School students return to in-person learning

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Food for thought: omega-3 fatty acids

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Hunger? Discover Fair Food at Big E

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Jobs available at MGM Springfield

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Armed robbery at Game Stop in West Springfield

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Patriots vs Buccaneers: How successful are the other quarterbacks against their old teams?

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Serial killer Stewart Weldon pleads guilty to rape, killing 3 women in Springfield area

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Dr Bankole Johnson believes beauty begins in the brain Thu, 08 Apr 2021 02:37:13 +0000

“Have you ever looked for the word happy in the dictionary?” You should. That’s the strangest definition, ”says acclaimed brain specialist Dr. Bankole Johnson as he guides a taste of his soon-to-open Miami wellness spa, Private Clinics.

Johnson’s interest in happiness stems from the belief that he can, indeed, help people be happier. He wants to achieve this by using his unparalleled expertise in brain science to connect the dots in spaces of beauty and wellness to help people achieve general well-being with a brain-focused mindset. He calls it: Where science meets well-being.

To understand its mission, it is first important to understand its journey.

Dr Johnson was a practicing physician at the age of 22, when he became an intensive care physician. After that, and after completing the necessary schooling, he became an anesthesiologist, then a psychiatrist. He continued his graduate studies with two further doctorates in addition to his doctorate in medicine and a master’s degree in neurological disorders and computational mathematics. While practicing medicine and making groundbreaking discoveries in the fields of psychopharmacology in the treatment of drug addiction, he rose through the academic ranks to become professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioural Sciences at the University of Virginia, followed by a similar role at the University of Maryland where he was president of psychiatry and professor of pharmacology, medicine, psychiatry, anatomy, neurobiology and neurology.

What does all of this have to do with the wellness spa he creates?

Basically, Privée Clinics is a medical center and offers the usual checks to monitor the body like blood tests, physical exams, and nutrition services, but unlike a typical medical clinic, Dr Johnson’s clinics put a heavy emphasis on emphasis on happiness, self-esteem and mood regulation.

“Most people come here to optimize their well-being and happiness is an important part of well-being,” Johnson continues. “And unfortunately, traditional medicine doesn’t deal with happiness. Doctors are not trained to keep people healthy, they are trained to treat disease, and because we focus on disease, we are very good at diagnosing disease and we are very bad at developing and maintaining disease. health. “

He knows that by combining everything he understands about the brain and applying it to wellness, the end result would be happier people. How? ‘Or’ What? He understands that this happens through the combination of various treatments and modalities which, when applied together, improve both internal and mental well-being as well as external beauty. That’s why at Privée, clients can also benefit from injectable or EmSculpt treatments, in addition to more traditional medical treatments like psychological therapy and neurocognitive assessments.

“It’s very difficult to get people to have high self-esteem if they’re not feeling well. Our perception of ourselves, the way we believe our inner core is, is to look at any reflection that comes back to us and see it as part of ourselves, ”he says. “Even though it’s not part of us, we still attribute our appearance to a part of our personality. ”

Which goes back to his prompting to define happiness. The doctor starts to search his phone for various online dictionaries and comes back with several definitions, all of which he thinks are wrong.

“Everything about the definitions of happy in any English dictionary is external, and it’s one of the most difficult definitions in any language. The definitions speak of feeling pleasure or excitement. If happiness is all pleasure, does that mean that if you have no pleasure, you are not happy? he asks.

“The way to make people happy at the brain level is not to focus on creating pleasure, but on creating a set of positive experiences, and it is those positive experiences that translate into a vision. more lasting happiness. ”

According to the doctor, these positive experiences don’t have to be major events or companies, they can be very small things that add to this general feeling, like taking a long shower, using a pleasant cream or listening to music. .

At Private, he has organized a host of services and modalities to help create this set of positive experiences, many of which can make clients feel good about their appearance.

“Everyone needs attribution and validation of how they look or how they see themselves. So if you can do little things to enhance their beauty, you will actually improve their mood, ”says Johnson.

Until Privée Clinics officially opened, Johnson opened an intimate pop-up space in Miami’s Brickell neighborhood where he administers EmSculpt Neo treatments – which is an EmSculpt machine, but more intense for faster results – to clients to give them a taste of the clinic’s point of view of service and well-being.

