Posts tagged with "The Boston Globe"

Parler reappears with help from Russian-owned security service

January 20, 2021

Parler—a social network similar to Twitter to which then-President Donald Trump fled after he was tossed off his @realDonaldTrump feed for bad behavior—has reappeared.

Early in January, Parler also was taken down—by big tech companies Apple, Google, and Amazon after it was used by members to send messages inciting violence at the U.S. Capitol. However, its website is back  up—powered by a hosting service from DDoS-Guard, a Web security service that is owned by two Russians, according to a report by The Boston Globe.

“Our return is inevitable due to hard work and persistence against all odds,” CEO John Matze wrote in a new post—the latest since Amazon Web Services stopped hosting the site and it was banned from Apple and Google’s app stores. “Despite the threats and harassment not one Parler employee has quit. We are becoming closer and stronger as a team.”

According to the Globe, public data associated with the Parler.com domain name shows that one of the Internet servers it directs visitors to is routed via DDoS-Guard. Another server, specifically for routing Parler.com e-mail but not website content, is an Outlook.com address, operated by Microsoft.

A spokesperson for DDoS-Guard said the company was not hosting Parler and declined to comment on what services it was providing to the social media app. It confirmed it did store customer data as part of its offering.

On Sunday, January 17, Apple CEO Tim Cook defended Apple’s decision to delist the Parler app despite complaints from critics that the move impinges on free speech.

“We looked at the incitement to violence that was on there,” Cook said on Fox News Sunday, adding, ”We don’t consider that free speech and incitement to violence has an intersection.”

Parler’s domain name is now registered with Epik, a website services company based in Sammamish, Washington, according to public records made available by Internet regulator Icann. Epik is also the domain registrar for Gab, another less restrictive social networking site popular with the far right.

Most of the features on Parler.com appeared to remain down early Tuesday, the Globe reports—besides statements from Matze and other employees. Members are unable to log in or post messages and the app is still unavailable in the Apple or Google Play stores.

Microsoft didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Epik said in a sprawling statement on its website from JanIuary 11 that it’s had “no contact or discussions with Parler in any form.” The statement also addressed propaganda, breakdowns in civil society, and editorial malfeasance on the part of “major media owners.”

Before its ban, Parler—which has less restrictive terms dictating what members can post and was endorsed by some Republican lawmakers and media figures—had seen a surge in users as Twitter and Facebook banished outgoing President Trump along with users and groups that supported the violence.

Research contact: @BostonGlobe

 

President Joe Biden’s plea for the soul of America: ‘End this uncivil war’

January 20, 2021

Speaking from the West Front of the U.S. Capitol after a violent insurrection there claimed five lives on January 6, President Joe Biden’s first words as president offered Americans strong and direct reassurance that the most fundamental component of the nation’s government would remain intact, The Daily Beast reports.

“This is democracy’s day,” he said, minutes after being sworn into office by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts as the 46th president of the United States. “A day of history and hope, of renewal and resolve. Through a crucible for the ages America has been tested anew, and America has risen to the challenge.”

“The people,” he continued, “the will of the people, has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded. We’ve learned again that democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile. And at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.”

Biden, 78, addressed two threats that have worsened under President Donald Trump’s administration, the unchecked coronavirus pandemic and the growing presence of terrorism at home—which only two weeks ago arrived at the very platform from which Biden spoke. Standing resolutely, his jacket pinned with a small American flag on a chilly Wednesday afternoon, the president championed the “restless, bold, optimistic” collective pursuit of restoring what has been lost.

In an acknowledgement of the still bitterly divided national political climate—which is expected to continue long after Biden’s first few days in office—he called on citizens to help de-escalate the rampant partisanship, the Globe said.

“We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal,” he said. “We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts, if we show a little tolerance and humility, and if we’re willing to stand in the other person’s shoes as my mom would say, just for a moment, stand in their shoes.”

Throughout his 20-minute address, Biden strove to provide a positive outlook for the nation’s future, seeking to remind viewers that, despite strife, sadness, and anger, his administration will offer a unified approach. He pledged to pen a new chapter in the “American story.”

A significant part of that book includes an historic start. “Today we mark the swearing in of the first woman in American history elected to national office, Vice President Kamala Harris. Don’t tell me things can’t change,” Biden said, beaming with pride for his number 2, who was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

“My whole soul is in it,” Biden said. “Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this, bringing America together, uniting our people, uniting our nation. And I ask every American to join me in this cause,” he continued, to applause, listing off the “foes” he plans to combat: “Anger, resentment and hatred, extremism, lawlessness, violence, disease, joblessness and hopelessness.”

