Illustration by Peter Hamlin via AP.

Flying can increase your risk of exposure to infection, but airlines are taking some precautions and you can too. Air travel means spending time in security lines and airport terminals, which puts you into close contact with other people. As travel slowly recovers, planes are becoming more crowded, which means you will likely sit close to other people, often for hours, which increases your risk. Once on a plane, most viruses and other germs don’t spread easily because of the way air circulates, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Airlines also say they are focusing on sanitizing the hard surfaces that passengers touch often. Some airlines like Alaska, Delta, JetBlue and Southwest are blocking middle seats or limiting capacity. But, even if every middle seat is empty you will likely be closer than the recommended distance of six feet to another passenger now that planes are getting fuller. American, United and Spirit Airlines are now booking flights to full capacity when they can. All leading US airlines require passengers to wear masks. Lauren Ancel Meyers, an expert in disease outbreaks at the University of Texas, says that can help limit risk. For air travel, and all other types of transportation, the CDC recommends washing your hands, maintaining social distancing and wearing face coverings. Several airlines announced on Monday that they will ask passengers about possible COVID-19 symptoms and whether they have been in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus in the previous two weeks. Still, Meyers said you still might consider whether you need to be on that plane. “We should all be in the mind-set of ‘only if necessary’ and always taking the most precautions we can to protect ourselves and others,” she said.

Samples of Pre-stretched Innocence EZBRAND Professional Antibacterial Braid hair extensions from I&I Hair Corporation, purchased in May, are seen in this photo in New York on Wednesday, July 1, 2020.  (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

Federal authorities in New York on Wednesday seized a shipment of weaves and other beauty accessories suspected to be made out of human hair taken from people locked insidea Chinese internment camp. USCustoms and Border Protection officials told The Associated Press that 13 tons (11.8 metric tonnes) of hair products worth an estimated $800,000 were in the shipment. “The production of these goods constitutes a very serious human rights violation, and the detention order is intended to send a clear and direct message to all entities seeking to do business with the United States that illicit and inhumane practices will not be tolerated in USsupply chains," said Brenda Smith, executive assistant commissioner of CBP's Office of Trade. This is the second time this year that CBP has slapped one of its rare detention orders on shipments of hair weaves from China, based on suspicions that people making them face human rights abuses. The orders are used to hold shipping containers at the US ports of entry until the agency can investigate claims of wrongdoing. Rushan Abbas, a Uighur American activist whose sister, a medical doctor, went missing in China almost two years ago and is believed to be locked in a detention camp, said women who use hair weaves should think about who might be making them. “This is so heartbreaking for us,” she said. “I want people to think about the slavery people are experiencing today. My sister is sitting somewhere being forced to make what, hairpieces?” Wednesday's shipment was made by Lop County Meixin Hair Product Co. Ltd. In May, a similar detention was placed on Hetian Haolin Hair Accessories Co. Ltd., although those weaves were synthetic, not human, the agency said. Hetian Haolin's products were imported by Os Hair in Duluth, Georgia, and I & I Hair, headquartered in Dallas. I & I's weaves are sold under the Innocence brand to salons and individuals around the US. Both of the exporters are in China's far west Xinjiang region, where, over the past four years, the government has detained an estimated onemillion or more ethnic Turkic minorities. The ethnic minorities are held in internment camps and prisons where they are subjected to ideological discipline, forced to denounce their religion and language and physically abused. China has long suspected the Uighurs, who are mostly Muslim, of harbouring separatist tendencies because of their distinct culture, language and religion. Reports by the AP and other news organisations have repeatedly found thatpeople inside the internment camps and prisons, which activists call “black factories,” are making sportswear and other apparel for popular USbrands. The AP tried to visit Hetian Haolin Hair Accessories Co. more than a year ago duringan investigation into forced labour inside the camps. But police called the cab driver taking AP journalists to the area, ordering the driver to turn back and warning that the cab's coordinates were being tracked. From the road, it was clear the factory — topped with “Haolin Hair Accessories” in big red letters — was ringed with barbed wire fencing and surveillance cameras, and the entrance was blocked by helmeted police. Across the street, what appeared to be an educational facility was topped with political slogans declaring “the country has power” and urging people to obey the Communist Party. It was unclear whether the factory was part of a detention center, but former detainees in other parts of Xinjiang have described being shuttled to work in fenced, guarded compounds during the day and taken back to internment camps at night. The Chinese Ministry of Affairs has said there is no forced labour, nor detention of ethnic minorities. “We hope that certain people in the United States can take off their tinted glasses, correctly understand and objectively and rationally view normal economic and trade cooperation between Chinese and American enterprises," the ministry said in a statement. Last December, Xinjiang authorities announced thatthe camps had closedand all the detainees had “graduated,” a claim difficult to corroborate independently given tight surveillance and restrictions on reporting in the region. Some Uighurs and Kazakhs have told the AP that their relatives have been released, but many others say their loved ones remain in detention, were sentenced to prison, or transferred to forced labour in factories. While tariffs and embargoes over political issues are fairly common, it’s extremely rare for the USgovernment to block imports produced by forced labor. The 1930 Tariff Act prohibited those imports, but the government has only enforced the law 54 times in the past 90 years. Most of those bans, 75 percent, blocked goods from China, and enforcement has ramped up sincethen-President Barack Obama strengthened the lawin 2016. Rep. Chris Smith said that while the allegations of forced labor are appalling, “sadly they are not surprising.” "It is likely that many slave-labour products continue to surreptitiously make it into our stores,” said Smith, a New Jersey Republican who has taken a lead on anti-human trafficking legislation. On June 17, President Donald Trump signed the bipartisanUyghur Human Rights Policy Actof 2020, condemning “gross human rights violations of specified ethnic Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang region in China.” Earlier, calling for its passage, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi decried what she described as China's mass incarceration, forced sterilisation and journalist suppression. “Beijing’s barbarous actions targeting the Uyghur people are an outrage to the collective conscience of the world,” she said in a statement.


