Biden promotes new COVID plan that includes free tests, travel rules


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WASHINGTON – Tighter travel rules, free at-home tests and booster shots are key elements of President Joe Biden’s latest strategy to combat the rapidly evolving coronavirus.

Biden said his plan to get through the winter months, which he promoted during a visit to the National Institutes of Health on Thursday, is one that “all Americans hopefully can rally around.”

“My plan I’m announcing today pulls no punches in the fight against COVID-19,” Biden said. “It’s a plan that I think should unite us.”

Biden emphasized that he was not expanding or adding vaccination requirements as the federal courts review his previously announced rules for health care workers and employees of larger companies.

He nodded briefly to efforts by some congressional Republicans to halt federal spending unless Biden repeals the vaccination requirements.

“Some of my friends on the other team are arguing that if I don’t commit that they’ll never be any more mandates, they’re gonna let us default” on the national debt, Biden said. “In the neighborhood I came from in Claymont they’d look at me and say, ‘Go figure.’”

The components of his plan, announced as people begin hunkering down for winter and gathering for the holidays, include:

  • Requiring travelers entering the country by air to test negative for the coronavirus within a day of departure, regardless of vaccination status or nationality, instead of within three days.
  • Extending through March 18 the requirement that masks be worn on airplanes, trains and public transportation.
  • Requiring private health insurance companies to cover 100% of the cost of at-home tests for the coronavirus.  Details, such as when this will start, must be worked out.
  • Launching a public education campaign to encourage 100 million adults to get boosters, with a special focus on seniors.

Biden’s plan  was released a day after the first confirmed case of the omicron variant in the USA was announced and as a poll shows rising frustration and waning optimism about the state of COVID-19 vaccinations.

More: As omicron fears grow, COVID-19 once again spoils Biden’s plan to push his legislative agenda

More than half of adults (58%) say they are “frustrated,” an increase from the 50% who said they felt that way as the initial vaccination effort began in January, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll released Thursday.

The share of the country that expresses optimism about the status of vaccinations has dropped from 66% to 48%.

The higher frustration and lower optimism are driven mostly by Republicans and, to a lesser extent, by independents.

Even before the omicron variant was confirmed Wednesday, the Biden administration had been working on a coronavirus mitigation strategy for the winter, when people will be indoors more often as well as traveling for the holidays. 

The latest variant, which started circulating as people are still getting infected by the delta variant, added to the urgency of the administration’s message that more people need to get vaccinated, including receiving a booster if eligible.

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“I keep coming back to that because that’s really the solution to this problem,” presidential health adviser Anthony Fauci said Wednesday after the first confirmed case of the omicron variant in the USA was announced.

The Minnesota Department of Health announced Thursday a resident who had traveled to New York City tested positive for the omicron variant.

Biden’s new strategy includes launching hundreds of one-stop-shop sites for entire families – children through grandparents – to get vaccinated or boosted.

Pharmacies will expand availability of appointments and walk-in vaccinations, spreading the word through text, calls and emails, according to the White House.

Medicare will contact 63 million seniors to encourage booster shots.

The government’s efforts will be boosted by AARP which will offer rides to booster clinics and hold town halls and other educational events.

Though nearly all Americans age 65 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine, less than half have gotten a booster, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Among all Americans, 70% have had at least one shot, and 21% have been boosted.

A federal appeals court paused Biden’s effort to increase vaccination rates by requiring workers at larger businesses to get vaccinated or be regularly tested.

President Biden: Omicron coronavirus variant ‘a cause for concern, not a cause for panic’

For the time being, the administration is “asking businesses to step forward and do what’s right to protect their workers and to protect their communities, which is to put in place some sort of vaccination requirement or testing requirement for the workplace,” according to a senior administration official who briefed reporters on the president’s strategy on condition of anonymity.

A majority of workers at larger businesses say their employer requires vaccination (36%) or say they want their employer to require it (17%), according to the Kaiser Family Foundation survey. 

The public overall is split on Biden’s vaccination requirement for workers. Slightly more say they support (52%) than oppose (45%) it.

The public is also divided over Biden’s handling of the pandemic: 44% approve, and 48% disapprove.

