How your shopping habits will change this Christmas

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The pandemic has changed the way we shop in numerous ways, prompting a rise in rental fashion and a more conscious approach to what we buy in general, so it comes as no surprise that it will also alter our Christmas consumer habits.

The festive season will undoubtedly look very different this year, but according to Deloitte, who has been analysing the Christmas shopping period for 35 years, our desire to create a special time for friends and family will remain high.

What will change is what we spend our money on. Rather than spending the bulk of our money on gifting and/or festive travel breaks, budgets will focus on the home and the idea of creating an inviting, beautiful space to spend the Christmas period in. According to WWD, Deloitte reports that a high number if us will look to festive sales to buy big-ticket items for the household in order to make our homes feel even more of a haven.

Another increased focus is food – 33 and 30 per cent of Deloitte respondents said they will “indulge on beverages and food items,” respectively – and increased spending on pets. Many of us have spent more time with our pets than ever before, leading to a heightened humanisation of our furry friends. Deloitte reports that the average spend on pets this Christmas stands at $90 (£69.38) in terms of food and supplies.

Price, value and convenience will continue to be important to us, but experiential and resale gifts – which were previously predicted a top trending categories for Christmas 2020 – are out in favour of gift cards and clothing, with cash being the most wanted item to receive by respondents.

It’s also no shock to find out that we will spend less time shopping this year, in fact the average shopping window will be one a half weeks shorter than previous years. We will also shop in less stores in general as we avoid crowds, shop closer to home and opt for online shopping.

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Jewelry Designer Amy Kahn Russell Adjusts in a Time of Change

Ridgefield Academy Expands Outdoor Learning Opportunities

Ridgefield Academy has expanded learning opportunities for students by connecting its curriculum to the school’s 42-acre campus. Under the guidance of the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning, faculty members have reimagined lesson plans to utilize the school’s natural learning spaces and outdoor classrooms.

Choral director Debbi Curry was concerned about the limitations COVID has put on singing in closed spaces but found using the school’s outdoor classroom was the perfect solution. “Holding chorus class outside allows us to continue to build our vocal skills and practice safe singing while enjoying the great weather and inspiring view,” comments Curry. Upper School math teacher Adele Dominicus has her students exploring the campus to take photos of how basic geometric concepts are hidden within everyday objects and in nature. The photos will be marked up to identify the shapes and concepts and turned into picture books to teach the school’s preschool students. Students in Anthony Larson’s technology and digital arts class are learning about digital photography and roaming the campus for inspiration. Mr. Rand’s 8th grade science students are determining the circumference of the Earth by replicating the same procedure that Erastophenes used over 2000 years ago, using angles of shadows, ratios, and the sun to determine the circumference. “I find myself continually challenged to think of new ways to connect and integrate the outdoors into my curriculum,” comments Rand.

Initial feedback from students is “two thumbs up.” Faculty find the students are enjoying the fresh air and opportunities to take a much-needed mask break under shade tents, sitting in a circle of Adirondack chairs, or simply rocking in their portable seats on the grass.

School counselor Terry Williams also highlights the mental health benefits that come from outdoor learning: “It is a real advantage for students that teachers at RA can provide them with space by taking their classroom outside. Being outdoors is good for a child’s emotional and mental well-being, especially during this challenging time when there are so many restrictions and a need for isolation.”

For more information about Ridgefield Academy or Landmark Preschool, call Associate Head of School and Director of Enrollment David Suter at 203-894-1800 x112 or visit www.ridgefieldacademy.org (K-Grade 8) or www.landmarkpreschool.org (Preschool 2s – 4s).

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Relationship with Trump Was Like ‘Women Who Get Married and Think They’re Going to Change Their Spouse’

Senator John Cornyn (R.,Texas) on Friday worked to distance himself from President Trump, saying he had privately disagreed with the president on issues including budget deficits, trade agreements and border security.

The high-ranking Republican senator, facing a tougher-than-expected reelection race against Democrat M.J. Hegar, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that his relationship with Trump was “maybe like a lot of women who get married and think they’re going to change their spouse, and that doesn’t usually work out very well.”

