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Major Retailers in Britain Say No to Glitter for Christmas

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This year, the holiday season in the United Kingdom will be a little less sparkly.

Three major retailers — the grocery chains Morrisons and Waitrose and the department store company John Lewis — have announced that they will not use glitter in their in-house brand, single-use Christmas products this year. That means no glittery snowflakes on Christmas cards, no sparkling snowmen on stickers, and no twinkling stars on wrapping paper.

“Glitter is made from tiny particles of plastic and is an ecological hazard if it becomes dispersed on land, rivers and oceans — where it takes hundreds of years to degrade,” Morrisons said in a statement.

It appears that no similar glitter reckoning is underway in the United States. Major retailers including Walmart, Target, Walgreens, CVS and Costco did not immediately respond to questions about whether they were making efforts to ban or limit glitter. The Environmental Protection Agency did not respond to questions about whether regulators or companies were taking steps to ban glitter in the United States, or how glitter bans could affect the environment.

Glitter, a pretty substance known not only for its utility in arts and crafts but also for its tenacity in sticking to clothing, carpets and car seats, is also (often) a microplastic, or a piece of plastic that is 5 millimeters or less in diameter.

Microplastics have come under increased scrutiny in recent years, and scientists have been finding them everywhere. They pollute the ocean, where they can be ingested by fish and other organisms. Some of the smaller pieces can hang in the air as invisible atmospheric pollutants.

They can travel extreme distances that way, and they have been found in remote wilderness areas that might have been thought to be pristine.

In a report this month, which researchers called the first global estimate of the amount of microplastics on the sea floor, Australia’s national science agency found that 9.25 million to 15.87 million tons were embedded there — far more than what is on the ocean’s surface.

Compared with other microplastics, glitter’s color and shine suggest it might have certain metals or other additives that are especially harmful to the environment, said Robert C. Hale, a professor at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science at the College of William & Mary. (It is hard to say which additives — that would depend on where and how the glitter is manufactured.)

But in terms of volume, glitter is not a major pollutant in the grand scheme of things. It makes up far less than 1 percent of the microplastics that pollute the environment, Dr. Hale said.

The vast majority of microplastics in our environment did not start out so small; they were manufactured as larger pieces and broke down. That’s why plastic packaging is a much bigger threat to our ecosystem than glitter.

Also significant are the synthetic fabrics in many of the clothes we wear, which can introduce microplastic fibers into our water systems every time they go through a wash cycle.

So while consumer items like microbead exfoliants or glittery decorations may catch our attention and even inspire legislation, they make up a tiny fraction of the microplastics clogging our air and oceans. Banning these items is a small step in the right direction, Dr. Hale said, “but it doesn’t really solve the problem.”

Amy V. Uhrin, the chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Division, agreed that glitter was just one of many different kinds of microplastic pollutants. “It is difficult to say what impact a glitter ban would have,” she added.

Researchers are still trying to understand the reach and impact of sparkly microplastics, and Dr. Uhrin pointed to recent studies that found that glitter was abundant in some environmental samples, particularly in soils; and that significant amounts of glitter had been found in wastewater sludge.

John Lewis, Waitrose and Morrisons may have banned glitter in their holiday lineups, but they still sell products that include plastic or come in plastic packaging. Both Morrisons and John Lewis, which operates Waitrose supermarkets, said they had significantly reduced the use of plastic in packaging and inventory in recent years and had pledged to continue.

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How your finances during the pandemic are like science fiction and a horror movie

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October 23, 2020 6 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Fortunately, there are powerful tools to prevent further financial ruin, in both the public and private sectors: forgiveness and deferral .

What do those two terms mean?

Before we discuss the differences between the two terms, let’s talk about their great similarity. Both allow you to temporarily stop paying what you owe on your debts. Whether it’s your mortgage, your student loans, or even your credit cards, forgiveness and deferral means you are exempt from making payments due to an extreme situation.