Maureen Groppe has covered Washington for nearly three decades and is a White House correspondent for USA TODAY. Follow her on Twitter @mgroppe.





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EU warns differing virus measures put free travel at risk


BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union warned member countries Thursday that they risk undermining the 27-nation bloc’s COVID-19 travel and…

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union warned member countries Thursday that they risk undermining the 27-nation bloc’s COVID-19 travel and access certificate system with new restrictions that some are putting in place to try to thwart a surge in cases.

EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said there is “an obvious risk that differing approaches between countries could endanger confidence in the COVID certificate system, and harm free movement in the Union,” The bloc relies on free movement of people and goods for business and travel to flourish.

The World Health Organization says coronavirus infections jumped 11% in Europe in the last week, the only region in the world where COVID-19 continues to rise. The WHO’s Europe director, Dr. Hans Kluge, warned that without urgent measures, the continent could see another 700,000 deaths by the spring.

Many countries have begun tightening rules on people who are not vaccinated to try to encourage them to get shots to better halt the spread of the virus. Austria even plans to make vaccines obligatory from next February.

As winter closes in and coronavirus restrictions are ramped up, tens of thousands of people have rallied around Europe in recent weeks in protest against the tightening of measures and against the requirement for COVID-19 certificates.

The EU’s COVID pass contains proof that the holder has either been vaccinated, has in the past recovered from the disease, or has recently tested negative.

But some German states are now demanding proof of vaccination and daily negative tests. From next month, Italy will require proof of vaccination or having recovered to access a host of free-time activities over the holiday season. Tests will no longer be enough.

“Holders of (an) EU certificate should, in principle, not be subject to additional restrictions, wherever they come from in the European Union. Restrictions such as additional tests or quarantine, for instance,” Reynders, the justice commissioner, told reporters.

The commission, the EU’s executive branch, says scientific evidence shows that vaccine immunity begins to diminish after about 6 months. But it’s recommending that certificates should continue to be accepted as valid for 9 months after the first shot.

Some countries want booster shots to be mandatory for the certificates to be valid. France, for example, wants to require them on certificates for people over 65, while neighboring Belgium does not think it’s necessary yet.

“The commission is not proposing any period of validity for boosters at the moment,” Reynders said.

___

Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

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© 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.



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Our hot tips to cut costs before the big chill, include don’t fix energy rates, free flu jabs and more


1. Martin’s warning: Energy firms are pushing you to fix… don’t. In fact DO NOTHING.

Over to our founder: “The energy market is in crisis, wholesale prices have exploded. Firms are being forced to sell energy substantially below its cost price, due to the energy price cap on standard variable tariffs. And I’m starting to hear that firms’ marketing departments are therefore kicking into gear to try to persuade people to take up other tariffs.

“Expect to get fancy letters extolling the virtues of fixing – tapping into switchers’ instincts as if these were normal times, when that was the right thing to do. No surprise, they are desperate to get people off the price cap. Yet as a consumer, fixing now is almost certainly NOT the right thing to do (I can’t say 100% without a crystal ball, but it’s my very strong suspicion).

“The cheapest fixes cost 30%+ more than the price cap – a huge premium, when you consider the price cap is in itself fixed until April. If you’re on it you’re essentially locked in at the cheaper price over the high-use winter period. So DO NOTHING, and if you’ve never switched, you’ll be on the price cap. If your fix is coming to an end, or your provider has gone bust, DO NOTHING and you’ll automatically be moved to the price cap.

“If you want to see the price differentiation for yourself, do a Cheap Energy Club comparison.”





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Ibotta free Thanksgiving dinner rebate back at Walmart stores, online


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Hoping to gobble up a free Thanksgiving turkey this year?

Giveaways will be in short supply this year as inflation pushes prices higher and supply chain bottlenecks make holiday staples harder to come by, in a year when more families are expected to host larger gatherings than last year.

But there is one way to get a steep discount on your bird and save on other holiday fixings. 

Ibotta is bringing back its “free Thanksgiving dinner” promotion for the second year and offering 100% cash back on 10 select items purchased at Walmart, the popular cashback app and rewards platform told USA TODAY exclusively. (Here’s a guide on how Ibotta works.)

