NBA players meet Pope Francis to discuss social justice issues

Pope Francis meets a delegation of five NBA players, including Jonathan Isaac and Sterling Brown and officials from the National Basketball Players Association at the Vatican November 23, 2020. Vatican Media/Handout via REUTERS

November 23, 2020

(Reuters) – Five NBA players met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Monday to discuss social justice issues following a season where combating racial inequality was a dominant theme.

The players who met the Pope were Anthony Tolliver, Kyle Korver, Sterling Brown, Jonathan Isaac and Marco Belinelli as well as National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) executive director Michele Roberts.

“Today’s meeting was an incredible experience,” Tolliver, who plays power forward for the Memphis Grizzlies, was quoted as saying in an NBPA news release

“With the Pope’s support and blessing, we are excited to head into this next season reinvigorated to keep pushing for change and bringing our communities together.”

Video of the meeting showed the players presenting the Pope with gifts including an Orlando Magic jersey.

Roberts said the meeting validated the power of the players’ voices.

“That one of the most influential leaders in the world sought to have a conversation with them demonstrates the influence of their platforms,” said Roberts.

“I remain inspired by our players’ continued commitment to serve and support our community.”

The league and its players ramped up their calls for system-wide reforms last season after the death in May of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis in an incident that was captured on video.

The COVID-19 interrupted season resumed inside a bio-secure bubble in Florida with players wearing social justice messages on their jerseys and “Black Lives Matter” printed on the basketball courts.

The new NBA regular season is scheduled to kick off on Dec. 22.

(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; editing by Ken Ferris)

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COVID-19: Donald Trump plays golf while world powers discuss pandemic at G20 summit | US News

President Donald Trump was golfing yesterday while some of the world’s most powerful leaders took part in a G20 session on the global response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Major leaders delivered video messages for the virtual session on “pandemic preparedness”, including politicians from this year’s host Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, Italy and South Korea.

Mr Trump attended the morning session, in his second-to-last appearance at the international meeting as US president, but was golfing in Sterling, Virginia, when the afternoon side-panel on the COVID-19 pandemic took place.

World leaders including Mr Trump (top right) take part in the Saturday morning briefing at the G20 summit

Mr Trump did not deliver a message to the meeting and there was thought to be no American involvement.

He spent around four hours at Trump National Golf Club, where he has spent multiple weekends since losing the election to Joe Biden.

Trump golfing and missing the G20 pandemic session
President Trump was golfing when a G20 side-session on the COVID-19 pandemic took place

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany later said Mr Trump spoke at the summit to highlight the work the US has done rebuilding the economy and securing vaccines in response to the coronavirus.

The president is scheduled to appear at the G20 for a final time on Sunday morning, US time.

Tweeting on Sunday, Mr Trump referenced his scheduled appearance and media reports about him not attending the side-panel meeting of leaders the day before.

He wrote: “Just arrived at Virtual G20. Was here yesterday also (early), but some of the Fake News Media failed to report it accurately – as usual. My speech is available (they said I didn’t make a speech).”

Meanwhile, coronavirus cases in the US have topped 12 million according to Johns Hopkins University, with 255,905 related deaths. Globally, the pandemic has claimed more than 1.37 million lives.

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Olympics: Australian PM, IOC chief discuss Brisbane bid

November 17, 2020

By Jack Tarrant

TOKYO (Reuters) – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison met with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach in Tokyo on Tuesday to discuss next year’s postponed Olympics in the Japanese capital and Brisbane’s bid to host the 2032 Games.

Morrison and Bach are both in Tokyo this week and used the opportunity to meet, alongside IOC member and Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) President John Coates.

In a video posted on the AOC Twitter page, Coates said Morrison had expressed his “full support” for Brisbane’s 2032 bid during the meeting.

“Prime Minister Morrison and President Thomas Bach had a very good meeting this morning,” said Coates, who is also chair of the IOC’s Tokyo 2020 Coordination Commission.

“The Prime Minister reiterated the full support of the Australian Government for Queensland and Brisbane’s candidature for the 2032 Olympics Games. The full support.”

Bach has previously praised the early planning within Australia’s 2032 bid, which would be centred on Queensland state’s capital city, Brisbane.

Bach and Morrison also discussed holding sporting events during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

During meetings with Tokyo Games’ organisers on Monday, Bach expressed confidence that the Olympics can be held safely next year [M1L1N2I201B].

Australia, alongside Canada, pulled out of coming to the Tokyo Games before the postponement decision was made in March, because of safety fears related to COVID-19.

(Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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NIMH » NIMH Experts Discuss Suicide Prevention Strategies


JOSHUA GORDON: Thank you for joining us today. I’m Joshua Gordon, the director of the National Institute of Mental Health or NIMH, which is part of the National Institutes of Health. NIMH is hosting this discussion today because it’s National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Suicide is a major public health concern. More than 48,000 people die by suicide each year in the United States, making it the 10th leading cause of death overall. Suicide is complicated and tragic, but it is often preventable. The rates of death by suicide though in the United States, they’ve been steadily increasing over the past two decades. And although the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on suicide rates is still unknown, we’re seeing rising rates of symptoms of depression and anxiety as well as increased reports of suicidal thoughts and surveys conducted over the past few months. In this context, the NIMH is ever more committed to bending the curve of suicide in the US. And together with the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, NIMH has pledged to reduce the suicide rate by 20% by 2025. We seek to accomplish this goal through a research agenda that prioritizes near-term solutions.

JOSHUA GORDON: During the next half hour, we will discuss the latest in suicide prevention research, including ways to identify risk and effective prevention strategies. For this discussion, I’m joined by my NIMH colleagues Dr. Jane Pearson who’s a special advisor to me on suicide research and oversees the suicide research portfolio throughout the institute, as well as Dr. Stephen O’Connor who is chief of the Suicide Prevention Research Program in the NIMH Division of Services and Intervention Research. Before we get into our discussion, it’s important to note that we cannot provide specific medical advice or referrals on this program. If you need help finding a provider, please visit If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. That’s 1-800 273-TALK. You can also ask for help in the comments section of this feed. Someone from NIMH will assist. All of the websites and phone numbers I’ve just mentioned will also be posted in the comments section of the feed so that you can easily access them. But for now, let’s start talking about the topic that’s on everyone’s mind, which is, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Pearson, can you tell us what we know right now about the impact that the pandemic is having on people’s mental health in general and on suicide rates?

JANE PEARSON: Well, I’ll do the best I can given what information we have. Early on in the pandemic, we had a number of research experts in suicide talk about forecasts on what could happen to suicide rates, and most of the projections were that they would go up. And like you mentioned earlier, we won’t know the actual suicide rates for some time, and that’s partly because suicide is hard to determine, and it takes longer than other types of death. And in this pandemic, I think medical examiners, coroners are really challenged to deal with all kinds of things going on. So early on, there were projections because we started learning how much the shutdown would affect employment, isolation, and so on. And even though some of those were quite dire predictions, I think it did get us all thinking about well, what could we do to mitigate those effects. So in that sense, even though those projections seem quite dire, they’re also very helpful in getting us mobilized to do something about it.

JANE PEARSON: Since those projections, we’ve had a number of surveys conducted. And this is a really tough time to conduct surveys. You’re basically dependent on people willing to either answer a web questionnaire or answer their cell phones. It’s a real challenge. And we’ve seen a number of surveys coming across where things are– as you mentioned, more people are having depression, anxiety. We don’t know if they’re clinical in the sense that people are significantly impaired because it’s really hard to tell from some of these surveys that are not completely well, which we say, weighted across the population and have the best sampling. But all indications are that people are struggling, and it’s been a challenge. One of those surveys did discuss or asked respondents about their suicidal thoughts. And if you ask people during the pandemic, “Has it increased?” People will say, “Yes.” And if we also try to compare to previous surveys, like times last year, and try to match by somebody’s age or gender, it looks like those increases are happening. And another pattern we’ve seen is that this seems to be affecting younger people much more than older adults. And NIMH recently had a workshop on older adults and social isolation, and one of the takeaways from that meeting was that older adults are often better equipped to deal with challenges like this. And I think with all the uncertainty going on for young people in terms of schools, jobs, the transitions they would have expected not happening, it’s understandable why some of those rates have gone up in younger people.

JOSHUA GORDON: Why are older adults better equipped to handle with the challenges of the COVID pandemic? And can we teach anything to the young ones about it to help get them through this period?

JANE PEARSON: Well, we should have our other experts at NIMH talk about this some more, but my take of it is that as you get older, you get more selective in terms of your social supports. So as long as you’re still connecting to the people who are most important to you, that helps you maintain your trajectory and your your path. If you’re used to having many, many interactions – and we’ve seen this happening in college situations where young people want to congregate; they don’t want to be isolated – it makes it more of a challenge. And I think older adults also kind of take the longer view because they’ve had the experience of taking the longer view. They’ve been through a lot, and they can also see that this won’t last forever. So there’s a number of life experiences, I think, that they can draw from and build off of. That’s not to say there’s not older adults who are struggling at this time, but as we look at these surveys, that’s sort of the pattern that’s showing up.

