By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Berber Jin, Jack Witzig · BUSINESS
Jeff Bezos’s net worth has smashed through its previous peak, even after he relinquished a quarter of his stake in Amazon.com Inc. as part of a divorce settlement last year.
Shares of the Seattle-based retailer surged 4.4% to a record $2,878.70 Wednesday, boosting the founder’s world-leading fortune to $171.6 billion. That tops his previous high of $167.7 billion, set on Sept. 4, 2018, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
His gains — $56.7 billion this year alone — underscore a widening wealth gap in the U.S. during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Initial public offerings and buoyant equity markets have bolstered mega-fortunes, even as tens of millions of people have lost their jobs. This week, after receiving complaints about ending pandemic hazard pay, Amazon said it would spend about $500 million to give one-time $500 bonuses to most front-line workers.
The company declined to comment on its founder’s wealth.
Amazon has been on a tear, with the pandemic accelerating the consumer shift to e-commerce from brick-and-mortar retail. Bezos owns 11% of the stock, which comprises the bulk of his fortune.
Most of those with the biggest wealth gains also hail from the tech sector. They include Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk, who added $25.8 billion to his fortune since Jan. 1, and Zoom Video Communications Inc. founder Eric Yuan, whose wealth has almost quadrupled to $13.1 billion.
Mackenzie Bezos, who acquired a 4% stake in Amazon after the couple split, has a net worth of $56.9 billion and climbed to No. 12 in Bloomberg’s ranking. She recently leapfrogged Alice Walton and Julia Flesher Koch to become the world’s second-wealthiest woman, and now trails only L’Oreal heiress Francoise Bettencourt Meyers.
Not every billionaire has come out ahead this year. Spain’s Amancio Ortega, the titan behind the Zara fast-fashion brand, has lost $19.2 billion, the most of anyone on the Bloomberg index. Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Chairman Warren Buffett has dropped $19 billion and French luxury-goods tycoon Bernard Arnault is down $17.6 billion.
But most have weathered the downturn. The collective net worth of the world’s 500 richest people now stands at $5.93 trillion, compared with $5.91 trillion at the beginning of the year.
By Special To The Washington Post · Christie Aschwanden
With the Fourth of July just around the corner and many states and communities relaxing coronavirus restrictions, the warm sunny weather beckons. But infectious-disease experts warn that the virus remains a threat as we return to travel, swimming, barbecues, ice cream shops and restaurants.
So what do we need to know about the new coronavirus and covid-19, the disease it causes, that is important as we embark on summer activities? To start with, while some people had hoped that summer might bring a drop in covid-19 cases, in much the same way that influenza fades during warmer months, “many researchers have their doubts that the covid-19 pandemic will enter a needed summertime lull,” Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, recently wrote in a blog post. Instead, “humans’ current lack of immunity to SARS-CoV-2 – not the weather – will likely be a primary factor driving the continued, rapid spread of the novel coronavirus this summer and into the fall.”
Even if the covid-19 virus is as sensitive to climate as other seasonal viruses, Collins wrote, that wouldn’t be enough to slow its spread through the population right now – as evidenced by its rapid spread across such tropical nations like Brazil and Ecuador.
Still, summer does open up more opportunities for outdoor activities, which all agree are far safer than indoor ones. “We have very little evidence of outdoor transmission. It’s not zero – there are definitely cases reported – but it’s much, much lower than inside,” says Gretchen Snoeyenbos Newman, an infectious-disease physician at the University of Washington.
Of course, we can’t be outside all the time. When escaping the summer heat and mugginess indoors, try for as much ventilation as possible, and continue to observe safe behaviors: Wear a mask, keep interactions brief and make sure you’re not too close to other people, says Bhadelia Nahid, an infectious-diseases physician and the medical director of Special Pathogens Unit at Boston Medical Center.
A case study of indoor coronavirus transmission at an air-conditioned restaurant in China found that even people seated at a different table from the infected person were infected if they sat downstream from where the air conditioning was blowing. Tables in the restaurant were about one meter, or 3.3 feet, apart and the study’s authors hypothesize that strong airflow from the air conditioner may have spread respiratory droplets carrying the virus.
“To prevent the spread of the virus in restaurants, we recommend increasing the distance between tables and improving ventilation,” they wrote.
The basics of coronavirus spread haven’t changed now that it’s summer: Coming into close contact with infected people who have coughed, sneezed or breathed heavily or talked near you poses the greatest risk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The risk of catching the virus from close contact is much higher than from touching shared surfaces, it says. What makes this tricky is that “there’s a lot of data to show that even if you don’t have symptoms, you can still pass the virus,” says Marilyn Roberts, a microbiologist in the School of Public Health at the University of Washington.
