Posts tagged with "Boston Globe"

Judge blocks large parts of Trump’s temporary work visa ban

October 5, 2020

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White of the Northern District of California temporarily lifted a visa ban on a large number of work permits on Thursday, October 1—undercutting a measure that the Trump Administration had promised would protect American jobs in a pandemic-decimated economy, The Boston Globe reports.

The jurist said his ruling applied to members of organizations that sued the Administration—the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; National Association of Manufacturers; National Retail Federation; TechNet, a technology industry group; and Intrax, which sponsors cultural exchanges.

Paul Hughes, an attorney for the associations, said the U.S. Chamber of Commerce alone has “more than 300,000 members of all shapes and sizes across the United States,” according to the Globe.

White, ruling in Oakland, California, said his order didn’t extend beyond those groups but noted that they comprise “hundreds of thousands of American businesses of all sizes from a cross-section of economic sectors,” including Microsoft  and Amazon.

The injunction, which lifts the ban while the case is being litigated, is at least a temporary setback for the Administration’s efforts to limit legal immigration during the coronavirus outbreak.

White, an appointee of President George W. Bush, said President Donald Trump likely acted outside bounds of his authority.

The judge wrote “there must be some measure of constraint on Presidential authority in the domestic sphere in order not to render the executive an entirely monarchical power in the immigration context, an area within clear legislative prerogative.”

The ban, which took effect in June and is scheduled to last until the end of this year, applies to:

  • H-1B visas, which are widely used by major American and Indian technology companies;
  • H-2B visas for nonagricultural seasonal workers;
  • J visas for cultural exchanges; and
  • L visas for managers and other key employees of multinational corporations.

It was the second time in three days that White had blocked a significant change on immigration. On Tuesday, he halted major fee increases for citizenship and other benefits three days before they were to take effect.

The Homeland Security and Justice departments did not immediately respond to requests for comments Thursday night, the Globe said..

The National Association of Manufacturers said the ruling will help with “crucial, hard-to-fill jobs to support economic recovery, growth and innovation when we most need it.”

“Today’s decision is a temporary win for manufacturers committed to building that innovation in the United States,” said Linda Kelly, the group’s senior vice president and general counsel. “A long-term win for manufacturers requires policymakers to support meaningful reforms to our immigration laws that recognize the critical link between smart immigration policy and America’s competitive advantage.”

Research contact: @BostonGlobe

Hydrow ‘streams’ rowing lessons from the river

May 18, 2020

A lifelong rower and former coach of the U.S. National Team, Hydrow CEO and Founder Bruce Smith now wants to share the physically and mentally transformative experience that has drawn him to the water—and keeps him there on a nearly daily basis.

According to The Boston Globe, Smith’s Cambridge, Massachusetts-based startup sent out its first customer shipment one year ago—a specially designed rowing machine offering live-streamed on-screen experiences that make the indoor athlete feel as if he or she is navigating on the Charles River, along with the instructor.

And the pandemic actually has been a wellspring for Hydro’s business. Sales of its machines in April were four times those of January, Smith says.

Indeed, the Globe reports, Hydrow isn’t the only Boston-area company finding ways to grow in 2020 by offering a technological escape from our penned-up pandemic cabin fever.

Last May, Hydrow started shipping its $2,200 rowing machine to about a thousand customers who had put in pre-orders. It also announced around that time that it had raised $27 million in venture capital funding.

The following month, Best Buy started selling the device. Like a traditional rowing machine, it offers resistance to simulate the effort of pulling oars through the water as your seat slides back and forth. But unlike old-school “ergs,” or ergometers, Hydrow connects to the Internet and has a large flat-screen display.

After customers purchase the machine, they can use a basic mode for free, or $40 per month for access to a library of recorded workouts, as well as several live broadcasts each week.

The library includes trips to London, Scotland, San Francisco Bay; and Austin, Texas. During the winter, the company broadcasts live rowing sessions from Miami; in the summer, it relocates to Boston.

Finally, for those who do not want to purchase a new machine, Hydrow also makes a mobile app that you can use with a smartphone or tablet, to bring its prerecorded clinics to a rowing machine you already own.

