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A season of terror, not cheer, as Christmas changes with the virus

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A Season Of Terror, Not Cheer, As Christmas Changes With The Virus

Eight years ago, Montserrat Parello lost her husband, and Christmas gatherings with kids and grandchildren helped her cope with her loneliness. But this year, because of the possibility of coronavirus infection, the 83-year-old will be alone at her home in Barcelona for a holiday.

“I feel loneliness and anger in these pandemic days,” Parello said, expressing fears that “I will leave this life devoid of affection, of warmth.”

After this year of pandemic uncertainty and confusion, what most individuals wanted for Christmas was some cheer and togetherness. Instead, many are going into an isolated season, mourning for lost loved ones, worrying about their work, or facing the threat of a new version of a potentially more infectious virus.

London residents and nearby areas are unable to see people outside their homes. Peruvians will not be allowed to drive their cars over Christmas and New Year, even with family and friends nearby, to avoid visits. On Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or New Year’s Day, South Africans won’t be able to go to the beach.

The patchwork of restrictions imposed by local and national governments worldwide differs widely, but this year, few holiday seasons will look natural.

To see lonely elderly relatives despite the danger or to skip one of the potentially few Christmases left in hopes of spending the holiday together next year, people around the world face wrenching decisions.

In the United States, there are no national travel limits, but health officials have advised individuals to stay home and reduce gatherings. Some states require testing or quarantine for passengers.

An attorney in Idlewild, Michigan, Michelle Dallaire, 50, said this will be her first Christmas away from her father, who lives in northern Virginia. They decided this year’s risk wasn’t worth it.

Dallaire, who has health conditions that also make her especially vulnerable to the virus, said, “It is sad but better than never seeing him again.”

Francisco Paulo made a similar decision to miss a visit to his elderly mother in Sao Jose do Belmonte, Pernambuco province, in Brazil, which has the world’s second-highest virus death toll after the United States. Instead, the 53-year-old doorman will work in a building in Sao Paulo for the holiday.

“Now I hope to drive to Pernambuco in May and cross my fingers to get her vaccinated by then,” said Paulo. “It’s not a happy Christmas, but I’m healthy at least, and so are all the people that I love.”

The virus has been responsible for over 1.7 million deaths worldwide, and when the virus surges again, many are either grieving or worrying about loved ones in hospitals or nursing homes. Yet those that have survived the disease, and all that has been thrown at them in 2020, are looking to rejoice.

After months of helping women with the virus give birth and caring for her 26-year-old son, who became himself infected, Dr. Elisaveta Tomova, an anesthesiologist in North Macedonia, is exhausted.

‘I faced a beast with nine heads, and my son and I beat it,’ said the 54-year-old. “To be around me, to celebrate in silence and to fill my heart with joy, all I need now is my family.”

After lockdowns to slow the spread of the virus has decimated economies, many individuals head into the holidays facing financial uncertainty.

When bars and restaurants were told to remain closed until mid-January, Matteo Zega, a 25-year-old Italian chef who worked at Michelin-starred restaurants, lost his job offer in France. He hopes to start an internship in Copenhagen as long as that intention is not scuppered by restrictions, too.

“It makes me stressed,” said Zega. But I wouldn’t complain at the end of the day because there are so many people suffering or dying. Many things can be lost: work, income. But here I am, I’m healthy.

In recent weeks, in the hope of keeping the spread of the virus under control so that the rules could be relaxed for Christmas, several nations have tightened controls. But in many areas, it has not succeeded.

The government has placed even further restrictions in Italy, which has Europe’s highest recorded death toll and where thousands have plunged into poverty after lockdowns.

The four U.K. nations. England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have all scrapped their initial relaxation plans for Christmas. Just weeks ago, when Britain was the first country to carry out a rigorously tested shot, expectations that a vaccine could stop the spread were strong, but now an atmosphere of fear hangs over the holiday as new infections soar daily.

A new strain of the virus is surging across London and its surrounding areas, contributing to the gloom. Also, hundreds of countries banned travel from Britain, while France began allowing trucks from the country to enter again after a standoff that increased concerns of food shortages in the U.K. during Christmas.

The opportunity to ditch the Christmas schedule came as almost a relief to Matt Balch, a 40-year-old Australian who lives outside London. Balch was scheduled to go with his wife, Kelly, and their two young children to the home of his in-laws in Wales.

“The prospect of being with a 3-month-old and a 2-year-old in a car for six hours each way filled me with dread,” he said.

But James Wren, who works in the finance industry in Hong Kong, was downbeat about his change in plans. Initially, he was going to fly home to Ireland, but the rapidly evolving travel and quarantine policies, combined with the confusion about the coronavirus situation both in Hong Kong and abroad, led him to cancel.