►Save better, spend better:  Money tips and advice delivered right to your inbox. Sign up here

►Combat rising prices: Food prices and inflation keep going up but here are 3 tips to save on your groceries

Starting Monday, new and existing Ibotta users can shop for the rebate items, worth a combined $26.99, in Walmart stores and online for curbside pickup or delivery.

The offers include a free turkey, up to $15 (or $15 back on a turkey that costs more), mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, cranberry sauce, a two-liter bottle of Coca-Cola and corn muffin mix. (See full list below.)

The rebates will be available while supplies last or through Nov. 24.

Ibotta founder and CEO Bryan Leach said last year’s promotion fed more than 3 million Americans.

“This year, we’re upping the ante by adding even more quintessential Thanksgiving favorites to the list of eligible items,” Leach said in a statement. “This past year has been difficult for so many individuals and families, and our hope is to celebrate the spirit of the holiday season by giving a little something back.” 

Prices can vary by store, so it’s possible that the free items might not be 100% free after the rebates and could each cost a few cents. Or it’s possible, you wind up walking away making a few cents.

Ibotta also offered free school supplies in August.

Ibotta’s free Thanksgiving dinner

The following are the items in Ibotta’s promotion and the maximum rebate values:

  • Turkey (any brand), up to $15
  • McCormick Gravy, $1.12
  • Coca-Cola (2-liter bottle), $1.98
  • Campbell’s Mushroom Soup, $0.98
  • Birds Eye Vegetables (Green Beans), $1
  • Idahoan Potatoes, $1.88
  • Jiffy Corn muffin mix, honey, $0.67
  • Great Value Flavored Stuffing, $0.82
  • Great Value Cranberry Sauce, $1.28
  • Great Value French Fried Onions, $2.28

►Hate returns? Kohl’s feels your pain and is doing something about this ahead of the holiday season

►How to use Ibotta: Saving money is hard. How Ibotta makes it easier to get discounts and earn cash back on groceries, travel and more

How to get the free holiday meal at Walmart

To redeem the Ibotta’s “Free Thanksgiving Dinner” bundle – or select items in it – shoppers need to download the free Ibotta app or browser extension and add the items to their shopping lists through either platform.

Then, shop in-store at Walmart or purchase the items at Walmart.com to get 100% cash back deposited in your account. Once a user earns $20 in rebates through Ibotta, they can withdraw earnings through PayPal, depositing into your bank account or select a digital gift card.

Here’s how it works:

For Walmart in-store: Add the offers to your account on the app by clicking on a plus sign, and then buy the rebate items at Walmart stores. If you link your Walmart Pay account to Ibotta, you can earn the money back when you use Walmart Pay at checkout. You can also “redeem” the rebates in the app by scanning your receipt barcode. You’ll then earn cash back on qualifying purchases within 24 hours.

For Walmart online orders: When shopping the promotion with grocery pickup and delivery, make sure your Ibotta account is linked to Walmart. Then add offers to your account and checkout online. You’ll get cash back 24 hours after your order is picked up or delivered.

Shopping tip: Check to confirm you are purchasing the rebate items. In the app, you can scan the barcodes of your items to check and when using the browser extension, you can check your items with the offer details. 

Note: Ibotta says it does its best to “find the most accurate and common price of each item, but prices change and vary depending on location.”

►Advent calendars: Aldi reveals full list of 2021 Advent calendars with beer, wine, cheese, toys, candy and more

►Freebie alert: Taco Bell to give away free tacos Nov. 4 after Braves’ Ozzie Albies steals base in World Series

Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTykoFor shopping news, tips and deals, join us on our Shopping Ninjas Facebook group





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Duty Free Retailer Dufry Ups 2021 Targets on Travel Pickup | Investing News


(Reuters) – Swiss duty free retailer Dufry raised its 2021 savings target and free cash flow guidance for the second time this year, citing a recovery in travel from the pandemic-related slump, primarily in the Western hemisphere.

The retailer, which operates more than 2,300 shops at airports, on cruise liners, in seaports, and other tourist locations, is seeing signs of recovery after being severely hit over the last year and a half by the travel restrictions imposed to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

The group’s recovery has been specially driven by its main sector, The Americas, which made for 499 million Swiss francs ($543.16 million) of its 1.3 billion Swiss franc third quarter turnover.