With this in mind, here is some guidance from health experts for common summer situations and activities.
– Public restrooms. “Public restrooms are already gross,” Snoeyenbos Newman says. To make matters worse, they’re often poorly ventilated. Public toilets “have always been places where illness has been spread, so what I’m going to tell you – you should consider doing for the rest of time.”
First, wear a mask and clean your hands before you go in, she says. Once in the restroom, do your business, and before you flush, close the lid (if there is one). The coronavirus has been found in feces, and although it’s not clear yet whether it spreads this way, a new study suggests that “plumes” from the toilet when flushed may spread the virus.
When you’re done in the stall wash your hands with soap and water and dry them with whatever is available. Some studies have suggested that air dryers could potentially blow pathogens around the room, but it’s not clear that this is a source of covid-19 spread. “I would preferentially use a paper towel, but the air dryers aren’t enough of a worry to not use them,” Snoeyenbos Newman says. Don’t touch your phone or your face while you’re in the restroom, and as soon as you’re out, clean your hands again with a sanitizer, to make sure you didn’t pick up anything from the door. Do all of this, and you should be fine, Snoeyenbos Newman says.
As with other indoor space, don’t go into a crowded restroom, and if it’s a place that might be busy, look for some kind of monitoring to control crowding.
– Restaurants. The risk at restaurants is from other people, not food, says Donald Schaffner, a food microbiologist at Rutgers University. To date, there’s no evidence that anyone has contracted the coronavirus via food, he says.
If you’re going to eat out, takeout poses the lowest risk. Dining at a restaurant is far riskier, because it puts you in proximity to other people. Your server and other employees should be wearing masks, and ideally so should patrons when they’re not eating, Schaffner says.
Eating outside is your best option, as it allows for natural ventilation and may give you more space for social distancing, says Saskia Popescu, an infection-prevention epidemiologist at George Mason University. Even outside, it’s important that there’s plenty of space between tables and room for servers to move between them without getting too close. Time spent in proximity to others is part of the risk equation, so you don’t want to linger too long after your meal.
– Bike paths and other outdoor exercise spots. There’s been a lot of talk on social media and neighborhood message boards about the risk posed by people who exercise – breathing heavily – without a mask. But infectious-disease experts say that if you are outside and keeping a proper distance, the risk here is actually pretty low.
Although a European experiment that went viral earlier this year suggested that people who are walking, running or biking could spread droplets farther than six feet, the research wasn’t peer reviewed or published in a journal, and was widely criticized by public health experts for failing to understand transmissibility. Basically, outdoors in a non-crowded environment you’re unlikely to get a “minimum infectious dose,” Columbia University virologist Angela Rasmussen told Vox.
Even if they’re not wearing a mask, your exposure to people running or biking by you is very brief, and that reduces the risk, Popescu says.
– Farmers markets. Best practices here comes down to some basic principles: Everyone should be wearing masks, and the arrangements of booths and lines should ensure adequate social distancing, Schaffner says. “I’d look for some kind of crowd control.” There should be an orderly flow where you come in here and walk in a one-way pattern and exit there, he says.
The risk of picking up the coronavirus from fresh produce is minimal, Schaffner says. “As far as we know, there are no documented cases of transmission from food.” Even so, it’s worth it for things to be arranged so that the vendor handles the produce wearing gloves and patrons don’t touch the food until it’s purchased. “Do you want someone picking up five apples to find the perfect one? Probably not,” Schaffner says. In any case, wash your stuff when you get it home, as you should do even when not in a pandemic.
– Road trips with someone outside your household. A car is a confined space, and if you’re on a road trip, you’re probably sharing that space for multiple hours, which makes it a high-risk activity, Nahid says. You can reduce the risk by opening the windows, wearing masks and spacing yourself apart if you can (if you’ve got two people in the car have one of them ride in the back seat, on the passenger side), she says. But if you or someone you live with is in a high-risk category, you should probably drive separately when traveling with a non-household member.
– Hotels and other lodging. Hotels, Airbnbs and other similar rental lodging should be considered a moderate risk, Nahid says. As long as the linens are clean and the surfaces have been disinfected, you’re very unlikely to catch the coronavirus in your room. It’s the interactions with other people that pose the risk. “You’re leaving home and have the potential to run into other people,” she says. It’s these interactions with other people, particularly if they have come from areas where coronavirus rates are high, that pose your greatest risk at hotels.
Experts advise you to call ahead and ask what measures are in place to ready the room or rental place and how long it’s been since the last guest. Ask for a room that nobody has stayed in recently – one study found that under laboratory conditions the virus could last a maximum of 72 hours on a surface, Snoeyenbos Newman said. “If the time is less than that, I would consider wiping down hard surfaces like remotes, light switches, faucets, etc., There aren’t major concerns about linens or bedding,” she said. The Environmental Protection Agency keeps a list of disinfecting products suitable to use against the coronavirus.
