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Garden tours offered in Washington County on Saturday

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Garden Tours Offered In Washington County On Saturday

A garden tour spanning Oakdale and Woodbury will be offered from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, sponsored by the Washington County Master Gardeners. Attendees will get access to seven unique gardens maintained by Master Gardeners volunteers in the organization.

The gardeners will be present to answer questions while sharing their projects with the public. Educational stations with topics such as invasive plants, pruning and design will be available for visitors, and each ticket to the event includes maps to food trucks, parking options and the Garden Gifts Market.

According to Master Gardener Diane McGann, “700 varieties of daylilies, 250 varieties of daffodils and 30 varieties of ornamental grasses” can be found on the tours as well as “an English garden, a grass collection, a shade sanctuary and a cutting garden.”

Tickets can be ordered online in advance of July 15 and 3 p.m. and can be purchased on Saturday in person at 1625 Hydram Avenue North in Oakdale.

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Trudy Rubin: Ukraine’s civilian volunteers work to give aid and rebuild, even as Russia keeps bombing

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Trudy Rubin: Ukraine’s Civilian Volunteers Work To Give Aid And Rebuild, Even As Russia Keeps Bombing

KHARKIV, Ukraine — Here is a critical reason why Vladimir Putin has failed to crush Ukraine: Its civilians are fighting back with an army of volunteers.

All across the country, groups of ordinary Ukrainians are helping to feed or house refugees displaced from the Donbas, raising funds to buy flak jackets or drones for military units without them, helping homeowners devastated by Russian shelling to rebuild, and rescuing survivors from villages the Russians still occupy.

Like Americans, some volunteer through church groups or clubs. But I have met many who have created volunteer networks or are working on their own to make a difference. Their civic resistance to the Russian invaders is a morale boost to the public — and to the army.

While ordinary Americans debate how to counter threats to our democracy, these Ukrainians are fighting to save their democracy from a Russian takeover. Many have the skills to find jobs elsewhere in Europe but have chosen to stay on, despite constant risk to their lives.

In Kharkiv, 20 miles from the Russian border, volunteers face nightly shelling. They wrestle with the uncertainty of whether the United States and its allies will give their army the long-range weapons needed to push Russian forces back beyond artillery range. They believe their fight for democracy is also the West’s fight.

So let me introduce you to a few of Kharkiv’s courageous volunteers.

 

The Rotarians

In a basement cafe of Kharkiv’s French Boulevard Mall, real estate agent Igor Balaka recently rang the bell to call the “New Level” Rotary Club chapter to order. They, along with myself and my translator, were the only customers.

Most of the 300 stores in the mall have been closed since a Russian rocket damaged the roof of the complex earlier this year. But the mall’s owner, Robert Mkrtchian, a Rotarian, allows the group to use a former skating rink in the basement to organize 1,500 food packages a day for those left homeless or hungry by the war.

Packages of macaroni, other packaged foodstuffs, and bandages, saline solution, and syringes for hospitals line the concrete floor of the rink, along with clothing and household supplies. The Rotarians have been working with many other volunteer groups to disperse the goods across some of the neighborhoods that have been hardest hit. They also work to clear the rubble.

Balaka; Serhii Ivalho, a developer; and Pavlo Filippenko, the head of a construction business, discuss how to find funds to build modular housing to help Kharkiv when winter comes. Members of the group are concerned that access to water and electricity will become a problem and more citizens will lose their homes from shelling.

“In wars you’ve seen, how did the economy survive?” one member asked me. “Is this like the other wars you’ve seen? We’ve never seen a war before.”

I realize that these businessmen, like most Americans, never imagined an all-out invasion could come to their country in the 21st century. They are struggling to figure out how to rebuild their city even as the Russians try to destroy it. They know their survival depends on whether the United States gives them the long-range weapons to push back Russian artillery beyond the range of their city.

“War is a situation where you see what people are capable of,” says Mkrtchian. “People take off their masks.”

Balaka adds, “Everyone left here in Kharkiv is like a family.”

Then the group nervously asks me the question I heard everywhere in Ukraine: “What will happen in America if the Republicans get the majority in Congress, or Trump becomes president again? Will your country stop supporting Ukraine?”

 

The Restaurateur

On the previous Wednesday night, shrapnel pierced the walls, windows, and ceiling of Oleksiy Lomskiy’s NEBO Restaurant in the DAFI Mall for the second time. (Putin’s military seems to love targeting malls, as I have seen in every city I’ve visited.)