JOSHUA GORDON: Some people, though, are at higher risk, especially during this pandemic. Dr. O’Connor, can you talk more about what we can learn from previous research regarding risk factors?

STEPHEN O’CONNOR: Sure, Dr. Gordon. So first of all, individuals who have a history of suicidal behaviors or thoughts may be at increased risk. For these individuals, the following protective measures are encouraged: number one, have an updated safety plan that you develop with your therapist or crisis counselor. If appropriate, your significant others or family members can be part of your plan. In essence, a safety plan is identifying warning signs and when you’re going to be feeling worse, thinking about internal and external coping strategies to help you get through dark windows of time, and having at your ready a list of care providers or emergency numbers or settings where you could go to receive care immediately if necessary.

STEPHEN O’CONNOR: Second, consider ways to avoid or reduce triggers for a risk in your current environment. So some examples there might be access to alcohol, other drugs, or excessive media exposure. Another thing to think about as a direct or indirect result of the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals with a history of mental health or substance use conditions may experience a worsening or recurrence of symptoms. Others may experience these symptoms for the first time. Risk patterns often vary by life stage as you and Dr. Pearson were just discussing. There are other demographic factors to consider as well, including level of education, mental and substance use disorders, and where one lives, in rural or urban environments. All of that has to do with access to care. Economic stress is a major factor to consider. Economic stressors may play a very large role. We learned from the 2008 US recession, for example, that economic stressors such as home foreclosures were associated with increased risk.

STEPHEN O’CONNOR: In this unprecedented crisis, clinician well-being is essential for safe, high-quality patient care. Similarly, a healthy first responder workforce is necessary to provide timely, effective, and comprehensive support to the community. We do not yet know of healthcare workers or first responders are at increased risk for suicide. However, even before COVID-19, clinicians of all kinds across all specialties and care settings were experiencing alarming rates of burnout, as well as stress, anxiety, depression, substance use, and suicidality. For first responders, the challenging dangerous training situations they face put them at increased risk for trauma.

JOSHUA GORDON: With this in mind, then identifying folks who are at risk so that we can intervene and identifying ways that we can do that to mitigate suicide risk, this has to be a top priority for us from a research perspective. Right? So like the response to the virus itself, we need to work on surveillance and mitigation strategies that can help prevent suicide and other morbidity and mortality. Dr. Pearson, can you talk more about the impact of COVID-19 on school-based mental health services, which we know can be an important prevention strategy?

JANE PEARSON: Right. So we do know that kids typically, about a third of them, get their healthcare in schools– or mental health services, I should say, not always a full-blown healthcare system in the school. And this has been on a lot of people’s minds, and it’s been in the news and concerns about this. And there’s going to be certain kids we know from pre-COVID that are more challenged and have more mental health concerns, if not full-blown disorders. So it’s really important to think about how these kids are being reached. And it’s a challenge for schools to get out their academic plans and get that rolling, but we’ve heard, anecdotally, a lot of schools checking in on kids and making sure they’re okay in terms of how they’re feeling psychosocially – how are they doing at home? – and that’s really important for kids who might just get their primary support out of schools where they might be struggling at home to an abusive situation. If there’s sexual minorities and they don’t have a lot of support at home, that’s a clear challenge for those youth who might get most of their support in school.

JANE PEARSON: So we have to be thinking about how we can keep these kids connected to some type of support. Certainly, telehealth has fastly expanded during this time. And for some people, that has been a real lifeline, and it’s made it easier for some groups who might not have before had access to care. But it’s hit and miss where it’s going to take a while to sort out how this played out for different groups during the pandemic. There’s a lot to learn from this in terms of what we would like to see continued. There’s many things that we think schools will have to do as they’re rolling this out. From kindergarten, all the way to college, we’ve been hearing a lot about college students struggling, especially those who have to be quarantined and don’t have a lot of support. So there’s a lot of pieces here going on. We don’t know the degree to which these youth are suicidal, per se, but we do know they’re struggling, and we do have to make sure that we give them the resources they need. And just as we were giving them the National Lifeline here, the Crisis Text Line, making sure kids know how to reach those resources is really important. And if we’ve got supportive family members who can also help, it’s really important to give them that information as well. I think you’re on mute.

JOSHUA GORDON: Thanks, Dr. Pearson. Yeah. I know the Crisis Text Line is 741741, and that’s an important number to remember, especially for college-age kids who like to use text as a way of communicating, and that’s– I know, from the Crisis Text Line, folks that they’ve been experiencing much-increased volume in the context of the pandemic, and I’d imagine that’s continuing. Another factor, an important factor to think about with regard to college-age youth is, at least according to the CDC’s latest survey, they are experiencing higher rates of suicidal ideation. Why don’t we know yet whether that’s impacting suicide rates in the US?

