Monthly Archives: October 2022


Grappling With Travel to a State Whose Policies You Oppose

San Francisco couple Kemari Ombonga and Akosua Agyepong were weighing a classic decision: Should they stay, or should they go? Move home to Ombonga’s native North Carolina; to Texas, where Ombonga had family; or remain in California? Despite the pull of the past, the decision ultimately came down to each state’s politics, particularly around abortion control and gun regulations. Yes, California had a higher cost of living, but the more progressive state won their allegiance.카지노사이트

They also had similar conversations about where they wanted to travel following the fall of Roe v. Wade.

“It’s a bit tricky,” says Agyepong, who moved to the United States from Ghana last year. “It’s a layered decision, especially when it comes to [the question of] where do I want to travel to? Where do I want to live?” They found there were no simple answers to either question, with Ombonga noting that several states with the strictest abortion restrictions are in the South, where the largest African American population lives—a population that has historically been subjected to oppressive policies. While they said they didn’t want to move back, not traveling to see family—scattered across Louisiana, Texas, and Florida—wasn’t an option, either.

The two run Ashure Travel, a travel consulting and management company that helps businesses book flights. From a business standpoint, they decided to offer support to their employees who might need access to an abortion after the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

“What was a very easy decision was making sure that all the women in our organization felt like they had safe access to their medical care and felt supported,” Ombonga says. “And not just lip service, but financially as well.”

The more complex choice, he says, was communicating the business’s stance without alienating staff and potential clients with opposing views.

“That’s kind of been tough to reconcile. But at the same time, if we have to lose a few people or clients to stick to our values, I think that’s a small price to pay.”

The two say they’re no strangers to using travel as a force for change—Ombonga used to volunteer with Miles4Migrants, a nonprofit that books travel for people displaced due to war or conflict, and he has booked travel for clients in the path of hurricanes in his native North Carolina, to help get them out of harm’s way. That there could be a need to help book travel for people seeking abortions, he says, “doesn’t [feel] any different.”

The travel industry’s response to a changing policy landscape

After the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision in June, the right to have an abortion was left entirely up to the states. As of now, abortion is outlawed in more than a dozen states, several of which enacted so-called trigger laws to go into place when Roe fell. According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, 14 other states, plus American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands, are considered “hostile”—meaning these states have indicated they want to ban abortion.

The travel industry has largely stayed out of the political fray following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, with just a few airlines and travel companies like Airbnb publicly saying they supported reproductive rights. Seattle-based Alaska Airlines said it would continue to cover the costs for employees seeking reproductive care.

“Today’s Supreme Court decision does not change that,” the airline wrote to its employees in June.

Others have taken a more nonpartisan approach. Chicago-based United Airlines sent out a memo to its thousands of employees worldwide, calling the topic of abortion “an emotional one” and encouraging employees to be empathetic and respectful of one another when discussing the issue but otherwise did not take an official position. (Roe v. Wade is codified into law in Illinois, with Governor J. B. Pritzker saying in a statement in early May that “abortion will always be safe and legal here.”)

Individual travelers take a stand

The fall of Roe is just one of several examples of how a change in U.S. policies affects the daily lives of so many citizens and travelers, from abortion rights to gun control and LGBTQ+ issues. Travelers have ample places they can go to spend their vacation time and money. So, what happens when their personal politics conflict with the policies of a given destination? How are social issues affecting travelers’ choices about where to visit—and spend their hard-earned dollars—within the United States?

In the immediate aftermath of states enacting trigger bans, some travelers, like Twitter user Carolyn Higgins, who travels throughout the United States by RV, said they would boycott states with restrictive abortion laws on the books.

“No travel, no products from their key industries or largest employers. Who’s with me?” Higgins wrote in May.

The notion is that visiting a destination with policies one opposes demonstrates a degree of support for those policies. Others, like Twitter user Jonathan Field, say steering clear of small-scale cities and towns often punishes people and businesses that had no part in developing the laws in question. Field took issue with the term “boycott,” which he says was disrespectful to the “[people] that have to live in those places.”바카라사이트

How effective are travel boycotts?

