From livestreaming to online shopping, more and more China jobs are going digital

From livestreaming to online shopping, more and more China jobs are going digital

Since the coronavirus pandemic forced millions of people to stay at home, teaching students online and selling directly to consumers via live video streaming has taken off in China. This last week has shown us many things – from our own determination and resiliency to the benefit of family. friends and neighbors. The comedian and Motherland star on how she’s kept her comedy career afloat during the pandemic Buy At Auction. THIS IS A NOTICE ONLY – DO NOT BID ON THIS LOT, THIS IS A NOTICE ONLY – DO NOT BID ON THIS LOT, THIS IS A NOTICE ONLY – DO NOT BID ON THIS LOT, THIS IS A NOTICE ONLY – DO NOT BID ON THIS LOT, Royal 23piece Stainless Steel Cookware Set, Double burner Gas grill, Heavy Gauge Stainless Griddle, Milwaukee Angle Grinder, Milwaukee 1/2″ Hammer Dril, Milwaukee 1/2″ impact wrench gun, Milwaukee Drywall Screwgun, Milwaukee 3/4″ SDS Plus Rotary hammer kit, 48″ x 21″ Decorative Vanity w/ Granite Top, 61″ x 22″ Tan Brown Granite Double Bowl Top, 61″ x 22″ Tan Brown Granite Single Bowl Top w/ bac, 49″ x 22″ Tan Brown or Sunset Granite Single Bowl, 37″ x 22″ Tan Brown or Sunset Granite Single Bowl, 31″ x 22″ Tan Brown or Sunset Granite Single Bowl, Craftsman 2 Cycle Curved Shaft Weedwacker, Dewalt 27piece Tough Grip Bit Set, Solar power Welding Helmet, Standard 2″ Spindles (by pc. x 24), Murray 3.500 watt Generator, Olympic Home 5 gallon Paint choice, Olympic Home 5 gallon Paint choice, Craftsman LED Flashlight (by pc. x 2), Craftsman Socket Wrench Set 11 piece, Hampton Bay Exterior Ceiling Light, Stainless deep Undermount Sink, Eovacs – Deebot Floor Cleaning Robot, 1 Life Beetles – Floor Cleaning Robot, Neato Botvac w/ D3 Connector, 6′ x 10′ Patio Umbrella, 12″ x 24″ Waterproof pad Desert Mesa Vinyl (x 324, Stockton Cherry 3pc Cabinet Set, 3 PC STOCKTON CORNER SET, Waterproof pad Rigid Core Hvy Res clic -CHOICE, 4 pc. Stockton W3618 Stacker set, PAIR OF ESPRESSO SHAKER WDC2436 CABINETS, Downtown Dark Range Hood, 12″ x 24″ Plaza Snow Porcelain Tile (X 256 sq.), 12″ x 24″ Argyle Pearl Porcelain Tile (bid x 224 s, Dream Kitchen 20 PC. – 9′ x 15′ x 9′ Jarlin Choice, 10′ X 15′ GRAND RESERVE/ STONE HARBOR CABINET CHOI, Choice Padded Comm. scratch resist Laminate (x 318, Choice Commercial Waterproof Rigid Core Vinyl Clic, Choice Commercial Waterproof Rigid Core Vinyl Clic, Residential Padded Waterproof Rigid Core Choice, Downtown Dark 4 pc. W3324 Stacker set, Craftsman LED Work Light 750 Lumens at – Page 1 of 3 ERIE, Pa. — Houseboat culture at Presque Isle State Park’s Horeseshoe Pond offers a dream summer escape, gorgeous sunsets, magnificent wildlife viewing and countless recreational water activities. In the latest Around Town column, news about a tutoring program that has logged more than 1,000 hours of volunteer work this summer, a recent rash burglary spree that targeted local residents’ mail and a local nonprofit’s new leader.

Sales associates at one of Alibaba-owned InTime’s store display products for sale during a livestream.

InTime | Alibaba

BEIJING — More and more people in China are turning to jobs in the digital economy as the coronavirus pandemic accelerates a shift toward online commerce and livestreaming.