JANE PEARSON: I can respond, and we can also see if Stephen wants to add. So I think we mentioned before understanding what ideation is is important, and we know that does serve as a risk factor over time in terms of trajectories. But not all people who think about suicide are going to act on it, and it takes a lot of longitudinal research to figure that out. From our typical surveys, which I was mentioning at the top of this program, it’s been really difficult to fill those surveys in a way that we’ve been used to to understand different subgroups and have the complete sampling we would like to see. So we’re not sure how the ideation part is relating to behaviors within this tight time period. From what we hear from emergency rooms, we know there’s been a lot of concern about people going into an emergency room as part of a hospital where people were at times asked not to even go because of some hospital settings being overwhelmed by COVID patients. And we just don’t know what those patterns are going to mean because also, people could be diverted to a different hospital, depending on how COVID was being managed in a hospital system. So even if we saw some patterns now, it’s still hard to make sense out of what that means in terms of rates of people coming in with an attempt or not or serious ideation. So there’s going to be a lot to look at later, but in the meantime, I think we have to anticipate who might need help and try to get them make those linkages wherever we can to make sure people can connect digitally. If you want to add anything, Stephen?

STEPHEN O’CONNOR: Well, I think that that’s a great description of sort of the limitations of how far the data can take us right now. Just kind of speaking clinically, I think one of the reasons that most people who have thoughts of suicide don’t make suicide attempts and don’t die by suicide is because that thought, it represents something, and that’s the conversation that we want to have with someone who’s having those thoughts, is what does that exactly represent because typically, it doesn’t actually represent a desire to be dead. It represents a very personal experience of suffering and maybe feeling trapped and maybe just not feeling like you have control over your destiny or how to move forward. So by virtue of just having those conversations– and it doesn’t have to be a mental health professional; it can be a family member. It can be a friend. It could be a spiritual leader. But once you start having the conversation and you give people permission to explore that and express that, it really helps them kind of step back and say, “What is it really that’s kind of happening within myself?” And then think about a plan to move forward that’s more life orient.

JOSHUA GORDON: Thank you, Doctors Pearson and O’Connor. We’re going to spend a few minutes of our discussion now talking about what we’re doing here at the NIMH to respond to COVID as it pertains to suicide prevention and other mental health issues. NIMH staff have developed a number of resources for the public, including new coping with COVID-19 shareables webpage, featuring experts discussing coping strategies, and also stories about the mental health impact of COVID-19, whether it be from news or radio or videos. And everyone should know they can access that at Dr. O’Connor, can you talk more about the research that NIMH is conducting and supporting to improve mental health outcomes for those impacted by the pandemic?

STEPHEN O’CONNOR: Sure. So the NIMH Intramural Research Program, it’s conducting research on the impact of COVID-19 on mental health. These studies were looking at the impact of anxiety in motivation, as well as the impact on healthcare workers. NIMH, like other NIH institutes, is working with suicide prevention grantees to help them adapt and apply ongoing research to the current crisis. Adapting effective interventions to digital platforms and determining their feasibility and effectiveness is of particular interest. NIMH also supports research on the mental health impacts of trauma in smaller-scale contexts to understand why people react differently to trauma and the underlying mechanisms of trauma and to develop new treatments. NIMH also issue what we call a notice of special interest to support research to strengthen the mental health response to COVID-19 and future public health emergencies.

JOSHUA GORDON: So this is really important work being done by scientists really across the US. When might we be able to see some of the results from these studies? We’re already seeing some surveys and other science being released. When can we anticipate some of these findings being published or being released so that we can understand and mitigate the effects of the pandemic?

STEPHEN O’CONNOR: Right. Well, short answer is not soon enough, but the real answer, because we have to protect the integrity of the science, is that these studies started, some a few years ago; some just really launched, and so there was kind of a slowdown in terms of people being able to conduct their research or recruiting participants. The grantees that I work with, in particular, they might have been halfway through a clinical trial where they were recruiting 300 suicidal individuals, and they just have done a fantastic job of utilizing all the resources that they could, being very nimble and turning a lot of their approaches into virtual care delivery. So I think for the most part, we’re going to find that a lot of our treatment studies are going to cross the finish line on time, and that will just vary. Potentially, we’ll learn in the next six months to a year about some of those that were further along. And then other studies, it could be two or three years, but again, a lot of that is just to protect the rigor or ensure the rigor of the research because with the clinical trials, we want to make sure that we don’t interfere with the science that’s taking place.

