Blog Archive


Pandemic derails Abe’s strategy to revive regional Japan with tourism

By Leika Kihara and Takahiko Wada

KYOTO, Japan (Reuters) – It’s peak summer holiday time in the ancient Japanese city of Kyoto, when throngs of international tourists would usually be flocking to its famous temples and spending up large in the city’s hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops.

Instead, streets are empty, shops are closed and hotels are struggling to survive as the coronavirus pandemic shuts off the supply of visitors and ravages the economy.

“This is far worse than during the Lehman crisis,” said an 80-year-old taxi driver, referring to the financial crash of 2008. “Some days I would earn just 2,000 yen ($20). I won’t make any money once I buy lunch and pay my gas bill.”

The plight of Kyoto and other cities in the western Kansai region has exposed the vulnerability of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s strategy that sought to revive local economies with an influx of

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Amy Seimetz and Kris Rey on friendship and filmmaking

Amy Seimetz with fellow filmmaker Kris Rey (on phone) who is a close friend. Their new movies, Seimetz's "She Dies Tomorrow" and Rey's "I Used To Go Here," are being released on digital platforms on the same day. <span class="copyright">(Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times)</span>
Amy Seimetz with fellow filmmaker Kris Rey (on phone) who is a close friend. Their new movies, Seimetz’s “She Dies Tomorrow” and Rey’s “I Used To Go Here,” are being released on digital platforms on the same day. (Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times)

It’s always nice when friends go through things at the same time. So it seemed when Amy Seimetz’s “She Dies Tomorrow” and Kris Rey’s “I Used To Go Here” were each scheduled to premiere at the South By Southwest Film Festival in March. Then the event was cancelled and both filmmakers found themselves in post-COVID limbo. Now, their films are, coincidentally, getting a VOD release on Aug 7 from separate distributors.

The two women are longtime figures in the independent film scene and festival circuit. Already established as an actress and producer, Seimetz directed her first feature “Sun Don’t Shine” in 2012 and went on to write,

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They did it! Al Roker and 69 chefs set Guinness World Records title during Rokerthon

Another Rokerthon, another Guinness World Records title!

Al Roker enlisted the help of nearly 70 renowned chefs, including Bobby Flay, Priya Krishna, Sandra Lee, Marcus Samuelsson and Andrew Zimmern, to set a new Guinness World Records record Thursday for the most people in an online sandwich-making relay.

“The mark to beat was 50 participants,” Guinness adjudicator Michael Empric said while making the announcement. “Today, you have achieved 69. It’s a new Guinness World Records title!”

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The four-hour relay started with chef José Andrés building a sandwich in his kitchen while on vacation in Spain before he passed the baton to Marcus Samuelsson in Harlem, New York, for his crispy bird dog sandwich.

Of course, you can’t have a sandwich relay without a debate about whether a hot dog is a sandwich. Chef Elena Besser

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These online learning tips will help parents prepare for a successful school year, even if it is virtual.

Many of the nation’s largest school districts plan to begin the fall semester online-only. As schools consider reopening, children face a future in which online courses will probably be part of the curriculum. To make the best of this situation, here are some tips to help your child adapt to learning from home.

Studies show that in online learning, parents often take on the role of a teacher. Making school a priority will help keep kids from treating online learning as a vacation. 

Research suggests that some types of parental participation have a greater impact on children’s academic achievement than others. One analysis showed that schoolchildren benefit from discussions about learning and school-related issues with their parents and from joint readings. 

Reduce distractions

A report in 2016 found that students spent about one-fifth of class time on laptops, smartphones and tablets, knowing that doing so could harm their grades. They

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Did Vueling change my itinerary, or did my travel agent make a mistake?

Q: I recently flew from Florence to London on Vueling Airlines with three companions before the pandemic. We had booked the tickets through an online agency called

A Vueling agent denied us boarding, claiming that we were supposed to have been on a previous flight. But that was impossible. I was holding a valid itinerary from that showed we were on the next flight.

Instead of correcting this mix-up by simply placing us on the flight — there were plenty of available seats — Vueling charged us again for this flight. We had to pay $1,184 for the four of us, which also included transaction fees.

After we returned, our travel agency confirmed we had a valid travel itinerary and all contact information was correct. In many contacts with Vueling this past month, they claim we were notified of a change to our itinerary back in April.