The first attack on the mall also set the multiplex cinema next to the restaurant on fire. Lomskiy risked his life fighting the blaze with a handheld extinguisher until the firefighters arrived. Being inside a cinema mostly reduced to ashes by a Russian rocket gives you an idea of the absurdity of this war.

But Lomskiy kept his staff going, adding more kitchens, in order to cook meals and bake bread for 8,000 people daily. In Lomskiy’s Kharkiv neighborhood of high-rises scarred and blackened by rocket attacks, I see weary adults lining up outside the battered NEBO for a midday meal.

Lomskiy also has a fleet of yellow delivery vans that deliver food to danger zones; while I was visiting, one of them radioed that it had come under heavy shelling, but it managed to escape.

Like the Rotarians, the restaurant owner worries that the West’s attention will fade if the war continues. “Now, most Ukrainians who relocated to the West are running out of money,” he told me. He wants to keep feeding as many as he can. He was also concerned about how to shelter Kharkiv citizens who lived in destroyed buildings; he thinks they will need places to sleep for at least the next 18 months.

NEBO means “sky” in Ukrainian, and the restaurateur has set up a charity foundation called “Peaceful Sky of Ukraine” to fund future operations. Until now, he has paid part of the expenses himself, and received some help from World Central Kitchen, as well as funding from European aid groups.

But he warns that “Putin will destroy what he cannot have,” and “Kharkiv can be easily destroyed if we can’t stop Russian rockets from flying.”

Ukraine’s civic army, like its military forces, knows that all its efforts will be insufficient if the West stops paying attention. Yet, unlike many of America’s past misbegotten overseas efforts, U.S. assistance to Ukraine goes to a country whose people are doing their utmost to help themselves win.

Trudy Rubin is a columnist and editorial-board member for The Philadelphia Inquirer, P.O. Box 8263, Philadelphia, Pa. 19101. Her email address is [email protected]

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Finally, online trip planning is getting (a little) easier

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Finally, Online Trip Planning Is Getting (A Little) Easier

While the internet has made it easier to plan a trip yourself – and see how much you save – it also forces you to wade through hundreds of destination search pages, hotel and home rental options, and a myriad flight route alternatives, becoming an amateur travel agent along the way.

But this summer, a few travel platforms rolled out or announced fixes to make travel planning easier, refining searches, creating more informative maps and streamlining loyalty programs.

Now, if you want to find a vacation home on an island, a hotel within a 15-minute walk of your nephew’s local bar mitzvah, or an electric car, Airbnb, Google, and Skyscanner, respectively, make it easy for you.

Analysts say these and other platforms aren’t done yet. “Travel information, pricing and reservations are still so fragmented and disjointed that I expect we’ll continue to see more brands develop and upgrade these types of features in the future,” Madeline said. List, senior research analyst at Phocuswright, a travel market research company.

Finding the right vacation rental can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack when it comes to sifting through search results. Among the measures that Airbnb has adopted this summer to facilitate the rental: the creation of 56 categories of accommodation which aim to help you find rentals identified as, for example, mini-houses, castles, “ski-in ski-out ”, close to national parks, residences with “incredible swimming pools” and even an “OMG!” category for unusual architectural options.

Additionally, the new “split stay” feature aims to help renters who want to split their time between two locations. The tool suggests nearby rentals available for part of the trip, making it easy to pair two rentals on longer stays and simplify the booking process for both.

“People are much more location independent than they were before the pandemic,” said Jamie Lane, vice president of research at Airdna, a market research firm specializing in short-term rentals. term, noting the growth of extended travel related to remote work. . “Airbnb makes it easy to build a longer-term trip by helping you find listings that meet your criteria and are open for the duration of that trip.”

Also new, a free policy known as AirCover, automatically included with every rental, protects consumers by guaranteeing a similar stay or a refund if a host cancels within 30 days of your trip.

“I see it as wanting to compete better with hotels,” Mr. Lane said. “Guests can feel comfortable knowing they will get what they booked or get their money back.”

Expedia Group wants your loyalty. Named after its flagship online travel agency, Expedia, the travel agency collection includes online agencies Travelocity and Orbitz, vacation rental platform Vrbo, discount hotel booking site Hotwire. com, car rental site CarRentals.com and more. In early 2023, it plans to bring them together under One Key, a loyalty program spanning its 12 brands, meaning points earned by booking a flight on Expedia could be applied to the cost of a future rental on Vrbo.