“We have seen continued progress in the US and Central America including the Caribbean Islands,” Chief Executive Julian Diaz said in a statement.

The group now expects to achieve up to 1.87 billion Swiss francs ($2.04 billion) in savings in personnel and other expenses compared to pre-pandemic levels, up from 1.2 billion Swiss francs forecast in August, and above the 1.3 billion Swiss francs in savings recorded in 2020.

The Basel-based company also notched up its free cash flow targets for 2021, now expecting a monthly cash inflow of 13 million Swiss francs, while assuming turnover 40% below pre-pandemic levels in 2019, or a 13 million Swiss franc cash burn with turnover %55 below 2019 levels. It earlier had predicted to break even with turnover %40 down from 2019 and a cash burn of 30 million Swiss francs with turnover 55% below 2019 levels.

($1 = 0.9187 Swiss francs)

(Reporting by Aida Pelaez-Fernandez; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.



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How Long Does It Take To Earn a Free Trip?


We want to help you make more informed decisions. Some links on this page — clearly marked — may take you to a partner website and may result in us earning a referral commission. For more information, see How We Make Money.   Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for some American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Traveling for free definitely beats spending hundreds of dollars on flights and hotels. But how long does it take to earn a free trip with credit card points?

It depends on how much you spend and the card you use, says Mike Pearson, credit expert and founder of Credit Takeoff, a site that specializes in credit-building advice. It could take you years to earn a free flight with a straightforward 1% cash back credit card. However, some cards offer sign-up bonuses which can let you earn a free trip much faster, Pearson adds. With some of the more attractive welcome bonuses currently offered by major credit card issuers, you could earn a free trip in as little as three months. 

If you want to earn a trip with credit card points, you should do your research and be strategic about the card you choose. Here’s everything you need to know about booking a trip with points, plus some of our favorite high-earning credit card options. 

Planning Your Trip

When choosing a credit card that will earn you enough points to get a free trip, it’s important to be strategic and realistic about what rewards you’ll actually use. “Don’t get blinded by these initial offers if you’re not going to actually end up using them,” says Tori Dunlap, founder of Her First $100K and host of the Financial Feminist podcast. Instead, she says, you should figure out exactly what’s important to you. If you don’t plan to fly a lot, you might be better served using your credit card points for hotels, rental cars, or even special events and excursions instead of airline miles.

On the other hand, if you typically opt to book Airbnb rentals, a hotel loyalty card likely wouldn’t benefit you. In that case, Dunlap says, it’s probably a good idea to sign up for an airline credit card if you fly one airline all the time. You might get perks like free checked bags in addition to earning rewards. If you tend to fly different airlines, use a general travel rewards card with flexible redemption options. 

It’s a good idea to apply for a travel rewards card well in advance of your trip so you have time to earn the welcome bonus. And if you have any large purchases planned, putting them on your new credit card can help you earn points faster. 

Earning the Miles

With most rewards cards, you’ll earn at least 1 point per dollar for every purchase. But some categories may have higher rewards rates. For example, you could rack up points faster if you hold a card that earns double points on dining at restaurants. But that won’t be as lucrative as most welcome bonuses, which are “the quickest way to accumulate a lot of points quickly and upfront,” according to Pearson. 

Once you have enough points, you can either:

  • Redeem your points in cash to book a flight on any website
  • Use your points to book a flight directly through your credit card issuer’s travel portal
  • Transfer your points to airline partners to potentially get more value

“When you transfer points to an airline or hotel, you generally get more bang for your buck,” says Pearson. For example, based on what you’d pay in cash versus miles, we calculated that American Airlines AAdvantage miles are worth 1.4 cents each, United Airlines MileagePlus miles are worth 1.6 cents each, and Delta Airlines SkyMiles are worth 1.2 cents each. 

Booking Hotels

Hotel loyalty programs like Marriott Bonvoy, IHG Rewards, and Hilton Honors are free rewards programs you can use to get free or discounted hotel stays. You can earn points by staying at hotels or spending at partners — for example, you can earn Marriott Bonvoy points for eating at certain restaurants, and you’ll get Hilton Honors points if you link your Hilton account to your Lyft account and pay for rides. 