“America is once again the leading force for good in the world,” he said.

Research contact: @BostonGlobe

A Colorado lawmaker who tweeted Pelosi’s ‘safe room’ location during riot is asked to resign

January 13, 2021

Colorado Representative Lauren Boebert (R-3rd District) went on the offensive on Monday night, January 11, as Republicans issued a bellicose statement amid growing calls for her resignation following her actions before and during the riot at the U.S. Capitol, The Boston Globe reports.

A first-term lawmaker who ran as an outspoken defender of President Donald Trump, Boebert is facing serious pushback for tweeting about the location of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as legislators were whisked to a secure location to shelter in place while insurrectionists stormed the building.

The vicious attacks on January 6 came after a rally held the same day by the outgoing president—who urged his followers to march to the Capitol and “fight like hell.”

Boebert accused Democrats of having their “hypocrisy” on “full display” with talks of impeachment, censure, and other ways to punish Republicans for false accusations of inciting the type of violence they have so frequently and transparently supported in the past.”

During the violent siege, Boebert first tweeted that representatives “were locked in the House Chambers” and then only a minute later that the “Speaker has been removed from the chambers.”

She dismissed the seriousness of the charges that she had endangered the life of Pelosi in her statement — or that her tweeting was even noteworthy in the first place.

“[Democrats] accuse me of live-tweeting the Speaker’s presence after she had been safely removed from the Capitol, as if I was revealing some big secret, when in fact this removal was also being broadcast on TV,” Boebert said.

The remainder of her statement was replete with baseless claims about President-elect Joe Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Pelosi, and the “far-left,” the Globe reported.

She compared the Black Lives Matter protests — reported to be greater than 93% peaceful — to the dangerous insurrection, referring to them as “the violence over the summer.”

In response to Boebert’s tweets, Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz (D)  said late Monday that lawmakers “were specifically instructed by those protecting us not to tell anyone, including our family, where exactly we were, for reasons that remain obvious.”

Schatz continued that it’s not explicitly clear “to what extent the rioters were coordinating operationally with government officials,” so it’s vital that lawmakers and others are “extremely careful in this line of inquiry.”

“But we must discover which elected and appointed officials, if any, and which civil servants, were helping the coup,” Schatz added, according to the Globe.

Congress convened last Wednesday to certify the Electoral College votes, and thus, Biden’s victory. But Republicans in both the Senate and the House — in support of Trump and his baseless election fraud claims — vowed to protest the votes.

Even after the riot, dozens of Republican lawmakers still objected to the votes — ncluding Boebert.

While on the floor, Boebert addressed Pelosi directly and said that she had “constituents outside this building right now.”

Boebert, her voice rising during the speech, said that she had promised her voters to “be their voice.” She objected to the Electoral College votes in both Arizona and Pennsylvania, two states Biden decisively won.

Because of her actions, Boebert — who ran on a “pro-freedom, pro-guns, pro-constitution, pro-energy, pro-life, pro-Colorado, and pro-America” platform, according to her campaign website—has faced criticism and calls to step down from fellow lawmakers, including those within her own state.

California Representative Eric Swalwell (D) compared Boebert to a criminal Monday and suggested that she refrain from making any further incendiary remarks.

“Like any citizen who has committed a crime, Lauren Boebert has the right to remain silent,” he said. “I suggest that she use it.”

As of Monday, more than 20,000 tweets had racked up with the hashtag #ResignBoebert.

Research contact: @BostonGlobe

Dire straits: The decline (and feasible fall) of Lindsey Graham

October 13, 2020

At the 2012 Republican National Convention, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, then a champion of bipartisan immigration reform, warned his party they had a problem. “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term,” he said, according to a report by The Boston Globe.

Now, he and his 2012 rhetoric are unrecognizable.

Indeed, a recent 81-second attack ad by the LindseyMustGo group shows the senator as he used to be—blasting Trump as a “jackass,” “kook,” “crazy” and “unfit for office” before the 2016 election—followed by clips of him today, heaping praise on the president, even calling for him to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

Over the past few years, the third-term senator has jettisoned the conciliatory political persona he used to display and hitched his wagon to President Donald Trump’s fiery star, which seemed like an obvious recipe for 2020 success in a red state like South Carolina.