“This is my first time not being with my family for Christmas, even though I have lived outside of Ireland for many years, so it was an extremely upsetting decision to make,” he said.

While several countries were tightening restrictions, amid rapidly increasing cases, Lebanon, with the largest percentage of Christians in the Mideast, was still easing them. The decision was taken to improve an ailing economy and alleviate the desperation worsened in August by a devastating port explosion in Beirut.

But even that did not bring any relief for others.

“After the holidays, it’ll be a disaster,” said Diala Fares, 52. “People act like everything is normal and it doesn’t matter to our government.”

At least some kids can rest assured, despite all the gloom, that Santa Claus is still coming to town.

During a CNN special program with characters from Sesame Street, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, said that he had been to the North Pole and vaccinated the man himself.

“It’s good for him to go,” said Fauci.

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Travel news: Focus on the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 777-9X

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Travel News: Focus On The Airbus A380 And The Boeing 777-9X

Editor’s note — Sign up for Unlocking the World, CNN Travel’s weekly newsletter. Get news on when destinations open and close, inspiration for future adventures, plus the latest in aviation, food and drink, where to stay and other travel developments.

(CNN) — A travel agency is urging travelers to visit Ukrainian bomb-ravaged cities – against international advice. North Korea has destroyed sites in the resort town of Mount Kumgang, once a symbol of reconciliation between North and South Korea. And Emirates CEO Tim Clark told CNN he wants Airbus to build a new superjumbo to replace the A380.

Here are the last trips of this week:

Is bigger better?

Dubai-based Emirates is the world’s largest operator of the Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger plane.

Airbus has stopped production of the megacraft, so Emirates CEO Tim Clark wants the European manufacturer to build a new superjumbo. But is the demand high enough?
One of the largest aircraft currently in development is the Boeing 777-9X, which CNN was able to discover during the Farnborough International Airshow last month. Although it’s not scaled to the A380, it’s definitely a huge beast at 251 feet long (about 77 meters). Originally scheduled to enter service in 2020, the 777-9X is expected to debut in 2025.
So is bigger better? The United States Federal Aviation Administration is seeking public comment on commercial aircraft seat sizes. But before you start complaining about your neighbor stealing your armrest, note that he’s only looking for comments related to security considerations.

Tourism and Ukraine

Not only is the Russian invasion devastating Ukraine, but it is having a serious impact on tourism in neighboring Eastern European countries. We spoke to local businesses in Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Latvia and Romania about how they are coping.
And inside Ukraine, a travel company has just launched one-day guided tours of the country’s bomb-ravaged towns – despite international warnings against travel to the war-torn nation. The online platform promises walks among bomb debris, crumbling buildings and cathedrals, and burnt-out military hardware.
As the war nears its sixth month, Russia remains isolated from the international community, with airlines and countries abiding by flight bans and sanctions. But one airline has decided to resume a route to Russia, in response to what it says is passenger demand.

life on the water

And in Croatia, a charter boat offers a taste of the “superyacht” lifestyle for less. At $82,000 a week, you can gather 21 of your closest friends and cruise around the islands for less than a week on some luxury cruise ships might cost you.
A Swedish company hopes its electric hydrofoils could be the solution to Venice’s “moto ondoso” – that is, the damage caused to buildings and pavements by motorboats traveling through the city. Here’s how it works.
Finally, Disney has a new cruise ship in its fleet. Disney Wish is the first new Disney ship in a decade and can accommodate an incredible 4,000 passengers. It made its maiden voyage last month.

go west

The latest episode of the “Parts Unknown” podcast revisits Anthony Bourdain’s 2017 visit to Seattle, the “boom or bust” city of the Pacific Northwest.
Arizona’s Grand Canyon was the setting where Carrie and Kris Sorensen met as teenagers on vacation. Seven years later, they reunited and fell in love.
And in Colorado, a lesser-known area called Grand Valley could be the next must-see destination in the West. On the western slope of the Rocky Mountains, the area offers fruit and wine country, river activities, and access to a combination of alpine and desert mountain terrain for hiking, biking, and scenic road trips.

The best of Europe

Bourtzi water tower is a small island with a fortress on the coast of Nafplio in Greece

Adobe Stock

Paris, Barcelona and Rome are rightly must-see cities, but Europe’s smaller towns offer a different perspective on their country’s charms. From humble fishing villages to hilltop medieval power bases, we’ve rounded up 15 of the most beautiful.

In case you missed it

A floating hotel there was once a symbol of reconciliation between North and South Korea.

When the crews looked like rock stars and the champagne flowed freely in the onboard lounge.

Spicy, funky and absolutely delicious.

Don’t forget your toothbrush

Plaque doesn’t take vacations, folks, so dental hygiene is just as important when you’re traveling as when you’re at home. Our partners at CNN Underscored, a CNN-owned product review and recommendation guide, have put together their pick of the best electric toothbrushes of 2022 to put in your toiletry bag.