While both Ombonga and Agyepong believe boycotts can be effective, grassroots work helping marginalized communities—such as going door-to-door and having conversations with people—can be just as successful, if not more so.

“Boycotting is definitely one of the tools in the toolbox,” Agyepong says, “but the question is, is it going to do what we need [it] to?”

There’s a long history of successful boycotts that have resulted in significant policy changes. The most well-known in the U.S. is, perhaps, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, during which people boycotted the transit system in Montgomery between 1955 and 1956 to protest racial segregation. While the social impact was clear, there was also a significant financial hit to the transit system: The strike, which lasted a little more than a year, cost the city an estimated $3,000 per day and resulted in up to 40,000 lost bus fares each day.

More recent forms of protest have included boycotting Trump hotels, forgoing travel to North Carolina over so-called bathroom bills that denied transgender people the right to use public restrooms that aligned with their gender identity, and to Georgia due to a voting law that required people voting by absentee ballot to show identification. An Associated Press analysis found that the bathroom bill would have caused North Carolina nearly $4 billion in lost business. (The bill was later repealed.)

Travel boycotts aren’t unique to the U.S.: After the gruesome murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi Arabia found itself shunned by Washington and Silicon Valley (though it’s worth noting that President Biden recently visited Jeddah and met with Mohammed bin Salman, whom the CIA has concluded ordered Khashoggi’s murder).

For Kristin Luna, a travel writer and photographer based in Nashville, the issue isn’t as clear-cut as simply boycotting a destination. Luna points to Kansas, where voters overwhelmingly rejected the state’s proposed amendment to ban all abortions. According to Luna, Kansas showed that what happens inside a statehouse doesn’t necessarily represent the feelings and positions of the people outside it.

“Having grown up in a more rural region, I see the impact of tourism and hospitality,” says Luna, who lives in the town where the Jack Daniels distillery is located. “It’s definitely a town where a lot of businesses wouldn’t survive [without tourism],” she says, “and having traveled so much, predominantly in the Southern states, I’ve seen a lot of small businesses who’ve been able to build a sustainable model because they have so many tourists coming in a year.”

Tourism is a $17 billion industry in Tennessee, where Luna lives, employing 150,000 people. She argues that politicians and corporations won’t feel the strain of a travel boycott, but small businesses still recovering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic certainly will.

Building bridges versus boycotts

The U.S. Travel Association, the nonprofit representing the interests of the U.S. travel industry, has a very clear position on travel boycotts.

“Sweeping out-of-state travel boycotts won’t change laws, but they can decimate communities that rely on visitors,” states Tori Emerson Barnes from the U.S. Travel Association. “Travel bans harm travel industry workers who do not make public policy decisions, ultimately hurting the very groups that ban advocates claim to support. The bottom line is travel is an activity that brings Americans together and should not be a tool that causes further division.”

Several states that enacted trigger bans rely on tourism to prop up their economies. Mississippi, for instance, generated more than $400 million in 2021 for the state’s general fund—money used for state operations and programs—from tourism. Travel jobs were the fourth largest in the state, according to the Mississippi Development Authority.

Rather than expressing displeasure with a destination’s policies by boycotting it, Luna suggests supporting the local people and businesses you feel your values are aligned with when you do visit.

“I feel like we’ve come to this point in society where people are being more mindful where their dollars go anyway,” she says. “Apply that same mindset to how you’re traveling.”

The choice to travel (or not to travel) to a U.S. destination where you may disagree with its policies and where you may not find support if you do need resources is, ultimately, a personal one. But some would argue that there’s also a case to be made for the role travel can play in bringing people together and in helping to build bridges of understanding—perhaps even more so amid divisive times.