Research contact: @BostonGlobe

Class dismissed: Overwhelmed by homeschooling, parents drop out

April 17, 2020

It was music class that finally drove Melissa Mawn over the edge, The Boston Globe reports.

She already had been slavishly arranging her quarantine workdays around the expectations of her three tykes’ math, English, and science teachers— surrendering her work station to their Zoom meetings.

Now, the music teacher was proposing a “fun activity” and Mawn’s thoughts immediately turned to the recorder—the piercing woodwind instrument that her twin ten-year-old boys are learning to play this year.

“I mean, we’re stuck here in the house, and I cannot have recorder class for an hour,” Mawn told the Globe. She is, after all, working full-time from the Wilmington, Massachusetts, home she shares with her children and husband, and her in-laws.

“We have to live here and, like, not kill each other,” she all but whimpered, “and the recorder is definitely going to knock one of us over the edge.”

It was during the fourth week of school closures that parents truly began to crack, the news outlet reports. The state’s experiment in home schooling may have been interesting for a week or two, but as social media rants reveal, many parents have become fed up, disenchanted—even disconsolate.

Some parents even have begun resisting the deluge of demands coming from their children’s teachers.

“It’s just overwhelming. Everybody’s overwhelmed,” said Mawn, who aired her frustrations last week on a Facebook page for Wilmington residents.

“I understand a love for the arts but in a state of emergency, I can’t teach music and gym,” she wrote. “My children can play outside, in their own backyard or ride their own bikes in our driveway. That will have to count for gym.”

Around the same time, Sarah Parcak, a renowned archeologist from Maine, was drafting a lengthy, expletive-filled Twitter thread reiterating what she’d already told her son’s teacher: First grade was officially over for the year.

“We cannot cope with this insanity,” Parcak wrote. “Survival and protecting his well being come first.”

The parent rebellion is not at all fun for teachers, who have found themselves in a no-win situation since schools were closed due to the threat of the coronavirus in mid-March. First, they were hounded by some hard-charging parents—who expected more daily structure and an immediate and effortless switch to online instruction. Teachers had to quickly develop new coursework and ways of presenting it, and to jet into families’ living rooms via Zoom video conferencing, where their every move would be scrutinized.

Now, with teachers more regularly holding classes online, parents are pushing back, saying the expectations are unmanageable—particularly for younger children who can’t handle the technology on their own and need a parent by their side, The Globe notes.

Keri Rodrigues, a Somerville mother who heads the National Parents Union, an education advocacy group, said many parents are in survival mode—having suddenly lost their income or begun working at home to maintain it—and they shouldn’t feel pressured about academics at the moment.

Do not destroy the fabric of your family because you’re trying to please a school district,” Rodrigues advised. “We are living through a generational unprecedented crisis. Get your family through it without hating each other.”

Like Mawn, Rodrigues has three children and is fielding an onslaught of e-mails from each of their teachers in each of their subjects. Some point the students to assignments on Google Classroom. Others direct them to activities on private educational websites that require additional sign-ups and the management of yet more passwords.

“My kids are in first and second grade. They’re barely tying their shoes, let alone remembering all of these different passcodes for all of these different websites,” Rodrigues told the Globe.

As for Mawn, she is picking and choosing her academic battles now, even—oops—missing the memo that one of her son’s Zoom classes was moved to a different day this week.

“The e-mails are killing us,” Mawn told the news outlet. “I think it would have been easier if, every Monday, we got a letter saying … ‘We want to do those 10 things this week.’ Just one e-mail, please.”

She understands that the teachers have never handled a pandemic before. But could they not streamline the assignments?

“If I wanted to teach,” Mawn added, “I would be a teacher.”

Research contact: @BostonGlobe

Netflix’s ‘Tiger King’ is the show we’re all hooked on during the pandemic

April 1, 2020

It’s not exactly a National Geographic documentary. It comes across more like a Christopher Guest “mockumentary” (such as Spinal Tap or Best in Show), says Boston Globe Correspondent Lauren Daley, but it’s all real—and America is #Obsessed.

We’re a nation in quarantine, and, with a seemingly infinite number of programs to stream, many of us have apparently opted for “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness” on Netflix.

What, exactly, is the show’s appeal? It’s billed by Netflix as a “true murder-for-hire story from the underworld of big cat breeding,” featuring a “cast of eccentric characters.” But Daley can only say, “It’s so much more.

