A yearning for close connection, for something meaningful amid a seismic, terrifying event that won’t end, is what brought two dozen people to a recent“cuddle” party.

Cuddle parties started before the war, but the people who came two Sundays ago — a mix of men and women from their early 20s to mid-60s — said they really needed them now.

The cuddlers gathered in a large, tent-like structure near the river, and as new age music played, they lied on floor cushions in a big warm heap. Some stroked their neighbor’s hair. Others clutched each other tightly, eyes closed, like it was the last embrace they’d ever share with anyone. After about 15 to 20 minutes, the heap stirred awake.

The cuddlers opened their eyes, untangled themselves, stood up and smoothed out their pants. The whole idea is to seek bodily comfort from curling up with a stranger. They found new cuddling partners and new positions.

The instructor was clear that none of this was supposed to be sexual or romantic. But still, it looked like a G-rated orgy.

This cuddling is another dimension of Kyiv’s party scene at the moment: Many social gatherings are specifically engineered to provide solace.

Maksym Yasnyi, a graphic designer, just held a 24-hour yoga party, which he said was “really cool” but it wasn’t like going out before the war.

“Before the war, Kyiv nightlife was sparkling with different colors,” he said. “You could spend the whole night going from party to party. If I allow myself to think about this, I’ll make myself really upset.”

Now, when it hits 10, Kyiv radiates a nervous energy. People drinking on the street, or out by the river, check their watches. They cap the clear plastic bottles of cider they were swigging, get up and walk quickly.

Cars move faster. More run yellow lights. The clock is ticking.

Uber prices triple, if you can find one.

Some young people, seeing the impossibility of hailing a ride, say bye to their friends and duck their heads and start running home, desperate to beat curfew.

At the stroke of 11, Kyiv stops. Nothing moves. The sidewalks lie empty.

All that energy that was building, building, building, suddenly plunges into a stunning, citywide hush.

Oleksandra Mykolyshyn contributed reporting.

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In Buffalo, New Apartments Sprout Up in Vacant Warehouses

BUFFALO — Buffalo was riding a decade-long economic turnaround when a racially motivated attack by a gunman killed 10 people in May, overshadowing the progress. While the city grieved, it also had to reckon with unflattering portrayals of the East Side, the impoverished neighborhood where the massacre took place.

Those harsh takes tell only part of the story, say residents, business owners and city officials. Now, they are determined to put the focus back on the recovery.

Major efforts to improve the East Side have been afoot for years, like new job-training facilities and the overhaul of a deserted train station. And citywide initiatives to pour billions into parks, public art projects and apartment complexes have made Buffalo a more desirable place to live, advocates say.

Those efforts may have even reversed a chronic population decline: The latest census figures show Buffalo’s population has increased for the first time in 70 years.

“The other story about Buffalo needs to be told, that investments are being made,” said Brandye Merriweather, the president of the Buffalo Urban Development Corporation, a nonprofit group that works to repurpose empty city-owned lots.

“I am very sensitive to the issues that the shooting has raised,” said Ms. Merriweather, who grew up across the street from where the shooting took place and still has family in the neighborhood.

The wave of progress began in 2012 when New York’s governor at the time, Andrew M. Cuomo, pledged $1 billion in grants and tax credits as part of a revitalization effort, and it has been fueled by a mix of taxpayer funds and private investments in the years since.

Perhaps the most visible sign of Buffalo’s changing fortunes are its new apartments, which turn up in empty warehouses, former municipal buildings and longtime parking lots converted into much-needed housing. In the last decade, 224 multifamily projects — encompassing 10,150 apartments, most of them rentals, the equivalent of about $3 billion in investment — have opened or are underway, according to the office of Mayor Byron W. Brown.

And the pace of new housing appears to be quickening: A third of the total, or 78 projects, were unveiled just in 2020 and 2021, the mayor’s office said.

Among them is Seneca One Tower, the city’s tallest building and one of Buffalo’s most prominent projects. Completed in 1972 as a home for a bank, it sat vacant in recent years. Now, the 40-story downtown spire features a variety of uses after a $100 million renovation.

Douglas Development, which bought the tower six years ago, added 115 apartments while also installing a food hall, a large gym and a craft brewery. It also raised walls around a plaza to curb Lake Erie winds.