“It is always important to continue to have conversations with people, for us to see both sides,” Agyepong says. “I think that is the only way that we can make progress.”온라인카지노


New UK finance minister Hunt scraps tax cuts, reins in energy support

LONDON -New finance minister Jeremy Hunt scrapped Prime Minister Liz Truss’ economic plan and scaled back her vast energy subsidy on Monday, launching one of the biggest U-turns in British fiscal policy to stem a dramatic loss of investor confidence.카지노사이트

Tasked with halting a bond market rout that has raged since the government announced huge unfunded tax cuts on Sept. 23, Hunt has now reversed all of the policies that helped Truss to become elected as prime minister just under six weeks ago.

Her spokesman denied that Hunt was now running the country after his new strategy, that will also include spending cuts, sent the pound soaring against the dollar and government bond prices to start to recover from a three-week pounding.

“I remain extremely confident about the UK’s long term economic prospects as we deliver our mission to go for growth,” Hunt said in a televised clip. “But growth requires confidence and stability, and the United Kingdom will always pay its way.”

Under the new plan, most of Truss’ 45 billion pounds of unfunded tax cuts will go and a two-year energy support scheme for households and businesses – expected to cost well over 100 billion pounds – will now only run until April.

After that the government will review the best way forward, to come up with a targeted scheme that will “cost the taxpayer significantly less than planned”.

Hunt said the planned tax cut changes would raise 32 billion pounds ($36 billion) every year. The pound soared by as much as 1.4% to a session high of $1.1332 after the statement.

Truss said she was now charting a new course for growth, but one that would protect stability. “We have taken action to chart a new course for growth that supports and delivers for people across the United Kingdom,” she said on Twitter.

Fighting for survival
The latest crisis to hit the British shores started on Sept. 23, when new prime minister Truss and her-then finance minister Kwasi Kwarteng announced 45 billion pounds of unfunded tax cuts to snap the economy out of years of stagnation.

But the response from bond investors who would fund the plan was so violently negative that borrowing costs surged and lenders pulled mortgage offers. Eventually the Bank of England had to step in to prevent pension funds from going under.

After reversing one tax cut, Truss fired her long-time friend Kwarteng on Friday and installed Hunt, the former health and foreign minister, to cut others.

Adding to the pressure, the Bank stuck to its schedule of ending its support on Friday, meaning Hunt had been racing to reverse policies and find spending cuts to appease the markets and prevent borrowing costs from rising further on Monday morning.

Despite Monday’s rally, the damage to gilts endures. The yield on the 10-year gilt is still some 46 basis points above its closing level on Sept. 22, the day before the “Growth Plan” shocked markets. While yields for comparable German and U.S. bonds have increased over the same period, the hit to British debt remains especially severe.

Truss’s spokesman was asked at a daily briefing how the prime minister could retain any credibility after she reversed course on the programme that secured her election by party members.바카라사이트

He said she was listening to the public, her colleagues and to the advice of the markets. “She is making the necessary difficult decisions to change our approach so we can provide the economic stability and maintain that stability of leadership which is important as well,” he said.

Her about-turn has angered those lawmakers who supported her, and further encouraged those who opposed her to try to find a way of getting her out of power.

The fourth British prime minister in six years, she was only formerly appointed to the role on Sept. 6.

Already a handful of her lawmakers have said she must go. Rachel Reeves, the finance spokesperson for the opposition Labour Party, said the Conservative government was no longer capable of providing stability.

“The Conservatives have lost all credibility,” she said.

While Hunt had been expected to reverse some of the tax cuts, the change to the energy support scheme came out of the blue.

Truss had announced a two-year subsidy scheme to support households and businesses through the period of surging energy prices, which would cost 60 billion pounds in six months alone. Hunt said on Monday that the scheme would now run until April, but become more targeted after that.

The new finance minister would still deliver a fuller medium-term fiscal plan as scheduled on Oct. 31, alongside forecasts from the independent Office for Budget Responsibility, the Treasury said.온라인카지노


John Oliver: local news crime coverage gives police ‘a huge lobbying platform’

John Oliver looked at how crime is covered by the news, particularly on the local level in the US. “TV news leans hard on ‘this could happen to you’ type of crime stories, which are designed to pull you in,” the Last Week Tonight host explained, which can stoke unfounded fear of crime, lead to misperceptions in the crime rate, and exacerbate inequities in the criminal justice system.카지노사이트

Oliver pointed to the recent example of rainbow fentanyl. According to many news outlets, the candy-colored narcotics have been designed to appeal to children during the month of Halloween.