Find out how hotels are monitoring employees for the coronavirus – ideally there should be daily temperature checks, and any employee not feeling well should not come to work or should be sent home right away. And, of course, make sure that employees will be wearing masks.
As for your behavior in hotels, avoid common areas – don’t congregate in the lobby or other shared spaces – and wash your hands after touching things in the check-in area.
And again, when you get back to your room, wash your hands and wipe down high-touch surfaces. Snoeyenbos Newman says.
– Barbecues. Barbecues can be a pretty high-risk activity, experts said, because they usually consist of people milling around the grill – and the chips and drink area – and socializing in close contact, Snoeyenbos Newman says. It’s hard to wear a mask in this situation, because people are eating and drinking. And people typically drink alcohol at a barbecue, which often further increases the risk.
“Most people, when they drink, tend to stand closer and talk louder, and both of those things increase the risk of transmission,” Snoeyenbos Newman says. Alcohol also decreases inhibition and so good intentions about social distancing can get pushed aside. If there’s going to be drinking, “you need to be really honest about how much you’re going to drink and how that will affect your group dynamic.”
If you’re going to host a Fourth of July barbecue, you should have some kind of stringent plan in place for ensuring that people don’t get too close (or too drunk). One way is to keep it small with widely spread out chairs and tables and assign people places to sit and hang out. Avoid shared utensils, and don’t have communal dip, but remember that your biggest risk is the person next to you, not the food, Schaffner says.
– Camping. If you’re camping with people you live with, you’re basically just taking your house to a different place, and that’s fine, Snoeyenbos Newman says. Most campsites provide a good buffer between you and other camping groups, and that’s also good, she says. If you’re camping together with other people, you want to make sure to keep the six-foot distance rule. That means separate tents and some plans on how you’ll enforce social distancing, especially for circumstances like eating or sitting around the campfire where it’s easy to slip. As for using public bathrooms at camp grounds, see above.
– Swimming (pools, lakes, oceans). There’s no evidence to suggest that the coronavirus is transmitted through water, so the danger from swimming, whether it’s a pool, lake or beach, is from interacting with other people outside of the water, Popescu says.
Locker rooms and indoor showers are close, confined spaces that are best avoided.
Ideally, pools and public beaches should provide some kind of crowd control to help people stay six-feet apart, whether in the pool, on the beach or sitting along the edge of the water (except for household members, who can be together). This might mean having sign-ups for a pool to limit the number of people using the space at one time, or it could mean marking off poolside or beach spaces where people lay down their towel and lounge about when they’re not in the water.
– Playgrounds. Playgrounds are a situation where there’s not much consensus on what to do, Snoeyenbos Newman says. One issue here, she says, is that a child with the coronavirus touches the monkey bars and then your child touches the monkey bars and then his face. “Kids are really just not reliable about not touching their faces,” she says, which is why in many areas where the pandemic has been severe, playgrounds have been closed.
Still, the biggest risk is probably interactions with other children or adults at the playground, which you’ll want to limit. The CDC and other public health groups have now said it’s unlikely – but not impossible – to get infected with the coronavirus from contaminated surfaces, Roberts says. Which means that the risk from your child touching the playground equipment is probably fairly low, though not zero. This is really an individual decision, Roberts says. If you allow your child to go to the playground, she advises you to monitor what they do and make sure you’ve got wipes and a means to wash their hands afterward.
– Recreational games. Whether you’re playing tennis, pickle ball or bocce ball, the things to think about are keeping your social distance and avoiding a lot of touching shared objects, Nahid says. Keep some sanitizer nearby to keep hands clean, and use your own equipment, rather than sharing. As long as you can do that, it’s probably low risk. Stick to games where players can be spaced six-feet apart, and avoid such games as volleyball or basketball where players come into close contact and everyone is using the same ball (and potentially breathing all over it.)
– Ice cream shops. There is evidence that the coronavirus survives better in low temperatures, so theoretically it’s possible that if someone with covid exhales into the freezer case you could be exposed via the ice cream, but to get infected you’d have to stick it up your nose very soon after, Schaffner says. Even if there was some exhaled virus on the ice cream, “it’s gross to think about, but there’s no evidence that it spreads that way,” he says. The single biggest risk – again – is going to be other people in the store. The clerk should be wearing a mask, and you need keep your distance from other patrons.
Christie Aschwanden is the author of “Good to Go: What the Athlete in All of Us Can Learn From the Strange Science of Recovery” and a co-host of the podcast Emerging Form.
