New York City wants to bring more park to Park Avenue.

At a moment when the pandemic has unleashed demand for open space, plans could transform the medians of Park Avenue in Manhattan and restore them to their original splendor.

Among the options New York City is considering: bringing back chairs and benches, expanding the median, eliminating traffic lanes and carving out room for bike and walking paths.

The revamping of Park Avenue is being driven by a major transit project below ground. A cavernous shed used by Metro-North commuter trains that travel in and out of Grand Central Terminal is over a century old and in need of major repairs.

The work requires ripping up nearly a dozen streets along Park Avenue, from East 46th to East 57th Streets, making possible a new vision.

Removal of traffic lanes is likely to elicit backlash from drivers who complain that pedestrian plazas and bike lanes across the city have made it difficult to get around.

But others say the city would be more livable with fewer cars, making streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists as well as polluting less.

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Day 1 of the End of the U.S. War in Afghanistan

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — On the morning of May 1, an Afghan transport aircraft landed at this sprawling military base in the country’s south. It was loaded with mortar shells, small-arms cartridges and 250-pound bombs to supply Afghan troops under frequent attack by the Taliban in the countryside.

Later, at midnight, a gray American C-130 transport aircraft taxied down the same runway, marking the end of the first official day of the U.S. military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. The cargo plane was filled with munitions, a giant flat screen television from a C.I.A. base (known as Camp Gecko), pallets of equipment, and — in the real signal of the impending end of a long occupation — departing American troops. It was one of several aircraft that night removing what remained of the American war here.

Afghans continue fighting and dying with fleeting hopes of peace even while the Americans leave, adhering to a timeline laid out by President Biden to fully withdraw by Sept 11. The decision was opposed by his generals but begrudgingly stenciled on whiteboards in U.S. bases across Afghanistan, such as Kandahar Airfield, a former Soviet base that has been one of the Americans’ largest.

NATO troops were based here, and many more passed through as it became the main installation for the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan’s south. It stood beside rural villages from which the Taliban emerged; throughout it all, the province has remained an insurgent stronghold.

Now, half-demolished outdoor gyms and empty hangars were filled with nearly 20 years’ worth of matériel. The passenger terminal, where troops once transited between different parts of the war, was pitch black and filled with empty, dust-covered chairs. A fire alarm detector — its batteries weak — chirped incessantly. The mess halls were shuttered.

The boardwalk was nothing more than a few remaining boards.

The American withdrawal, almost quiet, and with a veneer of orderliness, belies the desperate circumstances just beyond the base’s wall. On one end of Kandahar Airfield that day, Maj. Mohammed Bashir Zahid, an officer in charge of a small Afghan air command center, sat in his office, a phone to each ear and a third in his hands as he typed messages on WhatsApp, trying to get air support for Afghan security forces on the ground and in nearby outposts threatened by Taliban fighters.

flight of F/A-18 fighter jets, stationed aboard the U.S.S. Eisenhower, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, were in the air, making their way toward Afghanistan from the Arabian Sea — a roughly two-hour flight up what is called “the boulevard,” a corridor of airspace in western Pakistan that serves as an air transit route.

Having received approval to strike, the jets swooped in, dropping a GPS-guided munition — a bomb that costs well over $10,000 — on the additional rockets that were somewhere in Kandahar, mounted on rudimentary rails and aimed at the airfield.

Inside the American headquarters building at the airfield, two Green Berets — part of the shrinking contingent who work there now — pulled up the video of the afternoon airstrike on one of their phones.

“Make sure that goes in the nightly brief,” one of them said. The Special Forces soldiers, bearded and clad in T-shirts, ball caps and tattoos, looked out of place among what was left of the cubicles and office furniture around them, much of which was being torn apart.

Televisions had been removed from walls, office printers sat on the curb, the insignia once plastered on the stone wall that heralded who was in charge of the headquarters, long gone. Even though there would soon be fewer and fewer service members around each day, one soldier noted that the flow of care packages from random Americans had not slowed down. He now possessed what seemed like an infinite supply of Pop-Tarts.