You can also transfer credit card points to certain hotel programs, but Dunlap says you should do your research to make sure you’re getting the best deal. When looking at hotel bookings, compare the cost of a stay in dollars to the cost of a stay in points. If you find you won’t get much value out of your points, you may want to save them for a different reward and pay for your hotel stay in cash. 

Pro Tip

Always compare the price of a trip in dollars to the value you get out of your credit card points.

You should also check to see if you’d get a better deal by booking through your credit card issuer’s travel portal. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® offer boosted value for your points when you use them to book travel directly through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. 

Which Cards Have the Highest Rewards Rates?

There are several credit cards that currently offer high rewards rates along with lucrative sign-up bonuses that can help you earn free travel faster. However, you should only apply for one of these cards if you can comfortably earn the sign-up bonus without overspending. Do the math to make sure you’ll earn enough rewards to offset the annual fee, and pay attention to any other credit card perks that may be important to you. 

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Now is a great time to sign up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, which is one of the best credit cards with an annual fee under $100. That’s because you can earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in your first three months. If you redeem those points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, they’ll be worth $750 towards travel. 

What’s more, you’ll get 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3X points on dining, 2X points on other travel and 1X points on other purchases. This card also comes with premium perks like 1:1 transfers, boosted points for spending at select partners, and no foreign transaction fees. 

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card comes with a 50,000 point sign-up bonus when you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first three months. That’s worth $750 when you use it to book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. You’ll earn 3X points on travel and dining worldwide, 10X points on Lyft rides, and have access to premium travel benefits like access to airport lounges.  

The card comes with a $550 annual fee, but you’ll also get a $300 annual travel credit and a credit for TSA PreCheck every four years, plus a limited-time free membership to Lyft, Peloton, and DoorDash DashPass, and up to $60 in DoorDash statement credits. If you’ll use these benefits and you can comfortably earn the sign-up bonus, this card may be worth it for you. 

American Express® Gold Card

If you dine out or shop for groceries frequently, the American Express Gold card could be the perfect travel rewards credit card for you. You’ll earn 60,000 bonus points if you spend $4,000 in purchases in the first three months, plus 4X points at restaurants and 4X points on up to $25,000 in grocery store purchases per year. 

In addition, you get 3X points for flights booked directly with airlines or American Express Travel. For a limited time, you’ll also get $120 in Uber Cash for dining or rides. When you consider that the annual fee is only $250, it’s easy to see the value in this card. 

  • Intro bonus:
  • Annual fee:

    $95

  • Regular APR:

    15.99% – 22.99% Variable

  • Recommended credit:

    670-850 (Good to Excellent)

  • Learn more externa link icon at our partner’s secure site.
  • Intro bonus:
  • Annual fee:

    $550

  • Regular APR:

    16.99%-23.99% Variable

  • Recommended credit:

    740-850 (Excellent)

  • Learn more externa link icon at our partner’s secure site.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card from American Express is a luxury card with a high $695 annual fee. But it comes with a ton of perks that make this card worth it for frequent travelers. You get a $200 hotel credit on prepaid hotels, a $200 airline travel credit for incidental travel fees for one selected airline, $200 in Uber Cash for rides or dining, a $240 digital entertainment credit, a credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, and more. 

You’ll also get 5X points on flights booked with airlines or American Express Travel, up to $500,000 per year, and 5X points on prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel. Because of the sheer number of perks this card offers, it’s relatively easy to offset the annual fee with rewards. You’ll even get access to 1,300 airport lounges worldwide to elevate your travel experience.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.

For rates and fees of American Express® Gold Card, please click here.



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‘In the sunshine, the free ferries over the IJ are a great tourist tip’


Tudor Lomas grew up in the UK and spent more than ten years in the Middle East before moving to Amsterdam with his family. The former BBC journalist and presenter now works as a media and development consultant. He has just released a book titled about surviving the lockdown, says he has become very Dutch and will only leave the Netherlands in a box.