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Steroid debates have become their own genre of internet content

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Steroid Debates Have Become Their Own Genre Of Internet Content

The once taboo topic of anabolic steroid use in the fitness and bodybuilding communities has become its own genre of Internet content.

“Natty or not” videos, in which people often speculate on who is “natty” (short for natural) and who uses steroids (not), now regularly rack up millions of views on YouTube and TikTok, while hundreds of commentators a day debate on a dedicated subreddit about influencers and celebrities who use steroids to power their physique. Podcaster Joe Rogan recently broached the topic, as did PewDiePie, one of YouTube’s most-followed people.

It’s a move championed by some notable names in bodybuilding who for years have exposed the secrecy around steroid use which they believe has also misled people into having inflated expectations for their own fitness goals. But the videos have also sparked a discussion about whether they are breaking stigma and secrecy or normalizing dangerous substance and unhealthy body norms.

“In a way, it almost puts more people in the sauce,” MK Angeletti, creator of YouTube channel Revival Fitness, said of the “Natty or Not” online content. “The basic intention is good, but then you open a door that spirals out of control.”

Steroids have been a part of the fitness world for decades, with some research estimating that up to 4 million Americans have used some kind of “anabolic androgenic steroid” to help build muscle despite its well-documented adverse health effects, including mental problems and possible liver and kidney damage. And although the possession or sale of anabolic steroids without a prescription is illegal, a growing number of fitness influencers are now speaking openly or strongly implying that they are not “classy”,

Meanwhile, the rise of social media and the fitness influencer community has already created well-known body image issues among young people.

“My social media homepages are filled with bodybuilders who appear to be on steroids but claim to be natural, which makes it very difficult for me to know what is realistically achievable as a youngster trying to break into the fitness game,” said Jacob Mathiasmeier, 21, who launched his own fitness page on TikTok this year.

Mathiasmeier said many young people, including teens and tweens, watch TikTok videos of bodybuilders who aren’t upfront about their diet. “How realistic is that for them?” he said.

Bodybuilder Greg Doucette leaves the O2 Wellness Gym in Bedford, N.S., Canada, August 11, 2022.Riley Smith for NBC News

Among the first fitness influencers to openly discuss their own steroid use was Greg Doucette, a world champion powerlifter who later became a bodybuilder and fitness influencer. Doucette said he started talking openly about steroids, including his own use, when he started creating a lot of fitness content four years ago. It was these videos, where he was honest about his steroid use, that originally went viral, he said.

“When I was very open about what I was doing, rather than people saying they hated me, people responded by saying how refreshing it was to see someone being honest,” Doucette said.

As for concerns about whether talking about steroids might normalize their use, Doucette said he felt the idea that people wouldn’t be aware of steroids was short-sighted.

“Do people think an aspiring 16 year old bodybuilder has never heard of a steroid?” he said.

Doucette has been particularly transparent about her regrets about her steroid use on social media.

A broader fitness boom in recent years – spurred in part by the pandemic – has included the rise of many muscle-focused fitness influencers, many of whom now have millions of followers, with hundreds more with smaller followers.

Steroid-focused videos are only a small part of this larger scene, but they can spark some of the most heated debate. A video posted by Doucette in May explaining whether fitness influencer William Li takes steroids has over 670,000 views and over 2,000 comments. Li talked about steroids, saying he doesn’t use them.

A popular version of “natty or not” videos feature people asking people at gyms or fitness conventions if they use steroids. Very often these people will say that they use steroids.

Ryan Schmidle, a Los Angeles-based fitness influencer with over 500,000 followers on TikTok, uses his platform to discourage his followers from taking anabolic steroids and openly shares his use of medically prescribed steroids.

Bodybuilder Noel Deyzel posted a video on his Youtube account titled “Why I’m Open About My Steroid Use”. In the video, Deyzel tells his 2 million YouTube subscribers that he made his use clear because he hoped to help a younger generation that lacked guidance, even though he says he was told he would never get sponsors after talking about his use of PED.

Other influencers openly promote steroid use, referring to drugs with a variety of slang and sometimes meticulously tracking their steroid use.

Not everyone is so open. Mike Matthews, CEO of fitness brand Legion, said he believes the problem of “fake nattys” (people who don’t admit to using steroids) creates false expectations and drives people to use them.

“Being prepared for disappointment because their results aren’t as impressive as influencers on PEDs can actually encourage and lead kids to want to use steroids themselves because they mistakenly conclude they have a bad genetics,” Matthews said.

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Russia admits talks to swap Brittney Griner (diplomat)

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Russia Admits Talks To Swap Brittney Griner (Diplomat)

Russia has admitted it is in talks with the United States to swap a notorious arms dealer for basketball player Brittney Griner, a Russian diplomat has said.