These terms existed before COVID-19 , but obviously, it has been shown to be the most extreme situation of our lives. So not only the federal government offers these debt relief programs, but many private lenders as well. Sounds great! What could go wrong?

This is the problem

You should think of payment forgiveness and payment deferral as holding time. Just like in sci-fi movies, when time freezes and everyone stops in your path, so do your lenders.

Image: Michael Longmire via Unsplash

The time stops. But like those sci-fi movies, it doesn’t stop for everyone. Some characters escape the freezing of time. They walk through the frozen landscape, they keep doing things and moving through the plot.

The same happens when you are in forgiveness or deferment of payments. But what keeps moving is not the plot, but the interest rates. In most cases, you have obtained a deferment to pay your debt, but not for the interest that accrues on your debt.

Let’s say you’ve been laid off or laid off due to COVID-19, and you have a $ 1,000 balance on your credit card, which has an interest rate of 20%. You call the number on the back of your card and ask for help. Almost all credit card issuers offer some type of program that lowers or eliminates penalties or even allows payments to be missed.

Here’s the thing: as long as your payments are frozen, your interest rate is not. Keep running, adding up more charges that you will have to pay once they thaw.

Postponement vs forgiveness of payments

So you ask yourself, does this interest rate situation apply to both deferral and forgiveness of payments? And, in any case, what is the difference between them?

As Business Insider has so eloquently stated, “These two relief options are very similar, and many people use them interchangeably – yes, even loan and finance professionals.”

Most of the time they work the same, however, they differ in:

Deferral usually means that interest does not accrue while you are not making payments. Forgiveness of payments usually means that interest does accrue.

However, you can’t trust those words, you have to look closely at the fine print of any deal you make with your lenders. You may find that you are signing a strange combination of these two terms. For example, there may be an interest rate freeze for several months, but if you continue to freeze payments, the interest rates will go back into effect.

There is a big problem with both terms

Let’s say you are already 30 days behind in paying a debt when the forgiveness or deferral period began. Unfortunately, your lenders don’t forget that fact. You will not be charged late fees and penalties during the period of deferment or forgiveness of payments, but it will not change your circumstances from the previous days .

That is why I am so concerned about these pandemic-related programs. Don’t get me wrong, I think they are powerful tools to prevent those who live in America from sinking into deep debt that they will never get out of. However, they have a history of not thinking long-term when it comes to debt.

Delaying Debt Doesn’t Eliminate It

This should be a daily mantra for anyone using deferral or forgiveness during this pandemic. Although you can delay payments without accruing interest, you still have a big problem: you still owe the money.

Going back to the science fiction analogy, just because your mortgage is frozen in time doesn’t mean your house is. Just because your car loan has been deferred doesn’t mean that vehicle wear and tear is frozen.

Image: Dylan Gillis via Unsplash

When you need to start paying again, you may also need to repair something in your home or car. So remember: Just because some debts can be frozen, the rest of your life is not .

If you’re not careful, that sci-fi movie can turn into a horror movie, and your spending will turn into a terrifying monster that you won’t be able to escape from.

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Moderator Kristen Welker Manages to Keep Order at Final Debate

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She began with a plea for civility. “Please,” Kristen Welker instructed the men standing before her, “speak one at a time.”

For the most part on Thursday night, Ms. Welker got what she wanted.

In a high-stakes debut overseeing a presidential debate — taking charge of a candidate matchup that proved a bucking bronco for the previous moderator, Chris Wallace of Fox News — Ms. Welker, an NBC anchor and correspondent, managed to restore order to a quadrennial institution that some believed could not be tamed.

No doubt, she benefited from Trump 2.0: A calmer president arrived onstage Thursday, a contrast with the candidate who derailed the proceedings in Cleveland last month. And she had a technological assist in the form of muted microphones, a novelty installed to keep the exchanges between Mr. Trump and his Democratic opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr., from going from civics to chaos.