“It’s so hard for people to keep track of programs and rewards,” said Jon Gieselman, president of Expedia Brands, the group’s consumer division, who added that the idea of ​​an integrated loyalty program made him came when he opened his own travel wallet filled with dozens of membership programs and credit cards.

“It struck me that our superpower opportunity was to create connections between all of our brands in the minds of customers and at the same time make it easier to understand disparate agendas,” he added.

A few of the brands, including Expedia, Orbitz and Hotels.com, already have loyalty programs – with a collective enrollment of 154 million members – and the company has not yet disclosed conversion formulas or One’s pricing. Key to earn and use points.

While most loyalty programs encourage members to stick with one brand, One Key will allow users to apply points across categories in a program Mr. Gieselman called the “non-loyalty program,” what sets it apart from competitors.

“Expedia’s expanded loyalty offering can attract more people to the umbrella brand with flexible options for earning and burning points on which Expedia brand offers the most appropriate options for a given trip,” Ms List said. of Phocuswright, adding that the loyalty program facilitates “friction” between Expedia’s often overlapping brands.

New Google Travel features, announced in May, map things like driving directions and restaurant-rich neighborhoods, providing a visual sense of geography in areas visitors might not know about before booking.

When searching for hotels on the platform, a Google map already showed the hotels with the associated prices. New icons representing transport, restaurants, attractions and shops – what Google calls “layers of interest” – allow users, for example, to overlay a map of public transport to see where the lines are. public transport compared to hotels. Attractive shopping or dining icons shade the map in neighborhoods with many stores or restaurants. Clicking on the attractions icon adds things like museums to the hotel map.

At the bottom of the map, users can drag the bar next to a walking figure to see the radius an average person can walk from a given location in up to 30 minutes (there is also an option to map driving radius). The feature could be useful for identifying hotels near a wedding or meeting venue, the company suggested.

“There was always the ability to figure this out in Google Maps using addresses, but that takes a lot of the guesswork out of it,” Google spokesman Craig Ewer said.

Its new Explore tool identifies destinations a few hours away. Clicking on a road trip destination brings up attractions, hotels, and routes.

“We saw during Covid an increased preference for road trips and trips that didn’t involve the airport,” Mr Ewer said. “With the Explore tool, we tried to provide inspiration.”

For bargain-hunters, Google Flights now lets you track prices between a pair of cities – departure and destination – and click “all dates” to have the platform watch fares for the lowest prices over the next six months.

Using tracking, like most other Google features, requires you to sign in or create a free account with Google. For travel purchases, such as flights and hotels, the platform connects users to these companies or online travel agencies.

Two other platforms help consumers refine their searches by providing more targeted results.

The Skyscanner travel search engine has added a new filter in electric vehicle rental cars. After entering the dates and location, users can check the electric box – along with other search filters like unlimited mileage or 4×4 – to see all available electric vehicles.

The initiative grew out of a similar green filter launched by Skyscanner in flight searches a few years ago, showing choices with less carbon emissions than average for each search.

The car rental filter helps travelers “understand the environmental impact of travel and how to reduce it,” said Martin Nolan, the sustainable travel expert at Skyscanner.

Online travel agency Booking.com aims to make it easier for LGBTQ travelers to find welcoming accommodations. It has set up a partner training program for hotels on its platform on the challenges faced by LGBTQ travelers.

Since last August, the free program, known as Proud Hospitality, has certified more than 10,000 properties in 95 countries and territories. The certification includes a digital Travel Proud badge on its list.

“As a global travel leader, we have a responsibility to take action and help pave the way for a more inclusive industry, with the ultimate goal of enabling everyone to experience the world as themselves,” said Arjan Dijk, Marketing Director. officer and senior vice president of Booking.com, in a written statement.

Elaine Glusac writes the Frugal Traveler column. Follow her on Instagram @eglusac.

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Brazil Lula and Bolsonaro court evangelical vote for elections

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Brazil Lula And Bolsonaro Court Evangelical Vote For Elections
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About two months from In the Brazilian presidential election, the main candidates are at war for the evangelical vote.

At a campaign launch rally on Tuesday, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva claimed his opponent, far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, was “possessed by the devil”.

Bolsonaro’s wife, Michelle, had shared a video of da Silva, who is a Christian, during an African-born religious ritual. The video alleged that the former president, commonly known as Lula, was linked to “the underworld”. The first lady said the presidential palace had been “overrun by demons” by previous administrations, before being consecrated under her husband’s watch.

