No one should be surprised that the new Taliban regime in Afghanistan looks a lot like the old Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Kathy Gannon reports for The Associated Press of Kabul:
Afghanistan’s Taliban leaders on Saturday ordered all Afghan women to wear head-to-toe clothing in public – a sharp and uncompromising pivot that confirmed rights activists’ worst fears and could only further complicate relations between the two. Taliban with an already suspicious international community.
The decree states that women should leave the house only when necessary, and that male relatives would face penalties – starting with a summons and possibly going as far as hearings and jail time – for violations of the women’s dress code.
Meanwhile, the communist regime in China is doing what communist regimes do: making policies without regard to individual freedom. Winni Zhou and Martin Quin Pollard report for Reuters today on conditions in Shanghai and Beijing:
China’s two largest cities on Monday tightened COVID-19 restrictions, fueling public angst and even questions about the legality of its uncompromising battle against the virus that has battered the world’s second-largest economy. ..
Although there was no official announcement, residents of at least four of Shanghai’s 16 districts received notices over the weekend saying they would not be allowed to leave their homes or receive deliveries, which caused a scramble for food supplies…was like a prison,” said Coco Wang, a Shanghai resident living under the new restrictions. “We are not afraid of the virus. We are afraid of this policy.
… The restrictions have also fueled rare expressions of public anger, further exacerbated by recent online reports of Shanghai authorities forcing neighbors of COVID-positive cases into centralized quarantine and demanding they hand over the keys to their houses to be disinfected.
Video showed police picking a lock after a resident refused to open a door… In response to questions from Reuters about the latest restrictions in Shanghai, the municipal government said it “must insist on regulating the flow and control of the movement of people”. and that each borough was authorized to toughen the measures according to its own situation.
Reuters reported from Shanghai on Sunday:
Accounts from residents of several districts as well as social media posts showed that the government of the city of 25 million people was accelerating and expanding its efforts to transfer close contacts of positive cases to central quarantine centers.
Several residents said they were required to move to such facilities, despite testing negative, after cases were discovered in their buildings, stoking frustration… On Saturday, authorities in Putuo and Changning districts issued notices that residents of housing complexes classified as the city’s lowest-risk “prevention” areas could no longer leave their compounds.
Now that Americans are generally free to return to the office, there’s an argument that younger workers could particularly benefit from returning to the workplace. Kathryn Dill and Lindsay Ellis of the Journal recently reported from Texas:
Businesses across the country are struggling to get employees back to the office, but not in Austin.
These days, the city’s workforce spends more time in offices than any other major metropolitan area in the United States…
“It’s a good way to get out and meet people,” said Rohit Ravichandran, a 27-year-old cybersecurity man.
Mr. Ravichandran moved to Austin in July and has been in the office five days a week for the past few months, even though his company has a flexible work policy. Office meetings and lunches with co-workers made this year’s 9 to 5 feel “as close to normal as possible,” he said.
Now, Megan McArdle opines in The Washington Post:
I don’t have to talk about the benefits of remote work for anyone. But there are also dangers. And these dangers are likely to be the most dangerous for young people, who need to develop their human capital now: learning skills, learning about their industries, making professional contacts that can help them find their next job, or the one after. . All of this is harder to do over email or Zoom.
Humans are a social species, evolved for face-to-face interaction. Anyone who has worked or schooled remotely during the pandemic knows the downsides of switching to video conferencing. The jerky, unnatural pace of conversation stifles spontaneity, and home distractions make it easy for people to check in, even when they want to pay attention. You never meet someone before the meeting and remember a quick question you wanted to ask, or catch up with the kids and pets and recent vacation afterwards.
Over time, these deficits accumulate. You have not made friends or built up a reservoir of goodwill with managers and peers who will carry you through difficult times (I regret to inform new graduates that there will be inevitably difficult times). You haven’t heard the gossip about competitors that might alert you to opportunities or warn you of similar mistakes. You didn’t listen to war stories that teach you how to handle sticky situations or embark on an interesting project because you were chatting with the right person at the coffee pot. When you leave, you’re not a good memory, just one less box on the Zoom screen.
Plastic bag ban is not popular
State and local bans on plastic products are becoming more common in the United States, though, pressed by the problems they are meant to solve, advocates typically describe disposal failures in foreign countries. A ban on the so-called single-use plastic bags favored by many supermarket shoppers has just taken effect in New Jersey and the policy appears to be unfolding like a non-plastic lead balloon.
Bill Bonvie of the Pine Barrens Tribune reports on his survey of consumers in the southern part of the Garden State:
“I will respond to this survey,” said one such interviewee, Laurie Benton, of the Mystic Island section of Little Egg Harbor, who when later asked what she thought of the ban , replied: “I love my plastic bags and use for multiple purposes.
“I put my boxes in there and use them for nappies and even put my child’s uniform in a plastic bag,” she added.
As to whether banning them would help the environment, Benton felt it wouldn’t be so beneficial, because “there are so many other plastics out there” and “so many other important things to worry about in this other world.” than plastic bags.
Jose Ramos, of Whiting, was also unhappy with the removal of the bags from circulation, having a habit of using them to line his wastebaskets and clean up after his pets. Similar sentiments were expressed by other interviewees for whom the “single use” designation was not necessarily accurate…they often reuse these disposable bags in different ways, such as scooping up kitty litter or taking walks the family dog. …
“Don’t even get me started (on this),” said Nancy C. King, of Browns Mills, owner of two cats who was among those interviewed at the Medford ShopRite, and made clear she was soon to has to use part of her Social Security raise to order trash bags from Amazon.com.
Scott Fallon of the Northern New Jersey Record newspaper reports:
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic two years ago, volunteers from the longtime charity Family Promise in Bergen County have distributed 150 hot meals in plastic bags each day to the hungry who could no longer eat at the county homeless shelter.
But the charity’s organizers say the program is in jeopardy after it was denied an exemption by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection from a nationwide plastic bag ban. from the state… They were instead given a six-month extension and are now scrambling to pressure lawmakers to write a new bill that would exclude charities like theirs.
“We were overlooked in the drafting of this bill,” said Paul Shackford, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Family Promise. “You have exemptions for newspaper bags and dry cleaner bags. I would say the bags for delivering meals to the homeless are also deserving. »
What would we do without experts?
David Leonhardt refers in The New York Times to the early days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine:
At first glance, Ukraine initially looked like another lost cause. Its army was much smaller and less well armed than Russia’s, and Western experts expected the Ukrainian government to fall within days.
Mr. Leonhardt links to a CNN dispatch from February that quoted anonymous people “familiar with the latest information” and reported:
The sources said the US’ initial pre-invasion assessment – which predicted that the Ukrainian capital would be overrun within one to four days of a Russian attack – remains the current expectation.
James Freeman is the co-author of “The Cost: Trump, China and American Revival”.
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