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Power Up: Racism and police violence in spotlight at crucial time in 2020 race

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with Brent D. Griffiths

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The Campaign

NOT JUST CORONAVIRUS: The recent spate of killings of African Americans has put racism and police violence in the spotlight at a crucial point in the 2020 race. 

A viral video capturing a white Minneapolis police officer kneeling on the neck of a handcuffed father of two, George Floyd — who cried out that he could not breathe and later died — sparked public outrage and major protests even as a pandemic dominates the national discourse. The incident — which the FBI and Minnesota law enforcement are investigating comes amid widespread outrage over the death of Ahmaud Arbery, a young black jogger in Georgia who was shot by white men who followed him with guns and Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT killed in her own apartment as Louisville officers were executing a drug warrant for a man who did not live there. 

The racial pain also comes as President Trump is trying to make inroads with black voters, and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden is counting on their support to put him in the White House. And Democratic voters who had a diverse primary field from which to choose may turn up pressure on Biden to pick a person of color as his number two to ensure their concerns get heard. 

Trump called Floyd’s death a “very, very sad event” and tweeted last night that he asked “for this investigation to be expedited.”  

Biden condemned the “horrific killing” of Floyd and called for “an independent Department of Justice civil rights investigation,” our colleague Sean Sullivan reports. 

  • “Watching his life be taken in the same manner, echoing nearly the same words of Eric Garner more than five years ago — ‘I can’t breathe’ — is a tragic reminder that this was not an isolated incident but a part of an ingrained systemic cycle of injustice that still exists in this country,” Biden said during a virtual campaign event on Thursday with Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D). 
  • Biden commended Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and the police department for acting swiftly to fire the four officers involved in Floyd’s death but said that “they have to be more fully accountable.”
  • “We have to get to the root of all this. You know, we have to ensure that the Floyd family receive the justice they’re entitled to,” Biden added. “And as a nation … we have to work relentlessly to eradicate these systemic failures that inflict so much damage on not just one family, one community, but on the people of color all across this nation.”

Some Trump allies are encouraging the president to do more in the wake of the killings. Darrell Scott, a pastor and the head of the Trump campaign’s National Diversity Coalition, told Power Up he’s calling for “some type of federally mandated police reform” program. He wants Trump to consider new ways to prevent and curtail the use of “excessive force” by officers. 

  • “I’m pro law and order and the president is pro-police,” Scott added. “We have to be sympathetic to all parties involved in beginning to have this dialogue.” (The White House and Trump campaign declined to comment on Scott’s suggestion.)

Biden’s posture on police reform as a key part of his criminal justice reform proposal received praise from advocates who stress the need for federally-mandated standards and data collection on policing throughout America. The former vice president has proposed a $300 million Community Oriented Policing Services program to reform police departments around the country, in tandem with empowering the DOJ to “to root out unconstitutional or unlawful policing.” 

  • “There is a very important role of federal government to play in creating national standards on best practices on public safety,” Monique Dixon, the deputy policy director at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, told Power Up. “Especially when you look at training as it relates to the use of force and the importance of de-escalation. So the federal government can set standards and guidance that state and local law enforcement agencies should adopt. And we’ve worked really hard to encourage the previous administration and this administration to create a national standard and incentives for state and local governments to follow these standards.”

Veep watch: Biden, who recently apologized for his comments that African Americans considering voting for Trump “ain’t black,” said last night that he hopes to name his running mate around August 1. Voters may see this as another chance for Biden to prove, as he said last week, that he would never “take the African American community for granted.” 

  • There are women of color under consideration, and they’re women from every part of the country so a lot of really qualified women that are ready to be president, Biden told CNN’s Dana Bash earlier this week. 

“It’s really important that people who may be a part of this administration are bringing a lot of personal and professional experience to these topics, Vanita Gupta, the former head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division under President Obama, told Power Up. “It matters to have and be able to bring that breadth of experience to inform this crucial work and to inform how the DOJ and the White House will engage on these issues,” said Gupta, and  now runs the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. 

  • “Elective representation in America should represent the people of America and right now it does not,” Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) responded during a town hall when asked if there should be a woman of color on the ticket with Biden.

The protests may also disqualify other contenders currently being vetted for the Veep-stakes: “We are now a nation reeling from a global pandemic that is disproportionately affecting African Americans. We are also a nation where videos from Brunswick, Ga., New York City and Minneapolis show in vivid and horrifying color the racism and brutality that blacks have faced since, well, 1619. And the situation in Minneapolis only serves to highlight why [Minnesota Sen. Amy] Klobuchar as Biden’s running mate would be a bitter pill for black voters to swallow,” The Post’s opinion writer Jonathan Capehart argues. 

  • Radio host Charlamagne Tha God went even further after his headline-making interview with Biden: “I think that would be suicide for Joe Biden’s campaign,” he said of Klobuchar as a potential pick.
  • “If he did that, especially at this moment, after the comments that he made … He would be a fool not to put a black woman as his running mate,” he told our colleagues Annie Linskey and Sean Sullivan.

The attacks may raise the stakes for the president, too, whose efforts to court black voters this cycle have largely fallen flat:Nearly every week this spring, President Trump’s reelection team has held one of the most peculiar events of the 2020 online campaign: ‘Black Voices for Trump Real Talk.’ It’s a dizzying effort by Mr. Trump’s black advisers to put their spin on his record,” the New York Times’s Annie Karni reported this week. 

For an hour on a live stream, three black Republicans tried to portray [Biden] as a racist, while ignoring decades of racially divisive behavior by Mr. Trump, from his remarks on the Central Park Five to birtherism to Charlottesville … [Trump’s] advisers often highlight the administration’s work on criminal justice reform and financial support for historically black colleges and universities as twin planks of their appeal.”

  • But: “ The campaign’s chief pitch to black voters going into the 2020 presidential election — a lower unemployment rate among African Americans — has eroded in the past few months. And the Trump campaign has a lot to ignore in terms of comments from its own candidate, and  has, in the past, made remarks widely seen as racist; over the Memorial Day weekend, the president promoted posts from a racist and sexist Twitter feed.” 