“I think what we found is that we’re not going to change President Trump. He is who he is. You either love him or hate him, and there’s not much in between,” Cornyn said. “What I tried to do is not get into public confrontations and fights with him because, as I’ve observed, those usually don’t end too well.”

Cornyn pointed to former Senator Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) who decided not to run for re-election in 2018 after public disagreements with the president over issues such as a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico led him to become a frequent subject of Trump’s tweets.

The Texas Republican said he was comfortable praising the president publicly in situations where the pair had worked well, such as on judicial nominations, Hurricane Harvey relief, a U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal and tax cuts. 

“[W]hen I have had differences of opinion, which I have, [I] do that privately,” Cornyn said. “I have found that has allowed me to be much more effective, I believe, than to satisfy those who say I ought to call him out or get into a public fight with him.”

The senator said he disagreed with Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency in order to use money from the defense budget to build segments of a border wall after Congress refused to allocate the funds. He said he also objected to how Trump handled trade agreements with China and other Asian countries, including the president’s move to pull the U.S. out of a Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“I applaud him for standing up to China but, frankly, this idea that China is paying the price and we’re not paying the price here at home is just not true,” Cornyn said.

While Cornyn has rarely criticized the president, his recent comments come after telling the Houston Chronicle earlier this month that he believed the president had “let his guard down” on the coronavirus and created “confusion” about the severity of the pandemic in trying to paint a more rosy picture of the virus.

“I think he let his guard down, and I think in his desire to try to demonstrate that we are somehow coming out of this and that the danger is not still with us — I think he got out over his skis and frankly, I think it’s a lesson to all of us that we need to exercise self discipline,” he said then.

More from National Review

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Audio: Removing Cops From Behavioral Crisis Calls: ‘We Need To Change The Model’

In what will be among the largest and boldest urban police reform experiment in decades San Francisco is creating and preparing to deploy teams of professionals from the fire and health departments — not police — to respond to most calls for people in a psychiatric, behavioral or substance abuse crisis.

Instead of police, these types of crisis calls will mostly be handled by new unarmed mobile teams comprised of paramedics, mental health professionals and peer support counselors starting next month.

“It’s glaringly obvious we need to change the model,” says San Francisco Fire Dept. Capt. Simon Pang, who is leading the fire department’s effort to build these new street crisis response teams.

Removing police from most nonviolent psychiatric and behavioral crisis calls is no small shift: they can account for a quarter or more of all police calls for service. If you add in 911 calls for issues or complaints surrounding homelessness, the numbers shoot even higher, police data show.

Moreover, surveys show that nearly a quarter of fatal police encounters followed calls about “disruptive behavior” directly tied to a person’s mental illness and/or substance abuse disorder. Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics surveys show that 64% of those in jail and more than half of all prison inmates have a mental health problem, many of them undiagnosed.

“They’re (police) handling these calls the best they can,” Pang says, “but the fact remains that because of the traditional system, which is in place out of inertia, you have law enforcement officers responding to nonviolent, noncriminal calls for service for people whose needs are largely social, behavioral or mental. And that’s just not right,” he says. “The time is now to rethink the entire process so that we can get personnel who are better suited to help people” in those kinds of crises.

These mobile teams better suited will include a specially trained psychologist or social worker, a fire department paramedic and a peer support expert, ideally someone with lived experience in recovery from alcohol or drug abuse and perhaps homelessness.

San Francisco’s new, unarmed, non-police teams are scheduled, at first, to take over the police calls for code 800 – a broad, catch-all category the police describe as a “report of a mentally disturbed person.” The police here got nearly 17,000 of those code 800s last year, according to SFPD data, and nearly 22,000 overall from persons in mental or behavioral crisis. The vast majority of them were non-violent. Of those code 800 calls, the police data show, only 132 of them reported “a potential for violence or a weapon.”