The unemployment rate for cities held steady at 5.7% in July, according to official data released by the government Friday. The official jobless rate — whose accuracy is often doubted by analysts — was the same as the prior month, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed.

During the peak of Covid-19’s impact on China’s economy, the unemployment rate hit a record high of 6.2% in February. 

“Along with the recovery of the economic situation, the demand for employment is actually expanding. Some flexible jobs are increasing … and overall have played an important role in stabilizing employment,” Fu Linghui, a spokesperson at the National Bureau of Statistics, said at a press conference Friday, according to a CNBC translation of his Mandarin-language remarks. 

Fu’s examples included livestreaming e-commerce and smartphone-based travel products, such as ride-hailing. 

Others in China have spoken broadly about a surge in demand for online courses, both for school-age children and adults. Chinese parents prioritize their children’s education, and being forced to try online classes for a few months could turn into a longer-term habit.

Since the coronavirus outbreak, Gao Lei said he nearly doubled his teaching staff for his three tuition centers in a less developed part of Inner Mongolia under his company, Qizhi Future Technology.

While the virus’ spread has subsided and most courses have resumed offline, Gao said he is planning to offer online classes for regional test preparation. 

The courses generally pair one local teacher with an instructor from a major city such as Beijing, he said, and to offset the increased costs of hiring more teachers, Gao said he also needs to expand his marketing team. 

Rapid advances in technology and new restrictions on business activity from the coronavirus pandemic require employees to learn new technical skills in order to stay competitive.

“This year is a breakout year for online education,” Austin Li, CEO of consulting firm Edge Fashion, which he says now generates about half its revenue from online courses on implementing a livestreaming and e-commerce sales strategy — up from about 20% in 2017.

“In the next few years, (I) expect it will be greater and greater,” Li said in a phone interview last month, according to a CNBC translation of his Mandarin-language remarks. His company used to primarily sell consulting and marketing strategy services, but is now seeing growth opportunities in online education. He noted that many people in the fashion industry who lost their jobs are looking for new kinds of work. 

A course lasts about 7 to 10 days, Li said, and costs about $1,500 for the online version, half of what it would be offline. He said students come from Los Angeles, Vancouver, Boston and China. 

Since the coronavirus pandemic forced millions of people to stay at home and limited the operations of physical stores, selling directly to consumers via live video streaming has taken off in China.

Competition is fierce. Chinese short video and streaming app Kuaishou reported on July 22 that daily active users for its livestreaming function rose 70 million from the end of 2019 to 170 million in six months.

But businesses are still hiring to tap into the trend. Chinese recruitment platform Qingtuanshe said some of the fastest-growing job openings it’s seen are those that can be done at home, such as online part-time work that include short video editing and livestream broadcasting. 

A look at Qingtuanshe’s job portal, accessible through the Alipay app run by Alibaba-affiliate Ant, shows openings for 4,000-yuan-a-month (approximately $575) to livestream on Douyin, the Chinese version of the hugely popular short-form video sharing app TikTok.

Another post advertised for a job paying 5,000 yuan a month was looking for a voice-only broadcaster. Qingtuanshe said it has more than 410,000 registered merchants and has processed more than 100 million applications in half a year.

Even though the work is ultimately done online, the location of a potential employee can also factor into the hiring process for businesses. 

Chris Sun, founder and CEO of ReadAbroad, which creates courses for wealth management in China, said in an interview Thursday that his company turned to a short-video strategy this year, in order to grow the customer base. He plans to add about 10 more people to his current staff of 50 to 60 people. 

“The city is (also) an important consideration,” he said, noting labor costs in Chengdu, a city in southwest China, can be half or a third of what they are in Beijing. 

It’s not clear whether online models, particularly livestreaming, have longer-term potential for driving sales.

Some third-party Chinese data estimates indicate the gross merchandise value (GMV) of goods sold in July by the top 50 livestreamers dropped by a few billion yuan from June, a month that saw major e-commerce platforms hold a major shopping festival. GMV is a commonly tracked metric measuring the total value of sales for goods and services sold on the platforms of e-commerce companies.

When asked about the reports of a drop in sales from livestreaming, Fu did not address them directly at Friday’s press conference, but said generally that livestreaming-driven sales and other new forms of selling still have a positive effect on overall sales promotion.