The People

100,000 DEAD: “One hundred thousand Americans dead in less than four months,” Marc Fisher reports. “The death toll from the coronavirus passed that hard-to-fathom marker on Wednesday, which slipped by like so many other days in this dark spring, one more spin of the Earth, one more headline in a numbing cascade of grim news.”

  • Chilling stat: “Nearly three months into the brunt of the epidemic, 14 percent of Americans say they know someone who has succumbed to the virus.”

The people we’ve lost: “Some were well-known, and many were unsung. All added their stories, from all walks of life, to the diversity of the American experience,” our colleagues write in their running collection of obituaries. 

The Post’s front page today:

TRUMP DID NOT MARK THE GRIM MILESTONE: “Trump has spent his life in thrall to numbers — his wealth, his ratings, his polls. Even during the deadly pandemic, he has remained fixated on certain metrics — peppering aides about infection statistics, favoring rosy projections and obsessing over the gyrating stock market,” Ashley Parker reports of the normally numerate president.

  • His most direct comments were in a pair of tweets: “For all of the political hacks out there, if I hadn’t done my job well, & early, we would have lost 1 1/2 to 2 Million People, as opposed to the 100,000 plus that looks like will be the number,” he wrote. “That’s 15 to 20 times more than we will lose.”

Biden struck a far different tone: The former vice president released a solemn video message shortly after the news broke. He said, “There are moments in our history so grim, so heart-rending, that they’re forever fixed in each of our hearts as shared grief. Today is one of those moments.” 

At The White House

TRUMP TO SIGN ORDER THAT COULD PUNISH TECH COMPANIES: “Trump is preparing to sign an executive order [today] that could open the door for federal officials to try to penalize Facebook, Google and Twitter for the way they moderate content on their sites …,” Tony Romm and Josh Dawsey report.

  • The president and his allies are fuming over Twitter’s fact-check of his tweets: The social media giant added a label to Trump’s tweets for the first time on Tuesday after he continued to spread inaccurate information about mail-in voting. He later tweeted that the decision was tantamount to election interference.

What may come today: “Trump’s directive chiefly seeks to embolden federal regulators to rethink a portion of law known as Section 230, which spares tech companies from being held liable for the comments, videos and other content posted by their users.”

  • Even an order will not be the final step: “The executive order has gone through multiple iterations in recent years, and it may still change … Even so, it would be up to the FCC and the FTC, two independent agencies operating outside the president’s Cabinet, to determine exact courses of action once Trump signs it.”

On The Hill

THE FRACAS OVER FISA: “An effort to pass a significant surveillance overhaul package collapsed, falling victim to presidential tweets, opposition from the Justice Department and the fracturing of a fragile coalition among liberals, moderates and conservatives,” Ellen Nakashima and Mike DeBonis report.

House Democratic leaders had to pull the bill at the last minute: “They have not determined when — or whether — the legislation might be revived,” our colleagues write.

House Republicans quickly reversed their support: GOP leadership instructed their members to vote no. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), who previously supported the bill, was among those who backtracked on their support amid Trump’s promise to veto it.

  • The breakdown: “The pulling of the bill to reauthorize a number of national security powers under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act came a day after the president tweeted his disfavor, ostensibly on grounds that it fails to address what he calls “the greatest political, criminal, and subversive scandal in USA history,” our colleagues write. 
  • But the president doesn’t appear to have his facts straight: “While he has never explicitly spelled out what he means, Trump has blasted the FBI for its flawed surveillance of a former campaign aide, Carter Page, and accused the government without evidence of spying on Trump Tower during the campaign,” our colleagues write. “None of the now-expired authorities the bill sought to revive were at issue in Page’s surveillance, which the Justice Department inspector general roundly criticized in a December report as having been conducted on the basis of applications riddled with errors and omissions.”

Outside the Beltway

THE UNLUCKIEST GENERATION: “After accounting for the present crisis, the average millennial has experienced slower economic growth since entering the workforce than any other generation in U.S. history,” Andrew Van Dam reports.

  • The pain is only just beginning: “Millennials will bear these economic scars the rest of their lives, in the form of lower earnings, lower wealth and delayed milestones, such as homeownership.” 

Millennials never recovered from the Great Recession: “Thanks to the Great Recession, the average millennial lost about 13 percent of their earnings between 2005 and 2017,” our colleague writes of study conducted by Census Bureau economist Kevin Rinz.

  • No generation took a similar hit: “That’s worse than Gen X’s 9 percent setback and almost double the 7 percent loss faced by baby boomers. By the end of the period, baby boomer earnings had recovered, even as millennials remained well below where they should have been.”

And they certainly weren’t ready for another crisis: “This recession steamrolled younger workers just as millennials were entering their prime working years — the oldest millennials are nearing 40 while the youngest are in their mid-20s,” our colleague writes. “Millennial employment plunged by 16 percent in March and April this year, our calculations show. That’s faster than either Gen X (12 percent) or the baby boomers (13 percent).”

Being the most diverse generation also means millennials are more vulnerable: “Millennials are the most educated, most diverse generation in history — at least until zoomers pass them. Those distinctions come with burdens,” our colleague writes.

  • Education status is a big divider: “It’s part of trend of more marginalized groups falling behind. Millennials with a college degree aren’t far behind previous generations in terms of wealth, [Ana Kent, a policy analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis] found, but their less-educated peers have a bit more than half of the wealth they’d expect at this stage, based on previous generations.”

In the Media

WHAT ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Pompeo says U.S. should end special treatment of Hong Kong amid Beijing’s clampdown: “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s declaration could pave the way for [Trump] to impose on Hong Kong some of the same economic penalties that he wielded against China over the past two years,” David J. Lynch reports. The secretary said “he had notified Congress on Wednesday that Hong Kong no longer enjoyed the full range of political freedoms that China had promised residents when it regained control of the trading center from Great Britain in 1997.”