A group of American soldiers, tasked with loading an incoming cargo flight didn’t know when they were going home. Tomorrow? Sept. 11? Their job was to close Kandahar before moving on to the next U.S. base, but there were only so many installations left to dismantle. A trio of them played Nintendo while they waited. One talked about the dirt bike he was going to buy when he got home. Another traded cryptocurrency on his iPhone.

When asked about Maiwand, a district only about 50 miles away where Afghan forces were trying to fend off a Taliban offensive and Major Zahid was desperately trying to send air support, a U.S. soldier responded, “Who’s Maiwand?”

In the evening, the base loudspeaker chimed as one of the transport planes departed. “Attention,” someone out of view said. “There will be outgoing for the next 15 minutes.” The dull thud of mortar fire began. At what was unclear.

The end of the war looked nothing like the beginning of it. What started as an operation to topple the Taliban and kill the terrorists responsible for the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, had swelled over 20 years into a multitrillion-dollar military-industrial undertaking, infused with so much money that for years it seemed impossible to ever conclude or dismantle.

Until now.

The Taliban’s often-repeated adage loomed over the day: “You have the watches, we have the time.”

In one of the many trash bags littering the base, there was a discarded wall clock, its second hand still ticking.

Najim Rahim and Jim Huylebroek contributed reporting.

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The Growing Frustration Over Pandemic Restriction Cheaters

Tied to that is an apparent frustration and anger toward people who break or bend the rules. Anti-mask protests that have popped up in many parts of the country, particularly in Alberta, don’t appear to have advanced their cause with the general public and, in some cases, appear to have also been spreading racist messages. And there’s little obvious sympathy for the 536 air travelers who have been fined 3,000 Canadian dollars each for dodging the mandatory quarantine period in hotels that is required at entry.

This week, some of that anger and frustration spilled over into a sentencing hearing in Vancouver. The case involved a man who defied restrictions in British Columbia by turning a penthouse apartment into a makeshift nightclub, complete with topless dancers and a dancing pole. When the police entered on Jan. 31, there were 78 people squeezed inside.

according to the CBC.

She didn’t stop there as she sentenced him to 11 days in jail, which included the 10 he had already served while waiting for bail; 18 months probation for violating two parts of the Public Health Act; and 50 hours of community service. He was also fined for breaking liquor laws by running an unlicensed bar.

“What you did, sir, is comparable to individuals who sell fentanyl to the individuals on the street who die every day,” she said. “There’s no difference. You voluntarily assumed a risk that could kill people in the midst of a pandemic.”

brazenly broken lockdown restrictions during the pandemic, the actions of Mr. Movassaghi, who pleaded guilty, stood out.

The police began receiving complaints about large and loud parties at Mr. Movassaghi’s apartment, even though lockdown rules in British Columbia allowed people to entertain only one other person outside the household. No one, however, would open the door for officers who, among other things, observed one night the delivery of about 100 McDonald’s hamburgers.

After they finally obtained a search warrant and got inside, the police found menus for “Granny’s Exotic Bar” listing drinks priced from 26 Canadian dollars to 1,500 dollars for a bottle of liquor. A prosecutor told the court that lap dances were offered for 46 dollars.

The police fined people at the party a total of 17,000 dollars as they arrested Mr. Movassaghi.

Mr. Movassaghi’s lawyer and brother, Bobby Movassaghi, told the court that it was merely a party that had gotten out of hand after guests brought uninvited friends along.

Judge Gordon dismissed that argument, saying that when she hosts a party: “I don’t have stripper poles. I don’t have chairs around for people to watch. I don’t charge admission. I don’t charge for liquor. I don’t have point-of-sale devices attached to my cellular telephones.”

(Bobby Movassaghi did not respond when asked for comment.)

As for Judge Gordon’s move into the realm of the hypothetical, Isabel Grant, a professor at the Peter A. Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia, told me that “it’s very unusual for a judge to comment on liability for a crime that was not before the court.”

nytcanada@nytimes.com.