Overall retail sales in China fell 1.1% in July from a year ago, but rose 0.85% from June, according to official data released Friday. Online retail sales were up 9% for the first seven months of the year from a year ago, the data showed.

Right now, pressure on employment still exists.

Fu Linghui

spokesperson for the National Bureau of Statistics

Analysts have noted that livestreams can often drive impulse purchases, which results in a higher rate of products being returned. 

Other times, live-streaming hosts and influencers— known as KOLs, or “key opinion leaders” — may lack expert knowledge about the many products they are selling every day, Xin Yi Lim, executive director of sustainability and agriculture impact at Chinese e-commerce site Pinduoduo, said in a phone interview Thursday.

“Sometimes people just make these purchases because they’re endorsed by so and so,” Lim said. “On our platform, we have less of those issues because most of our merchants do that livestream themselves or hire a specialized sales person… tied to that store.”

As the world’s second-largest economy tries to navigate a world still struggling with the effects of the coronavirus, the path to growth is still challenging. The central government said at a key meeting earlier this year that jobs remain a national priority with an unemployment target rate of 6% and “over 9 million” new jobs.

That’s lower than last year’s targets of 11 million new jobs and an unemployment rate of 5.5%.

“Right now, pressure on employment still exists,” Fu from the National Bureau of Statistic said Friday. He pointed out that in July, an unspecified unemployment rate for 20- to 24-year-olds holding at least a college degree — primarily new graduates — was 3.3 percentage points higher than the same period last year. 

A record high 8.74 million students in China graduated from universities this year, according to official figures.

“(Alleviating) the pressure on these key groups still must be given high priority, especially since some self-employed individuals and small and micro-sized enterprises’ production and operations still face many difficulties,” Fu said.


Author: Evelyn Cheng

The benefits of yard work

The benefits of yard work


This last week has shown us many things — from our own determination and resiliency to the benefit of family. friends and neighbors.

It’s also given many of us a good workout — one we’d rather not have to deal with, but a great one all the same.

“Yardwork that comprises raking, mowing the lawn for at least 30 minutes, weeding and sweeping the patio are extensive cardiovascular workouts,” Sadi Khan, a fitness research analyst at told InsideHook. “They pump up your heartbeat, allowing you to break a sweat. Strengthening yardwork, meanwhile, involves lifting heavy pots or vases around, chopping wood, digging, and shoveling snow; these movements target bigger muscle groups like the core, upper body muscles and the thighs.”

Of course, you have to be careful not to jump in and work too hard, too fast and for too long. Listen to your body and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated — just like with any exercise regimen.

“When the body’s bending or stretching, it doesn’t know whether it’s pulling on a machine at a fancy health club or crouching down to pull some weeds,” Robert Herbst, a 19-time world champion powerlifter, told InsideHook. “If it’s being made to work, it’ll experience the same physiological effects as a prescribed exercise movement. As such, people should warm up by walking or stretching before they do any yardwork.

“It would be wise to also do the lighter chores first, then moving on to tackling heavy tasks as moving bags of peat moss once the body has heated up.”

And be safe using equipment — like a chain saw — you normally don’t use.

If there is a silver lining as we dig ourselves out from the derecho that devastated much of Cedar Rapids and surrounding communities, it’s that we’re outside, sweating and getting in a good workout.


“Doing yard work is a great cardiovascular exercise,” according to Dream Maker Spas. It is a “great way to increase oxygen flow to the heart, aids in arterial flow, reduces blood pressure and stress, and gets your heart rate going.”

Here are some activities and their benefits:

Chopping wood — Here’s something a lot of people are getting in these days, and it’s not necessarily for firewood. “If you want to get a workout and look like a badass wielding a giant ax, don’t just buy prepared firewood,” Men’s Journal notes. “Just 30 minutes of this lumber-jacked workout will pump up the back, shoulders and core, and cut your calorie surplus by 247, according to”

Raking — Men’s Health also reports that “according to the Discovery Health Calorie Counter, raking the leaves for one hour racks ups nearly 292 calories. Your shoulders will feel the burn, too.” Raking also gives you a full-body workout, according to Dream Maker Spas, working “your legs, shoulders and core.”