  • Unrelated sanctions for China are headed to Trump’s desk: The House of Representatives “passed legislation calling for sanctions against Chinese officials for the detention and torture of Uighur Muslims in the country’s western region of Xinjiang …,” CNBC’s Tucker Higgins reports. “The legislation was approved by a vote of 413-1 after passing overwhelmingly in the Senate earlier this month.”

Some Republicans tell Trump to cease with his debunked Scarborough conspiracy theory: McCarthy, the top House Republican, sidestepped questions about whether the president was “debasing his office” by continuing to spread a baseless conspiracy about MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, a former former Republican congressman from Florida who retired from politics in 2001, John Wagner and Paul Kane report.

  • But other lawmakers have had enough: “We’re in the middle of a pandemic. He’s the commander in chief of this nation. And it’s causing great pain to the family of the young woman who died,” Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), the No. 3 House Republican, told reporters.
  • Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) expressed concern for Timothy J. Klausutis, the widow of Lori Klausutis, who worked in Scarborough’s Florida office and died in 2001. Klausutis himself has implored Trump to stop pushing to reopen the “cold case.”

Failure to launch … for now: “The beginning of NASA’s next chapter of space exploration will have to wait until the weekend. Space officials postponed the launch of a crewed SpaceX rocket en route to the International Space Station because of problematic weather around Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Fla., and a tropical storm brewing off the coast of the Carolinas,” Jacob Bogage and Christian Davenport report.

Australia’s 12 million public transport users face a COVID19 dilemma – get back on the train or drive to work?

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Source: Roy Morgan Single Source, April 2019 – March 2020, sample n = 13,208. Base: Australians aged 14+.

Over 12 million Australians aged 14+ (58%) use public transport in an average three months. Trains are the most popular form of public transport used by 9.2 million (44%) ahead of buses used by 8 million (38%) and trams used by 3.4 million (16%).

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in recent months has raised new questions about the safety of mass transit systems as Australians start returning to a more normal work-life experience as restrictions are gradually eased.

Many have suggested the public transport systems in Australia’s largest cities are already over-loaded and usage of public transport does correlate to population size.

Nearly 3.4 million Sydneysiders use public transport, equal to 76% of the city’s population, and over 3 million Melburnians (71% of the population) use public transport. 

After these two large cities there is a substantial drop-off in public transport usage to Brisbane – 1.2 million (59%), Perth – 1 million (60%) and Adelaide – 660,000 (59%). Only 100,000 residents of Hobart use public transport representing just over half (52%) of the city’s population.

Usage of public transport is fairly similar for both women (56%) and men (59%).

Analysis by generation shows a clear correlation between age and how likely someone is to use public transport with 3.4 million Australians in the youngest generation, Gen Z* (72%), using public transport.

Over 3 million Millennials* (60%) use public transport, 2.6 million in Gen X* (53%), 2.3 million Baby Boomers* (51%) and 770,000 Pre-Boomers* (42%).

Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine says adhering to social distancing guidelines on Australia’s packed public transport systems introduces new questions about where we work and how we get to work:

“However, the success in suppressing the virus without eliminating it completely introduces a new dilemma for Australians returning to work over the next few weeks and months. Do they continue working from home or return to work in the office with potentially millions of other Australians?

“Over 12 million Australians use public transport in an average three months – and this includes over 3 million in both Sydney and Melbourne. The packed nature of public transport in peak hour is well-known to anyone who has been used to catching trains, trams and buses to work.

“It is practically impossible to follow social distancing guidelines on peak hour public transport and this raises the question of alternatives such as continuing to work from home, companies staggering working hours for different employees or finding a safer means of transport such as driving into work.

“Although Australia’s car industry has endured some of the weakest months in its history in March and April the prospect of people returning to work seeking the safer option of driving to work does raise hopes for a quicker than expected rebound for the industry in the second-half of 2020.“

*Generations: Pre-Boomers (born pre-1946); Baby Boomers (born 1946-1960); Gen X (born 1961 – 1975); Millennials (born 1976 – 1990); Gen Z (born 1991 – 2005).

Public transport use in Australia by Gender & Generation – March 2020

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source, April 2019 – March 2020, sample n = 13,208. Base: Australians aged 14+.

This new data comes from Roy Morgan Single Source, Australia’s most comprehensive consumer survey, derived from in-depth interviews with over 50,000 Australians each year.

For comments or more information please contact:
Roy Morgan – Enquiries
Office: +61 (03) 9224 5309
[email protected]

The Covid-19 ‘Great Reset’ Scrambles Senior Housing Status Quo

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The Covid-19 pandemic has sparked what some are calling a “Great Reset” — and the result has been topsy-turvy for the senior living industry.

Investor sentiment may be shifting against senior housing in favor of the once-shunned skilled nursing sector. Related, the pandemic is helping some senior housing owners that have been working for years on turnarounds or reinventions, while Covid-19 is checking the momentum of others. And, the coronavirus crisis may be resetting the terms of an ongoing debate about senior housing capital structures.

Prior to the pandemic, senior living appeared an attractive real estate asset class in large part because of its private-pay revenue base and its large percentage of voluntary move-ins and move-outs, SMBC Nikko Securities America Analyst Richard Anderson wrote in a recent note to investors. Skilled nursing, by contrast, was seen as risky because of its exposure to stroke-of-the-pen Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement cuts.

Now, the “Great Reset” has changed the picture, Anderson wrote. In his view, real estate investment trusts (REITs) are currently in the best position if they own life science, medical office buildings and skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), “in that order.”

Senior housing, on the other hand, appears a riskier proposition than it did a few months ago, when REIT portfolios were beginning to bounce back after a period of oversupply, and the influx of aging baby boomers was drawing ever closer. In the midst of Covid-19, senior housing portfolios are going through a steady occupancy decline that is “hard to watch,” Anderson wrote.

Furthermore, senior housing expenses are up, but financial assistance is all but nonexistent — despite massive government stimulus packages that have channeled funds to other sectors. Skilled nursing is among the beneficiaries of stimulus funds, with the federal government beginning to allocate $5 billion to nursing homes as of last week.