Jun 19. 2020An employee checks the temperature of a customer at the reception counter of Tsuki no Yu in Tokyo. MUST CREDIT: Japan News-Yomiuri photo
By Syndication The Washington Post, The Japan News-Yomiuri · Saki Sakamoto
TOKYO — The coronavirus epidemic has plunged Japan’s public bathhouses into a serious situation.
In Tokyo, public bathhouses continued to operate during the state of emergency as they were regarded as a “lifeline” from the viewpoint of maintaining livelihoods. However, the number of public bath users fell amid calls to avoid the so-called “Three Cs” – closed spaces, crowded places and close-contact settings – and some public bathhouses have decided to close down.
Some public bathhouses, known as sento in Japanese, had looked forward to promoting “sento culture” to the world on the occasion of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, but the future of such a movement is now bleak.
Tsuki no Yu, a public bath in the capital’s Kita Ward, had 50 to 60 customers a day before the outbreak, but the number of users has recently dropped by about 10%.
The bathhouse continues to run but it’s in the red. “I pride myself on being a lifeline for neighbors,” said Tsuki no Yu President Ichiro Fukushima, 48. “I can’t take holidays.”
The appealing point of Fukushima’s bathhouse is the good quality underground water that is boiled for use in the bath. Another key feature at the bathhouse is a service to wash customers’ backs, a service that has now become rare.
“[Tsuki no Yu] helps me a lot because I don’t have a bath at home,” said regular user Hisako Saito, 70. “My friends gather here and it’s a fun place to exchange information.”
Fukushima is determined to keep his bathhouse. “I don’t want to give up this place of relaxation and refreshment,” he said. But he is worried that customers will lose interest in his establishment amid increased concern about sanitation due to the pandemic.
Earlier this month, the bathhouse began using a noncontact thermometer to measure customers’ temperatures. A transparent acrylic barrier has been set up across the reception counter and face shields are prepared. The dressing rooms have been thoroughly disinfected with alcohol and are well-ventilated.
“With apologies to my customers, I ask them to refrain from talking as much as possible,” Fukushima said.
Meanwhile, Ichi no Yu, a public bathhouse in Adachi Ward, Tokyo, quietly closed down at the end of May. “The novel coronavirus may have pushed me [to make the decision],” said Nobuyuki Saigan, 51, who ran the facility.
The bathhouse was opened in the booming decade of the Showa 30s (1955-1964), after Saigan’s grandfather moved to Tokyo from Ishikawa Prefecture. Traditional Mt. Fuji paintings on the walls and firewood-heated water reputed to have a “comfortable texture” had been loved by people in the community for about 60 years. Before the coronavirus, as many as 100 customers immersed themselves every day.
However, Saigan’s business had seen tough times due to such factors as a rise in fuel costs, and the pandemic worsened the situation. Since March, the number of daily visitors had dropped to about 30, and Saigan decided to shut down.
“I have no one to succeed me in my business. I have no leeway to continue the business with new capital investment,” Saigan said bitterly.
Jun 18. 2020The families of Matt and Liz Peters stand at the U.S.-Canada border to celebrate the couple’s marriage. MUST CREDIT: Photo courtesy of Ron Peters Photography Photo by: Photo courtesy of Ron Peters Photography — Photo courtesy of Ron Peters Photography
By Special to The Washington Post · Sydney Page · FEATURES
Nick Smith and Leah Bosello were desperate to see each other.
Ever since the border between the United States and Canada closed to nonessential travel in mid-March because of the novel coronavirus, cross-border couples like them were blocked from being together.
So the pair found a workaround: They started meeting at a ditch just off 0 Avenue, a heavily patrolled road in British Columbia that divides the two countries.
Ryan Hamilton and Savannah Koop canceled their May wedding because of the pandemic. Once Peace Arch Park reopened, they decided to get married there in a small ceremony. MUST CREDIT: Photo courtesy of Jordana Krahn
They would talk from several feet apart – Smith, 27, firmly planted on the U.S. side in Washington state and Bosello, 31, on the Canadian side. Border officers eavesdropped, and trucks sped by, drowning out their already muffled conversations, they said.
Other couples and families started showing up at the 0 Avenue ditch, too. For months, it was a strange and dusty meetup spot where couples would go to see each other and would often notice others doing the same.
Meeting this way was painful, Bosello said, “but it was still better than nothing.”
As the weather warmed and shutdowns lifted, a superior reunion spot emerged in mid-May: Peace Arch Park. There, cross-national couples and families could actually embrace – at long last.
The recently reopened park is situated between Blaine, Wash., and Surrey, B.C.
“When I finally hugged him again, it felt like it was the first time I ever did,” Bosello said.