Once the clinic is fully open, clients will be able to choose from a wide range of treatments including intravenous infusions, estrogen / testosterone therapy, vampire facials, hyperbaric chamber sessions, DaVinci infrared light therapy and much more. . He has also developed an all-natural skin care line that includes ingredients such as rubies and crushed diamonds and a line of all-natural soaps designed to deliver a sensory experience (see below) through scent. Johnson also plans to launch a biometric device in the form of a watch capable of reading facial expressions and deciphering the mood of the wearer.

“Happiness is of utmost importance for all of us to be able to negotiate the world, and also to achieve the best results in the world,” Johnson said.

There are ways to improve the functioning of the brain in everyday life, and here are some of the doctor’s suggestions for starting the brain’s journey to happiness and well-being at home:

  • Brain optimization: “The brain works in such a way that even though it is not a muscle, it has to be optimized, it has to be challenged.” According to Johnson, in order for the brain to stay at its peak, it has to experience some sort of mental gymnastics, and he understands that the most powerful way to optimize the brain is to learn a new language.
  • Mood regulation and emotional intelligence: “We all live in a very stressful world, which is why we must continue to develop emotional intelligence, or the elimination of negative influences, to regulate mood and stress.” Dr. Johnson suggests taking at least 5-6 minutes of every hour for yourself. He also suggests trying to listen to the heart throughout the day, which relieves stress as it distracts attention from consciousness. He also suggests something he calls the 8-1 rule, which is very helpful in interpersonal relationships. It involves saying 8 positive things before conveying a negative thing, which reduces the intensity of the negative thing.
  • Nutrition: “A lot of people are used to eating a lot of what they want to eat, but they don’t focus on nutrition, which is important for brain health.” There are essential foods for brain health including plant products, nuts, and different types of fish that the doctor says are important for giving the brain certain trace minerals like chromium, selenium, zinc, and calcium. magnesium. He estimates that more than 3/4 of people are deficient in necessary elements.
  • Personal development: “Individual development is an ancient art and if you don’t develop individually or on an intellectual level you can’t really be happy, that’s my point of view.” Johnson suggests that small things can add up to big things in terms of personal development. It can be as simple as watching a play and learning about its creator or actors, reading a book, or learning a new skill. Individual development also involves developing better mood regulation, such as learning to react more positively to difficult situations.
  • Self-love: “It starts to depend on beauty, because how we feel about ourselves affects our self-esteem. According to the doctor, the way you see yourself is essential to self-esteem and, as mentioned earlier in this article, it can be achieved through small beauty enhancements, like wearing a new perfume, getting cut. hair or use a lotion that makes one. feel better about yourself.
  • Sensory perception: “We are very much governed by our perception of our natural environment. According to Johnson, all of the different things we take in from our environment are important for brain health and mood. He focuses a lot on smells at Private Clinics because it is the fastest sense on its journey to the most sensitive part of the brain, from the nose to the orbitofrontal cortex, and also has a strong association with memories and events. Through positive scents, like candles and other scents, people are able to create positive sensory experiences.
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Houston’s rare plant trade flourishes because of pandemic Thu, 08 Apr 2021 02:36:42 +0000 Beginning in March, an inordinate number of us were looking for a new hobby to keep busy, lavish our sudden abundance of free time and attention – and keep our minds clear of the strange illness that plagues people everywhere. in the world.

Local Houston nurserymen began noticing the effects of this interest in early 2020 as they struggled to meet demand for newer and rarer plants.

Wayne Dupont, owner Zone 9 Tropical in Houston, has noticed an intense new boost in the hobby over the past six months.

“Since April, things have improved a lot with houseplants, but especially with rare plants,” he said. “There is always an interest in things like pothos and hoyas, but since the pandemic there seems to be a new interest in plants in general.”

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The Monstera albo, with its delicate fenestrations, its stalk that seeks to climb, and its striking variegation – diverse and beautiful with each new leaf that unfurls – has recently become a top choice among hobbyists. Or the Hoya carnosa compacta, which most people call the “Hindu rope plant,” which features twisted spirals of thick, waxy leaves and small pink flower stars.

An anthurium, sold by Dupont in his shop.

Wayne Dupont

Anthuriums come in all shapes and sizes – from the familiar foliage of the peace lily to the dark, heavy leaves of the Anthurium warocqueanum, which can eventually grow to almost six feet in length.

Dupont took all of this and more to his bright boutique in Independence Heights, but said interest was now so high that getting and keeping some of the rarest plants on the shelves, especially those that it ships from other countries, may be difficult.

“You’re against a few things,” he said. “Not only are there fewer plants to buy because interest in the hobby has increased, but you also face higher prices because the demand is greater and the supply is lower. Even our wholesalers are struggling to keep up.