“Skilled nursing is suffering significant occupancy loss and terrible realities in spots, but financially has the most to gain from the various stimulus programs,” Anderson wrote. “It also has been hurt by the suspension of elective procedures, which are now turning back on as economies begin the perilous process of opening back up.”

If Covid-19 does lead to a resurgence in skilled nursing investment, the reversal of fortune will be dramatic indeed, considering the straits that SNFs were in just a few years ago. The industry was in the midst of “the most protracted and complex down cycle” in its history, George Hager, CEO of Genesis HealthCare (NYSE: GEN), said in 2017. Rising wages, lower reimbursements, managed care pressures and ongoing census erosion were among the challenges at the time, which caused some REITs to spin-off or sell large skilled nursing portfolios.

To be sure, skilled nursing still faces many of the same headwinds, as well as enormous challenges related to Covid-19. But while reliance on government payment systems is a risk in good times, being able to tap government support now is a boon. Despite a raft of bad headlines related to Covid-19 — and tragic situations at some facilities around the country — the needs-based nature of skilled nursing care should also help the sector bounce back quickly, particularly as Covid-19 testing and treatment protocols advance, or when a vaccine is developed.

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Senior housing, by contrast, could experience a slower resurgence in demand until consumers are confident that Covid-19 is beaten, in Anderson’s view. Other analysts and senior housing executives have also raised concerns about how the pandemic might dampen demand.

The good news is that occupancy in independent living — which is more vulnerable to consumer confidence than assisted living or memory care — appears to have been resilient so far; the pure-play IL portfolio of New Senior Investment Group (NYSE: SNR) “largely outperformed the senior housing peer group,” BTIG Analysts Michael Gorman and James Sullivan wrote in an investor note. New Senior’s occupancy declined 130 basis points in March and 120 basis points in April, to settle at 86.2%. By contrast, the senior housing operating (SHO) portfolio of Toledo, Ohio-based Welltower (NYSE: WELL) declined 240 basis points in April alone, and executives at the REIT anticipate a 500 to 600 basis point decline in the second quarter.

Anderson does hold out the possibility that the health care real estate sector as a whole could “rip back up in dramatic fashion” if an effective Covid-19 treatment or vaccine is developed. In the meantime, though, the “reset” has altered the REIT outlook in some notable ways.

One winner may be Irvine, California-based Healthpeak (NYSE: PEAK), which has been in restructuring mode for several years. The REIT spun off a major skilled nursing portfolio, brought in new executive leadership, changed its name and rebalanced its portfolio with strong life science and MOB holdings in addition to senior housing. That portfolio mix appears well-suited to the demands of the moment, Anderson and other analysts have argued. Its 61% balance of life sciences and MOBs could offer “visible growth and a bridge to SHOP’s recovery phase,” BMO Capital Markets Analyst John Kim wrote in comment last week.

Another company that looks attractive today, in Anderson’s view, is Irvine, California-based Sabra Health Care REIT (Nasdaq: SBRA). Sabra faced some doubters after its $7.4 billion merger with skilled nursing-focused Care Capital Properties in 2017; on the senior housing side, its major operating partner Enlivant has been working steadily on improving a large turnaround portfolio. But Enlivant may be somewhat sheltered from the worst Covid-19 outbreaks due to its concentration in secondary and tertiary markets, and Sabra executives bring operational experience to its skilled nursing assets.

Perennial power players such as Welltower and Chicago-based Ventas (NYSE: VTR), on the other hand, may be hurt by their large senior housing exposure, particularly given their increasing focus on RIDEA operating partnerships.

In the near term, RIDEA translates to a “direct hit on earnings,” Anderson noted. In the midst of the pandemic, conservatively underwritten triple-net lease portfolios are showing their value.

Westlake Village, California-based LTC Properties (NYSE: LTC), for example, has “solid rent coverage” that helps offset the risks related to its senior housing exposure, Anderson wrote. And executives with Murfreesboro, Tennessee-based NHI (NYSE: NHI) have touted that its senior living providers in triple-net leases — because they maintain full ownership of their businesses — have been in a better position to tap Payroll Protection Program (PPP) funds versus providers in RIDEA structures.

LTC and NHI were advocates for triple-net leases prior to the coronavirus pandemic, in an ongoing debate over the advantages and drawbacks of NNN versus RIDEA. The momentum toward RIDEA has been building for several years, as operators and owners alike said they prefer the alignment of interest and wanted to avoid lease escalators that could prove unsustainable in down markets. But others argued that triple-net leases are a proven capital structure that will endure, albeit with different approaches to escalators and more creative financial incentive programs for operators.

Whether Covid-19 will result in a triple-net lease renaissance is an open question — the potential downside for REITs is greater in RIDEA, but so is the potential upside once Covid-19 begins to wane, Capital One Analyst Daniel Bernstein recently told SHN. And sentiment around other issues, including how skilled nursing is viewed in relation to senior housing, and which REITs have the best portfolio composition given the future direction of health care and senior living, will no doubt continue to evolve.

Indeed, all types of health care real estate have “made a mark on the new environment,” Anderson wrote, but the pandemic “reset” is favoring some service lines and companies that may have a greater ability to “bridge that gap” between a pre-Covid and post-Covid world.

Pandemic prompts local seniors to embrace online banking

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With more day-to-day chores being done online, many Baby Boomers and seniors are beginning to see the benefits to being fluent in online banking.

Roxy McDonald, a retired Barrie high school teacher, didn’t want anything to do with online banking before COVID-19.

“I kept thinking if I were to send a large amount of money into the deep Web and lose it for good, I’d probably cry,” said McDonald. “I was completely comfortable just going into the bank and doing what I needed to do.”

That changed when the current health crisis hit; McDonald, 63, began to worry about catching the virus just by being out. Since the government lockdown began in mid-March, McDonald has been out just four times for errands.

