Kashmiris in limbo and lockdown

Laveta Brigham

On 5 August 2019, the Indian government revoked a constitutional article that stripped the semi-autonomous status from the part of Kashmir it administers and split the region into two federally-run territories. A stringent curfew was imposed and thousands detained along with a communications black-out.

The lockdown began to be eased in March, but was then re-imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It has been a year of shutdowns, anger and fear. The BBC spoke to 12 different Kashmiris, to find out what their lives have been like during this year.

Sanna Irshad Mattoo, 26

Sanna Irshad Mattoo,
Sanna Irshad Mattoo,

“In our line of work, you can’t separate the personal from the professional,” says Ms Mattoo, who has been a journalist for the last four years.

“We have been through lockdowns in previous years. But last year there was an environment of fear psychosis. We didn’t know what was happening. Our modes of

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Trump signs executive orders; hundreds quarantining in Ga. school district; masks optional at Sturgis motorcycle rally

Laveta Brigham

After weeks of stalled congressional negotiations over a new coronavirus stimulus package, President Donald Trump signed a series executive orders Saturday evening as the U.S. was approaching 5 million cases of COVID-19.

Trump, repeatedly referring to the coronavirus as the “China virus,” said the orders would provide an additional $400 per week in unemployment benefits, suspend payments on some student loans through the end of the year and protect renters from being evicted from their homes.

“We’re coming back very strong. We’re doing well with the virus,” Trump said, even as the U.S. was leading nations worldwide in confirmed cases and deaths from COVID-19 and confirmed an additional 50,000 new cases Friday.

Meanwhile, South Dakota was hosting one of the largest events since the beginning of the pandemic – the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, an event that is set to attract 250,000 people over the next 10 days, even as experts

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$800 a week to test employees for COVID-19. Could rapid, cheap tests help?

Laveta Brigham

Sara Polon spends $800 dollars each week on coronavirus tests for the staffers at her Washington, D.C., business, but sometimes the test results don’t come back for weeks.

Polon, 43, owns Soupergirl, a small soup company that has managed to stay open during the pandemic. Polon wanted to reassure her 30 full-time and part-time employees that she was trying to protect their health, so she’s been covering their weekly coronavirus tests since early June. But the national lab where the results are processed has significant backlogs.

“If I’m getting results 2 1/2 weeks later, I might as well just take that $800 and flush it down the toilet,” Polon told NBC News. “I’m just at the mercy of these national labs, and it’s petrifying.”

What Polon needs is a cheaper test with fast results that her employees could use at home, experts say. To ease the overwhelmed testing system, a

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Hundreds quarantining in Ga. school district; masks optional at Sturgis motorcycle rally

Laveta Brigham

Florida, ravaged by a historic spike in COVID-19 cases for weeks, is showing signs of progress in statistics such as hospitalizations and positivity rates according to its governor — but stories of the human toll of the virus on young and old in the state continue to emerge this week.

In one case, a 21-year-old who believed he had recovered from a mild case suddenly became gravely ill with multi-organ failure. He’s now sharing his story as a warning of the potential for long-term illness.

And in a heartbreaking story, a 90-year-old man likely caught the virus as he said his final goodbye to his dying wife. After his story gained international attention, he also tested positive and later died. His family says he had no regrets.

Those stories come even as other areas of the country have gone months without serious outbreaks. In South Dakota, low case counts have

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8 helpful Chrome extensions to improve working from home

Laveta Brigham

8 helpful Chrome extensions to improve working from home
8 helpful Chrome extensions to improve working from home

On one hand working from home is truly awesome. Your commute is however far it is from your bed to your laptop, you don’t have to deal face-to-face with annoying colleagues, you can make your own homemade, healthy snacks, and yes, you can work in your pajamas.

On the other hand, working from home turns your cozy sanctuary into an extension of your workplace, and it can be hard to switch off the way you normally would when you leave a physical place.

While there are some things you can do to mitigate this, like finding a place to work that’s not where you play, being strict with cut off times to stop working, and making sure you take regular breaks, there are also some other hacks that we think can help your work-from-home process. These come in the form of

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Mid-American Conference cancels fall football due to virus

Laveta Brigham

The Mid-American Conference on Saturday became the first league at college football’s highest level to cancel its fall season because of the pandemic.