On top of that, Dupont said, having the plants go through the US Department of Agriculture can present another set of issues.

“You have to hope that you can get your plants from them within a reasonable period of time, and some of them are very special. In some cases, you must be prepared to lose your entire order. This is only part of it, ”he said.

An Alocasia cuprea.

a Alocasia cuprea.

Wayne Dupont

But in these cases, losing an entire order can mean a loss of thousands of dollars for homeowners like Dupont, whose plants are imported from countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Japan.

“Prices have increased, in some cases quite dramatically, to meet demand,” he said. “I remember plants that used to cost around $ 100 are now $ 400 for a fully rooted plant.”

In some groups online, unrooted cuttings can sell for up to $ 500, and rooted cuttings quite regularly sell for up to $ 1000 when the plant in question is something as sought after as a Monstera albo or one Anthurium warocqueanum.

The best scenario for nursery owners, said Dupont, is to propagate your own, which takes time and space. While Dupont cannot control the timing aspect of the spread, he is currently building a larger area that he can use to grow plants for himself.

The white variegation of plants like these has sparked the interest of people looking to expand their collections of rare plants.

The white variegation of plants like these has sparked the interest of people looking to expand their collections of rare plants.

Vanessa Hammond

“I did a lot of things in my garden on the weekends,” he said. “Sure, I have people to help out in the store, but I don’t have the space to spread like I need anymore, so I stretch out. This will allow me to safely propagate some of the rarest plants. A lot can happen in shipping. It’s just better for customers if we start them here.

It is an accelerated and endless cycle of plant entry and exit to meet the demand for self-identified and born-again “plant parents”.

“It’s giving people something to do,” he said. “There is a camaraderie and a unity in this hobby that I really love. I love meeting new people – and there are a lot more young people coming to the store – and helping guide them. There is a family vibe to this hobby that you might not find in other hobbies, and now more and more people are experiencing it.

For people like Vanessa Hammonds, taking care of plants was already a small hobby before things started to stop, but since the start of the pandemic, she’s been into it full-time.

Hammonds plunged headlong into her vegetable hobby after losing her job as a flight attendant.

Hammonds plunged headlong into her vegetable hobby after losing her job as a flight attendant.

Vanessa Hammond

Traveling to faraway destinations, exploring diverse cultures and meeting new people were all part of her job as a flight attendant. But from the end of March, one by one, the global pandemic brought flights to a standstill across the globe and Hammonds found herself unemployed.

“I got involved with plants about two years ago, but my personal collection has probably tripled since April. I started collecting and propagating rarer plants, and as your collection grows like that, you kind of have to purge every now and then, to make room for new plants.

By the time the Hammonds company told her that it would have no more jobs to find every time the travel restrictions were lifted, it had forged strong relationships with people interested in its purge cycles of factory and its rarer collection. She decided to start selling plants full time.

“I collected and propagated plants like Raven ZZ, Monstera albos, Monstera adonsonii, Cebu blues, things like that, ”she said.

The hobby and her fledgling business have become so important to her that she soon travels to Thailand so that she can return with some exotic plants from there.

“I don’t know exactly what I’ll get, but I’m excited,” she said. “I don’t want to risk shipping expensive plants, so I’ll bring them back myself. “

Philodendron hastatum is another popular variety of philodendron that is not easy to find except in specialty stores like Dupont's or from online vendors.

Philodendron hastatum are another popular variety of philodendron that are not easily found except in specialty stores like Dupont or from online vendors.

Wayne Dupont

Hammonds said his renewed interest in plants and gardening is rooted in the same impulse many others are likely to feel during the pandemic: the therapeutic properties provided by the hobby.

“When I’m overwhelmed, something as simple as sitting for three hours and taking care of the plants helps me take my mind off things,” she said. “It’s a coping mechanism. You give to something other than yourself. There is something about taking care of another living being and watching it grow that we might all need right now.

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Reduce your student loans, invest in Bitcoin: credit card points get creative Wed, 07 Apr 2021 23:17:43 +0000

By AnnaMaria Andriotis and Amber Burton

Credit card rewards generally fall into two categories: ambitious (upgrade to first class flight, get free hotel stay) or practical (get cash back). But what if you could cover the cost of space travel or pay off your student loan?

Visa Inc., Mastercard Inc. and the big banks are revising their rewards programs to meet the needs of young customers who want to use their cards to build wealth or get out of debt, not just to accumulate benefits. Newcomers to financial technology, or fintech, offer niche rewards to better compete with established players.