In fact, the couple, who has been together for five years, was so ecstatic to reunite, they took a huge relationship leap. On June 6, they gathered a small group of family and friends and got married.
“Being separated made us realize what’s truly important to us,” Smith said. “The circumstances we found ourselves in really highlighted that we wanted to make it official.”
The couple ordered silicone rings online to use as temporary wedding bands, and Bosello wore a navy dress she had ordered for a friend’s wedding – paired with sneakers.
“It was all very casual and improvised,” Bosello said. “But it was such a wonderful day, and so nice to just turn off everything else going on in the world.”
The couple, who meet at the park daily, is hoping their marriage will speed up the process of Smith becoming a permanent Canadian resident, for which he submitted an application nearly two years ago.
Smith is originally from Beltsville, Md., and was serving in the military in South Korea when he met Bosello, who was temporarily working abroad as a teacher.
Bosello moved home to Canada three weeks after the couple hit it off at a bar in Seoul, and they’ve been in a long-distance relationship ever since. She stayed in Vancouver while Smith moved to Seattle and finally to Blaine.
The couple would see each other regularly because the drive between their respective homes is only about 40 minutes.
“For a while, the distance was very manageable,” Bosello said. “Then the pandemic hit.”
They are not the only couple who had the idea to tie the knot at the border.
Before the park reopened, Liz Peters’ parents drove seven hours from Portland, Oregon, to celebrate her wedding along 0 Avenue, while still standing on American soil. The couple married nearby and met her parents right after to celebrate because they couldn’t be at the ceremony.
“I’m very close with my parents and could never imagine them not being there on my wedding day,” said Peters, 27, who lives in Abbotsford, B.C.
But as word started getting out about the lucky loophole at Peace Arch Park, lovesick Americans and Canadians began showing up there to be together.
The day after Smith and Bosello tied the knot, Ryan Hamilton, 26, and Savannah Koop, 25, did, too.
Koop, a Canadian, and her American husband also met regularly along 0 Avenue before the park reopened, each with their own coffee and snacks, for weekly date nights.
“It was so hard to be so close yet so far,” Koop said.
When the couple heard the park reopened, they also decided to make their love official in the only place they could be together, after their original wedding was canceled because of the pandemic.
This spontaneous ceremony, they said, was even more special after their time apart.
The park is considered equal parts American and Canadian – a shared territory for citizens of both countries to visit. The southern half is owned by Washington State Parks, while the northern half is owned by British Columbia Provincial Parks.
Entryways from both the American and Canadian sides are patrolled, and the park itself is surveilled to ensure no one exits the wrong side. But as long as visitors stay within the 42-acre area, they are permitted to roam freely throughout the grounds. According to the park’s website, it is a space that is “devoted to peace and serenity.”
Chelsea Horner, 30, who is in the midst of an American immigration process, took a ferry with her two kids from Canada to meet her husband, who is based on Whidbey Island, Wash.
“Anything is worth it to be able to see the person you love and unite your family,” she said.
The couple, who normally commute back and forth, have plans to meet at the park again for Father’s Day this weekend.
In addition to couples, it’s been an important meeting spot for other loved ones.
Kylie Hults, 34, visits with her parents at the park. She drives two hours from Brenton, Wash., while her folks travel 10 minutes from the Canadian border.
Hults, who is an only child, said this time together has been very important for her parents during the pandemic.
For them, and many others, Peace Arch Park is “the happiest place on earth.”
“It is the Disneyland of the Pacific Northwest,” said Erik Buddingh, 33.
The Canadian man ventured to the park to reunite with his American girlfriend, who flew from Indiana to Seattle and then drove to the border for a few stolen hours with him.
“The park is filled with grandparents meeting their grandchildren for the first time, families reuniting after being divided by the border closure, couples coming together and even old friends meeting just to catch up,” Buddingh said.
Time apart from his long-distance love has taught him to appreciate the little things, he said.
Above all, though, “this park shows that love knows no borders.”
Jun 17. 2020Eduardo Cojuangco speaks to reporters after being re-elected as chairman of San Miguel, the Philippines’ largest food and beverage business empirem in Manila on April 20, 2004. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Jose Reinares
By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Ian Sayson, Cecilia Yap · BUSINESS, WORLD, US-GLOBAL-MARKETS, ASIA-PACIFIC
San Miguel Chairman Eduardo Cojuangco, who many called “the Boss” and “Pac-Man” for his knack for acquiring businesses, has died at 85.
San Miguel President Ramon Ang, in a mobile-phone text message on Wednesday, said Cojuangco died Tuesday.