Barbara Foy, 64, who began renting a two-bedroom apartment at Seneca One this spring with her husband, Jack, 65, said she enjoyed sleeping with her blinds cracked to enjoy the glitter of the skyline. For almost three decades, Ms. Foy worked around the corner as a social worker, though she never really stuck around at night, instead driving back to her home in the suburbs.

But revitalization has helped her see Buffalo in a whole new light. “There seems to be something going on every weekend,” Ms. Foy said, adding that she enjoyed the city’s Pride parade in June. “Buffalo has really come alive, and I’m so proud of it.”

Office leasing has been slow. About 70 percent of the spaces at Seneca One are rented, most of them to M&T Bank, which is based in Buffalo, as well as a dozen small tech firms. The vacancy rate for top office buildings downtown was 13 percent at the end of last year, according to the brokerage firm CBRE, down from 14 percent in 2020.

Residential leasing, on the other hand, has been robust. It took just nine months to rent all of the apartments at Seneca One after they hit the market in fall 2020 for up to $3,000 a month, said Greg Baker, a director of development at Douglas. Buffalo’s median rent is $800 a month, according to census figures.

Since its Seneca One purchase, Douglas has acquired about 20 properties in the region, including former hotels and hospitals that will be converted to housing.

“People are selling houses in the suburbs to move back into the city, versus when I was younger, when they would live in the suburbs and commute to the city,” said Mr. Baker, a Buffalo native.

In a spread-out city that’s sliced up by highways, improving infrastructure has been a priority, too, though efforts so far have mostly come to fruition on the West Side. For instance, a stretch of Niagara Street near a bridge to Canada that was once lined with auto dealerships now gleams with new sidewalks, streetlights and a protected bike lane. Bike shops and restaurants have revived dilapidated storefronts there, too.

Nearby, workers are about to begin a $110 million overhaul of LaSalle Park, a 77-acre waterfront green space that’s hemmed in by Interstate 190. Plans call for a wide pedestrian bridge over the highway.

Softening the rough edges of Buffalo’s commercial past is also a focus downtown, at Canalside, a neighborhood-in-progress that hugs a short remnant of the original Erie Canal. On a recent afternoon, school groups milled around signs explaining how Midwest wheat and pine once flowed through Buffalo en route to Europe. Movie nights and yoga classes take place on lawns nearby.

“Buffalo may have a ways to go, but it still has come a long way,” Stephanie Surowiec, 32, said as she sat in the sun sipping a hard cider bought from a nearby stand. A nurse who grew up in Buffalo’s suburbs, Ms. Surowiec lives in the city limits today.

If there’s a model for how Buffalo can wring new uses from its industrial hulks, it might be Larkinville, a former soap- and box-making enclave in the city that developers reinvented as a business district about a decade ago. Blocklong factories that now hold offices huddle around a plaza dotted with colorful Adirondack chairs. Wednesday night concerts are a summer staple.

Makeovers of a similar scale are fewer on the East Side, but that could soon change.

This spring, officials announced an infusion of $225 million for the neighborhood, including $185 million from the state. Among the funding is $30 million for an African American heritage corridor along Michigan Avenue and $61 million to redevelop Central Terminal, a 17-story Art Deco train station that had its last passengers in 1979.

In June, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced an investment of $50 million for the East Side to help homeowners with repairs and unpaid utility bills.

Some projects have already produced tangible results, like the redevelopment of a 35-acre portion of factory-lined Northland Avenue. Though many of the neighborhood’s properties remain derelict, one, which made machines for metalworking, was reborn in 2018 as 237,000-square-foot Northland Central, an office and educational complex. It includes the Northland Workforce Training Center, which teaches job skills to area residents.

“The impact of the place has been phenomenal,” said Derek Frank, 41, who enrolled in classes after serving an eight-year prison sentence for dealing drugs. Today, Mr. Frank is employed as an electrician, as is his son, Derek Jr., 21, who attended classes alongside his father.

“Them putting that building right here in the heart of the city makes it accessible and convenient,” he added.

But East Side redevelopment plans have sometimes hit bumps. An effort to create a cluster of hospitals called the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus has caused gentrification. But advocates point out that the hospitals, which employ 15,000, have picked up some of the economic slack after factories shut down.

Whether spurred on by public investment or other reasons, Buffalo has seen notable growth. Its population of 278,000 in the 2020 census was up 7 percent from 261,000 in 2010.