Companies are also re-evaluating travel rewards programs. According to Bankrate, around 30% of rewards credit card holders did not redeem rewards in 2020, leading some issuers to believe there is a market for more innovative rewards. The effects of the pandemic on travel and dining have only reinforced this surge. One day, intrepid spenders could redeem hundreds of thousands of card points for a ticket to orbit, according to Visa.

Here are five rewards offerings you’ll likely see in the years to come, according to card industry executives and fintech companies.

Reduce your student loans

With some 45 million Americans owing an estimated $ 1.7 trillion in student loan debt, more lenders are considering rewards programs that would allow cardholders to put money back on loan payments. .

Fintech startup Social Finance Inc. launched a credit card in March that offers up to 2% cash back, which can be converted to pay off student loans cardholders have with the company, among others.

In the future, similar cards would be offered to graduate students and as a redemption option on existing cards, says Mladen Vladic, general manager of loyalty at Fidelity National Information Services Inc., which manages the rewards programs. many banks.

Cover your rent

Another big expense for cardholders? To rent. Many landlords do not accept credit card rent payments due to fees charged by the card issuer and the payment network.

Visa and Mastercard are working on initiatives that they hope will increase the acceptance of cards for rent payments, but in the past their efforts have not progressed much due to the fees.

However, some companies are starting to offer rent-related benefits. In the coming months, fintech company Kairos plans to launch Bilt, a rewards program that allows consumers to pay rent while generating points that could be used towards a down payment on a home, according to the company’s website. . Kairos declined to comment.

Invest in a better world

Spend money, save the planet? More and more card issuers are turning to rewards programs that incentivize buying with a reduced carbon footprint, as young people place more emphasis on the social impact of their financial decisions.

Aspiration Zero, a credit card launched in March, offers up to 1% cash back and claims it plants a tree with every purchase. It also tracks the carbon footprint of the user’s purchases and ranks merchants on social issues, including whether they have a diverse workforce or fair labor practices. Customers get extra cash back when they buy from companies with higher scores. The Aspiration community has planted more than 5 million trees in Central and South America, Madagascar, Kenya and the United States, according to co-founder Andrei Cherny.

Synchrony Financial, America’s largest store credit card issuer, will allow customers with its co-branded health and wellness spending-focused credit card the opportunity to redeem points for newly planted trees in April. . The effort is part of a coalition Mastercard launched last year with card issuers and forest restoration groups to plant 100 million trees over five years.

Doconomy, a Swedish fintech company, recently launched its DO credit card in collaboration with Finnish bank Ålandsbanken, Mastercard and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. To promote personal responsibility for climate change, the card freezes the ability to make purchases when those purchases reach a carbon footprint limit for the month. The limit, which cannot be exceeded, is set based on data from S&P Global, the UNFCCC and Our World in Data in collaboration with researchers at the University of Oxford measuring the impact of carbon dioxide of each transaction. A corresponding application includes a carbon footprint calculator for purchases. Doconomy says he’s also figured out how to value intangible purchases such as medical bills and haircuts.

For traditional rewards programs, card companies are also considering offering rewards for eco-friendly card purchases, such as bike rentals and electric vehicle charging, according to Visa.

Earn cryptos

More and more fintech are launching rewards programs related to cryptocurrency.

BlockFi, an online lender for investors with crypto assets, has announced that it will launch a credit card with a bitcoin rewards program later this year. The card, which is expected to have an annual fee of $ 200, will pay 1.5% cash back, which the company will convert to bitcoin, for every dollar spent.

Mobile payments startup Fold Inc. offers a Wheel of Fortune-style rewards program: Every time cardholders make a purchase with their Fold debit card, they spin a digital wheel to determine what rewards they want. get. Options include a 1% or even 100% cash back that is converted to bitcoin and, in much rarer cases, a full bitcoin, worth around $ 59,000 on Friday.

Coinbase Global Inc., the largest US-based cryptocurrency platform, plans to roll out a US crypto rewards debit card that will refund 1% in bitcoin or 4% in Stellar lumens, another cryptocurrency. Cardholders can make purchases with bitcoin or any of the more than 50 other assets supported by Coinbase in the United States. Coinbase converts the asset to US dollars when it sends payment to merchants, which with many assets involves a charge to the cardholder of 2.49% of the purchase price.

Improve your in-game purchases

Video game developers are looking to roll out their own co-branded reward cards that would allow customers to earn points through games and real-world shopping and redeem them for in-game items, such as better weapons. or cars, according to people familiar with the discussions.