“I am taking this whole thing very seriously and besides the occasional walk, I really don’t go out,” said McDonald. “I had to learn fast how to do things online and my bank assisted with it to where I am very good at it now.”

McDonald does her banking with Meridian and credits their help and teaching with getting her to step out of her thinking that she was a “Boomer and didn’t have it growing up.”

“I really stress to all seniors and people who have never used the online banking to call their institution and get help with it. I did and they walked me through every bit of it to where I am becoming a real pro at it.”

Seniors account for nearly one-third of Meridian’s membership base, said Wanita Fonseka, their vice president of retail member experience.

Fonseka told BarrieToday that “COVID has accelerated the use of Meridian’s online and mobile banking platforms among senior members by 10 and 15 per cent.” She said digital ambassadors are assigned to assist clients who need to get set up to bank online or access mobile banking. 

McDonald knows there is a level of fear associated with handling money online but said it is a great opportunity to speak to the younger generation and learn all about it.

“As a teacher, I was around when computers and the Internet first came into the schools. I didn’t have a clue how to use it and it was only the kids who knew all about it,” said McDonald. “They didn’t want to spend extra time with a teacher and help us for free, as you can imagine. The folks at your bank know everything about it and want to help, don’t be afraid to ask.”

McDonald advises people to start slowly, setting up recipients in your contact list, anyone you may regularly send money to. Then, when you’re comfortable, send a small amount of money to a family member or friend.

“I pay hydro so they went into my contacts, as did anyone else I pay monthly,” said McDonald. “Then I sent $50 to someone, instead of $1,000, just to make sure I knew how to e-transfer,” said McDonald.

“It appears this could be the new way of doing things, and every generation has had to deal with change, and we have always got through it just fine.”

Why Can’t My Mom and I Agree What Goes in the Fridge? And Other Food Disagreements That Come with Moving Back Home

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When my husband and I moved into my parents’ house a few weeks ago (yes, after a safe quarantine period), I had initially thought the hardest adjustment would be figuring out how we could all work from home without ringing each other’s necks. But in reality, all of our issues gravitated toward one location: the refrigerator. In particular, what went in it and what stayed out.

The day after we arrived, my husband and I helped my mom organize the fridge in the garage, which had been packed with the enthusiasm of a doomsdayer. A sack of potatoes in the produce drawer? Those could sit out. Oranges, lemons and limes? Remove those stickers, place them in a bowl and suddenly you have a lazy person’s centerpiece. Onions? Give those bad boys some room on the kitchen island. Et voila! There’s now extra space in the fridge for things that really need to be in it.

My mom was thrilled with our organizational achievement, but when she saw the fruit and produce that had been booted from their cool, cozy homes, she wasn’t as ecstatic. We went back and forth a of couple times, “Really? No fridge?” she’d inquire, hoping to hear a different answer from me. I was dead set on keeping those oranges in that bowl, but every time she passed my sweet little masterpiece, I could tell it was torturing her. 

In my heart, I believed that this was not a personal issue, but a generational one: Baby boomers refrigerate everything because they grew up with the advent of the modern, exalted appliance. Why leave perishables out to go bad when you could pop it in a thermally insulated storage unit?

It was time to prove my mom and her beliefs wrong. See, dear Mother, potatoes actually get worse in cold temps. Per PureWow’s food editor Katherine Gillen, “Store [potatoes] too cold (i.e., your fridge) and the starches will turn to sugar, affecting taste and texture. Temperatures higher than 55°F will accelerate dehydration.” Onions, too, prefer dry, cool places like a cellar or pantry over a refrigerator. And oranges and citrus, well—

*Clears throat*

Oh dear God I was wrong. A quick read of our very own article on that exact topic, and I learned I was very wrong about the oranges and the limes and the lemons. Storing your citrus in the fridge is actually entirely beneficial and keeps the fruit fresh for weeks longer than if they were stored at room temp. 

Am I just another millennial misplacing my efforts to over-correct what boomers had seen as progress: single-use plastics, frozen foods and over-teched appliances?

I had to find out if others like me were experiencing similar food-related disagreements upon moving back in with their parents. Brianna, a peer who’s hunkering down with her parents in Boston told me, “Oh my God, yes! But it’s more like passive aggression—we haven’t actually FOUGHT per se. But my mom insists on putting underripe avocados in the fridge. I move them to the produce bowl on the counter to ripen, and she moves them back to the fridge. It’s like a daily dance.” Sounds like Brianna’s mom and mine would get along royally.

Dena, a 20-something sheltering in place on Long Island discovered an inventory issue, “Everything in my mom’s house is expired (as in, three or so years past the ‘good by’ date). And most of it is edible but, oh boy, some graham crackers that were from the 2010s were definitely not.” And Sofia, holed up on her family’s farm is coping similarly, “Expiration dates, in general, are always a fight. My mom believes nothing goes bad, including pancake mix from 2012.” Are most expiration dates overly cautious? Probably. But why is there such a generational divide?

Why not keep nonperishables if you have the space and are saving up for the apocalypse? And come on, what’s more baby boomer than a fallout shelter lined with Campbell’s Soup?  But expiration dates are one thing. Waste is another. Younger generations seem triggered by gratuitous purchases and stockpiling. Back to Sofia on the farm: “My mom buys a giant bunch of parsley every single week, and we never use it, so we just have a full drawer dedicated to rotting parsley.” And then there’s the energy waste, “And everyone in my family keeps the fridge door open while they cook, and it drives me insane.”

The kitchen seems rife with inter-generational aggression. But what about the dinner table? For Gen Z Charlie in Boulder, the battle pours over, “I don’t really eat beef, and I tell my mom that every time I’m home…And since I’ve been home, she’s made brisket, beef hot dogs, meatloaf, spaghetti with meat sauce and steak for dinner multiple times.”

Some might say, “Buck up, Charlie! If it bothers you that much, make your own meal!” But it’s not really about that, is it? It’s about control. When I guffawed at my mom for keeping onions in the fridge she said, “You do things how you want in your home, and I do things how I want here.” She then proceeded to list off things I did that bothered her, including, but not limited to: keeping food out longer than she’s comfortable with and putting halved lemons back in the fridge without covering them. 