JOSHUA GORDON: I think one point to emphasize here is we want to make sure we learn the lessons we can learn from this pandemic so that it can be helpful to maximize mental health in the context of other emergencies to come. Just like what we’ve been talking about today in terms of understanding coping mechanisms and risk and resilience factors that’s from previous research in the context of other emergencies and in the context of other demands on the mental healthcare system, that’s how we know we need to shore up things for kids who get mental healthcare from schools. That’s how we know that social connectedness, that physical health, and that goal setting, etc., that these are effective coping mechanisms in the context of the current crisis.

JOSHUA GORDON: I would add to that as well that the NIMH strongly recommends resources provided by the CDC and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration or SAMHSA to help cope with the stress related to the pandemic, and people can visit those websites, or, that’s S-A-M-H-S-A, dot gov for resources that can be really helpful, in addition, of course, to NIMH’s own website. Now, one of the questions that I get asked all the time as a psychiatrist and as the leader of the NIMH is, what can be done to help those who are suffering right now? And often, I’m asked, well, how can someone who’s already suffering from a mental illness, let’s say schizophrenia, which severely disrupts the ability of people to be able to handle and accept incoming information – they may not be able to tell reality from falsehood – how can we help those with serious mental illnesses grapple with the additional stresses of the pandemic? Dr. Pearson, do you have anything to say about that or Dr. O’Connor?

JANE PEARSON: Well, I think we’ve been discussing how the telehealth piece had to be quickly implemented and adapted, but we also know that people might need to be seen by individuals if that’s not going to work. So we’ve heard, from the field, a lot of quick adaptations around making sure people are safe. And there are resources through the SAMHSA’s supported Suicide Prevention Resource Center that actually describe a lot of ways you can adapt and also the website where clinicians can adapt to the current situation to make sure if you’re are doing telehealth or following up people, you build in more of the safety features, some of the safety planning that Stephen was mentioning that are virtually thinking through a second line if you’re a clinician doing work to make sure you can have a way to connect somebody if you have to and check on somebody’s welfare. In terms of specifics around people, with serious mental illness and managing that, I think a lot of centers have had to pivot and figure out how they can help and keep people safe from COVID while they’re at facilities, and I know that’s been a struggle for many folks. So it’s required a lot of flexibility, but I think we’ve had a lot of principles to build from to bring to those adaptations. And again, this could be part of some of the research studies that were saying if people are in the middle of a protocol, they will be explaining how they’ve adapted, and we’re going to learn a lot from those as we go forward. Stephen.

STEPHEN O’CONNOR: Yeah. Those sound like great ideas. And I really like that you mentioned some of the research that we’re funding because we have recently funded a study where they are specifically looking at people with schizophrenia or on that spectrum with those disorders. And they have thought about how do you extend the treatment out of the office into the home because traditionally, there are a lot of barriers just for people to be able to get into the office to receive care. And now with concerns about the pandemic, it only exacerbates those. And so again, you’re sort of seeing the research adjusting to the demands of the current pandemic.

JOSHUA GORDON: Yeah. I’m glad you brought that research up. We do need to ensure we learn the best ways to approach serious mental illness and the consequences of emergencies like the current pandemic. And let me just add that I think it’s really important that people take care of themselves, both from a mental health perspective and from the perspective of other health problems through the pandemic. And although it took some time, I think most doctors’ offices have been reopening, and they’ve ensured that they have the right personal protective equipment to be able to see people in person when necessary and continue to offer telemedicine when that is working. So we need to think about that from a mental health perspective, as well as a general health perspective.

JOSHUA GORDON: I want to close by mentioning one other aspect of our partner the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has to offer those who are suffering from stress in the current pandemic that SAMHSA runs a disaster distress helpline that’s available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s a national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people experiencing emotional distress related to this and other disasters. That toll-free number is 1-800-985-5990. It’s 1-800-985-5990, or you can text TalkWithUs to 66746. Both those numbers will connect you with a trained crisis counselor.

JOSHUA GORDON: So we’ve given you lots of resources. We’ve talked a lot about what we know and what we don’t know with regards to the effects of the pandemic and about ways that we can cope with those effects. And we hope that these and other efforts will ensure that we make it through this pandemic in as strong and resilient a condition as possible and, in particular, that we use these resources to help those most in need. And we can prevent the majority of suicides and other unfortunate consequences of the mental health effects of these times as much as possible. Thank you so much for joining us today. I want to thank Doctors Pearson and O’Connor for their comments and for their answers to my questions. I hope that everyone is staying safe. And another reminder, finally, just please reach out for help if you need it.