Buffalo enjoys a steady stream of immigrants, like the family of Muhammad Z. Zaman, which immigrated from Bangladesh in 2004 in part because Buffalo was one of the few places in the United States with an Islamic grade school, Mr. Zaman said.

Today, Mr. Zaman, 31, a working artist, is one of several muralists hired to add bright designs to walls of buildings left exposed by demolitions. One of his creations, which incorporates Arabic calligraphy that translates to “our colors make us beautiful,” jazzes up the side of a structure on Broadway.

“When we first moved here, I felt like we were the only Bangladeshi family,” said Mr. Zaman, who noted that there wasn’t a single halal-style restaurant in Buffalo in the mid-2000s, versus about 20 today. “Now, people are coming here from all over the place.”

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G7 aims to raise $600 bln to counter China’s Belt and Road

SCHLOSS ELMAU, Germany, June 26 (Reuters) – Group of Seven leaders pledged on Sunday to raise $600 billion in private and public funds over five years to finance needed infrastructure in developing countries and counter China’s older, multitrillion-dollar Belt and Road project.

U.S. President Joe Biden and other G7 leaders relaunched the newly renamed “Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment,” at their annual gathering being held this year at Schloss Elmau in southern Germany.

Biden said the United States would mobilize $200 billion in grants, federal funds and private investment over five years to support projects in low- and middle-income countries that help tackle climate change as well as improve global health, gender equity and digital infrastructure.

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“I want to be clear. This isn’t aid or charity. It’s an investment that will deliver returns for everyone,” Biden said, adding that it would allow countries to “see the concrete benefits of partnering with democracies.”

Biden said hundreds of billions of additional dollars could come from multilateral development banks, development finance institutions, sovereign wealth funds and others.

Europe will mobilize 300 billion euros ($317.28 billion) for the initiative over the same period to build up a sustainable alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative scheme, which Chinese President Xi Jinping launched in 2013, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the gathering.

The leaders of Italy, Canada and Japan also spoke about their plans, some of which have already been announced separately. French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson were not present, but their countries are also participating.

China’s investment scheme involves development and programs in over 100 countries aimed at creating a modern version of the ancient Silk Road trade route from Asia to Europe.

White House officials said the plan has provided little tangible benefit for many developing countries.

U.S. President Joe Biden attends a working lunch with other G7 leaders to discuss shaping the global economy at the Yoga Pavilion, Schloss Elmau in Kuren, Germany, June 26, 2022. Kenny Holston/Pool via REUTERS

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian defended the track record of BRI when asked for comment at a daily briefing in Beijing on Monday.

“China continues to welcome all initiatives to promote global infrastructure development,” Zhao said of the G7’s $600 billion plan.

“We believe that there is no question that various related initiatives will replace each other. We are opposed to pushing forward geopolitical calculations under the pretext of infrastructure construction or smearing the Belt and Road Initiative.”

Biden highlighted several flagship projects, including a $2 billion solar development project in Angola with support from the Commerce Department, the U.S. Export-Import Bank, U.S. firm AfricaGlobal Schaffer, and U.S. project developer Sun Africa.

Together with G7 members and the EU, Washington will also provide $3.3 million in technical assistance to Institut Pasteur de Dakar in Senegal as it develops an industrial-scale flexible multi-vaccine manufacturing facility in that country that can eventually produce COVID-19 and other vaccines, a project that also involves the EU.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will also commit up to $50 million over five years to the World Bank’s global Childcare Incentive Fund.

Friederike Roder, vice president of the non-profit group Global Citizen, said the pledges of investment could be “a good start” toward greater engagement by G7 countries in developing nations and could underpin stronger global growth for all.

G7 countries on average provide only 0.32% of their gross national income, less than half of the 0.7% promised, in development assistance, she said.

“But without developing countries, there will be no sustainable recovery of the world economy,” she said.

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Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Additional reporting by Martin Quin Pollard in Beijing; Editing by Mark Porter, Lisa Shumaker and Muralikumar Anantharaman

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Live Updates: Russian Troops Enter Kyiv as Moscow Pushes to Topple Ukraine’s Government

KHARKIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s military on Friday was waging a fierce battle to push Russian forces back from Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, a day after a vicious fight that littered the highway leading into the city with burned-out Russian troop carriers and at least one body.

The troop carriers had been halted at the entrance to the city, in the shadow of huge blue and yellow letters spelling KHARKIV. Nearby, the body of a Russian soldier, dressed in a drab green uniform, lay on the side of the road, dusted in a light coating of snow that fell overnight.