But he is now embroiled in the battle of his career against Jaime Harrison, a former state party chair trying to be the first Black Democrat elected to the Senate from the Deep South. Harrison raised a staggering $57 million over the last three months, and the Cook Political Report rates the race a “toss-up” — a startling turn of events for South Carolina, which hasn’t elected a Democratic senator or governor in more than 20 years.

According to the Globe, “The race has been turbocharged by Graham’s outsize role as a defender of the president and a key player in his effort to reshape the Supreme Court. As the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he will preside over the confirmation hearing of Judge Amy Coney Barrett beginning Monday — proceeding despite a clarion 2018 promise not to fill a Supreme Court vacancy so close to this election.”

Graham has called the confirmation process the “Super Bowl” of politics, and he is betting it will fire up South Carolina conservatives, who have long distrusted him, even as it riles up the Democrats determined to highlight his hypocrisy as another reason to send him packing.

“They hate me. This is not about Mr. Harrison. This is about liberals hating my guts,” a pugilistic Graham declared during a debate with Harrison on October 3.

But it’s more than that, Dan Carter, an emeritus professor at the University of South Carolina told the Globe.  “If Graham’s in any jeopardy at all,” he said, “it’s because of Trump and the fact that he had to go through all these contortions to protect himself on the right in the new Trump party.”

Graham, a former military lawyer, flipped his congressional district here in the upstate region of South Carolina in 1994 after a century of Democratic control, campaigning for term limits and against gays in the military. In 2003, he went on to the Senate, where he had a moderate countenanc —an impression fueled by his close friendship with Arizona Republican John McCain; and by his eagerness to join such bipartisan groups as the Gang of Eight. which worked on immigration reform during the Obama presidency. He also crafted climate legislation with Democrats.

He treated the Tea Party movement with undisguised disdain and survived primary challenges from the right in 2014 in part because so many conservatives jumped in to split the field, but he didn’t see the other asteroid that was coming to reshape his party. Graham’s doomed 2016 presidential bid — in which he called then-candidate Trump a “kook” who was “unfit for office” — flamed out before Iowa.

By 2018, he had moved toward Trump, becoming a golfing buddy of the president and an angry defender of his Supreme Court pick that year, Brett Kavanaugh, during a messy confirmation process that turned on accusations of sexual assault. In a party that had changed around him, Graham’s days of presenting himself as a moderate were long gone.

“As it relates to crossing the aisle or building consensus, I think he is fundamentally a builder and not a destroyer,” said Karen Floyd, the former chairwoman of the state’s Republican Party. “When the timing permits, he’ll build more.”

Democrats have gleefully seized on the shift as evidence Graham can’t be trusted. “Lindsey Graham is a flip-flopper. Flipping flippity flippity flop,” said Trav Robertson, the chair of the South Carolina Democrats. “And that’s why Lindsey Graham’s gonna lose.”

Research contact: @BostonGlobe

Car rental service Kyte, launching in Boston, delivers your drive directly to your door

October 2, 2020

Unless you own a car, getting around during the pandemic has become a game of chance: Chances are, you won’t get COVID-19; but there is a long shot that you will.

Thus, The Boston Globe recounts, Esteban Yepez was planning a late summer road trip when he found himself frustrated by the number of people he would have to interact with in order to get away.

Yepez doesn’t own a car, and during the pandemic he’s become far more hesitant about renting one. The idea of hopping on a train or calling a ride-hailing service to get to Boston’s Logan Airport, and then waiting in line at the rental desk just seemed risky, he thought, with too many ways of being exposed to COVID-19.

“We’re already doing our best to stay away from people,” he said of himself and his husband, who were planning a trip to Lincoln, New Hampshire..

So when he stumbled across a new car rental service that offered to drop off the vehicle at his door, he jumped. “I don’t have to go anywhere?” he recalled thinking. “That makes my trip even better.”

According to the Globe, the service is called Kyte, an app that enables users to book a rental car and have it dropped off at their homes. The drivers — called Kyte surfers — often stow motorized scooters in the cars’ trunks, and simply dash away after handing over the keys.

It’s a mobility concept born out of subverting the unique hassles of booking a rental car, but also one particularly well-suited for this moment, as many people are itching to travel safely while limiting their exposure to others.

And it’s arriving in Boston at an opportune time. The first few months of the pandemic upended the nation’s tourism economy, with airlines, hotels, and travel destinations reeling as they saw cataclysmic drop-offs in bookings.

Despite the public being largely restricted to ground travel, rental car companiesalso were hit hard. Hertz laid off 10,000 workers and filed for bankruptcy in May, and many other rental companies suffered as Americans canceled flight plans and rental cars to match.