“While the idea of rainbow fentanyl being made to target kids sounds very scary, experts on narcotics have pointed out that those pills are almost certainly colored just to differentiate products and it has nothing to do with marketing to kids at all, period, whatsoever,” said Oliver. “Which does make sense, doesn’t it? Because kids – and this is true – are not an ideal customer base for expensive street drugs.” said Oliver.

Oliver then pivoted to the development of the local crime beat – the “if it bleeds, it leads” mentality that really took root in the 1970s, when two local Philadelphia stations started the “eyewitness” and “action news” formats focused on crime news. Local news also started publishing mugshots; the New York Daily News still maintains online mugshot galleries such as “criminally bad hair day” and “babes behind bars” – “It’s fun because it’s their worst day,” Oliver deadpanned.

“The faces that get shown can compound existing inequities in our justice system,” Oliver said, noting a recent study in New York which found that while a quarter of the city’s population was Black, Black people made up over half of all arrests and 75% of criminals shown on the news.

News organizations frequently don’t report follow-ups or developments in the case, and stories often rely on a single source: police. “Police say” is a phrase “you constantly hear from the mouths of news reporters,” said Oliver. “It’s right up there with ‘this just in’ or ‘back to you’ or ‘I apologize for the accent I did on Cinco de Mayo.’

“There is obviously nothing wrong with calling the police to ask questions,” said Oliver. “When you’re working on a deadline, you can’t always reach arrested civilians or their attorneys who sometimes don’t even want to talk with you anyway.” But there can often be huge discrepancies between law enforcement’s version of events and the real story.

Police departments also have robust PR departments. The LAPD, for example, had 42 people in its information bureau in 2020, at an annual cost of about $4.8m, on top of $3.29m spent per year for 25 people in similar units. “Which is already a little telling, because while a certain amount of spending is necessary, you don’t spend that much on PR if things are going great,” Oliver joked.

He homed in particular on the police PR jargon “officer-involved shooting”, which is “a weird term for reporters to repeat because it deliberately omits crucial information about how the officer was involved. If you went to someone’s house for dinner and they said ‘tonight there is a rat-involved dinner,’ you’d justifiably have some follow-up questions.”

One of the major problems with deferring to police, he added, is that “police lie”. As Last Week Tonight has covered in previous segments on law enforcement, police have lied to get search warrants for raids, to force confessions, and under oath to the point that the New York Times reported on “testilying”.바카라사이트

As an example, Oliver pointed to the press release from Minneapolis police after the killing of George Floyd in 2020: “Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction”, which was picked up near-verbatim by local news the next morning. The “hugely self-serving” police statement elided their role; “his medical distress, and I’m using the biggest air quotes humanly possible here, was the result of an officer pressing his knee into his neck for nine minutes,” he said. “Repeating that claim by the police is an act of malpractice akin to Walter Cronkite saying JFK died of a headache today. Sure, it’s not technically wrong, but it’s the understatement of the fucking century.”

The Floyd example was not a one-off; Oliver cited a Guardian investigation into police killings in California which found that police misrepresented events at least a dozen times.

“By presenting police uncritically, you’re not just helping them dodge accountability. You’re giving them a huge lobbying platform,” he continued. There’s a lot of great crime reporting, he added, “but the daily crime beat, whether from lack of resources, lack of scrutiny, or lack of follow-through, far too often takes police at their word and not as an interest group who should be treated as such”.

Outside of police changing behavior, Oliver advocated for smaller changes already undertaken by some news organizations: replacing “police say” with “police claim”, doing away with mugshot galleries, reporting on cases beyond arrests to their conclusions. And he pushed for a larger cultural shift: asking if the crimes covered by local news are actually newsworthy, “because the truth is, not all crimes are”.

“Local news is incredibly important,” he concluded, “which is why it is so critical that it is done well.”

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