Soldiers sent to hold the position had few details of the fight that took place, saying only that it happened Thursday morning, shortly after Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, gave the order to attack.

“Putin wants us to throw down our weapons,” said a Ukrainian soldier named Andrei, positioned in trench hastily dug into the black mud on the side of the road. “I think we could operate more slyly, gather up our forces and launch a counterattack.”

Off in the distance but close enough to feel, artillery shells boomed. Russian forces, which on Thursday pushed over the border from their staging area near Belgorod, about 40 miles from Kharkiv, have gathered in strength north of the city. It was not clear where or whether they would advance.

Credit…Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

Most of the fighting appeared to be taking place a few miles outside the city limits, near a village called Tsyrkuny. The number of military and civilian casualties resulting from the fight were unclear, but on Friday the local police said a 14-year-old boy had been killed in a village near Kharkiv when a shell hit near his home. But strikes occasionally hit close enough to the city to elicit shrieks of terror from pedestrians, sending them fleeing into metro stations for cover.

Inside an underground station in central Kharkiv, terrified residents have been holed up for two days with their babies, pets and the few belongings — blankets, yoga mats and spare clothing — they could grab in short dashes to home and back, during breaks in the shelling. The city has parked trains in the station and allowed people to sleep in them.

Lidiya Burlina and her son, Mark, work in Kharkiv and were cut off from their home village, a two-hour train ride away, when the Russians moved in. They’ve been living in the metro station ever since. The stores in town are working only in the morning, Ms. Burlina said, and there is very little bread, which has dramatically increased in price in the two days since the war started. They cannot reach anyone in their village because the local power station was blown up.

“They’re sitting there in the cold, they can’t buy anything, and there’s no heat,” Ms. Burlina said. “And we’re here in the metro.”

Victoria Ustinova, 60, was sheltering in the metro with her daughter, two grandchildren and a fuzzy Chihuahua named Beauty, who was wearing a sweater. The family could have taken shelter in the basement of their apartment building, but from there the booms of artillery and tank fire were still audible.

“When everything started it was a total shock, when you don’t know where to run and what to expect from ‘the comrade,’” Ms. Ustinova said, referring to Mr. Putin. “Now we’ve already settled down. We’ve have accepted it and are trying to continue living. It was worse during World War II.”

For her 13-year-old grandson, Danil, the main worry now is the potential for World War III.

“If things will become totally inflamed, then Europe will join in, and if they start launching nuclear weapons then that’s it,” he said.

Up on the surface, most of the stores and restaurants were closed and few people walk the streets. One of the few exceptions was Tomi Piippo, a 26-year-old from the Finnish city of Iisalmi, who said he came to Kharkiv on holiday on Monday and now couldn’t get out.

“I don’t know how to leave. No planes,” he said.

While Russian officials have said their military was endeavoring to avoid civilian areas, the body of a Smerch rocket, which Ukrainian officials said was fired by Russian forces, was stuck vertically in the middle of the street outside the headquarters of the National Guard. A few kilometers away, the rocket’s tail section had buried itself in the asphalt across from an onion-domed Orthodox church.

A team of emergency services officers, dressed in flack jackets and helmets, was attempting to extract the tail from the pavement, but having difficulties. A member of the team said that the tail and the body were different stages of the rocket, likely jettisoned as the explosive ordnance hurtled toward its target near the front lines.

“This is 200 kilos of metal,” the emergency officer said, pointing to the rocket’s tale. “It could have fallen through a building or hit people.”

Even as the artillery barrages intensified, not everyone was ready to hide. Walking with intention toward the source of the artillery booms on the outskirts of Kharkiv was Roman Balakelyev, dressed in camouflage, a double-barreled shotgun slung over his shoulder.

“I live here, this is my home. I’m going to defend it,” said Mr. Balakelyev, who also pulled out a large knife he had strapped to his back as if to show it off. “I don’t think the Russians understand me like I understand them.”

A short while later, Mr. Balakelyev reached the edge of the city, where the Ukrainian troops were huddled around the abandoned Russian troop transports. They watched as he passed. No one moved to stop him. One soldier uttered: “Intent on victory.”

Mr. Balakelyev, his gaze fixed and his shotgun ready, headed down the road in the direction of the booms and a tall billboard that read: “Protect the future: UKRAINE-NATO-EUROPE.”

