Fighting stigma with ice cream at Sikia Cafe

When customers first enter Sikia Cafe, in the lakeside town of Jinja, Uganda, they’ll first spot colorful ice cream flavors. And when it’s time to order, they’ll notice an infographic on their menus, teaching them how to sign for the items they’d like.

The cafe is staffed by deaf waiters. But its founders, Shadia and Imran Nakueira, hope Sikia will do more than provide employment opportunities. The goal is to change attitudes toward the deaf community in Uganda, where misunderstanding and discrimination toward deaf people are common. The cafe’s name is derived from Swahili, and means “hear” or “listen” – which Ms. Nakueira emphasizes can happen in so many ways, not just through sound. 

Though change is slow, staff say that watching people’s perceptions and attitudes c...

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Amid pandemic, entrepreneurs find ways to overcome downturn

New York

Julie Campbell had to rethink her new wallpaper business before she could sell her first sheet.

Ms. Campbell launched Pasted Paper in February, but soon after, the coronavirus forced the cancellation of the trade shows where she expected to introduce her wallpaper to prospective retail customers. Suddenly, the $30,000 she’d invested in creating the wallpaper was at risk, dependent on her transforming the company to sell directly to consumers.

To save Pasted Paper, Ms. Campbell learned online selling and marketing – skills not immediately in her wheelhouse.

“I had so much inventory and I needed to sell it. I was forced to figure this out,” Ms. Campbell says.

A recession amid a pandemic may seem like the worst time to start a business...

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‘Monogamy’ reveals conflicted emotions over a long marriage

What makes a good marriage? That’s the question driving Sue Miller’s 11th novel, “Monogamy.” And without spoiling anything, I can tell you that the book’s title isn’t the full answer for the couple in this story.

Beginning with “The Good Mother” in 1986, Miller has garnered a devoted readership for her character-driven, psychologically astute domestic novels, many of which delve deeply into how marriages and families work – or don’t. Fans will not be disappointed with “Monogamy,” an emotionally perceptive book that tracks a woman’s conflicted feelings about her long marriage following her husband’s sudden death...

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Who is right? Trump, Biden disagree on masks, COVID vaccine.

Washington and Wilmington, Del.

A potential vaccine for COVID-19 – and how it will be evaluated and distributed when it’s ready – has taken center stage in the presidential race with seven weeks to go until the November election.

Centers for Disease Control Director Dr. Robert Redfield said on Wednesday that all 50 states were sent a “playbook” for distribution of a vaccine to all Americans free of cost when one is proven safe and effective – which is not yet the case. Dr. Redfield told a congressional hearing that health care workers, first responders, and others at high risk would get the vaccine first, perhaps in January or even late this year, but it was unlikely to be available more broadly, again assuming approval, before late spring or summer of 2021.

Dr...

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Home-work: Not just kids’ stuff

A new office building in London is exploring new post-COVID-19 ground. Instead of the standard open-plan design the developer had drawn up, it will be full of individual work pods, each fitted with a desk, video screen, refrigerator, and microwave. And a foldaway bed.

Is this the future of office work? Employees, worried about their health, are still reluctant to go back to their old offices. The work pods would keep them apart from one another. 

Many employees around the world say they would be happy to work from home two or three days a week. Employers say their workers are more productive than they used to be.

But that could be because two-thirds of them work weekends when they work from home. The home/work boundary is getting blurred...

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People who lent their names to words

A man named Luke is internet famous because of a definition he learned later than most people do. According to a tweet that went viral: “My friend Luke didn’t realise until he was an adult that lukewarm was a real temperature, he thought it was just a term his mum used to describe his bath water.” I wonder what young Luke thought when he heard other people using lukewarm, and whether he was disappointed to learn that it was just another way to say “tepid.”

In any case, lukewarm is not eponymous, or derived from the name of a person or thing. It does happen to be redundant – luke is a medieval word that also means “slightly warm,” making lukewarm literally “warm warm.” 

The most famous example of an eponymous word is probably sandwich...

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Picture of comfort: Gardening in times of crisis (animation)

For Perdita Buchan, the days of World War II in Britain were not bleak, but filled with joyful color. She spent her youth exploring her grandmother’s flourishing garden, a haven from the war.

She had come home with her mother to her grandmother’s house while her father flew airplanes in the Royal Air Force. Her grandmother was a civil air raid warden – but also the keeper of a beautiful garden that fascinated the young Perdita. 

While enemy planes stalked the skies above Britain, she found solace digging among the puschkinia and gladiolus flowers, and delight in making her grandmother laugh under the rose pergola.

Today, Ms. Buchan tends to the buds and blooms in her own garden, which again is bringing her consolation through a different crisis – a pandemic...

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Why some world alliances endure

On Tuesday, 193 nations convened virtually at the United Nations with a special note: the celebration of the U.N.’s founding 75 years ago. This broad community of countries – along with the values embedded in its 1945 charter – has “enabled us to avoid the scourge of a Third World War,” noted its secretary-general, António Guterres. In other words, alliances for humanity’s good such as the U.N. can work against bullying nations.

The 75th anniversary arrives just as the world again sees two new partnerships that have formed around shared values to fend off today’s bullies. On Tuesday, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed an accord to normalize relations with Israel in large part to counter Iran’s aggression in the Middle East...

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US military draws a line: No more bias against pregnant soldiers

An Air Force officer had been voted by her unit as the No. 1 person they’d like to go to war with. She was told she was next in line for an instructor pilot upgrade – an important career step. But when her commanders found out she was pregnant, they took her off that list. 

“They didn’t even ask me,” says the lieutenant colonel, who asked not to be identified by name because of the potential impact on her career.

Such stories are too common in the U.S. armed forces, according to a Government Accountability Office report this year, concluding that pregnancy is one of the top reasons enlisted women leave the service.

This month, however, the Department of Defense banned discrimination against pregnant service members...

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Native American poetry anthology vibrates with powerful voices

Imagine if you could step back in time and meet people whose stories have been ignored or suppressed. As one person after another spoke, your view of history would be altered in profound and indelible ways.

That scenario is similar to what Joy Harjo, United States poet laureate, and contributing editors have created with “When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Though: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry.”  

The collection features 161 poets from more than 90 Indigenous nations – including N. Scott Momaday, Louise Erdrich, and Layli Long Soldier. The engrossing, often riveting book is organized by geographic area, with powerfully insightful essays that convey the distinctiveness and diversity of each region.

Yet as Harjo notes in her introduction, “Many who ...

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