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How Food Businesses Nationwide Are Responding

These are unprecedented times. It seems like the whole world has been brought to its knees, from the rapid and destructive spread of COVID-19 to the protests in response to police brutality and the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. The food industry isn’t exempt. So as things develop, we’ve asked people working in the food industry coast to coast to share what they’re seeing in their communities, how they’ve been affected, and how they’re responding.

Thursday, August 6

“The minute cold and flu season comes back, I’m ready to close down indoor dining again, if I have to.”

Laurel Beth Kratochvila, Fine Bagels, Berlin: My bakery and cafe is in Berlin and I feel pretty lucky about that. At the height of COVID-19, there was no indoor dining for almost two months. Still, the city allowed takeaway windows and delivery services to operate, so we

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Christopher Nolan’s ‘Tenet’ Lands September Debut in China

Chinese moviegoers are set for a Christopher Nolan bonanza on the big screen: his sci-fi epic “Tenet” will launch in Chinese theaters on Sept. 4, a week after an Aug. 28 re-release of “Inception.”

Meanwhile, the theatrical re-run of his 2014 “Interstellar” is blasting past competition at box office as the top film nationwide since it hit cinemas on Sunday, Aug. 2, bringing in $7.6 million so far in just five off days.

More from Variety

Three other major U.S. titles also announced China release dates Thursday. Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of “Little Women” will launch on Aug. 25. Disney and Pixar’s animated fantasy adventure “Onward” is now slated for Aug. 19, while Universal and Dreamworks’ family film “Trolls World Tour” is set for Aug. 21.

Neither of the latter had strong theatrical release elsewhere due to COVID, meaning that their China run will likely be their most significant globally. “Trolls”

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This little tree in Des Plaines is the center of a nationwide hyperpop pilgrimage for gecs love

A bright blue plastic recorder, dishwasher-friendly. A chipped faux-plaster relief of a winged cherub, forehead stuck with a Hatsune Miku pin. A single acrylic nail, pale pink and thumb-sized, wedged between the scales of a pinecone.

These are a few of the items you’ll find under the 1000 gecs tree, an otherwise nondescript evergreen perched on the perimeter of a sparse manufacturing campus in Des Plaines. Members of Gen Z have been traveling from far and wide to the tree over the past year with increasing frequency, a fanatic pilgrimage inspired by a recent experimental pop album.

Last May, musical duo 100 gecs released one of the most abrasive and entertaining albums of 2019 in “1000 gecs,” a 23-minute fever dream of neurotic synths, chipmunk-pitched vocals and unexpected dubstep. The year following saw the album cement itself as a hyperpop cult classic as it took flight among critics and TikTokers

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Who Else Remembers Tang Pie? The Retro Creamsicle Treat Made With Tang Orange Drink Mix

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Sometimes we wish we could go back to simpler times, when it was socially acceptable—nay, preferred—to start any dessert with a packet of gelatin or can of condensed milk. Vintage recipes like the weirdly popular Circus Peanut Jello Salad and impossibly indulgent Hello Dolly Bars were as simple and crowd-pleasing as it gets, calling for just a handful of ingredients—funky and otherwise—and rarely an oven.

Another retro dessert that certainly fits the funky bill: Tang pie, a creamy orange treat with a not-so-secret ingredient. Made with familiar items like Cool Whip, cream cheese, and condensed milk, the recipe gets its flavor from one oddball addition: Tang drink mix. It basically tastes like a pie version of a frozen Creamsicle, and we’re here for every cool and fluffy slice.

Some might remember a popular drink mix called Tang, which was invented in the late 1950s by food scientist William

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Why We Buy In to the Big Business of Sleep

In a small room without windows, I am instructed to breathe in sync with a colorful bar on a screen in front of me. Six counts in. Six counts out. Electrodes tie me to a machine whirring on the table. My hands and feet are bare, wiped clean and placed atop silver boards. My finger is pinched by an oximeter, my left arm squeezed by a blood-pressure cuff. Across from me, a woman with a high ponytail, scrublike attire and soft eyes smiles encouragingly. She is not a doctor, and this is not a lab. The air smells like lavender and another fruity scent I later learn is cassis. My chair is made of woven reeds, topped with a thick cushion and a pillow for lumbar support. The windowless room feels more cozy than claustrophobic; this is not torture but a luxury. I am, in fact, in a five-star resort

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