Twenty-one tons of sand are transforming the Brooklyn Academy of Music into a day at a beach for the staging of the global warming opera Sun and Sea.”

NEW YORK — How do you turn a performance space in Brooklyn into a day at the beach?

Answer: Truck in 21 tons of sand from New Jersey in 50-pound bags and dump them out onto the floor — all 840 of them.

That’s how the production crew at the Brooklyn Academy of Music set the stage for a prize-winning opera about global warming, “Sun and Sea,” which is having its U.S. premiere this month.

Created by three Lithuanian artists, the hour-long opera features 13 singers sitting or lying on beach blankets under a hot sun. They portray characters identified in the libretto — sung here in English — by generic titles like Wealthy Mommy and Workaholic. Non-singing extras fill out the scene, building sandcastles, playing cards, walking a dog or just strolling around.

“It started from the image of a beach watched from above and the people gathered there,” said director Rugilė Barzdžiukaité, speaking from Lithuania via Zoom. “We see them in their very fragile condition because they are half-naked … just like the cosmic body of Earth which is also very fragile. And the beach is getting warmer and warmer every year. That’s how it came together.”

Once they decided on global warming as their theme, the question became how to explore that through characters who are mostly oblivious to the problem.

“We were thinking how can you write about climate change because it’s such a big and anonymous topic,” said librettist Vaiva Grainyté. “So for these characters and singers it’s like different clouds of thoughts, inner monologues about very mundane and simple things.”

But troubling hints of impending doom creep in.

An example Grainyté cites: one lady complains about messy dogs at the beach, but also mentions how she found three edible mushrooms out of season in December. “This little paradox somehow gives a hint of the disorder in nature. The feeling of the tragedy and apocalypse is very present but it’s subtle, not direct.

“There’s nothing like, ‘Oh my God, the world is about to end,’” she added.

Lina Lapelyté, who composed the music, said, “We wanted to have this very bright beach, almost too bright to believe it’s possible.

“And so the music is also very light,” she said. “It’s not heavy, quite poppy. Sometimes maybe it reminds you of a pop song that you know, but it’s actually none of the songs you know.” The musical accompaniment is provided by a recorded phonogram synthesizer.

The opera premiered in Lithuania in 2017 and was invited to the Venice Biennale 2019, where it won the Golden Lion for best national presentation.

“Rarely has an environmental message been so subtly, humorously, tellingly conveyed in an artwork,”

“In order to mitigate negative staffing impacts on Texas healthcare systems and EMS agencies, the state of Texas will only allow personnel deploying for this emergency response to be NON-RESIDENTS of Texas only and to have not been employed by a Texas Acute Care hospital or EMS agency within 30 days.

This is mandated from the state of Texas. All healthcare workers with applicable licensure are eligible for ANY Krucial Staffing contract opportunities that are direct agreements and not directed by entities outside of the healthcare facility,” Krucial Staffing posted on Instagram.

A quick search on several travel nurse job boards will find many job postings stating that Texas is not currently accepting nurses who are residents and who work in Texas to work for FEMA or government-funded disaster contracts. Here is one such job posting. 

We reached out to Krucial Staffing for information on the mandate and instructions on how out-of-state nurses can apply. Here is their response,

We are following the mandate from the state of Texas that those healthcare personnel Krucial Staffing recruits for deployment in Texas must be non-residents of Texas and cannot have been employed by a Texas Acute Care hospital or EMS agency within 30 days.

All healthcare workers that meet this standard and have applicable licensure are eligible for any Krucial Staffing contract opportunities that are direct agreements and not directed by entities outside of the healthcare facility.

Our mission is to help the hospitals and ultimately the individuals who are suffering in their greatest time of need. If you are interested in applying with Krucial Staffing, please go to this link. 


Governor Abbott passed a mandate that prohibits Texas residents who are currently employed from working for FEMA or state-funded disaster response agencies. The problem apparently lies in this sentence from his August 9, 2021 press release announcing the actions he planned to take in response to rising COVID-19 cases: “The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) will be utilizing staffing agencies to provide medical personnel from out-of-state to Texas health care facilities to assist in COVID-19 operations.”