But in a poised and crisp performance, Ms. Welker, 44, succeeded where Mr. Wallace was walloped. Battle tested by years of covering the Trump White House, she parried with the president and cut him off as needed; Mr. Trump, eager to shed voters’ memories of his unruly performance last month, mostly acquiesced.

Ms. Welker, the first Black woman to moderate a general-election presidential debate since Carole Simpson of ABC in 1992, entered the evening facing an onslaught of attacks from Mr. Trump, who this week called her “terrible.”

His aides dredged up her parents’ political donations in an effort to accuse her of bias; a photograph of her with Barack Obama at a White House holiday party emerged on right-wing websites. (Her attendance at Mr. Trump’s equivalent party in 2017 went unmentioned.)

Little of the pressure showed onscreen. Ms. Welker was polite but firm in guiding the discussion, offering chances for brief rebuttals but also taking control when the candidates threatened to go on a harangue, repeatedly urging, “We need to move on.”

When Mr. Trump descended into unverified accusations about the business dealings of Mr. Biden’s family — a key but unsubstantiated element of his closing campaign argument — Ms. Welker let the discussion play out, to a point. When the president compared Mr. Biden’s siblings to “a vacuum cleaner, sucking money,” Ms. Welker firmly cut him off: “OK, President Trump, thank you. We do need to move on.”

Mr. Trump granted Ms. Welker, or “Kristen” as he called her, a rarity in his dealings with journalists: some praise. “By the way, so far, I respect very much the way you’re handling this, I have to say,” he told Ms. Welker at one point — only a few hours after he disparaged her to his millions of Twitter followers.

Whether the president is as friendly to Ms. Welker in the days ahead is a very open question. But her achievement on Thursday night may be that viewers came away focused on the candidates and what they had to say (muted microphones and all) rather than on the moderator’s performance.

“First of all, I’m jealous,” Mr. Wallace said when asked for his thoughts on Fox News immediately after the debate ended. “I would have liked to be able to moderate that debate.”

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Appeals Court Says Uber and Lyft Must Treat California Drivers as Employees

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OAKLAND, Calif. — Uber and Lyft must treat their California drivers as employees, providing them with the benefits and wages they are entitled to under state labor law, a California appeals court ruled Thursday.

The decision points to growing agreement between the state courts and lawmakers that gig workers do not have the independence necessary for them to be considered contractors.

The ruling by the California First District Court of Appeal is the result of a lawsuit brought by California’s attorney general and the city attorneys of San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. The state and city agencies sued the ride-hailing companies in May to enforce a new state labor law that aimed to make gig workers into employees.

After a lower court ruled that Uber and Lyft must immediately comply and hire the drivers, the companies fought back. They threatened to shut down completely in California and appealed the decision, winning a last-minute reprieve from the appellate court while it considered the case.

Uber and Lyft did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday evening, but are unlikely to threaten a similar shutdown. The appellate court required them to develop plans to employ drivers in case the ruling did not go in their favor.

“When violation of statutory workplace protections takes place on a massive scale, as alleged in this case, it causes public harm over and above the private interest of any given individual,” the court wrote in its decision on Thursday.

State officials have argued that the companies must comply with the law, known as Assembly Bill 5, so that workers can obtain sick leave, overtime and other benefits — needs that have become especially pressing during the pandemic.

“Every other employer follows the law,” Matthew Goldberg, deputy city attorney with the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office, told the appeals court during arguments last week. “This is dollars and wages and money that is being stolen from drivers by virtue of the misclassification.”

But Uber and Lyft have argued that they are technology companies, not transportation businesses. Employing drivers would force them to raise fares and hire only a small fraction of the drivers who currently work for them, they said.

The companies are sponsoring a ballot initiative to exempt them from the law and allow them to continue classifying drivers as independent contractors. The court gave Uber and Lyft a grace period, and if the ballot initiative is successful, it could throw the ruling into question.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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