How did you end up in the Netherlands?
We didn’t have a lot of choices in the end. My wife is Dutch, and she has a son who, back in 2009, was in his early teens. At that stage, we were living in Jordan. We had reached a point where we determined that this young man needed to come back to Europe. One afternoon, he rang us up and said, ‘We’re sending my friend’s driver over to collect my swimming trunks.’ It wasn’t the first time either. We realised it’s a different way of life over there. It’s great and you can enjoy it, but you shouldn’t get used to it at such a young age. That isn’t a normal or reasonable thing to do.

We were running a media development project based in Jordan and made the decision to return to Europe. We looked at the options. The UK, at that stage, was a possibility, but certain parts of it are very expensive. We looked at France, which was quite enticing, but the reality in the end was that Amsterdam is the best city in Europe, if not the world. So we decided to settle down in Amsterdam and get on with it.

How do you describe yourself – an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international?
I’ve thought about this quite carefully. I consider myself an international. One of the huge appeals of living in Amsterdam is that you can be an international person. One of the categories you don’t have listed though is European. I also consider myself a European, which is quite subversive for a Brit to say these days. I feel very much at home in Amsterdam and the Netherlands.

Part of me genuinely feels that Brexit was designed to screw my life up. We were living a life that was absolutely wonderful. We were spending part of the time in the UK, part of the time in the Middle East, and part of the time in Amsterdam. A lot of people talk about the Dutch being standoffish and distant and all the rest of it, but that’s not what we’ve found. We have wonderful friends here and a way of life among people who try to get on reasonably well with everyone.

How long do you plan to stay?
I think they’ll be able to take me out of here in a box eventually. This feels like where I belong, it’s very simple. You can argue that the food is better in France, that the views are better in Italy, and the alcohol is cheaper in Spain, but I just feel completely at home here.

We have no plans to leave. We still have plans to travel a lot, but we’ll always come back. We’ve got a lovely apartment, great neighbours, and a nice way of life.

Do you speak Dutch and how did you learn?
No I don’t and that was part of the deal at the beginning, quite amusingly. When we were looking into where to come, I agreed to come to the Netherlands on one condition: that I wouldn’t have to learn the language. With the work we were doing, my Arabic was at a reasonable level. My French is still sort of okay if I get it up to speed. I didn’t see Dutch as anything I would particularly want or need because the Netherlands was going to be a base for us.

The original plan was that the country wouldn’t be the core of our entire existence. We’d be travelling a lot and living in the Netherlands. I also used to get frustrated back then because the Dutch we encountered were less good at English than they kind of pretended to be. But now the Dutch have given me permanent residency, I feel the need to work at the language finally. The people I know kind of understand and say that the kind of conversations I would want to have in Dutch would require me to study the language for ten years.

What I have is a good defensive argument against learning Dutch. When I wasn’t here all the time, it didn’t make a lot of sense. Now I have been here all the time for the last 18 months, but I was writing a book and doing a bunch of other things. I’m coming to terms with whether or not I should be learning the language.

There is some guilt there, of course, but what do you do when you have limited amounts of time? I also have the real problem of, if I start speaking a bit of Dutch, people will reply to me in Dutch, or they won’t understand a word I’m saying. I think it’s better to be very straightforward and honest. I’ve been more focused on my Arabic and French.

What’s your favourite Dutch thing?
Polderen, because I think the Dutch have so much to teach to everybody. Polderen is about accepting the best deal for everybody and putting up with something that might not be perfect but it’s good enough. At the end of the day, that’s more important than self interest and grabbing your own success and your own victory.

I think the Dutch are very good about that. Look at what’s happened in Britain with Brexit and its impact over the past two or three years. I recently saw some figures that state that only 37% of the electorate voted in favour of it. That’s not much more than a third and they destroyed a country by doing it.

That couldn’t happen in the Netherlands or another country with proportional representation. Here there’s such a strong belief that we’re all in the same boat together. If the dikes start looking a little crumbly, we all go over there and we will all start digging. It doesn’t matter if you’re a king or god knows what, you make sure that things are safe for everybody. This is, by far, my favourite Dutch thing.

How Dutch have you become?
I think I’m very Dutch. One example is that I was utterly and strongly in favour of and defending the whole concept of an intelligent lockdown, even before it was voiced as such.

You give people the facts and you give them the information, accept that this information will keep evolving and changing, and keep informing them. Then you leave it up to them to make the right, sensible decisions for themselves while taking into consideration the safety and security of everybody else. That, to me, is an indication of how Dutch I’ve become.