She’s fascinated by larger-than-life characters like Joe Exotic, a mulleted big-cat lover who also makes his own music videos; and Doc Antle, who rides elephants, and comes across like a Will Ferrell character.

Combine them with a three-person wedding, breakups, a common enemy, in-fighting, love, a mystery surrounding a disappeared millionaire, a torn-off limb, and a multitude of cats—and you’ve got a binge-watching bonanza.

As soon as “Tiger King” debuted, Daley writes in the Globe, a home-bound audience around the country became glued to their screens—including more than a few actors who are now sitting home dreaming about the eventual Hollywood biopic. (“I mean, there has to be one, right?” she speculates.)

Following the show’s debut on March 20, Twitter (and other social media) blew up with suggested “dream cast” members—among them, the actors Danny McBride or David Spade (to be cast as Joe Exotic), Katherine O’Hara as Carole Baskin, Jim Gaffigan or Will Ferrell as Antle …. The lists go on.

Dax Shepard—most recently seen as Mike on “Bless this Mess” on ABC-TV— tweeted: “If I don’t get cast as Joe Exotic in the eventual biopic, Hollywood is broken.” He followed that by posting a photoshopped image of himself with a mullet and a tiger, just to show how committed he would be to the role.

However, not everyone was on board with that (potential) casting. Oscar-nominee and Boston native Edward Norton countered: “Um, step aside, pal. You’re way too young and buff and you know it.”

And he was not the last to be heard from. Comedian Dane Cook chimed in as well: “I already got asked but I’m sure there is a villain role supporting me we could slot you in. #howdareyou.”

Now, the Globe’s Daley reveals, what many didn’t know before this Netflix juggernaut is that apparently there is a limited series coming, centered on Baskin, with Kate McKinnon starring.

We’ve got popcorn ready.

Research contact: @BostonGlobe

‘Viral’ news: Thermo Fisher buys Dutch firm that tests for coronavirus in $11.5 billion deal

March 4, 2020

Thermo Fisher Scientific is buying the Dutch diagnostics company Qiagen in an $11.5 billion deal that expands the Waltham, Massachusetts-based laboratory equipment firm’s ability to detect infectious diseases, including the new coronavirus, according to a report by The Boston Globe.

Qiagen said last week it had shipped a newly developed test kit to detect the virus that causes Covid-19 to four hospitals in Chinam, the news outlet notes. The company—based in Vento, in the southeastern Netherlands, a couple of miles from the German border—says the kit can distinguish the novel coronavirus from 21 pathogens that cause serious respiratory disease and delivers results in about an hour.

Qiagen also is in the process of shipping the kits to Europe, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East.

Thermo Fisher CEO Marc Casper said the deal—announced early Tuesday morning, March 3—will help his company broaden its business, from scientific discovery to diagnostics.

“This acquisition provides us with the opportunity to leverage our industry-leading capabilities and R&D expertise to accelerate innovation and address emerging healthcare needs,” Casper, who has been CEO since 2009, told the Globe.

Several investment analysts applauded the acquisition.

“We think the deal is a home run” for Thermo Fisher, Vijay Kumar, director, Equity Research, of Evercore in New York, wrote investors. “The assets fit well together and make strategic sense and we think there is scope for meaningful synergies over time. ”

Thermo Fisher approached Qiagen in November about a potential purchase, which prompted the latter’s shares to rise 13%—the biggest jump in 17 years, The Globe reports. But the deal wasn’t consummated until more than a month later.

“After the Christmas drama”—Qiagen had to issue a press release saying that the negotiations had halted— both companies “were finally able to hash it out and close the deal,” Kumar wrote.

The transaction values Qiagen at about $11.5 billion at current exchange rates, which includes the assumption of roughly $1.4 billion of net debt. The deal represents a premium of about 23% to the closing price of Qiagen’s common stock Monday on the Frankfurt Prime Standard.

Thermo Fisher is the most valuable company based in Massachusetts, with a market capitalization of more than $121 billion. Thermo Fisher’s share price rose more than 5% on the Nasdaq exchange Tuesday morning.

Research contact: @BostonGlobe

Buttigieg to ‘re-Pete’ Iowa surge in New Hampshire primary?