Thank you.


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Two Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles Brokers Discuss The Luxury Market

Two Top Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles brokers discuss the luxury market. James Harris and David Parnes are long-time cast members of Bravo’s hit reality real estate show. They sell high ticket properties that define Los Angeles’ luxury market. As Principals at The Agency in Beverly Hills, their current listings include a nine-figure Bel Air estate. The pair also sold the noted Holmby Hills Aaron and Candy Spelling 56,000 square foot mansion for nine-figures.

The British business partners grew up together in London as their Mums were best friends.  They started their Los Angeles real estate careers knocking on doors around Bel Air and Beverly Hills while leaving their business cards in mailboxes.  Fast forward to today.

It’s no surprise well-healed sellers and developers entrust their multi-million-dollar properties to Harris and Parnes. These days the pair are listing and selling homes and estates around Los Angeles’ moneyed enclaves in just days. Most often for well above asking prices. Their secret sauce is a combination of in-depth market knowledge, a deep client base combined with the fact these Brits are simply nice guys.

Here’s their take on why Los Angeles’ luxury market is commanding top dollar and why homes are selling faster than ever.

EP: How are the current luxury market dynamics different from other markets you’ve seen?

JH: We’re seeing a lot of movement in the high-end market, with some transactions happening quietly off-market. While COVID-19 has had an impact on many industries, in some areas of the country, real estate has been one sector that saw a decline earlier in the year, but then bounced back rapidly. This is due to more people being able to work remotely paired with a desire for more room. Amenities such as home offices, media rooms, and larger kitchens with expansive pantries are among the items buyers are now searching for since the rise of the pandemic. Additionally, there has been a significant uptick in higher priced rentals for people who are planning to sequester through the winter into 2021 in a beautiful home in Los Angeles.

EP: What are the differences in what people want in certain areas?

JH: There is a high demand for homes in Beverly Hills, Bel-Air, Hollywood Hills, Sherman Oaks, to name a few. Each of these sought-after neighborhoods have very strong market activity. For the foreseeable future, as people will still spend time at home, these areas will continue to be in demand, especially for those seeking sunshine and space coming from large urban areas or colder climates. Each of these areas offer a unique lifestyle. As an example, Beverly Hills and Bel Air offer expansive homes and land so families can spread out and enjoy a true indoor, outdoor lifestyle while being close to the beaches and outdoor shopping and dining districts. Alternatively, Sherman Oaks offers a bit more bang for the buck for price per square foot.

EP: What are the hottest areas right now? 

DP: Encino and Studio City’s new construction sales are booming with some recent, record-breaking sales. Additionally, Pasadena has also been a very competitive market since COVID. Pasadena is celebrated for its stunning building preservation and sense of community. Due to the pent-up interest in this area, we’ve partnered with Gus Ruelas, Managing Partner of The Agency Pasadena, and local agent Danny Cerecedes. In partnership with Gus and Danny, we’ll be able to fully service our clients seeking homes in the Pasadena region, especially since we’ve seen so much activity and an influx of buyers in this region.

EP: Talk about the buyer profiles you are seeing?

DP: Interestingly we are seeing many well-to-do parents buying homes for their children in all-cash deals. Family is more important than ever and having everyone close by and in a safe haven is the new norm.

EP: Are you seeing multiple offers, bidding wars, and properties selling above asking price?

DP: Yes, we’ve had a few recent multiple offer situations and bidding wars with properties selling over the asking price as a result. The demand is outweighing the supply in many areas and in certain price points.

EP: Advice for sellers and buyers in this market? 

JH:  For buyers, make sure you are pre-approved and have financials ready to be provided with an offer to make a strong argument. Short contingency periods and all-cash deals are always desirable. A strong cover letter with your offer that personalizes you and your family is also helpful since selling a home is a highly emotional and personal process.

 For sellers, ready the home by decluttering and staging if necessary, use professional photography to show the property at its best, and make sure to price accordingly to elicit the strongest response when the listing launches. The highest price is not always the best offer in a multiple offer situation. Look at all terms and the big picture. Who is the buyer who is the most likely to close the escrow? 

Good advice as the Los Angeles market continues to surprise. 


MORE FROM FORBESSelling A Billion Dollars Of Luxury Los Angeles Real Estate

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Trump, Trudeau discuss two detained Canadians; China grants virtual consular access

U.S. President Donald Trump and Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hold a meeting ahead of the NATO summit in Watford, in London, Britain, December 3, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

October 11, 2020

By Kanishka Singh

(Reuters) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump discussed on the phone the issue of two Canadian citizens detained in China since late 2018 and to whom China granted rare consular access on Friday and Saturday, the Canadian government said.