The other side of it all is much more mundane. I don’t get too irritated when people answer the phone in precisely the same way. I’m supposed to say ‘met Tudor.’ I never say that. I typically say something different pretty much every time. We’ve never eaten a meal, day after day, at precisely 6 o’clock in the evening, although my wife has explained to me that this is done to keep families together. Everybody has a meal together, which I think is wonderful. That regimented side of the Dutch way of life doesn’t have a massive appeal for me, though.

We live in Amsterdam, so we can skirt around the regimented bit, but be understanding of it, because there are over 16 million people all living on a river estuary. You need a few rules to make things work one way or another. I think I’ve become very understanding and appreciative of the Dutch and very grateful to them for everything they are and have embraced me with.

Which three Dutch people (dead or alive) would you most like to meet?
Desiderius Erasmus.
He was a humanist even back in the 15th and 16th centuries. He saw that the whole business of dogma was no real answer to anything. You need to create a philosophical framework for individuals and give them freedom and decency and a way forward. He wrote a book titled In Praise of Folly and that seems to suit me quite well. We make mistakes, we’re human, and we do the best we can. He was a foundation figure in Dutch society. 

Baruch Spinoza. His wisdom on the Enlightenment was way ahead of his time. He refused to get dragged down by dogma at a time when there was a hell of a lot of intolerance around. He was an advocate of using your brain to open up ideas and encourage people to think and have confidence and be decent human beings.

Vincent Van Gogh. There was a dogma and a way of doing things in the art world that he blew apart. He put on the canvas what he saw. He had the confidence to trust himself and his own understanding of what was going on and conveyed something that was mind blowingly liberating for everybody.

What’s your top tourist tip?
Assuming there’s a tiny bit of sunshine around, I would tell them to take the ferries on the IJ. They’re free, and you can get on one over at Amsterdam Centraal. When you get off one, you can get on another, and just cruise around. They’ll take you up and down the IJ, and you’ll get to bump into Dutch people. Some of them are very busy but others will have time to have a little chat. You can get off the ferries, walk around, and you can begin to realise that Amsterdam is clearly a city where the water is absolutely central to what it’s all about. You’ll also get to see the film museum and NDSM, and it’s absolutely glorious.

Another idea is to walk around the islands nearby. There’s Prinseneiland, Realeniland, and others. You’ll find tiny little gardens that are open to the public. You can sit there, calm as can be, and right in the middle of a city. It’s a fantastic contrast from a busy city and the peace and tranquillity that you can find very easily here. It’s quite special.

Tell us something surprising you’ve found out about the Netherlands
It’s the second biggest agricultural exporter in the world. That’s absolutely mindblowing. It never even occurred to me that it might be. The United States is the biggest and the Netherlands is the second biggest.

If you had just 24 hours left in the Netherlands, what would you do?
Very calmly. I would sit in the window of our apartment for at least a quarter of that time, because we look down over the river and we can see straight toward Amsterdam Centraal. From around 11 in the morning to 3 or 4 in the afternoon, if the sun is shining it comes straight through the windows. We can sit there and sunbathe, which I did a lot of the time during the lockdown.

I would also spend some of that time just walking in our own little neighbourhood. We’re very lucky. People tell me it’s very, very unusual. We care about each other as a community here. Every few months, we have a little corridor party spontaneously. People make some food and we have drinks and chat. We know what each other is doing, but without being intrusive. It’s that wonderful balance between being supportive and giving people scope to do whatever they want and not feel in any way constrained. That, I think, is very special and quite un-Dutch, so we’ve been lucky with that.

With the other bit of time, I would drive up to Heerhugowaard where we have a little storage unit. It’s big sky country. It’s open and the light is different. It kind of shimmers. You realise how close the countryside is to the centre of Amsterdam. More than anything, I’d want to reconnect to the places here that mean a lot to me and I care about. We’ve also got a very nice pub here in the neighbourhood. I wouldn’t mind popping in there as well.

Tudor’s book, Just Drink the Bleach: Surviving One Year of Covid, Lockdown and FalseNews, is available via the Island Bookstore in Amsterdam.