Mowing — Men’s Health notes lawn equipment is a “convenience, but cuts out the cardio, muscle stimulation and calorie-burning effects of hard work. Ditch the riding mower for a traditional push mower for a cardio workout that conditions the calf muscles. According to, a 150-pound man can burn 408 calories an hour mowing the lawn.”

Trimming hedges — Another tip from Men’s Health is don’t use gas-powered trimmers. Manual cutters “stimulate muscles in the forearms and shoulders and according to, one hour of playing Edward Scissorhands will lop off approximately 235 calories.”

Other chores — “The movements you make while weeding, pruning and digging all work parts of your upper and lower body,” according to

Yard work also can improve your flexibility, a benefit for the athlete in all of us, but especially as we age.

“Because you’re using your whole body, the muscles and joints are moving in all types of directions, which increases your ability to prevent muscle pain, inflammation and static muscles from inactivity,” notes.


And, if nothing else, it gets us outside, breathing fresh air. These times are giving us all the “opportunity to get some much-needed fresh air and natural vitamin D through sunlight,” notes.

But, “remember your sunscreen whenever you’re out in the sun.”




Author: J.R. Ogden

Jessica Fostekew: ‘Online shows performing to just silence are the hardest'

Jessica Fostekew: ‘Online shows performing to just silence are the hardest’

“I hated the first few months of this,” says Jessica Fostekew of her experience of lockdown. “I’m a very gregarious person, I thrive off company, so I was bereft without my friends and my partner. It was just me and my four-year-old son [at home in London]. But since Stay Alert as opposed to Stay Home, I’ve been having a pretty good time of it actually. I’ve had lots to tick me over.”

The 37-year-old, who was born in Sheffield and grew up in Dorset, started doing standup in 2008. Her show Hench, which tackled femininity, body image and weightlifting with no-holds-barred frankness, was nominated for best show at Edinburgh last year. As an actor, she has starred in the BBC sitcoms Motherland and Cuckoo. Now, as well as doing drive-in and online shows during lockdown – she was a guest at the Covid Arms online comedy pub in May – Fostekew has been writing sitcom pilots and recording her food podcast, Hoovering, which she launched in 2018 (she also regularly co-hosts the hugely popular Guilty Feminist podcast).

How was 2020 shaping up for you before the pandemic hit?
I was slap-bang in the middle of a 90-day tour. I’d been at the Soho theatre for all of January, and I’m glad I managed to finish that, but I wasn’t able to go to Melbourne festival, which was gutting. The rest of the UK tour, or most of it, looks like it will be rescheduled for early next year.

When you heard about lockdown, did you think your career was finished?
There were moments. I had what I read as an incredibly passive-aggressive text message from a comedian saying: “Oh my God, what a terrible shame about the pandemic, because your career had just started to go really well, and now it’s done.” I was like, what?! But I just don’t think that’s how the world works.

Were you open to the idea of doing comedy online?
I’ve got friends who said, categorically: “I’m not doing online gigs.” I was cagey about it too, but I’ve got used to it. The trick is not to do anything that was written to be performed live. The stuff I’ve been writing about the current situation, I’m happy to chuck that down the lens. There are people who are using the form in really interesting ways, and I’ve done some more interactive stuff than normal, but I don’t think this is a permanent solution.

What’s it like performing to a webcam?
I’ve done a few online shows where there was just silence – they’re the hardest. But then I did an hour for the NextUp festival and that was extraordinary. I was like: “Oh, I could do this.” I was worried about filling the hour, so I asked the audience various questions beforehand, and one of them was: “What’s the best animal you’ve ever had a ride on?” I could have filled the entire hour with people’s answers.

Does the word “atmosphere” apply to online comedy? Can you say that one online gig had a better atmosphere than another?
Absolutely. It will often be to do with the host and how it’s moderated – if someone’s heckling rude things, they can be booted out. There’s just a nice energy coming off people, though instead of background chat, you’re hearing people making their dog get off the sofa and clinking their cutlery. That is weird. There’s an intimacy to those gigs that you don’t have at a live gig because you’re in your home, and they’re in their homes, and you find that people reveal more about their lives that way.