”I’m heartbroken we are in this place,” MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said.

With the MAC’s 12 schools facing a significant financial burden by trying to maintain costly coronavirus protocols, and the uncertainty that campuses can be opened safely, the conference’s university presidents made the decision to cancel all fall sports – including soccer and volleyball – and explore making them up in the spring season.

Though postponing could also prove costly without revenue generated by football media rights deals and ticket sales.

”It would be naive to say that you don’t give thought and consideration to what the financial ramifications or any decision are, but this was a health and well-being decision first and foremost,” Steinbrecher said. ”As we sit here today we don’t know what this

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Black, Hispanic Children At Higher Risk For Hospitalization Due To COVID-19, CDC Says

Laveta Brigham

The CDC study comes as schools decide on fall reopening plans

As research continues to come out about the impacts of the coronavirus on various groups, a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found Hispanic and Black children are more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than white children.

The report, released yesterday, said Hispanic children are approximately eight-times more likely than white children to be hospitalized with COVID-related symptoms. Black children are five-times more likely. Researchers used data from 14 states, including California, Georgia, New York, and Ohio, from March 1 through July 25 to get a picture of how the disease presents itself in children under 18.

“Among 526 children for whom race and ethnicity information were reported, 241 (45.8 percent) were Hispanic, 156 (29.7 percent) were black, 74 (14.1 percent) were white; 24 (4.6 percent) were non-Hispanic Asian or Pacific Islander; and

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How the pandemic may be widening the gender pay gap

Laveta Brigham

Personal trainer and Cameroonian immigrant Simone Tchouke knows the importance of working hard. She used to train up to eight clients a day, until COVID-19 hit. 

“It was really it was really bad,”  Tchouke said. “We just kind of scaled down to, like, nothing. So enough to, like, pay your rent and pay food and that’s it.”

During the economic downturn brought on by the pandemic, women have suffered more job losses than men. In July, the unemployment rate for women was 10.5% while the rate for men was 9.4%. Women still in the workforce continue to face a grim reality — they make less than men. In 2018, the median earnings for women was $45,097 while men made $55,291. 

Tchoucke says she isn’t able to charge as much as male trainers with the same amount of experience she has. 

“It’s always so weird. Like, I don’t know why, but

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Jennifer Aniston Says Friends Reunion Delay Due to Coronavirus Pandemic Is ‘Very Sad’

Laveta Brigham

Jon Kopaloff/Getty Jennifer Aniston

Just like Friends fans, Jennifer Aniston is disappointed that the highly-anticipated reunion special remains delayed.

The unscripted special is set to reunite the entire cast on the comedy’s original soundstage, but due to the ongoing coronavirus shutdown, the production dates for the HBO Max special have yet to be determined.

“Unfortunately it’s very sad that we had to move it again,” Aniston, 51, told Deadline. “It was, ‘How do we do this with live audiences?’ This is not a safe time. Period. That’s the bottom line. It’s not a safe time to do it.”

Looking on the bright side, Aniston went on to point out that this only gives them “more time” to make the reunion “even more exciting.”

“It’s going to be super,” she added. “I choose to see it as the glass is half-full that it got postponed. Look, we’re not going anywhere.

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Britain faces up to prospect of mass unemployment as government support winds

Laveta Brigham

Getty
Getty

“I literally don’t know what I would do.” says freelance chef Ryan Fisher as he considers the prospect trying to live off £343 per month universal credit – again.

The amount is £200 less than he pays each month to support his nine-year-old daughter, never mind his rent, food, gas, electricity, car insurance.

“I don’t know how I’ll cover all my bills. It’s just not enough to live on.”

He knows this from bitter experience because he’s been there before, when the government forcibly shut down his industry in March and work, which had been plentiful, dried up. Like millions of others, Fisher wasn’t entitled to any of the coronavirus support schemes.

After three months of debts piling up, calls from credit card companies and an emergency £500 grant from charity Turn2Us he found some short-term work at Porters, an upper-class eatery in Southampton.

For now, as the sun

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