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They Want You Back at the Office

Before, businesses had little interest in spending on such services, according to Rebecca Humphrey, an executive vice president at Savills and head of the Workplace Practice Group. “A client would say ‘I don’t want to pay for that, I just want this deal done,’” she said. “The pandemic has shifted that.”

Her Savills colleague, Mr. Lipson, said he saw possible changes for even some of the staunchest traditionalists, like white-shoe law firms in Washington. “Senior partners went home last March thinking ‘my paper, I can’t do without my paper, and I can’t do without my assistant right outside my office,’” he said. “Then they billed the same amount of hours the next week and thought, ‘huh, that went better than I thought?’”

With companies anticipating changes, and reactions to them, one new role the real estate firms may be playing is that of the scapegoat.

For businesses with employees reluctant to return to the office, the consultants’ stamp of approval can provide credibility — and a reason to make office workers come back.

“We’re very helpful to play the bad guy,” Ms. Humphrey said, noting a fair amount of business had related to auditing office plans and helping companies communicate changes or bring people back. “It helps in messaging to say ‘we brought the outside guys in’.”

Sixteen floors up in a quiet Midtown Manhattan high-rise, Joseph J. Sitt leapt to his feet and pointed to a television headline that heartened him: Remote work would soon end for New York City government employees. He had been agitating for a signal like this. “If he’s not going to have workers back in the office,” he said, “who is?”

Mr. Sitt, chief executive of Thor Equities, reopened his own workplace last July, unveiling what he called a “Covid conference room,” with chairs spaced a shade more generously. (“I guess I should call it the socially distanced conference room,” he corrected himself.) He was counting on a “violent reopening.”

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Ikea meets Lego: Google redesigns its office space.

Before the pandemic, Google’s sprawling campus of airy, open offices and whimsical common spaces set a standard for what an innovative workplace was supposed to look like.

Now, the company is creating a workplace for the Covid era, with a concept perhaps best described as Ikea meets Lego.

Instead of rows of desks next to cookie-cutter meeting rooms, Google is designing “Team Pods.” Chairs, desks, whiteboards and storage units on casters can be wheeled into various arrangements, and in some cases rearranged in a matter of hours. It is building outdoor work areas to respond to concerns about the coronavirus.

At its Silicon Valley headquarters, it has converted a parking lot and lawn area into a “camp,” with clusters of tables and chairs under open-air tents. The area is a fenced-in mix of grass and wooden deck flooring about the size of four tennis courts with Wi-Fi throughout.

David Radcliffe, Google’s vice president for real estate and workplace services, said that while moving more than 100,000 employees to virtual work last year was daunting, “now it seems even more daunting to figure out how to bring them back safely.”

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The Googleplex of the Future Has Privacy Robots, Meeting Tents and Your Very Own Balloon Wall

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Google’s first office was a cluttered Silicon Valley garage crammed with desks resting on sawhorses.

In 2003, five years after its founding, the company moved into a sprawling campus called the Googleplex. The airy, open offices and whimsical common spaces set a standard for what an innovative workplace was supposed to look like. Over the years, the amenities piled up. The food was free, and so were buses to and from work: Getting to the office, and staying there all day, was easy.

Now, the company that once redefined how an employer treats its workers is trying to redefine the office itself. Google is creating a post-pandemic workplace that will accommodate employees who got used to working from home over the past year and don’t want to be in the office all the time anymore.

The company will encourage — but not mandate — that employees be vaccinated when they start returning to the office, probably in September. At first, the interior of Google’s buildings may not appear all that different. But over the next year or so, Google will try out new office designs in millions of square feet of space, or about 10 percent of its global work spaces.

Reuters conference in December that the company was committed to making hybrid work possible, because there was an opportunity for “tremendous improvement” in productivity and the ability to pull in more people to the work force.

“No company at our scale has ever created a fully hybrid work force model,” Mr. Pichai wrote in an email a few weeks later announcing the flexible workweek. “It will be interesting to try.”

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