Polls indicate Lula has a lead of around 10 points over the incumbent – but his advantage has narrowed in recent months. The former labor leader campaigned on a platform of religious tolerance and said he would stand up for minority practitioners of African-descended religions. Now he hopes to curry favor with evangelical voters on the fence.

Over the past 20 years, Brazil’s evangelical population has more than doubled. Today, experts estimate that about 30% of the country’s more than 210 million people identify as evangelical. This rise is reflected in Brazilian politics, with a growing congressional evangelical caucus gaining power. Evangelical denominations have a particular influence among the poor, with charismatic pastors often teaching congregations how to vote.

Bolsonaro, a Christian who rose to power on a platform to bring God and family to the forefront of politics, won the support of 70% of evangelical voters in 2018. But their enthusiasm for the former captain of the army has weakened in recent years. A recent opinion poll indicates that just under half of evangelical voters approve of his government.

For many evangelicals, the breaking point came during the coronavirus pandemic. For months, Bolsonaro ignored the severity of the virus that has killed hundreds of thousands of Brazilians, while a recession, rising inflation and high interest rates have hit the country’s poor.

Supporting economically disadvantaged black evangelical women may be key to any victory, analysts say. “I have no doubt that black evangelical women will decide these elections,” Jacqueline Teixeira, professor of anthropology at the University of São Paulo, told the BBC.

Lula, who led Brazil from 2003 to 2011, was jailed following a corruption conviction that was eventually overturned. His campaign sees this election as an opportunity to appeal to undecided religious voters. This week he accused Bolsonaro of using religion for political gain and lying to his constituents.

“If anyone’s possessed by the devil, it’s that Bolsonaro,” Lula told a crowd at a manufacturing plant on Tuesday, as he officially began his push to win the support of the country’s 150 million voters. country.

Lula’s campaign missteps raise the question: Has he lost his touch?

“He tries to manipulate the faith of evangelical men and women who go to church”, Lula tweeted Hours later. “He tells lies every day.”

The presidential campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the allegations.

Bolsonaro claimed Brazil’s electronic voting system was “flawed”, an allegation dismissed by electoral tribunals as “disinformation”. At a March for Jesus demonstration in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday, he urged Christians to join a September 7 rally in “defense of democracy.”

Lula’s wife has also used social media to appeal to religious voters. “I learned that God is synonymous with love, compassion and above all peace and respect,” wrote Rosangela “Janja” da Silva. “It doesn’t matter what your religion or beliefs are. My life and that of my husband have always been and always will be guided by these principles.

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Ukraine removes Russian language and literature from school curricula

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Ukraine Removes Russian Language And Literature From School Curricula

Russian language and literature classes will no longer be offered in Ukraine, according to an updated curriculum published by the Ukrainian Ministry of Education on its website on August 16. Among the excluded courses are “Russian and foreign literature”, “Russian language for general educational establishments with teaching in Russian” for grades 5-9, and teaching in Ukrainian or Russian for classes level 10 and 11.

While almost all Russian and Belarusian books will be removed from the school curriculum, the ministry notes that it will allow certain works by authors who wrote in Russian but whose “life and work were closely linked to Ukraine” , such as Nicolas Gogol and Mikhail Bulgakov. According to the updated curriculum, foreign literature classes in Ukrainian schools will now focus on the works of writers such as Jean de La Fontaine, O. Henry, Anna Gavalda and Joseph Roth.

The ministry also announced that it would update history lessons in Ukrainian schools “to take into account new historiographical developments.” Specifically, it will update Ukrainian and world history lessons in grades 6-11 to include the military conflict currently unfolding in Ukraine.

In July, the Ukrainian authorities had introduced a new stage of the law aimed at “guaranteeing the functioning of the Ukrainian language as a state language”, which provides for fines for speaking Russian in certain public establishments. The law applies, for example, to workers in institutions such as government agencies or national education. “Citizens of the country must use the Ukrainian language in all aspects of social life,” said State Language Protection Commissioner Taras Kremen, calling on the population to report offenders to the forces of the local order.

Russian is a native language in part of Ukraine, notably in several cities in the east and south of the country. Moscow has been worried for years about the decline in the teaching of Russian, and Vladimir Putin notably deplored in March the “cancellation of Russian culture” in Ukraine. His Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, for his part castigated the “total war” that the West would have “declared on the whole of the Russian world”, in particular on its culture.