Dominic Barton, Canada’s Ambassador to China, was granted virtual consular access to Michael Spavor, a businessman, on Friday and to Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat, on Saturday, the Canadian government said.

“The Canadian government remains deeply concerned by the arbitrary detention by Chinese authorities of these two Canadians since December 2018 and continues to call for their immediate release,” Global Affairs Canada, which manages the government’s diplomatic and consular relations, said.

Trudeau thanked Trump in a phone call on Saturday for the United States’ support in “seeking the immediate release of the two Canadian citizens arbitrarily detained by China,” the prime minister’s office said in a readout statement of the call.

The statements did not give more information. The White House had no immediate comment on further details about the call.

China arrested Canadian citizens Kovrig and Spavor in late 2018 and later charged them with espionage. Their arrests had come soon after Canada had arrested Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, on a U.S. warrant.

The relations between Canada and China have since been tense.

The United States’ own tensions with China have also increased recently over the handling of the coronavirus outbreak, the ongoing trade war between the two countries, China’s imposition of a national security law on Hong Kong and the subsequent end to Hong Kong’s special status under U.S. law by Trump.

The Trump administration has restricted technology exports to Chinese companies, notably Huawei, citing national security risks. The company has denied such charges.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh; Editing by Chris Reese)

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Federal ministers, Indigenous leaders plan to discuss systemic racism in health system

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says he plans to hold a high-level meeting of federal ministers and Indigenous leaders to address racism in the health system following Joyce Echaquan’s death in a Quebec hospital last month.

The meeting, said Miller, will include Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett, Health Minister Patty Hajdu, Justice Minister David Lametti and Minister of Rural Economic Development Maryam Monsef.

“We do recognize, however, that this discussion requires the contribution of Indigenous partners and we will be reaching out to them today to convene an urgent meeting to address racism experienced by Indigenous peoples in Canada’s health care system,” Miller said. 

Echaquan, 37, a mother of seven, died last month in a hospital in Joliette, Que., about 74 kilometres north of Montreal, after recording some of the last moments of her life on a video later released on Facebook.

The video captured Echaquan screaming in distress, along with the voices of staff members insulting her. Hospital staff are heard making degrading comments, calling her stupid and saying she would be better off dead.

“Everyone should feel safe when visiting a hospital or physician’s office. It is … therefore important to remind everyone that during this pandemic, keeping Indigenous communities safe, Indigenous people safe and healthy, is my utmost priority,” Miller said.

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller responds to a question during a news conference on October 8, 2020 in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Miller said he and Bennett met with Echaquan’s family. He said that one of her sons got down on his knees to beg the two ministers to deliver justice.

“Carolyn and I should have got down on our knees and begged them for forgiveness for a system that failed them,” Miller said. “That’s what I remember from this meeting.”

A role for all levels of government

Miller praised the Quebec provincial government for launching inquiries into the incident but said all levels of government have a duty to respond.

“There’s a role for the federal government to play here, there’s a role for all governments and there’s a role for every Canadian in addressing systemic racism in our society,” he said. 

Why in the hell would I go and get a flu vaccine if I was going to be treated like garbage?– Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller

Miller added that he’s following the direction given to his department in the throne speech to “co-develop distinctions-based Indigenous health legislation with First Nations, Inuit and Métis and a distinctions-based mental health and wellness strategy.”

The minister also said that, despite reporting an infection rate that is one third that of non-Indigenous Canadians, Indigenous communities are now seeing increases in their COVID caseloads and the coming flu season will not make flattening the curve any easier. 

Miller said that over the last six weeks, the number of active cases in First Nations communities rose steadily from 19 to 98.

“Given what we have seen in the last two weeks, there is little doubt that the second wave of COVID-19 will hit Indigenous people harder than the first wave,” he said.

Miller said that while the flu vaccine is the most effective way to prevent flu and flu-related complications, the uptake for the flu vaccine is lower for indigenous people that it is for non-Indigenous Canadians.

“Why in the hell would I go and get a flu vaccine if I was going to be treated like garbage?” Miller said. “You wouldn’t. You’d just say, ‘I am not going to do it.'”

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Letters: Readers discuss the Monitor’s suffrage issue

The suffrage issue

I am a regular and longtime reader of The Christian Science Monitor and I have been particularly grateful in recent months for the diverse and balanced coverage of so many of the world issues needing prayerful attention. 