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Welcome to the Charles Dickens Luxury Apartments

When the building was threatened with destruction, in 2007, Professor Black and a charity devoted to Georgian-era architecture tried to get it preserved. They initially failed, but the wrecking ball didn’t swing immediately, in part because the 2007-8 financial crisis left many developers in no mood to spend. It didn’t help that the land behind the Annexe was known to be filled with bodies, although how many was not yet clear.

By then, the Annexe had closed, and the University College London Hospitals National Health Service Foundation Trust — the official name of the organization that owned the building — started renting a hodgepodge of rooms in it to about 40 Londoners looking for cheap, communal living. This is a common strategy among British landlords — populate vacant buildings to prevent them from being vandalized or turned into a squatters’ paradise. Renters in such buildings are known as “guardians,” a slightly misleading term.

“Nobody was walking around with a rifle,” said Dominic Connelly, who lived in the Annexe until 2017, when everyone was finally asked to leave. He paid about $600 a month for a large former patient’s room that included a working X-ray light box.

Tenants were a mix of young people — yoga instructors, actors, a club bouncer — dwelling amid an assortment of medical equipment, security systems, a reception desk and hospital signs, including one for the child psychiatry department. The setting also seems to have inspired “Crashing,” a 2016 television mini-series about young people who flirt and couple in a disused hospital, written by and starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the auteur of “Fleabag.”

Except that at the Annexe, people occasionally showed up to dig exploratory trenches.

“You’d see them from the windows, or you’d hear them digging,” Mr. Connelly said. “It was clear they were looking for bodies. Pretty grim stuff when you think about it, so I tried not to think about it.”

All the guardians in the Annexe knew they could be evicted any day, potentially signaling the workhouse’s imminent demise. The prospect was especially galling to a resident who, for unknown reasons, wanted anonymity and has never been identified. She contacted a scholar who had written an essay for The British Medical Journal about one of the medical heroes of the Victorian age, Joseph Rogers, a physician who served as the chief medical officer at the Strand Union Workhouse and crusaded for better conditions.

The scholar was Ruth Richardson.

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Vietnam’s Workers Hesitate to Return After Covid Outbreak

Thu Trang traveled to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, in 2019, ecstatic to get a job at a factory. She worked eight-hour shifts and was guaranteed overtime pay, and the wages were nearly triple what she had made as a farmer back home.

But during a Covid-19 outbreak this summer, the factory where she worked making Adidas, Converse and New Balance shoes virtually shut down. She and her co-workers were forced to live in a cramped apartment for nearly three months, subsisting on a diet of rice and soy sauce. In October, when restrictions loosened as global supply chain issues surged, Thu Trang decided she would pack up and return to her home province, Tra Vinh.

Her manager promised her higher wages, but she didn’t bother to find out how much.

“Even if the company doubles or triples our wages, I insist on moving back home,” said Thu Trang, who asked to be identified only by her first name because she feared retribution from her company and the government. “Ho Chi Minh City was once a destination where we sought our future, but this is no longer a safe place.”

Just last year, Vietnam’s coronavirus controls were lauded by health officials around the world. The country was so successful that it achieved the highest economic growth in Asia last year, at 2.9 percent. That outlook has dimmed: Workers have fled their factories, managers are struggling to get them back, and economists are forecasting that a full recovery in output won’t come until next year.

monthslong factory shutdowns in the Southeast Asian country. It could mean a longer wait for Nike sneakers, Lululemon yoga pants and Under Armour tank tops before the holidays. Several American retailers have already switched to suppliers in China to ease the crunch.

Patagonia and other brands.

Ms. Doan said that when the government imposed coronavirus restrictions, she went days without food and received only about $130 for August and September from local authorities. The subsidy was not enough for her to pay rent. She said she was waiting for the company to approve her resignation.

“My trust in the authorities has vanished,” she said. “They failed to control the pandemic effectively, causing many to die from infection and to live in hunger.”

the deliveries of gifts during the Christmas season.

Nike cut its 2022 revenue growth forecast, saying in September that it had lost 10 weeks of production because 80 percent of its footwear factories were in the south of Vietnam and nearly half of its apparel factories in the country were closed.

On earnings calls, Chico’s, a women’s clothing maker based in Florida, and Callaway, the golf company, said they had moved some of their production out of Vietnam.