The former chairman and CEO helped expand San Miguel as the Philippines’ dominant beer and food company, then later helped with its diversification into energy and infrastructure that made it the country’s largest company by revenue. The executive led San Miguel twice, relinquishing the job once in the 1980s after going into exile in Australia in the late 1980s as an ally of Ferdinand Marcos. He returned to San Miguel in 1998.
“Cojuangco was a strong manager, but wasn’t rigid with his vision,” said Alex Pomento, who covered San Miguel and Cojuangco in the 25 years he was an equities analyst before joining SM Prime Holdings in 2014. “It would have been easier to just stay in food and drinks and tell shareholders the low returns are such because of the nature of the industry. Obviously, Cojuangco’s style is not just sitting down.”
Ang, who won the trust of Cojuangco in the early 1980s, has led the diversification of the century-old brewer since the late 2000s as Cojuangco took a back seat in overseeing the group’s expansion. In 2012, Cojuangco sold his remaining 14.7% stake in San Miguel to Ang and its majority shareholder Top Frontier Investment Holdings, raising 37 billion pesos ($737 million).
Eduardo Murphy Cojuangco Jr., known as “Danding,” was born in Manila on June 10, 1935, to a family that controlled business and politics in Tarlac province, north of the capital. He too sought office.
In 1965, while losing a bid for a congressional seat, he cemented his ties to Marcos, his party’s successful presidential candidate at the time, according to “Boss Danding,” a 2003 biography. Seven years later, he was part of the inner circle that helped Marcos plan the imposition of martial law, according to the book and other accounts.
“Cojuangco’s relationship with Marcos was like that of a son and father,” said Earl Parreno, author of the biography. “Cojuangco’s ties with Marcos were beneficial and opened opportunities.”
By the early 1980s, local media had nicknamed Cojuangco “Pac-Man” as he took over the country’s coconut industry, San Miguel and other companies. After Marcos was ousted by Corazon Aquino — a cousin of Cojuangco — the government seized San Miguel and other assets and alleged in court that Cojuangco acquired them by illegally using taxes collected from coconut farmers.
Cojuangco spent most of his exile in Australia, where he bred and raced horses. In 1992, three years after returning to the Philippines, he ran for president, placing third. In 1998, he backed Joseph Estrada’s successful presidential bid. Days after the inauguration, San Miguel’s mostly government-appointed board returned Cojuangco to the chairmanship even as the state continued to dispute his ownership in court.
“I will never deny that I was close to Marcos,” Cojuangco told reporters in 1998. “It is the connotation that a crony is a crook that hurts.”
Within months after retaking the chairman’s seat, he ended an almost 30-year venture with Nestle to help raise $1.3 billion. He started picking up local food and beverage companies, and bought a brewer and juice maker in Australia. He also acquired the local Coca-Cola franchise and Australia’s National Foods. In 2002, Cojuangco sold a 15% stake to a unit of Japan-based beer maker Kirin.
Cojuangco, along with Ang, began investing in the energy sector in 2008 and later added infrastructure, saying there was more growth potential there. To raise money and shift the company’s footprint toward the new businesses, San Miguel sold National Foods, the Coca-Cola franchise and its stake in Del Monte.
“There is no other person deserving of this opportunity to control a significant stake in the company that is close to my heart, than Ramon,” Cojuangco said in 2012 statement when he sold his stake in the Philippines’ largest company.
Shigeru Yokota and his wife, Sakie, give a lecture in Tsuruoka, Yamagata Prefecture, in June 2008. MUST CREDIT: Yomiuri Shimbun
By The Japan News-Yomiuri · No Author · NATIONAL, WORLD, OBITUARIES, ASIA-PACIFIC
Shigeru Yokota, father of Megumi Yokota, who was abducted by North Korea in 1977, died Friday. He was 87.
Since the formation in 1997 of the Association of the Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea, he has been at the forefront of efforts to rescue the abductees. As a symbol of the abductees’ families, he ardently appealed to public opinion and the Japanese government for a solution to the abduction issue for many years.
Megumi disappeared in Niigata in November 1977. At that time, she was 13 and in her first year of junior high school. Yokata then worked at the Bank of Japan’s Niigata branch office.
For years, there were no clues as to what had happened to her. However, in January 1997, the testimonies of North Korean defectors pointed to the strong possibility that she had been abducted and taken to North Korea, prompting her father to form the association with seven other families in March of that year. He served as its representative until 2007.
At the first Japan-North Korea summit in September 2002, then North Korean leader Kim Jong Il admitted to the abductions and announced the deaths of eight people, including Megumi, but Shigeru told a press conference, “The death of my daughter is unacceptable.”
To promote the rescue of the abductees, Shigeru has given more than 100 lectures a year with his wife, Sakie, now 84. He had visited all 47 prefectures in Japan and carried out signature-collecting campaigns on the streets.