Tudor was talking to Brandon Hartley

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Newsroom – American Airlines Takes TikTok to New Heights with Free Inflight Access for Customers


  • Only on American: Free access to TikTok
  • More than dance videos — customers can find travel inspiration, off-the-beaten-path locations, and travel tips

FORT WORTH, Texas — American Airlines, which has the fastest Wi-Fi on more aircraft than any other U.S. carrier, just added TikTok to its roster of free inflight offerings. Without having to purchase Wi-Fi, customers traveling on Viasat-equipped narrowbody aircraft can get 30-minutes of free access to TikTok, an entertainment platform powered by a global community of creatives. This is a promotional offering beginning Aug. 2, 2021.

“Faster Wi-Fi allows us to deliver diverse inflight entertainment options and invest in innovative partnerships with platforms like TikTok,” said Clarissa Sebastian, American’s Managing Director of Premium Customer Experience and Onboard Products. “Customers play the lead role in helping us better understand what content they want during their inflight experience and TikTok is one of the platforms they love on the ground, and we’re thrilled to work with Viasat to give customers free access to TikTok while they’re in the air as well.”

A beginner’s guide to TikTok on American

What is TikTok? Available as a mobile app and on a desktop, TikTok is on a mission to inspire creativity and bring joy through short-form videos. While a hit with GenZ thanks to its dance challenges and lip-sync videos, the platform has something for everyone — from tech-savvy teens to those who were born at a time when you only had landline phones at home.

How it works: Enable airplane mode and connect to the “AA-Inflight” signal. Once connected, customers will be redirected to aainflight.com, the Wi-Fi portal. Simply click on the TikTok ad for free access to the platform. Pro tip: If you are not a TikTok user, you can connect to aainflight.com while inflight and download the app without having to pay for Wi-Fi.

Once logged in to TikTok, customers can search for popular video creators, their favorite topics or even hashtags like #travel, #traveltips, or #traveltheworld to view related video content for travel and adventure enthusiasts.

When exploring TikTok, here’s what you’ll find:

  • Travel inspiration, off-the-beaten-path locations and travel tips
  • Animal and nature videos
  • Comedians and pop culture experts
  • Sports, classic car videos and car tips
  • Music and dance trends
  • Wellness tips and beauty tutorials
  • Career advice for summer internships, resume building and finance

Trials like this one and others that customers traveling on Viasat-equipped narrowbody flights have free access to, like Facebook Messenger and Messenger Kids, help American evaluate offerings to ensure the best experience for customers throughout their journey.

All Inflight entertainment is free

All inflight entertainment onboard American flights is free, including a library of more than 600 movies and TV shows and a collection of educational tools on American’s new Lifestyle inflight entertainment channel, featuring exclusive partners Rosetta Stone and Skillshare.

American works with its Employee Business Resource Groups — 20 groups made up of more than 26,000 American Airlines team members that represent different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences — to highlight movies that celebrate diversity across its inflight entertainment.

About American Airlines Group
American’s purpose is to care for people on life’s journey. Shares of American Airlines Group Inc. trade on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol AAL and the company’s stock is included in the S&P 500. Learn more about what’s happening at American by visiting news.aa.com and connect with American on Twitter @AmericanAir and at Facebook.com/AmericanAirlines.





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Quick Points: Unlock a year of free Lyft Pink and Grubhub+ with the Chase Sapphire Reserve






Quick Points: Unlock a year of free Lyft Pink and Grubhub+ with the Chase Sapphire Reserve – The Points Guy





















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Gov. Ducey to travel to DC for free market discussion | News


TUCSON (KVOA) – Gov. Doug Ducey will visit Washington D.C. Thursday to join a virtual panel discussion on Arizona’s fresh markets.

The  livestreamed panel “Happier and Healthier – Arizona’s Success With Free-Markets,” which is hosted by Cato Institute, will discuss first-in-the-nation telehealth reform, occupational licensure recognition and solutions to combat the opioid crisis, among several other public policy reforms.

Dr. Jeffery Singer, Cato senior fellow, will join Gov. Doug Ducey on the panel which will be moderated by Gene Healy, Cato senior vice president.

Register for the event at register.cato.org.

Watch the livestream at cato.org/live.



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