When I received the Aug. 3 issue covering a century of women’s suffrage, I just knew I had to read every word. And now I am so grateful that I did. This issue is a real testament to the way the Monitor tells the news – from what did happen to what is happening to what may happen in the future, all with genuine honesty and empathy. Each article stood on its own but added immeasurably to the whole. I will keep this issue as a permanent part of my library.

Nancy Root
Farmington, Connecticut

Six-week ‘brawl’

Regarding the cover story “The six-week ‘brawl’ that changed the world” in the Aug. 3 Monitor Weekly: I am deeply involved in advocacy for gender equity, diversity, and inclusion in Canada’s screen industry. This article and the focus on women around the world making a difference is truly brilliant. I’m sharing it far and wide!

Jan Miller
Halifax, Nova Scotia

Wilma Mankiller

I always enjoy and learn from the Monitor Weekly. The Aug. 3 special suffrage issue is one of my favorites. I learned a lot and found women whom I want to know better, including history professor Martha S. Jones and composer Clarice Assad. Remarkable!

My only suggestion would have been to add Wilma Mankiller, who in the mid-1980s became the first and so far only female principal chief of the Western Cherokee Nation, of which I am a member. In my opinion, she is also the greatest Cherokee chief. I also know that it must have been very difficult to make the choices of the women who were included.

Mike Horn
Fullerton, California

Photo essay

When I receive my Monitor, I first look at the photos that appear in the back and front of the magazine. The photo essay titled “Portraits of extraordinary women” by Melanie Stetson Freeman is a testament to her skill and compassion. I started with the photos on pages 40 and 41; then I turned to the first photo, of Jeannette Nyirabaganwa, and was shocked to learn that she was killed for testifying against perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide. Ms. Stetson Freeman has been a wonderful asset to the Monitor.

Nick Royal
Santa Cruz, California

No need for a prince

Regarding the Aug. 3 Home Forum essay, “A princess in no need of a prince”: This article brought back so many memories and thoughts about my journey through life as a female baby boomer who lived mostly in a male world. 

My mother blamed my college reading assignment of Betty Friedan’s “The Feminine Mystique” for my independent attitudes toward career, marriage, and life. However, I think I should also give full credit to my mother, who was denied her first nursing diploma because she got married, returned to college in her late 40s to get another nursing diploma (along with a master’s in nursing), and worked until she was almost in her late 70s.

I am so grateful for the example she set for me and my sister – to go after what we wanted and excel at it. Thanks for the reminder of what a fabulous woman my mother was!

Chini Lee Streitwieser

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| Psychiatrist Uses Gamers’ Livestream Twitch Platform to Discuss Mental Health IssuesTalking About Men’s Health™

Depression, Suicide

Psychiatrist Uses Gamers’ Livestream Twitch Platform to Discuss Mental Health Issues

Alok Konojia – “Dr. K” to his 370,000 Twitch fans – is a Harvard-trained psychiatrist who’s reaching gamers on the livestreaming platform Twitch to talk about mental health issues and lessen the stigma attached to them.

His livestream, Healthy Gamer GG, discusses online harassment, depression, suicide, video game addiction and other mental health issues with both followers and other Twitch livestreamers. Konojia also broadcasts on YouTube.

Why concentrate on gamers? A Pew Research Center study found that a more than a third of men ages 18-29 said “gamer” described them well. Young adults are particularly likely to play video games, as well as to identify as “gamers.” Two-thirds (67 percent) of those ages 18 to 29 say they play video games.

Reaching those adolescent and young adult men on mental health issues is crucial. Men’s Health Network sponsored “Behavioral Health Aspects of Depression and Anxiety in the American Male,” a November 2019 conference. Among the conference’s findings: boys and men will withdraw and become more isolated and less communicative in the face of behavioral and mental health issues. In addition, they will begin to change their behavior, turning to excessive drinking, sexual excesses, gambling or spending hours on their computers. The conference was funded in part by the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).

Based in Houston, Texas, Konojia and his wife, Kruti, founded Healthy Gamer last fall, with the aim to pay and train a network of coaches who can offer non-medical advice on a variety of issues, including video game addiction and motivation. The training includes two weeks of hands-on learning with Kanojia, followed by up to ten weeks with other senior coaches. The company has eight coaches on board now, with 22 more due to complete training in September.

Working with peers can help people improve their mental health care, a study conducted in southern California showed. Funded by PCORI), the study showed that peer-to-peer interventions was effective, with patients making additional improvements in self-management behaviors.



Robin Mather is a third-generation journalist with more than 40 years’ experience working at major daily newspapers and national magazines. A Michigan native, she now lives in Arizona

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