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Flush with oil profits, Saudi Arabia pays $7.5 billion in U.S. Amazon stock to Microsoft

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Flush With Oil Profits, Saudi Arabia Pays $7.5 Billion In U.s. Amazon Stock To Microsoft

DUBAI — Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund has invested $7.5 billion in blue chip U.S. companies Amazon.co.uk Inc. at JPMorgan Chase & Co., as the kingdom deploys windfall revenues from high oil prices to diversify its investments.

The Public Investment Fund has taken minority stakes in 17 companies, including Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc., black rock Inc and Microsoft Corp., in the three months ended June 30, according to U.S. securities filings. Each investment was worth between $400 million and $500 million, according to filings.

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Amid ‘solid’ but unspectacular season, Cedric Mullins still making impact on Orioles

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Amid ‘Solid’ But Unspectacular Season, Cedric Mullins Still Making Impact On Orioles

Cedric Mullins hasn’t been the player he was in 2021. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t remain one of the Orioles’ most important pieces.

Back in the leadoff spot Tuesday after sitting out Monday against a left-handed starting pitcher, Mullins got the Orioles going against Toronto Blue Jays ace Alek Manoah with a solo home run after Baltimore managed only one hit the first two times through the order. Rookie sensation Adley Rutschman went back-to-back to even the game, with the Orioles scoring twice more an inning later to move within half a game of an American League wild-card spot.

The home run was Mullins’ 11th of the year, with a stolen base earlier in the game making him the first Oriole with consecutive 25-steal campaigns since Brian Roberts in 2008-09. A year ago, Mullins became Baltimore’s first player to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in the same season, earning All-Star, Silver Slugger and Most Valuable Oriole recognition while finishing in the top 10 of American League MVP voting.

He did that batting .291/.360/.518, with a quiet September dampening an otherwise standout season. After Tuesday’s showing, he’s batting .263/.320/.400 in 2022, an OPS more than 150 points below last year’s mark.

Mullins described his season overall as “solid,” which its current lined boosted thanks to an August in which he’s hit .314 with an .894 OPS. Tuesday’s solo shot marked his third home run since July, already tied for his most in a month.

“No way around it, the ups and downs, kind of how a typical season goes,” Mullins said. “Ride the highs as long as you can, and when the lows come, you just try to minimize them.”

Conversely, Mullins’ 2021 was basically a season-long high, manager Brandon Hyde said.

“Last year, he kind of just got on a roll and didn’t stop until I probably overplayed him in September,” Hyde said. “We were going for the 30-30, and he was playing through some some hamstring stuff at that time, also. But he just never, like, hit any adversity last year. He’s having more of a normal player season this year where there’s some scuffles, guys are pitching him differently, he’s having to adjust to the league.”

Early in the year, he was being worked inside more against left-handed pitchers, who Hyde has started to sit him against, though he said Monday he’s not worried about Mullins’ performance in those left-on-left matchups. Mullins has either been on the bench or dropped from the leadoff spot in five of Baltimore’s past seven matchups against lefties, off whom he’s hitting .208 with a .568 OPS in his second season since abandoning switch-hitting, with marks of .277 and .788 in 2021. When he has the platoon advantage this season, Mullins has posted a .293 average with an OPS of .813.

“It’s my second year hitting left-on-left, so there’s adjustments to be made, but I’ve always considered myself someone to make those adjustments, whether that’s within the season or following the year after,” Mullins said. “It’s just a matter of continuing to study left-handers and continue to work on my approach, and I feel like I’m gonna have success in the future.”

Even as Mullins has tried to get his offensive game back to 2021 levels, his defense has remained remarkable. He ranks in the top 10% of outfielders in Statcast’s Outs Above Average. An arm that FanGraphs’ metrics had as the second worst among outfielders in 2021 rates positively in 2022.

“He’s a phenomenal player, phenomenal person, great guy in the clubhouse and just a guy you want on your team,” Rutschman said. “You can’t really say enough good things about him.”

The total package is a player who among Orioles trails only Rutschman in FanGraphs’ version of wins above replacement

“I just think he’s having one of those years,” Hyde said. “I think he’s going to make adjustments. It’s going to be better for him long term. He’s going to understand not every year is going to be an easy, great year. It’s going to take time. It’s gonna take work. I give Ced a ton of credit. He is hanging in there. He puts an amazing amount of work in. He still plays Gold Glove defense every day, every time out there, no matter what the bat’s doing. It’s Gold Glove defense in center field, and that’s huge.”

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