“Safety concerns are the number one priority of our travelers right now,” Chuck Nardozza, the managing director of Travel Sales for AAA Northeast, told the Globe., adding,“Car rental companies are trying to adapt and putting in a lot of safety protocols in place.”

Enter Kyte. The San Francisco-based startup launched in 2019, and is currently operating there and in Los Angeles. But it’s been testing its service in Greater Boston since the end of July and officially launched October 1.

Unlike most competitors in the ride-hailing game, the company is poised to help bolster the rental car industry, Francesco Wiedemann, an MIT graduate and one of the company’s three co-founders told the news outlet.

That’s because Kyte doesn’t own a fleet of cars, but partners with established rental car companies and shares revenue with them. “Economically it makes sense: The [rental companies] don’t need counter staff to do all the upselling that people frankly don’t enjoy,” he said, “We actually have a waitlist of companies in different cities who want to partner with us.”

Kyte currently has 50 cars in Boston and employs about 15 “surfers” who clean and sanitize each car as it’s booked. The surfers are contractors — like Uber or Lyft drivers — who can choose how many pickups and drop-offs they want to do each day. The company doesn’t provide each surfer with a scooter but many purchase them shortly after starting, Wiedemann said, as it helps them quickly maneuver between jobs.

The Boston Globe reports that the daily rates for rentals are competitive with other rental companies, but customers pay an additional $19 booking fee to have the vehicles delivered to their door. For drop-offs, the drivers meet customers at their homes. There’s also no need to refuel, as the company will fill the tank at a market-rate gas station instead of upcharging you on gas, Wiedemann said.

And unlike Enterprise Rent-A-Car, where a driver “comes to your door and picks you up and then you go with them to the rental location and go through the regular booking process,” Wiedemann says, “we bring it to your door and you just start your trip there.”

Yepez told The Boston Globe that his experience getting his Kia Forte with Kyte was “seamless,” and, while the company is well positioned in this era of being overly cautious, its convenience will keep him as a customer even after there’s a vaccine.

Research contact: @BostonGlobe

Test your board game skills at the virtual Mind Sports Olympiad

July 23, 2020

Are you a master at Scrabble? A wizard at chess? A sought-out partner at bridge? Or a genius at Settlers of Catan? Then this just might be the perfect time to sign up for the annual Mind Sports Olympiad (MSO), a tabletop gaming and skills tournament going virtual amid the pandemic, reports The Boston Globe.

The event 15th annual event runs through the month of August, and registration is free to global audiences this year.

“Now is an amazing time to go global,” said event organizer Etan Ilfeld. “People everywhere are sharpening their skills and can put them to the test here.”

Gamers can sign up for classic events, like Bridge, Countdown, Draughts, and Checkers, or multi-player games including Ticket to Ride, Dominion, Quatro, 7 Wonders, and Kingdomino. The tournament also hosts exam-style activities — a speed reading and creative-thinking test, an intelligence challenge, a mental calculations quiz, and Sudoku.

Started in 1997, the MSO usually accommodates around 1,800 gamers every year for a week in London. Ilfeld hopes the upcoming remote alternative will attract at least double, or even triple, the number of participants, he told The Boston Globe.

“We designed it so it’s time-zone-friendly for the States,” he said. “It’ll be quite an event for sure, so we wanted it to be accessible to as many people as possible.”

A handful of games, like Rummikub , could not be translated online but have been replaced by new additions. TBA prizes will be awarded to winners.

The event starts Aug. 1 and each tournament competition is pre-scheduled and described on www.msoworld.com. Registration is required.

Among the sponsors and partners of the competition are Mensa, the World BackGammon Federation, the World Puzzle Federation, Europe Masters, and London On Board.

Research contact: @BostonGlobe

Bloomberg: California and Massachusetts are the most innovative U.S. states

June 25, 2020

For the second consecutive year, California and Massachusetts have taken the first and second spots, respectively, in Bloomberg’s annual State Innovation Index.

According to a report by The Boston Globe, the ranking is based on six equally weighted metrics: research and development intensity, productivity, clusters of companies in technology, STEM jobs, residents with degrees in science and engineering, and patent activity.

California and Massachusetts’ success dates back more than 150 years ago with the creation of land-grant universities under the Morrill Act, according to New York University Stern School of Business economist Paul Romer.

