Military weighs penalties for those who refuse COVID vaccine

As deadlines loom for military and defense civilians to get mandated COVID-19 vaccines, senior leaders must now wrestle with the fate of those who flatly refuse the shots or are seeking exemptions, and how to make sure they are treated fairly and equally. The vast majority of the active duty force has received at least one shot, but tens of thousands have not. For some it may be a career-ending decision. Others could face transfers, travel restrictions, limits on deployments and requirements to repay bonuses. Exemption decisions for medical, religious and administrative reasons will be made by unit commanders around the world, on what the Pentagon says will be a “case-by-case” basis. That raises a vexing issue for military leaders who are pushing a vaccine mandate seen as critical to maintaining a healthy force, but want to avoid a haphazard, inconsistent approach with those who refuse.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade returns to pre-pandemic shape

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will return to its pre-pandemic form this year, with its route restored through Manhattan, high-flying helium balloons once again pulled by handlers and crowds welcomed back to cheer them on. This year's parade — the 95th annual — will snap back to form after bowing to pandemic restrictions last year. It will feature 15 giant character balloons, 28 floats, 36 novelty and heritage inflatables, more than 800 clowns, 10 marching bands and nine performance groups and, of course, Santa Claus. New balloon giants joining the line-up on Nov. 25 include Ada Twist, Scientist and the Pokémon characters Pikachu and Eevee. Broadway will be represented by the casts of “Six,” “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” and “Wicked.” The Rockettes will be there, as will the cast of the upcoming NBC live production of “Annie.”

Women of color growing force as mom influencers

Kisha Gulley was once kicked out of a Facebook group for mothers with autistic children after a contentious debate she felt was racial. Over and over, she clashed with the white-dominated groups she’d sought out for support as a new mom. So Gulley, who is Afro Latina, started her own parenting blog and social media accounts. It’s now a source of income for her. The multibillion-dollar world of sleep training guides, toddler activity ideas, breastfeeding tips and all things parenting has traditionally been overwhelmingly white. Parenting book jackets feature mostly white faces. The so-called mom influencers that brands choose to advertise their products have, until recently, also been mostly white. This has left a hole for women of color — especially new moms — who struggle to find culturally relevant parenting advice and products. Increasingly, they're taking matters into their own hands.

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