Riot Games, which developed League of Legends, is looking to launch a credit card in the United States that distributes points that can be redeemed for in-game experiences, people say.

Cardless Inc., a fintech company launched last year, is developing co-branded sports team-linked credit cards that will reward users with perks like video chats with former players and sports streaming services at reduced price or free.

Write to AnnaMaria Andriotis at and Amber Burton at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

04-03-21 0544ET

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Pennsylvania prisons don’t always tell families when inmates are sick. Civil servants defend this policy. Wed, 07 Apr 2021 23:17:41 +0000

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Story by Joseph Darius Jaafari from Spotlight PA

HARRISBURG – The State Department of Corrections has doubled down on its policy of not always informing the families of inmates sick or killed by the coronavirus, saying it is the responsibility of inmates to ensure their emergency contacts are complete and precise.

Last month, a report from Spotlight PA found that while the department has the power to decide when to release medical information, some family members of those in prison said they were kept in the dark because their loved ones fell ill and in some cases died.

Nonprofits and lawyers point to a waiver issued by the federal government in March that gave hospitals discretion to disclose this information to family and friends during a public health emergency. But the department said the waiver does not apply to prisons.

In a publish on its website this month, the department said it would only release information to one person listed as an emergency contact, whether that person is a family member or a “next of kin”, which is the typical process used by authorities to inform a family of a death.

“So when you see reports or accounts that an inmate’s family has not been informed of an illness or death, that might be the rational explanation,” the department wrote, adding that inmates can complete additional documents to authorize the release of their information. to a second person.

For many inmates, however, their emergency contact details are as old as when they were received – the day they were jailed. And families and prison rights groups said the department was not doing enough to educate inmates about the importance of updating their information.

“If the DOC is looking to follow the procedures it just posted on its website regarding people notified in a medical emergency, then it should proactively communicate this information to every incarcerated person in its care,” so people can plan ahead accordingly, ”said Su Ming Yeh, executive director of the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project.

Briana Hafiz, whose stepfather Abdul Rashid Hafiz is incarcerated at SCI-Dallas, said she and her family had been trying to obtain information on Abdul’s status since the start of the year, date to which they heard from his latest news. .

They only learned that he may have had a stroke from other inmates. When she approached the department, prison officials told her that she was not on the emergency contact list and that they would not release any information to her.

“We haven’t had any details on his level of cognition, or if he even walks,” Briana Hafiz said. “The only reason we knew about the stroke was because a family friend also has a father who is being held in prison.”

Abdul Hafiz’s partner, who declined to be named, said she was on her emergency contact list when she was first detained over 30 years ago. But the department said she is not the contact now and will not tell the family who are listed, if any.

Asked about the situation, a DOC spokeswoman Maria Bivens said: “It would appear that in this case the only emergency contact person for the detainee did not pass any information on to others – we cannot control it. “

Bivens said detainees have the ability to update their medical forms whenever they want, and the department will not disclose medical information otherwise, claiming it would violate a federal medical confidentiality law, the law on medical confidentiality. portability and liability in health insurance.

“The only person the DOC can release information about an inmate to is the person the inmate has identified,” the department posted on its website. “This can cause problems when, for example, the inmate’s girlfriend is the person to contact in an emergency. She alone would be notified. The inmate’s mother, brother or uncle would not. It depends on who the detainee provided to DOC officials. “

In March, the US Department of Health and Human Services released a memo allowing medical staff to release basic information – location, patient status, and treatment – in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The same guidelines were issued during Storm Sandy and Hurricane Katrina.

While some lawyers and nonprofit groups believe the guidelines give the department leeway to be more flexible, others say it is overkill to group prisons with hospitals, even if they have medical facilities.

Families of detainees and prisoner advocates have said not enough is being done to educate inmates of the need to update forms in case they contract the coronavirus. Since March, at least 8,000 inmates out of a total population of 40,000 have contracted COVID-19, with 85 deaths on Friday.

These groups also wonder why the department can’t help inmates update medical information, the same way it has handled federal stimulus checks. In October, the department was praised for passing papers to nearly 40,000 prisoners to register for their money.

“If the DOC has shown that they can go from cell to cell and become important [stimulus] documentation completed, they should be commended for it, ”said Claire Shubik-Richards, executive director of the Pennsylvania Prison Society, the state’s unofficial ombudsman for prisoners and their families. “This skill level means they could go cell-to-cell and get people thinking about who they want to be notified about, and also offer the list of opportunities more than one name.”