In the time of a pandemic, we’re at the whim of a virus we can’t see. We’re locked down in our homes (or our parents’ homes), but we’re also lost, floating in space waiting for answers or some semblance of normalcy. Of course we want to control our food—how much we have, where we store it, when we eat it and how we prepare it. It’s the one thing we all revolve our day around; discussing dinner, planning future meals and rationing fresh produce like the kitchen maids of Downton Abbey. On the day-to-day, food is the only commodity that matters right now: “I buy parsley, therefore I am.” It is how we exert a little control, whether it’s holding onto graham crackers from the Obama era or slowing down the ripening of an avocado. 

No one likes to be told that they’re a product of their time. Baby boomers, millennials and Gen Z-ers all wince at the idea that our individual worldview has been molded and shaped by external forces or past experiences. But nothing proves us more wrong than an invisible danger locking us all up inside, with nothing to do but bicker over fridge space. We’re the product of our times as much as our parents are, and the generations that follow will probably laugh at our toilet paper stash and stockpile of Purell, just as we belittled our Depression-era grandparents for their frugal habits.

What goes in the fridge and what doesn’t? How long do nonperishables really keep? Should you really buy that much parsley? It’s all apples and oranges.

But, yeah, oranges should go in the fridge. (Love you, Mom.)

RELATED: Cooking My Grandmother’s Infamous Stew in Quarantine Taught Me About the Art of Growing Up

Time for US Wine to Follow the EU

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A European move towards ingrdient labeling on wine should be enthusiastically taken up by American producers.

By W. Blake Gray | Posted Sunday, 24-May-2020

When I buy beans at the grocery store, I turn around all the cans to see the ingredients. Well, pre-pandemic I did. It could take me more than five minutes to decide on a can of beans. My wife is very patient with this.

I always look for the fewest ingredients. Ideally: “Black beans, water, salt.” Lately, I have bought more canned beans with calcium chloride added than I prefer, but these are unusual times.

I do this with (almost) everything I buy at the grocery store: hot sauce, frozen seafood dumplings, crackers, whatever. I prefer organic produce and organic milk but sometimes buy conventional if it’s much cheaper, because I’m not wealthy.

I am like a Millennial consumer. I care about what I put in my body.

The one grocery store item that gets away with revealing nothing about its contents is wine. Food products are required by law in most countries to reveal everything in them. But wine has always gotten a pass.

The EU is moving to change that. Wine-Searcher ran a story this week that the European Commission is drafting legislation to require ingredients in wine to be listed on the label.

Hurray for the EU! It’s about time.

The US will fight this. Our wine politics are dominated by our biggest wine companies. They don’t want people knowing what goes into supermarket wine, because they fear, correctly, that consumers will gravitate toward wines with fewer additives.

White Claw shows the way

For the wine industry as a whole, this is short-sighted. The absence of ingredient labeling is hurting the industry now and the pain is only going to increase as boomers – who will drink liquid nacho cheese from a squeeze bottle – age out of the market.

Look at White Claw, easily the fastest-growing alcoholic beverage in the US. White Claw uses the standard US Nutrition Facts label that appears on every can of beans, every jar of hot sauce, and every box of milk sold in the United States. People are accustomed to looking for that label.

Wineries complain that the Nutrition Facts box is big and blocky and will ruin their beautiful back labels. White Claw has no such concerns, even though its cans are less than half the size of a wine bottle.

White Claw also prominently says “gluten free”, satisfying that craze. Almost all wine is gluten-free, but do you ever see that on a wine label? Well, why not?

The thing about White Claw is, it doesn’t even list the ingredients on the label! But it LOOKS like it lists the ingredients, because it says it’s made from “a blend of seltzer water, our gluten free alcohol base and a hint of fruit flavor”. If you check the company’s website you see that most flavors also contain cane sugar, citric acid and sodium citrate. You might say: “See, even White Claw doesn’t list all the ingredients on the label.”

To which I respond, show me on winery websites where they list ingredients at all.

What it says on the box

Ingredient labeling would be GREAT for most wineries. Your wines are on the shelf and they say: “Ingredients: Grapes, yeast, sulfites.”

Ridge, an extremely honest California winery, lists ingredients on its labels and lets consumers decide. Ridge lists “oak from barrel aging” as an ingredient though to me that’s not strictly necessary, because oak barrels are a process, not an additive. Oak use is an interesting question that I don’t know if the EU is going to take on. If Ridge adds water or calcium carbonate, they ‘fess up.

But almost every other winery is completely opaque about additions that the natural wine crowd complains about at every opportunity, like Velcorin, which is toxic, and acetaldehyde, which can cause headaches. There are 76 approved additives for wine in the US, and many have scary names, even if they’re innocuous.

In the food industry, producers have to decide whether adding a scary-sounding chemical is really necessary. Wineries should also have to make this calculation: let consumers decide if we mind drinking potassium bitartrate or ethyl maltol.

For years wineries have been happy to not raise the subject. Baby boomers, who buy a lot of crunchy snacks with flavors cooked up in a lab in New Jersey, mostly don’t care. It was better to avoid the topic than to raise it.

Those days are over with the Millennial generation. Wine has, for many young adults, lost its farm-product image. The fact that people who care about their health can see a completely manufactured product like White Claw (our “gluten free alcohol base”? What is it? Where did it come from?) as somehow cleaner and healthier than grapes left in a vat to ferment is proof.

Plus, the natural wine crowd is running around social media claiming conventional wine is full of poison. It’s an unfair charge, but say it enough and it lands, because wineries don’t fight back. I watched such an online debate last weekend, by one guy with an agenda claiming all conventional wine is full of herbicides. You know who argued with him? A couple of wine bloggers. You know who didn’t say a word? Anybody from a winery.