Adam Sitkoff, the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam, said many companies were looking for workarounds and other remedies to help ease the stress.

“American companies are seeing what they can do,” Mr. Sitkoff said. “If we charter buses and send them to whatever province and hometown, will that help us get the people back?”

American businesses have pushed the Vietnamese government to speed up its vaccine program, which they say is essential for workers to feel safe. Only 29 percent of the population has been fully inoculated, one of the lowest rates in Southeast Asia. Vietnam says it hopes to fully vaccinate 70 percent of its population by the end of the year.

Nguyen Huyen Trang, a 25-year-old worker for Changshin Vietnam, a major supplier for Nike, is fully vaccinated but said she still feared being back on the factory floor. Ms. Nguyen and her husband returned to their home in Ninh Thuan, a province in central Vietnam, from Dong Nai when cases there started soaring at the end of July. Her husband wants to go back to the city, but her family is pressuring her to stay.

She said her manager called her in October and offered to increase her wages if she returned. Her response, she said, was “a definite head-shaking no.”

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Keith Haring’s Refrigerator Door Is on the Auction Block

It began life began as a white refrigerator door in an apartment in SoHo, but by the 1990s, it was anything but plain. It was covered with the graffiti tags and wide-marker signatures of the famous friends of the tenant in the apartment. “Madonna Loves Keith,” read one inscription.

Yes, that Madonna. The tenant was the artist Keith Haring, a star of the SoHo art scene, who partied with Andy Warhol and graffiti artists like LA II (whose real name is Angel Ortiz) and Fab Five Freddy (Fred Brathwaite), both of whom signed the refrigerator. Also on the door are the letters JM, which the auctioneer Arlan Ettinger, in an interview, speculated had belonged to Jean-Michel Basquiat, the downtown artist who became a megawatt celebrity. (Ettinger said he had tried to verify the Basquiat signature but that “there’s no way of absolutely confirming” it’s his writing or not.)

Ettinger, who will sell the refrigerator door on Wednesday at Guernsey’s, said the door served as Haring’s guest register. “It seemed like everybody who was anybody showed up there,” he said, “and you signed in on that refrigerator door. It’s not beautiful, but it’s of that moment, of that time. It reflects a certain spirit, a creativeness, that is alive today if you think about the people who were there — Madonna, and a long, long list of artists.”

Ettinger said the owner, a yoga instructor in California, had insisted on privacy, so much so that he said he did not even know her name. He said his contract to sell the door was with a friend of the owner who forwarded an email describing how the owner had found the apartment on Broome Street — she saw an ad for a “spacious railroad apartment” in The Village Voice in 1990. It came with “this amazing refrigerator covered with the graffiti of the Haring era.” The walls had once been covered, too, but she said that the landlord had repainted them.

She returned home one sweltering day to learn that the refrigerator had conked out and was removed; the delivery men had left it on the street to be picked up with the garbage.

“I raced outside,” the email said. “There, in the back alley, was our old friend, the Haring fridge, lying on its side. The door slipped off the body of the fridge easily. I brought it upstairs while my roommate retrieved the smaller top freezer door.”

In 1993, when she moved to California, she carted the door to her parents’ home in Washington, and stored it in their attic, where it stayed until about 2010, when her mother shipped it to her.

Andy Warhol, whose signature is also on the refrigerator door, figures in another item in the auction: A moose head he owned. The auction will be conducted online through Liveauctioneers.com and Invaluable.com, and by telephone from Guernsey’s. Ettinger’s estimate for the refrigerator door is “in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

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Judge presses Epic on the impact of its antitrust suit against Apple.

Last May, Epic Games was making plans to circumvent Apple’s and Google’s app store rules and ultimately sue them in cases that could reshape the entire app economy and have profound ripple effects on antitrust investigations around the world.

Epic’s chief operating officer, Daniel Vogel, sent other executives an email raising a concern: Epic must persuade Apple and Google to give in to its demands for looser rules, he wrote, “without us looking like the baddies.”

Apple and Google, Mr. Vogel warned, “will treat this as an existential threat.” To prepare, Epic formed a public relations and marketing plan to get the public behind its campaign against the tech giants.

Apple seized on that plan in a federal courtroom in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, the second day of what is expected to be a three-week trial stemming from Epic’s claims that Apple relies on its control of its App Store to unfairly squeeze money out of other companies.

must use Apple’s App Store to reach consumers.