Even though detainees end up needing hospital care, families still face a brick wall. This is because hospitals, which typically notify the next of kin or a power of attorney, do not release any information about inmates unless the correctional service gives them permission.

Briana Hafiz said she called Wilkes-Barre General, owned by Commonwealth Health, which has at least four hospitals that treat inmates. The hospital is the closest place to SCI-Dallas, and she figured her stepfather would be there.

“They are still not releasing information anyway,” she said. “If you call and ask for information, they don’t even tell you if he’s there.”

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The world economy on “stronger foundations” but “debt and inequality pose risks” Wed, 07 Apr 2021 23:17:40 +0000

The world economy is on “a more solid footing” thanks to the accelerated pace of immunization and strong fiscal stimulus programs, but growing inequalities, high debt levels and the discrepancies between rich and low-income countries remain issues. significant risks, Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), warned.

“We will improve our growth projections for this year and the next,” Georgieva said. “But there is also a dangerous divergence in economic fortunes within countries and between countries, and we must focus on overcoming the health crisis.”

In January, the IMF projected global growth of 5.5% in 2021 and 4.2% in 2022, after a contraction of 3.5% in 2020 caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The fall in the euro area was much more pronounced, standing at 7.2%.

Speaking to Euronews, the IMF chief urged governments to “invest in a greener, smarter, more shock-resistant and more inclusive future”.

“At the moment the most important priorities remain to speed up vaccination, tackle the health crisis and ensure that support is not withdrawn prematurely and I am delighted to see that these are the top priorities of the European leaders and European citizens, “she said. , praising the EU for its historic € 750 billion stimulus fund, which will help tourism-dependent countries revive their badly damaged economies.

Unlike the United States, where President Joe Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion relief bill is already operational, the EU’s stimulus package has yet to be ratified by all 27 member states. So far, only sixteen have signed it. The European Commission wants to start distributing grants and loans before the summer.

Georgieva insisted that all Member States should benefit from the fund because “otherwise the greatest power in the European Union, which is the engine of convergence we have, would not function fully”.

“Our data shows that there is potentially a difference of three times the loss in per capita income between the best performing countries, those ahead and those behind. This cannot be the case in the Union. European. “

Debt, bankruptcy and inequalities: all on the rise

During the interview, Georgieva highlighted several major risks that governments need to watch out for in the coming months, such as sudden changes in financial conditions resulting from a strong recovery.

“If the global economy is booming and growth exceeds expectations, it can lead to higher interest rates, tighter financial conditions. We have to be ready. Fortunately, central banks, including the Bank Central European Union, have been exemplary in providing clear communication and in keeping interest rates predictably low, ”she said.

Public debt is also a significant problem, she warned. According to the IMF director, fiscal stimuli have led the world to reach an average GDP-to-debt ratio of 100%.

“We need to think about medium-term fiscal consolidation when the time is right, not yet. We still need to make sure we support the economy. But over time it’s important to recognize that, yes, growth would increase incomes. , but it may be necessary to take action also in terms of the functioning of the tax system in the 21st century. ”

Georgieva also warned that as public support is gradually withdrawn, the risk of bankruptcy for small and medium-sized enterprises will increase, “struggling to survive”.

Another threat to the post-coronavirus world is rising inequalities.

“We have seen pandemics like H1N1 in previous cases [and] Zika, this inequality is increasing and it persists for some time. We see that this crisis is hitting low-skilled workers, women, young people the hardest, “she said.

“It is very important not to forget [the] the progress we have made on gender equality, which is now crumbling, [and] make sure we make it easier for women to participate in the labor market, in the economy, to move forward, not back down, on this particular topic. “

The Suez Crisis reminds us “how interdependent we are”

On a final note, Georgieva took a moment to reflect on the recent Suez Canal crisis, where the Ever Given, a colossal 400-meter-long container ship, blocked one of the busiest trade routes in the world for six days. The prolonged obstruction has disrupted world trade and exposed the drawbacks of globalization.

“It’s an important reminder [of] how interdependent we are and how important trade is to our operation. It is also an indication that we can never take our luck for granted, when we are, and that working together is the only way to get through this crisis, ”said Georgieva.

“If you take the ship as an analogy for the future, it was brought up through ingenuity and also a little help from nature. We have to protect and develop both our ingenuity, our creativity, learned of this pandemic. But remember, we are also in the hands of Mother Nature. Protect her. “

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