Wineries have their head in the sand on this issue as the world is changing around them. The EU initiative to label ingredients in wine will be good for consumers. It also will be good for wineries, as it will force them to examine their practices, and say: “Is isinglass (from fish bladders) really necessary?” (Answer: no.)

Most wine – yes, even most conventional wine – is a very natural product. But it doesn’t look like it when you pick up the bottle. If wine were a can of beans, I would not buy it. I would buy a can of something that tells me what’s in it. 

Single Speed Bicycles For Baby Boomers

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Many mountain bikers are exhibiting what might be called “Single-Speed Syndrome”. While these might tend to be purists in the sense of wanting to keep their back to nature exercise as simple as possible, single speed bicycles promise to be a good way to get outdoors for some exercise, fresh air, and fun. For the average Baby Boomer however, and for most Boomers I think, riding with a single speed bicycle will be done on more level bike paths and perhaps city parks.

There is a reason that the first mountain bikes evolved into the multi-geared, full-suspension beasts they are now. Pedaling a rigid single speed is just plain hard work. Personally, I can’t imagine doing any mountain biking with just one gear. I can certainly admire those who are sufficiently physically conditioned to be able to climb those hills without lower gears. Some time ago, I sold my mountain bike and bought a new hybrid bike so I could enjoy more street riding and less off the road trails. Be sure that whatever bicycle you may decide on, that it fits you, your needs, and your lifestyle.

Single Speed Bicycles do offer a simple, somewhat retro way to go out and enjoy the nice days of summer. Depending on how, where,and how much you are going to ride would influence how much you may want to spend on a new bike. Most good local bike shops will have experienced and well trained personnel on hand to offer advice and suggestions on what would be the best bike for you. Certainly, like everything else made, the internet offers endless info, price comparisons ,etc. to help with your initial search. I would suggest that you find a bike shop that has been in business awhile and one that you are comfortable in to make your final decision. A good,experienced salesperson/bike tech can be invaluable in helping you with your decision.

What is important though is to get out and get your exercise and to have fun doing it. If you have someone you can ride with, even better. As we all continue to age, it critical that we exercise on a regular basis. For me, and others I suspect, the winter is the most difficult time for me to keep up an exercise schedule. When the weather is more moderate though, I love to be outside running, walking, hiking and biking.

The Single Speed bike is just one tool to help with your ongoing physical and mental health plan. Do make a commitment to yourself and the one’s you love to do it now. Talk to your family doctor if you’re not sure, but Do It Today.

Class of 2020: Congratulations, but first an apology    

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(TNS) Dear class of 2020: On behalf of boomers everywhere, I want to apologize for the mess that awaits you — the deadly coronavirus and the resulting economic crisis with massive unemployment. When you started your senior year last fall, who could have predicted this would happen?

Actually, scientists did. The U.S. military did. Our government’s intelligence agencies did. They were not certain when it would happen, but there was consensus that a pandemic from a novel virus could occur at any time. The record will show future generations that, at the start of the third decade of the 21st century, the rich and powerful United States — the nation that had helped contain Ebola just a few years earlier — was not only unprepared for threats from a new disease, but our leadership downplayed the possibility right up until the pathogen’s arrival.


Sorry, seniors. That was not a great way to start a commencement message. This message is supposed to be congratulatory, celebratory, encouraging and optimistic.

But I think it should be apologetic first. We should have done better. We should have had a better country, a better world by now. My generation came tumbling through a lot of history. We saw a lot and learned a lot. We should have demanded more progress instead of tolerating the backsliding that now has people in other nations expressing pity for us.


A bit of history most relevant to the moment: Baby boomers were born on both sides of the polio epidemic that hit the country hard in the 20th century. Children became infected at an alarming rate. Men and women of the Greatest Generation — your grandparents or great-grandparents — had been through the Great Depression and World War II and, just as they started to enjoy peace and build their families, they feared polio would disable or kill their kids.


But science ultimately prevailed. Doctors and medical scientists developed a polio vaccine, and soon parents lined up their children to get it, and the deal was sealed: Americans believed in medical science, took pride in it.

Today, that seems long ago and far away. Nowadays way too many Americans — prominent ones, even the president — question and attack nearly everything as if it’s some liberal conspiracy; they dismiss science as quickly as they dismiss anything else that pushes against their hard prejudices.

Now, I’ll be first to tell you that baby boomers, who came of age during the lies of the Vietnam War and Watergate, learned to question authority. That’s a good thing. But we did not so easily question science.

There was always sarcasm about eggheads and nerds. But, generally speaking, we did not dismiss the smart people who seemed committed to saving lives, serving the public good and informing our government. They cured diseases. They put a man on the moon. They helped women avoid unwanted pregnancy. They protected us from DDT and other toxins in the environment. They warned us about climate change.

But something happened. Things are upside down today. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there is no link between vaccines and autism, but some anti-vaccine parents insist there is. Some Republicans in Congress have started to accept climate change but have done nearly nothing about it, and some scientists believe a global disaster is already underway.

We have people marching, some with guns, to state capitols and even local government offices to protest the informed and wise actions of governors, mayors and county executives to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. The mothers of the baby boom, the women who fretted about their children getting polio, would be appalled.

Obviously, the country needs to get back to work and to start having fun again. But we have been delivered a horrible moment in human history and, if we want to live to see a better day, our first job is survival. And that means trusting science over politics and prejudices.

I should not have to say these things, but I frequently feel like saying them out loud to young people, starting with my own son and daughter.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry that millions of Americans thought Trump would make a good president. I’m sorry that 40 years of anti-government rhetoric left many of us so vulnerable to disasters financial and natural.

I’m sorry that you have to live with the threat of mass shootings because of our crazy gun culture. I’m sorry that higher education costs so much and that millions of Americans still don’t have adequate, affordable health insurance.

I’m sorry about persistent racism, about the grotesque income inequality, about our inability to move more people out of poverty and to resolve the conflicts over immigration.

I’m sorry that more American adults don’t have a sense of sacrifice for the common good and that they’ve twisted the concept of patriotism into a crusade for personal rights — the right to carry a gun, to spend unlimited amounts of cash on politicians who will serve their interests, to refuse to wear a mask in a pandemic.