In March 2014, a meeting with Megumi’s daughter, Kim Eun-gyong, was arranged in Mongolia. Shigeru also met his 10-month-old great-granddaughter. After that, his decline in physical strength became noticeable, and he had been hospitalized since April 2018.
“Both my husband and I have worked hard to reunite with Megumi, who was abducted by North Korea. But my husband has not been able to see her and reached the end of his rope. I am in a state of being unable to organize my feelings now,” Sakie said in a statement Friday.
Victorine Creavalle laughs as her relatives congratulate her on her 100th birthday Sunday, May 24, 2020. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Julie Zauzmer
By The Washington Post · Julie Zauzmer · FEATURES
Victorine Creavalle has a life full of birthdays.
The eight days that her children were born and the 22 birthdays of her grandchildren add up to a whole month of birthdays, to start. She has 51 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren, and she calls every one of them on their birthdays, too.
Add all the friends whose birthdays she has kept written in a tidy little book, and all the spouses of her children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and Creavalle has somebody to call and sing “Happy birthday” to almost every day of the year.
On Sunday, the woman of so many birthdays marked her own for the 100th time.
And many of her 83 descendants gathered on Zoom and in cars outside her Maryland home to wish a happy birthday to the woman who never forgets theirs.
“Lots of love and kisses, Mom.” “Happy birthday, Granny!” “Hi, Auntie Vicky! Happy birthday!” “Queen Victorine!” more than 45 participants on the Zoom call said, filling the video frames with all the names that Creavalle has responded to in her life.
Over and over, Creavalle responded: “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” And sometimes: “I love you. I love you.”
She wore a sparkly sash and a tiara that said “100,” and balloons bobbed behind her head. In the video feeds, she saw her family wearing birthday hats and T-shirts they had made with her face on them.
Outside the window of the Springdale home where Creavalle lives with her daughter, Joy Creavalle, even more relatives drove into their balloon-festooned cul-de-sac, honking their horns and pulling down their masks to eat candy bars – 100 Grands.
Thelma Anthony, a friend, lamented on the call that she could not be with Creavalle in person, as she had imagined she would be on the day she became a centenarian. “You are an awesome inspiration to all of us for something we could achieve: to be 100, live a good life and raise an awesome, beautiful family,” she said.
Creavalle raised her eight children in the South American country of Guyana, then watched as they moved one-by-one to the United States. In 1984, according to her daughter June Williams, Creavalle followed and settled in the Washington area, where Williams had moved to attend Howard University and several of her siblings had followed.
Today, Creavalle’s descendants live all over the world: many of them in Maryland and Virginia, but others in Canada, England and Vietnam.
Creavalle was a teacher and then an elementary school principal before retiring and moving to the United States, and she has spent a century emphasizing the importance of education to her descendants. She takes tremendous pride in their accomplishments: the dozens of college degrees and PhDs among her children and grandchildren, and the great-grandchildren currently in college and medical school.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, her family visited often, with five or six cars filling the cul-de-sac every weekend. Joy usually cooked for them, carrying on Creavalle’s tradition of making Guyanese specialties every day until she was 88 and baking bucketloads of pastries to give to friends and neighbors.
“If you ever went to her house, something had to be put in your hand before you left,” Williams recalled. “You don’t leave without a meal.”
Creavalle has enjoyed the closeness of her children in the Washington area, especially since her husband died more than 20 years ago.
She stopped walking at 95 and relies on a wheelchair now. Dementia has robbed her of much of her short-term memory, though not her favorite old stories.
She spends her time, many days, watching Steve Harvey and “Shark Tank” on television while sitting beside two blankets that Joy has inscribed with the names of all 83 descendants. (When a second great-great-granddaughter was born a few months ago, Joy found more room to squeeze in another name.)
A birthday during a pandemic meant the family could not have the huge celebration that it might have otherwise. The party for Creavalle’s 90th birthday drew more than 200 guests.
But when Joy brought out a sunflower cake, the dozens of well-wishers watching from their separate homes sang “Happy Birthday.”
Creavalle was, of course, the first to start singing.
By The Washington Post · Lisa Bonos · FEATURES, RELATIONSHIPS
Can’t stop fighting with your partner about whose turn it is to do the dishes? Looking at China’s uptick in divorces that followed their coronavirus-related lockdown and wondering if a similar trend in the United States might follow?
Well, here’s encouraging news for America’s sweethearts. A recent Monmouth University poll found that most people in relationships are satisfied with them, despite the expected stresses that might come from, say, working from home together, losing a job, managing kids at home or preventing your family from getting the virus.