Rethinking public safety and equity in services

Organizers of the new teams in the city’s fire and health departments aim to expand the array of nonviolent police calls they take over, including some of the nearly 30,000 “check on well being” 911 calls the police receive annually. Details on which of those other police code calls the new teams will eventually respond to are still under discussion, officials involved say.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn likens relationship with Trump to ‘women who get married and think they’re going to change their spouse’

Texas Sen. John Cornyn (R) admitted in an interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he’s disagreed with President Trump on a number of major issues, but that he’s kept the differences of opinion private. “I have found that has allowed me to be much more effective, I believe, than to satisfy those who say I ought to call him out or get into a public fight with him,” Cornyn said.

The comments come as Cornyn faces a tight reelection campaign against Democrat challenger MJ Hegar, who lags in the polls by only a handful of percentage points. The move fits a pattern of a number of threatened Republican senators who are now distancing themselves from Trump out of the concern that he risks their chances of holding their seats.

Cornyn specifically described differing from Trump on topics like budget deficits during the COVID-19 crisis, funneling money from the defense budget to the construction of the border wall, and trade. “I applaud him for standing up to China but, frankly, this idea that China is paying the price and we’re not paying the price here at home is just not true,” Cornyn said, as one example.

Cornyn likened his relationship with the president to “a lot of women who get married and think they’re going to change their spouse, and that doesn’t usually work out very well.” He added, “He is who he is. You either love him or hate him, and there’s not much in between. What I tried to do is not get into public confrontations and fights with him because, as I’ve observed, those usually don’t end too well.” Read more about Cornyn’s differences from the president, and his justification for keeping them quiet, at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

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Cornyn: Relationships with Trump like ‘women who get married and think they’re going to change their spouse’

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynChanging suburbs threaten GOP hold on Texas Republicans increasingly seek distance from Trump Supreme Court battle turns into 2020 proxy war MORE (R-Texas) said Friday that he disagreed with President TrumpDonald John TrumpLatest Mnuchin-Pelosi call produces ‘encouraging news on testing’ for stimulus package China warns it will detain American nationals following DOJ prosecution of Chinese scholars: report Musician John Fogerty issues cease and desist over Trump use of ‘Fortunate Son’ MORE on issues such as the deficit and a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, but that Senate Republicans doubted their capacity to “change” the president on such issues.

The Texas Republican told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that his relationship with the president was “maybe like a lot of women who get married and think they’re going to change their spouse, and that doesn’t usually work out very well.”

“I think what we found is that we’re not going to change President Trump. He is who he is. You either love him or hate him, and there’s not much in between,” Cornyn said. “What I tried to do is not get into public confrontations and fights with him because, as I’ve observed, those usually don’t end too well.”

Cornyn specifically mentioned his onetime colleague, former Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTrump excoriates Sasse over leaked audio Has Congress captured Russia policy? Tennessee primary battle turns nasty for Republicans MORE (R-Tenn.), who retired in 2018 after becoming increasingly critical of the president and becoming a frequent target of his tweets.

“[W]hen I have had differences of opinion, which I have, [I] do that privately,” Cornyn said. “I have found that has allowed me to be much more effective, I believe, than to satisfy those who say I ought to call him out or get into a public fight with him.”

Cornyn is up for re-election in November and faces Democratic challenger M.J. Hegar. While most polling shows Cornyn with a single-digit lead, Hegar raised $13 million in the third quarter of 2020.

The Texas senator’s comments come shortly after the release of a constituent telephone town hall in which Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseTrump excoriates Sasse over leaked audio Hillicon Valley: Trump refuses to condemn QAnon | Twitter revises its policy, lets users share disputed article | Google sees foreign cyber threats Republicans increasingly seek distance from Trump MORE (R-Neb.) criticized Trump in much more direct terms.

“He mocks evangelicals behind closed doors. His family has treated the presidency like a business opportunity. He’s flirted with white supremacists,” Sasse said in the call. Trump blasted Sasse in response, comparing him to Corker and calling him a “RINO” (Republican In Name Only) and the “least effective of our 53 Republican senators.”