Sir Everton Weekes.

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has sent condolences to the family and friends of legendary West Indian cricketer Sir Everton Weekes following his passing on July 1. Weekes was 95. In a message of condolence to Prime Minister Mia Mottley, CARICOM Secretary-General AmbassadorIrwin LaRocque described the Barbados born cricketer as “a true icon and example of excellence.” “Sir Everton’s contribution to the game, the Region and his native Barbados spanned as player, coach, administrator and commentator. His exploits, along with those of his late compatriots Sir Frank Worrell and Sir Clyde Walcott, earned them the unforgettable acronym of the 3Ws. He was a key member of the famous West Indies Team that was the first to defeat England in a Test Series in England. His record of five consecutive Test centuries remains unbroken,” He wrote. “Sir Everton will be well remembered, apart from his cricketing skills, for his grace, humility and wit.”

Leicester's Jamie Vardy scores his teams third goal during the English Premier League football match against Crystal Palace at the King Power stadium in Leicester, England, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2020. (Michael Regan/Pool via AP).

Jamie Vardy passed 100 career goals in the Premier League by scoring twice as Leicester beat Crystal Palace 3-0 on Saturday to ignite theirambitions to qualify for next season’s Champions League. By netting for the first time since the restart of the league, Vardy also moved back as the outright top scorer in England’s top flight with 21 goals — two more than Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Vardy reached the 100-goal milestone with a tap-in in the 77th minute after a square ball by substitute Harvey Barnes. The striker then added his second of the game in the fourth minute of injury time to cap a dominant performance by Leicester, which havestruggled for rhythm since coming back from the three-month suspension. Kelechi Iheanacho put Leicester in front in the 49th. Leicester haveseen theircushion in third place trimmed after they failed to win any of theirfirst three games since the resumption. The team stayed three points ahead of Manchester United, which also won Saturday, while fellow Champions League hopefuls Chelsea and Wolverhampton play later Saturday.


There’s some comfortingnews for LIAT staffin Grenada. They will be addedto the list of persons benefitting from the COVID-19 economic stimulus package provided by the Government. Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchellgave this assurance followingseparatemeetingswith workers and their trade union representatives this week. Dr Mitchell saysLIAT employees have not received salary since March and in recent days, news surfaced about the possible liquidation of the airline because of its growing financial problems which have been exacerbated by the pandemic. He statesMembers of Cabinet are of the opinion thattheyhave a moral responsibility to assist workers during this difficult time. The Prime Minister saysit is not their fault that they are suddenly and unceremoniously relieved of jobs after years of dedicated service and sacrifice. [related node_id='dcc5bf05-f5fb-4742-aa56-b76ebf822ac2'] He says: “We have therefore committed to ensuring that they benefit from the economic stimulus package which is specifically designed to provide some relief to impacted persons across the country. The benefits provided under the stimulus package will cater to the immediate needs of the LIAT workers.” PM Mitchell notes theimpending liquidation of the airline means that workers will be entitled to other benefits. TheGovernmenthas expressed itswillingness to engage in discussions to determine what can be done. Dr Mitchell says there are many demands upon Government now, at a time whenit isalso faced with a significant reduction in revenue: “Therefore, Government cannot commit tohonouringall of LIAT’s commitment to workers but we can certainly engage in discussion with the staff and the union to determine how we can help.” He addsregional air transport is necessary and whether it is provided by LIAT or some other airline or combination of airlines, at least some of the workers, will be employed.

Minister of Labour Jason Hayward. Photo: Bermuda House of Assembly

Bermuda will hold its first National Tripartite Social Dialogue Meeting to focus on the Hotel Industry on 10July. Minister of Labour Jason Hayward made the announcement during today’s sitting of the House of Assembly. “In light of the COVID-19 Global Pandemic, Bermuda’s economy has been significantly disrupted, leading the hotel industry to sustain substantial losses. With the gradual re-opening of the country, it is critical that urgent actions are taken,” Hayward said. The objective of the meeting is to help ensure greater cooperation among the tripartite partners and build consensus on the way forward for the Hotel Industry. Hayward said the Dialogue will bring together representatives from Employees, Employers and the Government to discuss policies, laws and other matters that affect the hotel industry in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.