If there’s less audience feedback online, do you finesse your material less?
Probably. The other thing that’s happening is, audiences are so grateful to have access to any comedy that they’re being too kind. As soon as comedians can gig again, we’ll be rushing to do it – though we’ll also all be terrified, because nobody takes months off. It’s muscle memory, and even if you have a week off, like after Edinburgh, then that first gig back is terrifying. I do wonder whether some comedians won’t go back. The really successful comedians might go: “God, this is quite nice actually, just doing telly work and writing.”

To what extent does online comedy keep you going financially, if at all?
It’s a real mixed bag. If you do an hour as part of an online festival that sells out and has hundreds of people watching, then that’s proper money. What’s worrying is that two of the venues I’d already done tour shows in have gone under completely, and I don’t know how many of the venues I’m meant to be rescheduling into are going to survive.

How are your fellow comics faring?
Those of us who are no longer dependent on live work are fine, and those who are more dependent on live work are having to diversify. I’ve got a friend who’s taken a job in a factory making ventilators and doing night shifts. The comedians who are actually employable in a proper job are having to think seriously about taking those proper jobs right now.

Has the pandemic been good for jokes?
I’ve been pleased that my relationship with my four-year-old has continued to be a goldmine throughout this – he thinks he can see coronavirus, so I’ve got loads out of that. But as a rule, no, I’m never one to use what politicians are doing, or the news in general, as a source for my stuff. I’m more inclined to look internally at my own life, and I think there needs to be a period of reflection and perspective before I can make jokes out of it.


Author: Killian Fox

ONLINE 8/14 THRU 8/17/2020 | MB Auctions

ONLINE 8/14 THRU 8/17/2020 | MB Auctions


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Presque Isle houseboats The good life comes with lots of work

Presque Isle houseboats The good life comes with lots of work

ERIE, Pa. — Houseboat culture at Presque Isle State Park’s Horeseshoe Pond offers a dream summer escape, gorgeous sunsets, magnificent wildlife viewing and countless recreational water activities.

Ownership, however, carries a slew of maintenance and repair responsibilities.

“An hour’s work for an hour’s pleasure.”

Greene Township resident Tom Bloom, 80, has heeded houseboat maintenance advice for the past 40 years. It was offered to him in 1980, when Bloom purchased his first Horseshoe Pond houseboat from a pair of Erie brothers.

Twenty-four houseboats dot Horseshoe Pond at the southeast end of the park.

Bloom and his wife, Carol, have spent their summers there since 1981 living on two of them, the most recent of which Tom Bloom built from scratch in 2006 – Houseboat 28.

“I have been doing it for 40 years,” Bloom said. “I’m 80, and I do get a little tired of the maintenance, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

Sometimes, pond life can make waves.

Recently, a houseboat about 250 feet north from Bloom’s water residence partially sank.

About half of the houseboat was initially submerged. There were no injuries, authorities reported.

Crews from Erie-based Lakeshore Towing Services worked throughout the week to raise the houseboat to a nearly level position.

The houseboat that partially sank was built in the early 1990s and is the largest and heaviest houseboat on Horseshoe Pond, said Eric Guerrein, president of Lakeshore Towing Services, a marine contractor business he started in 1988.

Guerrein declined to identify the houseboat’s owner.

“The owner lives on it every summer and lives in Florida the rest of the year,” Guerrein said.

Guerrein believes the houseboat partially sank after one of its eight steel tanks ruptured.

“That tank ruptured following high winds and all of the air leaked out and water came in,” Guerrein said. “The tank next to the tank that ruptured had an air vent in it, and that went under water. It pulled the structure down low enough where water got in the vents for the other tanks.”

Bloom was at his houseboat Monday afternoon. As he prepared to leave, he noticed the southeast corner of his neighbor’s houseboat sinking into the pond.

“By the time I got home, it was already on Facebook with a photo of the houseboat down in the water on its south side,” Bloom said.

Heavy rain and high wind swept through the area, Bloom said.