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Between Covid, climate change and the budget, no wonder many women are rethinking having babies

In July in a speech to the National Press Club, treasurer Josh Frydenberg urged Australian women to have more babies. He was lighthearted about it (well, he can be, of course, it isn’t his body or financial future that will bear the brunt or the baby). “I won’t go as far as to say, like Peter Costello, one for the mother, one for the father and one for the country. But I can say people should feel encouraged about the future, and the more children we have across the country, together with migration, we will build our population growth and that will be good for the economy.”



a hand holding a baby: Photograph: Gajus/Alamy Stock Photo/Alamy Stock Photo


© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Gajus/Alamy Stock Photo/Alamy Stock Photo

A new baby boom may well be good for the economy, but the question increasingly being asked by women of child-bearing age is whether it will be good for either them or for the children they may give birth to. Dr Ginni Mansberg, a GP in the Sydney suburb of Sans Souci, has noticed an interesting trend at her practice this year. “I’ve had patients who had stopped taking the pill to get pregnant coming back in for another script telling me ‘now’s not the right time.’” And the statistics back her observation to the hilt.

Related: I don’t want children but being an aunt is the joy of my life | Lara Holmes

Australia’s current birthrate is 12.561 births per 1,000 people, that’s down by 1.25% from last year. The year before, the birth rate declined by 1.23%. For the decade between 2008 and 2019, birth rates also declined but at a much slower rate. 2008 was the last time birth rates declined by above 1% and that was the year of the GFC, of course. It appears women also vote with their fertility, and when times get tough they decide – quite understandably as Mansberg’s patients put it – that it’s not a good idea to reproduce.

Frankly, who can blame them? All of us agree that 2020 has been the year from hell and 2019 was not much better, certainly not for Australia. After a horrific drought that made even rainforests vulnerable to fire, we spent much of the last summer choking on bushfire smoke even if we lived in the inner city. And in January, the Australian Medical Association included pregnant women in the list of people vulnerable to adverse health effects from that smoke. All but the most fervent climate change denialists know that despite this year’s rain, we will face mega blazes again and soon. Not to mention floods, droughts, dust storms, cyclones and all the other “big weather” that global warming is bringing our way. And younger people tend to both accept the science of climate change and understand that they are the ones whose future will be blighted by it. Why would they want to bring another generation into the world as long as the generation currently in power, including Frydenberg, stubbornly refuses to

Organizers Urge Vote For Change At U.S. Women’s Marches

Reporting by The Associated Press:

WASHINGTON, DC — Thousands of mostly young women in masks rallied Saturday in the nation’s capital and other U.S. cities, exhorting voters to oppose President Donald Trump and his fellow Republican candidates in the Nov. 3 elections.

The latest of rallies that began with a massive women’s march the day after Trump’s January 2017 inauguration was playing out during the coronavirus pandemic, and demonstrators were asked to wear face coverings and practice social distancing.

Rachel O’Leary Carmona, executive director of the Women’s March, opened the event by asking people to keep their distance from one another, saying that the only superspreader event would be the recent one at the White House.

She talked about the power of women to end Trump’s presidency.

“His presidency began with women marching and now it’s going to end with woman voting. Period,” she said.

“Vote for your daughter’s future,” read one message in the sea of signs carried by demonstrators. “Fight like a girl,” said another.

Dozens of other rallies were planned from New York to San Francisco to signal opposition to Trump and his policies, especially the push to fill the seat of late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before Election Day.

One march was held at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, outside the dormitory where Bader Ginsburg lived as an undergraduate student.

In New York, a demonstrator wearing a Donald Trump mask stood next to a statue of George Washington at Federal Hall during the the women’s march outside the New York Stock Exchange.

“We Dissent,” said a cardboard sign carried by a young woman wearing a red mask with small portraits of the liberal Supreme Court justice whose Sept. 18 death sparked the rush by Republicans to replace her with a conservative.

In Washington, the demonstrators started with a rally at Freedom Plaza, then marched toward Capitol Hill, finishing in front of the Supreme Court, where they were met by a handful of anti-abortion activists.

In one of several speeches at the rally, Sonja Spoo, director of reproductive rights campaigns at Ultraviolet, said she has to chuckle when she hears reporters ask Trump whether he will accept a peaceful transfer of power if he loses his reelection bid.

“When we vote him out, come Nov. 3, there is no choice,” said Spoo. “Donald Trump will not get to choose whether he stays in power.”