I’m sorry that we haven’t settled our differences as a nation and raised the quality of life for everyone so we could all bear the current crisis better.

We should have made more progress on all fronts by now. My generation should have insisted on it. We came up way short. Please accept this apology, and understand it as a charge to do better.

Dan Rodricks is a long-time columnist for The Baltimore Sun.

Baby Boomers and Their Home Business Concerns

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I am beginning several articles relating to baby boomers and their concerns about starting a home based business. I have tailored these articles to the baby boomer age group, as I feel they have some concerns that might be prevalent at this point in their lives.

The first issue baby boomers face when thinking about starting a home business is “what in the world could I do?” This was actually what held me back for a number of years. I always had the entrepreneurial “bug” but didn’t have a clue as to what type of business I could run.

I have come to realize there are so many options in running a business. The important thing is to find one that “fits.” By this, I mean is suited to your personality and lifestyle, and that encompasses some of your skills, gifts and abilities.

It is important to find a business that is suited to your personality. If you are on the shy side, and calling prospects on the phone makes your palms sweat, this is probably not a good fit! On the other hand, if you are a social butterfly, sitting alone at your computer may drive you crazy. Look at the business for the long haul, and choose something that you’ll be comfortable doing.

Look at the hours involved in the business. If you are considering joining a direct sales company and will be doing home parties as your main source of promotion, this will involve mainly evening and weekend hours. Does that gel with your current lifestyle?

It’s also important to use some of the skills, abilities and gifts you have. This will bring you more satisfaction in the years to come.

So, what can you do?

Offer a Service

Can you help someone keep their books or do their taxes? Do you love animals and would enjoy pet sitting or running your own pet taxi service? Maybe you are good with web design and could offer your services to those who are not so adept at it.

You know what you are good at. Determine if there’s a business opportunity there. For example, if you love kids (and maybe are waiting to have some grand kids), you could run a daycare, do some private babysitting, teach kids’ music lessons, sewing lessons, etc. Homeschooling groups would love you. Use your imagination!

Sell A Product

This can be your own product, such as clothing, candles, or woodworking. Or, you can sell products that you purchase wholesale. Then again, you can sell by affiliate marketing, which is selling someone else’s products and earning a commission on sales made.

Products can be physical or digital products. Digital products relates to mainly to ebooks. Do you have knowledge in a certain area that others would gladly pay for? Write an eBook and feel good about sharing what you have with others who need it.

Ross Sales Down 52% Due To Coronavirus But Poised For A Strong Rebound

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Ross discussed its Q1 financial results on the earnings call today with sales results 52% below last year as all stores and distribution centers have been closed since March 20 through the end of the first quarter (May 2). Barbara Rentler, CEO of Ross, commented, “Our first quarter results reflect the unprecedented impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our business, which led to the closure of all stores and our first quarterly operating loss in more than 30 years.”

Selling through current inventory is critical

In discussing the current inventory position, the company is taking a cautious view and being very prescriptive about purchasing additional inventory for back-to-school and fall. The company stated it needs to understand where consumers are spending money and the main priority is to focus on getting through the liquidation period and current inventory from spring.

When discussing the opportunity to take advantage of the inventory in the market, the company stated it is are being very surgical and its buyers have not made product purchases at this time. The goal is to sell-through the inventory the company has although most of this may be at a loss.

Shoppers coming to stores will see very aggressive markdowns across all categories. While about 700 stores are open now, all stores are expected to be open by the end of June.

Consumers may be hesitant to shop at stores

The uncertainty of the market demand is the largest challenge for retailers. As the government allows for more stores to reopen, the great unknown is the comfort level of consumers to shop in stores at this time.

In a recent survey by Sezzle, only 25.5% of baby boomers feel comfortable shopping in stores now. The survey result for Gen Z was 34.8% .

Chris Bixby, vice-president marketing of Sezzle, says, “This data is super consistent with what we’ve been hearing from our team. It’s been really interesting to hear the anecdotes from our Gen Z team members that even their friends that are unemployed or looking for work are still online shopping, as well as looking forward to shopping in-store, and we are expecting to see a rebound more quickly with this generation.”

Category spending in non-essential products is rising

Overall spending is downtrending, but according to a McKinsey & Company report, more categories are showing positive trends including household, apparel and personal care. Spending will continue to be a concern for consumers as the economy opens and the uncertainty of employment and a possible second wave of the coronavirus loom. Consumers continue to experience a decrease in income driving more value-priced shopping.

As stores reopen, consumers will be looking for bargains and will look to apparel and beauty to give their spirits a lift which will bode well for Ross and other off-price retailers. Erin Foran, media relations lead of Sezzle, stated, “In Minneapolis, small retailers will be opening this coming Monday, and I have heard a ton of interest expressed in going shopping just to get out of the house. It seems to be a pretty common thought among younger people!”

E-commerce indicates where customers are spending

Online categories are an indicator of where customers are spending and the shift, as stores are opening, is heading toward the non-essentials. Signifyd’s COVID-19 weekly data pulse shows an increase in beauty and apparel over the past two weeks for e-commerce businesses.

Mike Cassidy, lead storyteller of Signifyd, stated, “One standout category during the week just ended was beauty and cosmetics, which was up 21% for the week. The category has been making an uneven but steady climb since the first week of April, which left the category up 34% over the end of February.”

Ross positioned to rebound with strong leadership

Ross stores merchandise mix is 26% women’s apparel and 26% home, both of which are currently on a more positive trend which may help the retailer sell-through the current inventory. The company also stated there may be an opportunity in the moderate segment to increase market share with the bankruptcies of competitors like J.C. Penney’s.

The company is on track to open 39 stores in the fall and is very focused on the right metrics coming out of a dismal Q1. The market is uncertain and volatile but the leadership team at Ross has a plan for the safe reopening of stores, concern for customers and employees and an emphasis on keeping the company in a strong financial position post-pandemic.