“Relationships aren’t perfect – there are always some underlying issues,” said Gary Lewandowski, a psychology professor at Monmouth University who helped craft the survey questions. “But on average, the relationships we’re in are pretty good.”
Here are five takeaways from the survey, which was conducted April 30 to May 4, among a sample of 556 American adults in relationships.
1. About three-quarters of Americans with a romantic partner say their relationship has not fundamentally changed since the coronavirus outbreak.
When asked if their relationship had gotten better or worse since the pandemic began, 74% said it was about the same. Ten percent said it was a lot better and 7% said it was a little better. Only 4% said a little worse and 1% said a lot worse.
Weathering a pandemic adds stress, but Lewandwoski noted that when we’re stressed, “we turn to our partners,” who are generally ready, willing and able to be our support during difficult times. “A lot of people want more closeness in their relationship,” Lewandwoski added, highlighting a finding in earlier research. “Those people are getting what they wished for.”
2. Argument frequency and sex lives have changed for the better, but only slightly.
Less than 2 in 10 of those in relationships said they get into fewer arguments with their partner, while 1 in 10 said they get into more of them – and 7 in 10 said there has been no difference. And despite chatter that isolation leads to more opportunities for intimacy, only 9% said their sex life has improved. Still, even fewer – 5% – said it’s gotten worse, with 77% saying it is about the same.
3. About half expect their relationship will emerge stronger – and hardly any think it’ll be worse.
When looking toward the future, partnered Americans were even more enthusiastic about the strength of their relationships. A 51% majority said their relationships will get stronger by the time the outbreak is over and just 1% said their relationship will be worse. Another 46% said their relationship will not have changed at all.
Lewandowski noted it’s possible poll respondents were being hopelessly optimistic, but he emphasized that if a relationship has at least one partner who’s an optimist, the couple generally has higher relationship satisfaction. “Optimists handle life’s rough patches better, which is certainly helpful given the current situation,” Lewandowski said in a release announcing the poll results.
4. Married partners are more likely than unmarried ones to say their relationship has not changed.
About three-quarters of married couples said their relationship has not changed for better or worse since the coronavirus outbreak began, while just under two-thirds of unmarried couples said the same.
Among unmarried partners, 22% said their relationship has helped decrease their daily stress level, compared with 12% of married couples. Similar shares of each said they have increased levels of stress.
Lewandowski posited that the pandemic hasn’t changed married couples’ relationships drastically because they’re likely to have dealt with trying times – such as a job loss, severe illness or death of a loved one – before this moment. “They’ve traveled a lot of these paths before,” Lewandwoski said, “and have endured other stressors in their lives or relationships and have more refined strategies with how to cope with problems and stress.”
Younger people in relationships, those 18 to 34 years old, were more likely than older people to say the pandemic has affected their relationship. (Couples in that age group are more likely to be unmarried than those who are older.)
5. Most say their relationship isn’t adding to pandemic stress – but women are a little more affected than men.
A 59% majority said their relationship has had no impact on their daily stress level. But 29% of women said their relationship has added to their daily stress, while 23% of men said the same. The key factor for doing well during the pandemic, Lewandwoski said, is the strength of the relationship before the pandemic. “The couples who are already doing well are doing even better now,” he said.
“Overall, these results suggest that the global pandemic may not be as bad for relationships as many have feared,” Lewandowski said in the poll’s release. “Our relationships may become stronger and even more important than they already were.”
Mahanakhon Bangkok SkyBar, Thailand’s highest restaurant, has reopened with new social distancing measures that meet international safety standards.
Located on the 76th floor of King Power Mahanakhon, Mahanakhon Bangkok SkyBar is offering an all-day set menu, selected signature à la carte dishes and Café Gourmand from 11.30am to 8pm daily, with last orders at 7pm.
In operation is the “King Power Care Power”, an initiative prioritising the safety of customers and staff through practices that ensure a high level of hygiene throughout their experience within all King Power destinations.
At King Power Mahanakhon, new protocols include visitor registration at the building entrance, a temperature scan, and an X-ray scan for security.
Tables at Mahanakhon Bangkok SkyBar are separated to ensure more space between diners while hygienic measures also include sanitising and sealing all dining cutlery and equipment for each individual customer’s use. Visitors will be greeted and serviced by staff wearing a mask, gloves, and face shield at all times.
Dining tables, chairs, handrails, exposed surfaces, and all equipment used during service will be frequently sanitised while common areas, rest room facilities and floor surfaces will be disinfected before and after service. In addition to this, Mahanakhon Bangkok SkyBar is offering cashless payments as an option to avoid the use of cash.
Takeaway options are also available for pick-up at the lobby of King Power Mahanakhon.