The Morrill Land Grand Act of 1862 helped boost higher education in America by granting states public land. That land could be sold and the proceeds earned could be used to establish colleges. Massachusetts Institute of Technology was among the earliest recipients of the act, which served as the basis for many other institutions, including the University of California and Washington State University.

These schools “and their counterparts in every state created a new type of university—distinguished by a practical focus on problem solving that the world had never seen,” Romer, co-recipient of the 2018 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, said in a telephone interview with The Boston Globe.. “The success of California and Massachusetts is a sign of the high level of investment that those states have made in their university and research systems.”

California ranked number-one in the Bloomberg index for patent activity and second for both technology-company density and concentration of science- and engineering-degree holders. Its state university system and pre-eminence in research—along with private Stanford University—have been influential in building Silicon Valley headquarters for established tech companies and budding startups.

Last year, entrepreneurs there received more than $67 billion in venture-capital funding, according to data from PitchBook. That’s more than three times New York, the second-highest state for deal flow.

According to a joint report from PwC and CB Insights, the top five highest-valued private U.S. tech companies are all California-based: JUUL Labs, Stripe, Airbnb, SpaceX and Palantir Technologies.

In addition, among U.S. companies that went public last year, the five reaping the highest year-to-date returns also are in California: Zoom Video Communications, IT-service provider Fastly and life-science specialty businesses Vir Biotechnology, Livongo Health and IDEAYA Biosciences.

Second place Massachusetts took the crown for tech-company density. General Electric, Raytheon, Thermo Fisher Scientific and Biogen are headquartered in the Northeastern state. Prior to the pandemic, Boston-based Toast—a restaurant-management platform— was a venture-capital favorite. The startup raised $400 million at a $4.9 billion valuation in February.

Rounding out the top five are number three, Washington State; number four, Connecticut; and Oregon, which jumped two spots to number five.

Research contact: @BostonGlobe

Six free and low-cost virtual summer camps for kids that offer coding, drama, activism, more

June 12, 2020

While many traditional U.S. summer camps still are trying to figure out how to social-distance and mask everyone on-site for virus-free fun, others have pivoted to virtual programming. These free and low-cost (with financial aid) camps have created online sessions to provide a world of interactive fun, learning, and adventure for children while they shelter in place, The Boston Globe reports.

Among the programs being offered are the following:

  • All about the drama: Kidstock! is bringing its theater programs online beginning June 22. Programming is available for kids ages 4-14, and spans creative coursework, such as Improvi-Zoom-Ation and Monolog-In Class, and morning-long Sleep at Home camp. Kids can participate in ready-to-be-written parody musical productions, aptly titled “How to Succeed Online without Really Trying” (about a too-good-to-be-true website that guarantees success) and “A Chorus Online” (fame-seeking influencers). Weekly rehearsals and performances are conducted via Zoom, edited into a streamlined production, and officially premiered on YouTube at the end of each session. Programs start at $100 and financial aid is available. kidstocktheater.com
  • Youth on the rise: YEA’s (Youth Empowered Action) leadership training camp for students ages 10-17 goes virtual starting July 13. The one- to four-week program focuses on a series of progress-driven sessions, including Amplifying Your Message and Careers for Changemakers. The next generation of advocates, allies, and activists can participate in practical skill-building workshops and recreational activities, including yoga, breakout sessions, and open mic night, via Zoom. Call-in options will be available for anyone without Internet access.. Sessions start at $300, and financial aid—up to the full fee—is available . org.
  • Little divas: New York’s Metropolitan Opera is offering an eight-week Global Summer Camp free of charge. Hosted via Zoom and Google Classroom, the Monday-Friday program encourages campers (divided into age groups, 8-12 and 12-18) to explore the layered art of opera with hands-on learning activities, planned around common household materials; and interactive, live chats with professional stage artists. The program will focus on one opera per week—all activities are available a la carte—starting with “Hansel and Gretel” on June 15 and ending with Mozart’s “Così fan tutte” on August 3. Learn more at metopera.org/education/
  • Game, set, read: Tenacity will continue to offer its Boston and Worcester (Massachusetts)-based reading and tennis programs free of charge starting July 6. The 20-year-old organization plans to provide virtual sessions for 2020—but depending on state guidelines, they hope to offer on-court tennis skill activities in partnership with Boston Parks and Recreation, as well. Tennis stars-in-training ages 6-16 will split their time between virtual classes, Zoom parties, and fitness drills; while the Tenacity team and AmericCorps Fellows touch base weekly to uplift campers and check in on access to food, Internet, and computers. Learn more at org
  • Code quest: Destinations Career Academy will offer two-week, tuition-free online coding programs for rising students in grades 8-11 this summer. Campers can pick between Video Game Design and Programming (June 15-25) or Virtual Reality (July 6-16). They’ll learn block-coding and HTML basics, while developing original digital creations—including a multiplayer sports game and an interactive VR world. Rising students grades 9-11 also can sign up for a month-long, credit-available Career Explorations course to learn more about opportunities and concepts for jobs across tech, health care, and business and marketing. Learn more at destinationsacademy.com
  • Access to fun: Children with life-threatening and serious illnesses can find recreational refuge via a virtual camp experience from SeriousFun. Spanning the globe, several locations from Paul Newman’s always free-of-charge, all-ages camp provide online programming through the summer—including California’s The Painted Turtle, New York’s Double H Ranch, and Roundup River Ranchin Colorado. Expect traditional camp fun in the comfort of your own home—no hands lunch, make your own ice cream, and circle sing-alongs. Virtual support programming for parents and caregivers is also available. Get more information at org