The diplomat’s comments marked the first time Russia has said it is in talks to swap Griner for Viktor Bout, 55, who is in prison in the United States, according to a report.

“Discussions on the very sensitive topic of an exchange are taking place through the channels chosen by our presidents,” said Alexander Dachiev, head of the North America department at the Russian Foreign Ministry, as quoted by the official TASS news agency. . “The silent diplomacy continues and should bear fruit if Washington, of course, is careful not to fall into propaganda.”

Griner, 31, was arrested at a Moscow airport in February after vaping cartridges containing a small amount of cannabis oil were found in her luggage. Griner was charged with drug trafficking and sentenced to nine years in prison earlier this month.

Suspected arms dealer Viktor Bout has been dubbed “the dealer of death”.
AFP via Getty Images
Brittney Griner Is Pictured Leaving The Courtroom After Being Sentenced To Almost A Decade In Prison On August 4.
Brittney Griner is pictured leaving the courtroom after being sentenced to almost a decade in prison on August 4.
AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said earlier this month he was “hopeful” that Russia would release the hoop star, eight-time WNBA All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist.

Bout, nicknamed “the merchant of death” for supplying weapons for conflicts in Africa and Latin America, was arrested in Thailand in 2008 and extradited to the United States. He was accused of supplying weapons in some of the world’s worst conflicts and sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2012.

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Sean Mannion expected to start at QB in Vikings preseason opener

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Sean Mannion Expected To Start At Qb In Vikings Preseason Opener

LAS VEGAS — With Kirk Cousins out after testing positive for COVID-19, Sean Mannion is expected to start at quarterback for the Vikings in Sunday’s preseason opener at Las Vegas, a source said Saturday.

Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell ruled Cousins out of the game Friday, although Cousins he might have sat, anyway, as a rested starter. O’Connell did reveal Friday who would start at quarterback, but said both Mannion and second-year pro Kellen Mond would play plenty.

Mannion, entering his eighth season, and Mond were listed as co-backups on the first Vikings depth chart, which came out on Wednesday.

Under NFL COVID guidelines, Cousins could return to practice as soon as Tuesday. The Vikings will hold joint practices with San Francisco on Wednesday and Thursday at the TCO Performance Center and will play host to the 49ers in their second preseason game next Saturday.

The Raiders will play their second preseason game after defeating Jacksonville, 27-11, in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio on Aug. 4.

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Save $50 on an Xbox Series S console, bringing the price to $250

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Save $50 On An Xbox Series S Console, Bringing The Price To $250

Are you looking for your next game console? The Xbox series S the console is smaller and more affordable than the Xbox series Xbut it still packs a punch when it comes to features and games.

You can save $50 on the Xbox series S console in Adorama right now. This discount will be automatically added at checkout. At $250, it’s a great option for the casual gamer or savvy buyer looking for the best deal on a new console.

Not only is the Xbox Series S console cheaper than other systems, it also takes up less space without giving up too many features. Everything is digital, so you won’t have to store discs, and all your games are stored in the cloud. It also includes Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos for an immersive gaming experience.

You can stream media in 4K if you have a 4K TV, but if resolution is that important to you, you might want to opt for the Series X instead. The Xbox Series S doesn’t have an optical drive, has less storage and doesn’t render games at full 4K resolution, but it does deliver up to 1440p which is a step up from high definition and it can handle ray tracing.

All of the same Xbox games can be played on both systems, so you won’t run out of content. Moreover, it is equipped with an 80-core AMD Zen 2 processor, 10 GB of RAM and 512 GB SSD storage and gets up to 120 frames per second, so it is definitely a step up. compared to previous systems, such as the Xbox One. And there are storage expansion cards if you decide you need more space, though they’re sold separately.

Read more: Xbox Series X vs Xbox Series S: Which gaming console is right for you?

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Competition Commission of India approves merger of HDFC Bank, HDFC Ltd

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Competition Commission Of India Approves Merger Of Hdfc Bank, Hdfc Ltd

In April, housing finance company HDFC Ltd announced that it would merge with HDFC Bank.

New Delhi:

Fair trade regulator Competition Commission of India (CCI) has approved the proposed merger of HDFC Bank and its parent company HDFC Ltd.

The proposed combination envisages the merger of HDFC Investments and HDFC Holdings with HDFC Ltd initially, and then the merger of HDFC Ltd into HDFC Bank.

In a tweet on Friday, CCI said it had approved the “merger proposal involving the merger of HDFC Limited, HDFC Bank, HDFC Investments and HDFC Holdings”. In April, the country’s largest housing finance company, HDFC Ltd, announced that it would merge with HDFC Bank.

Transactions above a certain threshold require approval from the regulator, which keeps an eye on unfair trading practices in the market.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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