“Our contention in this case is that all apps are at issue,” said Katherine Forrest, a lawyer at Cravath, Swaine & Moore.

Epic is not asking for a payout if it wins the trial; it is seeking relief in the form of changes to App Store rules. Epic has asked Apple to allow app developers to use other methods to collect payments and open their own app stores within their apps.

Apple has countered that these demands would raise a world of new issues, including making iPhones less secure.

On Tuesday afternoon, Benjamin Simon, founder of Yoga Buddhi, which makes the Down Dog Yoga app, testified about his company’s problems with Apple’s policies. Mr. Simon said that he had to charge more for subscriptions on the App Store to make up for the 30 percent fee that Apple charged him, and that Apple’s rules prevented him from promoting inside his app a cheaper price that is available on the web.

Mr. Simon said Apple warned app developers against speaking out about its policies in guidelines for getting their apps approved. “‘If you run to the press and trash us, it never helps,’” he said. “That was in the guidelines.”

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Lucha libre, yoga y baile: bienvenidos a los centros de vacunación de Ciudad de México

CIUDAD DE MÉXICO — Alguien con un disfraz de Charlie Brown saluda frenéticamente. Una persona vestida de mono finge tomar fotos con una cámara de peluche. Un hombre mayor que acaba de recibir su segunda inyección de la vacuna de Pfizer toma un micrófono y comienza a cantar muy fuerte.

“Tengo 78 años, pero todos me dicen que parezco de 75 y medio”, decía el hombre alegremente, una apreciación proyectada en su aparente fuerza pulmonar, mientras entonaba con pasión una canción ranchera.

En un intento por mejorar el servicio al cliente, los centros de vacunación de la capital de México ofrecen ahora, además de los pinchazos, una serie de opciones de entretenimiento como bailes, yoga, actuaciones de ópera en directo y la posibilidad de ver a grandes luchadores de lucha libre con el torso desnudo haciendo el limbo.

virus en América Latina y los esfuerzos tropezados de vacunación en muchos de sus países. Las preocupaciones se han agravado recientemente por la rápida propagación de una variante del virus descubierta por primera vez en Brasil.

el tercer mayor número de muertes por coronavirus en todo el mundo, donde el gobierno se resiste a imponer confinamientos estrictos, por temor a los daños a la economía, y que no ha realizado pruebas generalizadas, argumentando que es un desperdicio de dinero.

Muchos creen que la única salida a esta pesadilla es la vacunación masiva, pero la campaña avanza lentamente. Sin embargo, desde mediados de abril el ritmo se ha acelerado a nivel nacional —y después de algunos desórdenes al principio— la capital del país ha mejorado la eficiencia de sus procesos de vacunación.

“Nos dimos cuenta rápidamente que no, que con la estrategia habíamos pensado no íbamos a poder atender a los adultos mayores con el nivel de calidad y servicio que ellos merecían”, dijo Eduardo Clark, quien ayuda a coordinar el programa de vacunación de la ciudad.

lucha libre con máscaras de colores, llamados Gravedad, Bandido, Guerrero Olímpico, Hijo del Pirata Morgan y Ciclón Ramírez Jr.

“Es un ratito de alegría”, gritó Silva para hacerse escuchar a pesar del sonido de la banda que tocaba en directo a unos metros de distancia, asintiendo al ritmo. “Reanima lo que uno tiene adentro”.

Con las arenas de lucha libre cerradas por la pandemia, el gobierno ha dado un uso creativo a los enmascarados de la lucha libre, alistándolos para que hagan cumplir el uso de las mascarillas simulando que abordan a la gente y ahora con esto.

“Me gusta el hecho de que estén cooperando, solidarios con la gente”, dijo Francisca Rodríguez, mientras la silla de ruedas de su marido era momentáneamente requisada por un sudoroso Ciclón Ramírez Jr.

Rodríguez dijo que López Obrador, había hecho un trabajo “excelente” en la gestión de la pandemia, aunque reconoció que el presidente había recibido muchas críticas por negarse a vacunar a algunos trabajadores de los hospitales privados, quienes dicen que se les hace esperar más tiempo que los de los hospitales públicos.

“Hay una guerra mediática contra el presidente López Obrador en este momento”, dijo, enfáticamente. “Hasta los periódicos de Estados Unidos están atacando al presidente”.