Research contact: @BostonGlobe

Back to the soil in Boston: An almost-instant vegetable garden for novice growers

May 6, 2020

You won’t need any gardening experience to grow some organic vegetables from home this spring. Boston Victory Gardens has made the enterprise as foolproof as possible with its launch of at-home container gardens.

Founded by landscape designers Ellen Abdow, owner of Perennial Gardens, and Jenn Nawada, owner of Nawada Landscape Design and lead landscaper on PBS’s “This Old House,” Boston Victory Gardens delivers pre-planted, portable vegetable gardens to Greater Boston customers’ doors.

Abdow and Nawada teamed up to create a new business when sheltering-at-home customers showed interest in growing their own produce, The Boston Globe reports. They love gardens, but they don’t have any experience gardening, Abdow said of her clients. “And one thing that we know is being with plants and growing really does help you feel good,” she added.

Each box arrives full of vegetable plants and seeds packed into the soil so that new plants sprout after the first round goes out of season. The company offers a range of themed boxes from Taco Tuesday, containing hot peppers, tomatoes, and other ingredients you’d find in a taco; to Mixologist, comprising herbs handy for cocktails; and the Green Monstah, devoted to classic salad vegetables.

Starting at $225, the boxes aren’t cheap, but they’re designed to be easy to cultivate. Nawada, an expert in soil and plant science, explains that each is filled with engineered soil and is horticulturally failure resistant, meaning even the most inexperienced gardeners can collect the fruits of their labor.

The 3-foot by 1-foot large boxes come with some plants ready to be harvested and are made to last through multiple growing seasons. Smaller sizes also are available, according to the Globe. As long as gardeners water and trim the sprouts, some vegetables like carrots and herbs can last until the winter frost.

he company provides plant care instructions and recipes with each order. “I think this is a great testing zone to start small and then maybe expand next year into another garden,” Nawada said.

Research contact: @BostonGlobe

Emptier roads, fuller pockets: Auto insurance customers get payback from Allstate, AFI

April 8, 2020

Never before have so many vehicles in the United States been “off-road.” In recognition of customers who are not only self-isolating, but also sheltering their cars in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, auto insurers Allstate and American Family Insurance are returning some money to drivers nationwide, The Boston Globe reports.

On April 6, Allstate announced on its site, “As we all work together to slow the spread of COVID-19, more of us are at home and driving less, which means having fewer accidents. Given this decline in driving, we are announcing the Allstate Shelter-in-Place Payback of more than $600 million in April and May for our auto insurance customers.

Allstate CEO Tom Wilson said in his company’s statement. “This is fair because less driving means fewer accidents.”

American Family Insurance said it plans to return about $200 million to its auto insurance customers through a one-time payment of $50 per covered vehicle, the Globe says.

States across the country have issued stay-at-home mandates to help slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus. That’s led to a decline of about 35%t to 50% in driving in most states, Wilson said.

“We started with one week of data and we sat down and said, ‘OK, what do we do about this?’ It’s one week of data. We don’t normally price on one week of data,” Wilson said on a media conference call Monday. “In about a week and half, we pulled this off. There was not one debate in our company about whether we should do this or not.”

Allstate said its first-quarter underwriting income will be cut by about $210 million before taxes because of the payback to holders of 18 million policies, with the remainder of the payback to be recognized in the second quarter. The company is also offering free identity protection for the rest of the year and payment relief for struggling customers, the Globe reported..

Research contact: @BostonGlobe