February 10, 2020

Building on his strong showing in Iowa, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg has continued his surge among likely Democratic New Hampshire presidential primary voters—putting him in a statistical dead heat against Senator Bernie Sanders, based on results of a Boston Globe/WBZ-TV/Suffolk University poll released on Thursday night.

Former vice president Joe Biden—whose campaign suffered a self-described “gut punch” from a disappointing fourth-place finish in the Hawkeye State—saw another modest dip in his numbers in the latest canvassing.

That put him in fourth place behind Senator Elizabeth Warren in Thursday’s poll, the fourth of seven that the Suffolk University Political Research Center is conducting in the run-up to the nation’s first primary New Hampshire on Tuesday.

Specifically, the Globe reported, Sanders held steady at 24%; with Buttigieg close at his heels at 23%. Biden slipped to 11%, below Warren’s 13%.

 “It looks like Buttigieg’s momentum is continuing, and he’s really going at the heart of Biden’s strength, which is older voters,” David Paleologos, director of Suffolk’s Political Research Center told the news outlet.

In Thursday’s poll, which had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.4 percentage points, Buttigieg was at 32% among voters over age 65, Paleologos said, while Biden had dropped to just 15%, and Sanders to 14%.

But the 78-year-old Vermont senator continued to outperform the 38-year-old former Indiana mayor among younger voters—with Sanders garnering 43% among those ages 18 to 35, the Globe said, compared to just 14% for Buttigieg.

If the current trends continue, Paleologos said, Buttigieg could become the candidate to beat in New Hampshire, but a lot can still happen before Tuesday—including a televised Democratic debate Friday night that could shift everyone’s numbers again.

Research contact: @BostonGlobe

Harvard Med creates more diverse image by taking down 31 portraits

June 20, 2018

Harvard Medical School is doing a different kind of “scrubbing up” these days, according to a June 15 report by Campus Reform. The school is “cleaning up” its professional and public image—and promoting diversity—by removing 31 portraits of former department heads from a lecture-room wall where they have been hanging for decades. The reason? All of the paintings are of men. And 30 out of 31 of those men are white, while one is Asian.

That made for an uncomfortable contrast, as the Boston Globe noted in its own story on June 14, because the employees and students who regularly gather there include women, blacks, and Hispanics.

“School officials confirmed … that the portraits of 31 medical school deans—which formerly hung in the school’s Louis Bornstein Family Amphitheater [at Brigham and Women’s Hospital]— have been ‘dispersed’ to various lobbies and conference rooms,” Campus Reform disclosed.

The move may have been prompted by a recent call to action by WhiteCoats4BlackLives,a national activist group that aims to eliminate racial bias in the practice of medicine. The group recently targeted Harvard Medical School for allegedly promoting racial bias, the Globe also reported—claiming that there were a “dearth of plaques, statues, portraits, and building names on campuses that acknowledge contributions from physicians of color.”

Indeed, the group published a Racial Justice Report Card this year that found that only 10.7% of medical school graduates in 2016 were Black, Latinx, or Native American.  This represents a major issue because medical schools are the gatekeepers to the health professions

What’s more, the group says, patients of color often are unable to access care at academic medical centers in their communities. For example, black patients in New York City are less than half as likely as white patients to receive care at academic medical centers.

The Racial Justice Report Card, compiled for the first time this year, grades ten major medical schools on 15 anti-racism factors—and provides an overall grade for each institution, as follows: Harvard: B; Johns Hopkins: C+; Mt. Sinai: B-; University of Pennsylvania: C; Thomas Jefferson University: C; UC-San Francisco: B-; University of Michigan: B-; University of Pittsburgh: B-; Washington University in St. Louis: B-; and Yale: C. Not one of them came in with a B+ or an A.

The hospital’s president, Dr. Betsy Nabel, told the Globe that she had considered ending the tradition of hanging pictures of retired chairs in the auditorium for several years, especially as more women and minorities train as doctors at the hospital. “I have watched the faces of individuals as they have come into Bornstein,’’ Nabel said in an interview. “I have watched them look at the walls. I read on their faces ‘Interesting. but I am not represented here.’ That got me thinking maybe it’s time that we think about respecting our past in a different way.’’

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