A medida que la gente se vacunaba y entraba en la zona donde se les observaría para detectar reacciones secundarias, los enmascarados de la lucha libre estallaron en un cántico de “¡sí se pudo!”.

“Mis hijos me van a preguntar cómo era, entonces les voy a llevar evidencias”, dijo Luis González, de 68 años, quien grababa la actuación con el celular.

Cuando la esposa de González contrajo el coronavirus hace cuatro meses, él se sentó a su lado, abanicándola con un trozo de cartón para intentar que tuviera más aire para respirar. Tras 38 años de matrimonio, la vio morir en su casa, a la espera de una ambulancia.

González se sentó en la primera fila mucho después de haber pasado su periodo de observación, solo, viendo bailar a los luchadores.

“Se siente el vacío, más por las noches”, dijo. “Durante los días, es más fácil distraerme”.

Alejandro Cegarra colaboró en este reportaje.


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Lucha Libre, Yoga, Dancing: Welcome to Mexico City’s Vaccination Sites

MEXICO CITY — Someone in a Charlie Brown costume frantically waves hello. A person dressed as a monkey pretends to take photos with a stuffed camera. An elderly man who just got his second shot of the Pfizer vaccine grabs a microphone and starts singing very loudly.

“I’m 78, but they tell me I look 75 and a half,” the man said gleefully, the assessment supported by his apparent lung strength as he belted out a ranchera song with abandon.

In a bid to improve their customer service, vaccination centers in Mexico’s capital now come with a slate of entertainment options, including dancing, yoga, live operatic performances and the chance to watch large, bare-chested Lucha Libre wrestlers do the limbo.

The goal is to make the process as appealing as possible, said a woman leading a singing and dancing performance for people waiting for a shot at a military parade ground in Mexico City on a recent Wednesday.

virus in Latin America and the sputtering vaccination efforts in many of its countries. Concerns have been compounded recently by the rapid spread of a virus variant first discovered in Brazil.

At the vaccination center in Mexico City, women in white shirts led the crowd in various yoga poses that could be done in wheelchairs. Men performed tricks with a surprising number of soccer balls. A professional opera singer congratulated everyone.

the third highest coronavirus death toll worldwide, where the government resisted imposing strict lockdowns, fearing damage to the economy, and which has not tested widely, arguing it is a waste of money.

Many believe that the only escape from this nightmare is mass vaccination, but the campaign had been moving glacially. By mid-April, though, the pace has picked up nationally — and after some messiness in the beginning, the nation’s capital has gotten better at efficiently getting shots into arms.

“We quickly realized that with the strategy we had in place, we couldn’t attend to seniors with the level of service they deserved,” said Eduardo Clark, who helps coordinate the city’s vaccination program.

Lucha Libre wrestlers, named Gravity, Bandido, Guerrero Olímpico, Hijo de Pirata Morgan and Ciclón Ramírez Jr.

“It’s a little bit of joy,” Ms. Silva shouted over the live band playing a few feet away, nodding to the beat. “It reanimates what you have inside.”

With the pandemic closing wrestling arenas, the government has put the Lucha Libre fighters to creative use, enlisting them to enforce mask wearing by pretending to accost people and now this.

“I’m glad they are here cooperating, in solidarity with people,” said Francisca Rodríguez, whose husband’s wheelchair had momentarily been commandeered by a sweating Ciclón Ramírez Jr.

Ms. Rodríguez said Mr. López Obrador, had done an “excellent” job of managing the pandemic, though she acknowledged that the president had taken a beating for refusing to vaccinate some workers in private hospitals, who say they’re being made to wait longer than those at public hospitals.

“There is a media war against President López Obrador right now,” she said, pointedly. “Even American newspapers are attacking the president.”

As people were vaccinated and filed into the area where they would be observed for adverse reactions, the Lucha Libre wrestlers broke out into a “yes you could!” chant.

“My children are going to ask me how it was, so I’m going to bring them evidence,” said Luis González, 68, recording the performance on his cellphone.

When Mr. González’s wife got the coronavirus four months ago, he sat by her side, fanning her with a piece of cardboard to try to make more air available to breathe. After 38 years of marriage, he watched her die in their home, waiting for an ambulance.

Mr. González sat in the front row long after his observation period had passed, alone, watching the wrestlers dance.

“You feel the emptiness, especially at night,” he said. “During the days, it’s easier to distract myself.”

Alejandro Cegarra contributed reporting.

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