“We had a vicious blow on Sunday. It was raining sideways,” he said. “There were whitecaps in the pond. I feel that probably had something to do with what happened. There was a west wind cutting across the bay, and that houseboat was taking it head-on.”

Guerrein said the tank likely ruptured and that Sunday’s storm “stressed the tank enough to where it allowed the water to come in from the wind and waves.”

The houseboat lost flotation on its southeast corner and partially sank in about 10 feet of water, Guerrein said.

Lakeshore Towing crews winched up the houseboat, which is being supported by a barge that can hold up to 90 tons, the largest in the company’s fleet.

Guerrein has owned a houseboat at Horseshoe Pond since the early 2000s.

“This is the third or fourth houseboat over the years that we’ve had to save that was sunk or partially sunk,” Guerrein said. “We have a long history of doing work out there.”

Guerrein said his crews will tow the houseboat that partially sank to an area near East Dobbins Landing, remove and repair the ruptured tank, re-install it and tow the houseboat back to Horseshoe Pond.

“The biggest thing with houseboats is the anchoring system,” Guerrein said. “Over time, anchoring chains wear and break, and houseboats can get out of position and drift.”

Guerrein advises houseboat owners to annually check their flotation and anchoring systems.

Erie residents Mike Hirsch, 59, and his wife, Carol, have been Horseshoe Pond residents since 2001, when they purchased a houseboat.

“There’s definitely a lot of work, and most people accept that as part of the plan,” said Mike Hirsch, a retired Erie firefighter. “Bad-weather days make you a nervous wreck. You’re thinking, ‘Please, everything hold together.’”

Hirsch said his two most important houseboat maintenance objectives are maintaining the flotation and anchoring systems.

Bloom, president of the Presque Isle Houseboat Owners Association, couldn’t agree more.

“I’ve already scheduled my dive team to check out all of my floats and barrels,” Bloom said. “You do that every year. You have to make sure you haven’t lost any, that the existing ones are there, and that the barrels are full of air and not water.”

Bloom said his houseboat has nine anchors.

“I guess I’m kind of an anchor freak,” he said with a laugh.

Hirsch is the only Horseshoe Pond houseboat owner who has more attached anchors – 11.

“You also have to maintain your electric line,” Bloom said. “You have to remember that when you moor there, the only thing you get is the privilege to drop your anchor. Your electric line and everything else is your responsibility.”

Other high-priority maintenance projects involve roof and window projects.

“You want to make sure the windows are sealed and, when needed, re-caulked,” Bloom said. “On the pond, it rains sideways.”

Bloom said Horseshoe Pond’s houseboats are governed by the state, and no additional houseboats can be added.

When Hirsch and his wife purchased their houseboat 19 years ago, the roof leaked, there was a broken anchor chain, the deck was unsafe to walk on and there was a hole through part of the floor. An extensive renovation and rebuild transformed their summer residence.

Their home living space measures 997 square feet, and the wraparound deck measures 998 square feet, just below the combined 2,000-square-foot limit allowed on the boats by the state.

About 10 years ago, Hirsch had new decking installed. A decade of constant moisture has begun to rot portions of the decking’s underside.

Despite owning his houseboat for nearly 20 years, Hirsch said he’s still learning how to properly maintain it.

“Just when you think you have everything squared away, you get a storm or a gust of wind that proves that you don’t,” Hirsch said.

Hirsch admits houseboat life requires many hours of upkeep, but the payoff materializes at least twice day for him.

“The two best things are the mornings and the sunsets,” Hirsch said. “You wake up and you’re already at the peninsula. If you want to go to the beach, or go biking, or go swimming, you’re right there. At the end of the day, watching the sun go down makes it worth it.”

Distributed by the Associated Press.

“I have been doing it for 40 years. I’m 80, and I do get a little tired of the maintenance, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

— Tom Bloom, Greene Township resident



Around Town: Youth volunteers record more than 1K hours tutoring at-risk children

Around Town: Youth volunteers record more than 1K hours tutoring at-risk children

In the latest Around Town column, news about a tutoring program that has logged more than 1,000 hours of volunteer work this summer, a recent rash burglary spree that targeted local residents’ mail and the Palo Alto Community Fund’s new leader.