“That is not his power, that is our power. … We are the hell and high water,” she said.

This article originally appeared on the White House Patch

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Organizers exhort women to vote for change at US rallies

WASHINGTON (AP) — A mostly young, diverse crowd of masked women rallied Saturday in the nation’s capital, exhorting voters to oppose President Donald Trump and his fellow Republican candidates in the Nov. 3 elections.

The latest of rallies that began with a massive women’s march the day after Trump’s January 2017 inauguration was playing out during the coronavirus pandemic, and demonstrators were asked to wear face coverings and practice social distancing.

Rachel O’Leary Carmona, executive director of the Women’s March, opened the event by asking people to keep their distance from one another, saying that the only superspreader event would be the recent one at the White House.

She talked about the power of women to end Trump’s presidency.

“His presidency began with women marching and now it’s going to end with woman voting. Period,” she said.

Dozens of other rallies were planned from New York to San Francisco to signal opposition to Trump and his policies, including the push to fill the seat of late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before Election Day.

One march was being held at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, outside the dormitory where Bader Ginsburg lived as an undergraduate student.

In Washington, Sonja Spoo, director of reproductive rights campaigns at Ultraviolet, said she has to chuckle when she hears reporters ask Trump whether he will accept a peaceful transfer of power if he loses his reelection bid.

“When we vote him out, come Nov. 3, there is no choice,” said Spoo. “Donald Trump will not get to choose whether he stays in power.”

“That is not his power, that is our power. … We are the hell and high water,” she said.

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Scientists develop model to identify best lentils for climate change impacts

USask scientists develop model to identify best lentils for climate change impacts
USask plant scientist Kirstin Bett. Credit: Debra Marshall Photography

With demand for lentils growing globally and climate change driving temperatures higher, a University of Saskatchewan-led international research team has developed a model for predicting which varieties of the pulse crop are most likely to thrive in new production environments.


An inexpensive plant-based source of protein that can be cooked quickly, lentil is a globally important crop for combatting food and nutritional insecurity.

But increased production to meet this global demand will have to come from either boosting yields in traditional growing areas or shifting production to new locations, said USask plant scientist Kirstin Bett.

“By understanding how different lentil lines will interact with the new environment, we can perhaps get a leg up in developing varieties likely to do well in new growing locations,” said Bett.

Working with universities and organizations around the globe, the team planted 324 lentil varieties in nine lentil production hotspots, including two in Saskatchewan and one in the U.S., as well as sites in South Asia (Nepal, Bangladesh, and India) and the Mediterranean (Morocco, Spain, and Italy).

The findings, published in the journal Plants, People, Planet, will help producers and breeders identify existing varieties or develop new lines likely to flourish in new growing environments—valuable intelligence in the quest to feed the world’s growing appetite for inexpensive plant-based protein.

The new mathematical model is based on a key predictor of crop yield—days to flowering (DTF) which is determined by two factors: day length (hours of sunshine or “photoperiod”) and the mean temperature of the growing environment. Using detailed information about each variety’s interaction with temperature and photoperiod, the simple model can be used to predict the number of days it takes each variety to flower in a specific environment.

“With this model, we can predict which lines they (producers) should be looking at that will do well in new regions, how they should work, and whether they’ll work,” Bett said.

For example, lentil producers in Nepal—which is already experiencing higher mean temperatures as a result of climate change—can use the model to identify which lines will produce high yields if they’re grown at higher altitudes.

Closer to home in Western Canada, the model could be used to predict which varieties should do well in what are currently considered to be marginal production areas.

The project also involved USask plant researchers Sandesh Neupane, Derek Wright, Crystal Chan, and Bert Vandenberg.

The next step is putting the new model to work in lentil breeding programs to identify the genes that are controlling lentil lines’ interactions with temperature and day length, said Bett.

Once breeders determine the genes involved, they can develop molecular markers that will enable breeders to pre-screen seeds. That way they’ll know how crosses between different lentil varieties are likely to perform in different production locations.


Efficient cropping project furthers global food security


More information:
Derek M. Wright et al, Understanding photothermal interactions will help expand production range and increase genetic diversity of lentil