To jab or not to jab? Vaccinations still hot topic in sports

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman let out a faint cough and assured those seated at least 6 feet away that it was allergies, not COVID-19. He had tested negative for the coronavirus three times in the previous week. It allowed the fully vaccinated 69-year-old the opportunity to underscore the message that the virus is still part of the NHL and other professional sports leagues 19 months into the pandemic. “It’s no joke,” Bettman said. “We’re still dealing with COVID, although not in the same ways.” U.S. sports have successfully forced more athletes and staff to get vaccinated than many other industries, in part because the threat of losing pay is so severe. Yet, the outliers have and will continue to get more attention and generate outrage from fans who want to see stars play.

Tiny wrists in cuffs: How police use force against children

CHICAGO — Royal Smart remembers every detail: the feeling of the handcuffs on his wrists. The panic as he was led outside into the cold March darkness, arms raised, to face a wall of police officers pointing their guns. He was 8 years old. Neither he nor anyone else at his family’s home on Chicago’s South Side was arrested on that night two years ago, and police wielding a warrant to look for illegal weapons found none. But even now, in nightmares and in waking moments, he is tormented by visions of officers bursting through houses and tearing rooms apart, ordering people to lie down on the floor. Children like Royal were not the focus after George Floyd died at the hands of police in 2020, prompting a raging debate on the disproportionate use of force by law enforcement, especially on adults of color. Kids are still an afterthought in reforms championed by lawmakers and pushed by police departments. But in case after case, an Associated Press investigation has found that children as young as 6 have been treated harshly — even brutally — by officers of the law.

Workers fed up with nights, weekends seek flexible schedules

NEW YORK — After struggling to hire workers for its outlet store in Dallas, Balsam Hill finally opened on Sept. 1. But the very next day, the online purveyor of high-end artificial holiday trees was forced to close after four of its five workers quit. The main gripe for three of them? Working on weekends. So they found jobs elsewhere with better hours. Balsam Hill reopened weeks later with nine workers, hiking the hourly pay by $3 to $18 per hour. But more importantly, it changed its approach: Instead of only focusing on the needs of the business, it's now closely working with each employee to tailor their schedules based on when they want to work. “We're working against people who have the choice of wherever they want to work,” said Kendra Gould, senior retail strategist at Balsam Hill. “Now, it’s more about what do you need as an employee and how can we make you happy?"

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