BOOKISH BUDDIES … The coronavirus pandemic has increased the demand for a local youth group that has logged more than 1,000 hours over the past eight weeks to help students get ready for this coming academic year. Summer Learning Buddies is made up of nine volunteers who have assisted English-language learners, students with dyslexia and children who fall in the achievement gap. The volunteers, who are 10 to 19 years old, have built a library of phonics lessons that have made a significant impact on the children they serve. The cause is personal for 15-year-old Ahshima Sima, a rising Gunn High School sophomore and co-director of the program. Her younger brother, who has struggled with reading and writing, has benefited from the lessons. She said being involved with the program has also shown her the importance of patience and communication while working with others. Carter Baginskis, 14, a rising Palo Alto High School freshman who has dyslexia, sees himself as a “positive role model” for participants. “My goal is to help them through a difficult process that I’ve had to go through,” he said. The program also has been valuable for school employees. Maribel Vignato, a student attendant at Walter Hays Elementary, considers herself in the “first grade” of learning through technology. “They are helping me be more efficient to do my job teaching our students. … They are heaven-sent,” she said of Summer Learning Buddies.

Numerous post boxes were damaged during a burglary at the U.S. Post Office on Hamilton Avenue in Palo Alto on Aug. 4. Embarcadero Media file photo.

YOU’VE GOT MAIL BURGLARS … The U.S. Postal Service on Hamilton Avenue in Palo Alto is among the latest victims of a rash of burglaries that have been plaguing the federal mail agency for nearly two years. An undisclosed number of post boxes at the downtown branch were damaged during a burglary on Aug. 4, said Jeff Fitch, spokesman for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s San Francisco division. The burglary was followed on Aug. 7 by a larger break-in at Mia Palo Alto, an apartment complex on Everett Avenue. Thieves entered multiple boxes at the complex, according to a letter sent to residents. The Hamilton Avenue thefts likely took place after the post office had closed for the day, according to Fitch. He declined to say how many boxes were broken into, but the burglar, or burglars, entered from the lobby, he said. Affected customers received notices in their boxes and the post office planned to replace the damaged doors and install new locks. Postal inspectors are investigating the burglarized mailboxes at Mia after being contacted by Palo Alto police, Fitch said. In light of the recent thefts, he emphasized the importance of alerting authorities to burglarized mailboxes immediately and keeping an eye on suspicious activity, including transactions at banks and on bank and credit card statements or unauthorized use of credit cards, he said. Stealing mail and damaging postal property is a federal offense with penalties of up to five years in federal prison and up to $250,000 in fines, he said. The Postal Service has a standing reward of $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone involved in mail theft. “We’re seeing this Bay Area wide and statewide,” he said. “One case is one too many,” he said. Mail theft reports can be made to the Postal Inspector Office’s 24-hour line at 877-876-2455.

NEW LEADERSHIP … A woman who has made an impact on local philanthropy, media, entrepreneurship and advocacy has taken the helm at the Palo Alto Community Fund. The organization announced this week its new executive director, Lisa Van Dusen, who was recently chief relationship officer at Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund. Van Dusen, a former employee of Embarcadero Media, the Palo Alto Weekly’s parent company, was also host of the newspaper’s “First Person” video interviews. The Palo Alto Community Fund has been a hidden gem and a much-needed hyperlocal bridge connecting the unparalleled resources in our community with our equally staggering and growing needs,” Van Dusen said in a statement. The organization has distributed more than $1.7 million during the first six months of 2020, including $660,000 in annual grants to area nonprofits and $1 million in grants through its COVID-19 Relief Fund.

SPREAD POSITIVE VIBES … As the coronavirus crisis continues to unravel at home and around the world, we want to share positive stories from our readers for upcoming Around Town columns. Have you witnessed a random act of kindness or watched the community form bonds while maintaining a safe social distance? Or have you seen a creative project come about as many stay at home? Send us your story in 250 words or less by email to [email protected] Photos are also welcome. We look forward to hearing your stories!


Author: Palo Alto Weekly staff

From livestreaming to online shopping, more and more China jobs are going digital

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