Apparently, that little stipulation that the medical personnel is from out-of-state has resulted in current employed Texas nurses or current travelers based in Texas being unable to work government-funded disaster response contracts if they have been employed at a hospital within the state in the past 30 days.

Texas in Dire Need of Thousand of Nurses

Texas is looking to fill 6,500 healthcare positions from out-of-state or unemployed Texas nurses to help with the COVID-19 response. Texas is dealing with a record number of ICU hospitalizations from COVID-19 and thanks to a severe shortage of nurses, the state has extended its state of emergency. 

Last Monday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott requested help from the Texas Department of State in dealing with the surge in cases. Part of that help included funding to hire travel nurses as outlined in the document titled, “Governor Abbott’s Proactive Response To The Coronavirus Threat.”


Photo: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Over Labor Day weekend, the federal government ended its so-called enhanced-unemployment-benefits program, reaching the dreaded “benefits cliff.” The benefits, unusually generous by the standards of this country, staved off evictions and allowed many people to hold off on returning to jobs they may have felt were unsafe or were otherwise undesirable. Already, some restaurateurs are excitedly telling the New York Post that this could mean, at long last, the end of their ongoing staffing woes.

One, Jeremy Merrin of the Cuban chain Havana Central, tells the tabloid, “It’s unbelievable there are so many people claiming unemployment and everyone I know in the restaurant industry can’t find enough staff.” Restaurateur Stephen Starr rehashes a familiar talking point, saying that “logically, it makes sense that once unemployment benefits stop, more people will apply for jobs.”

This is a tired argument against a necessary social safety net, repeated ad nauseam by some business owners and the pro-business camp. As Adam Chandler wrote in the Washington Post in May, “Study after study has debunked the myth that the emergency benefits and occasional payments provided by the government are disincentivizing people from returning to the labor force en masse.” (Not to mention the fact that the benefits alone weren’t necessarily enough for people, especially those with families, to get by.)

So it is not surprising that last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that states that ended enhanced unemployment benefits early have not seen any difference in job growth. And last month’s job report was, as CNBC put it, “a huge disappointment” and the worst since January. Just 235,000 jobs were added, compared to an expected 720,000. Job growth in leisure and hospitality stalled after leading the economy for the past six months. In large part, the stalled growth has been pinned on the Delta surge, which Reuters wrote has “reduced demand for travel and entertainment.”

Even in my own conversations with business owners who bemoan the very existence of these unemployment benefits, it hasn’t been difficult to get them to admit that there are in fact other reasons why they’re having trouble hiring staff (such as old staff moving out of the city or country!).

For restaurant and bar workers specifically, money is one concern, but it is not the only one. Workers who spoke about leaving the industry cited the lack of stability and work environments in an industry in which abusive behavior is endemic. Others cited the absence of benefits like health insurance and paid time off as well as the power imbalance with both employers and customers. Many hospitality workers know people who died or got severely sick. Additionally, their employers didn’t necessarily do anything to make them feel secure or taken care of. Meanwhile, some people have simply moved on to other careers they had always wanted to pursue, started their own businesses, returned to school, or are carving out their own space in the restaurant and bar industry. The end of unemployment

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a nurse staffing crisis that is forcing many U.S. hospitals to pay top dollar to get the help they need to handle the crush of patients this summer.

The problem, health leaders say, is twofold: Nurses are quitting or retiring, exhausted or demoralized by the crisis. And many are leaving for lucrative temporary jobs with traveling-nurse agencies that can pay $5,000 or more a week.

It’s gotten to the point where doctors are saying, “Maybe I should quit being a doctor and go be a nurse,” said Dr. Phillip Coule, chief medical officer at Georgia’s Augusta University Medical Center, which has on occasion seen 20 to 30 resignations in a week from nurses taking traveling jobs.

“And then we have to pay premium rates to get staff from another state to come to our state,” Coule said.

The average pay for a traveling nurse has soared from roughly $1,000 to $2,000 per week before the pandemic to $3,000 to $5,000 now, said Sophia Morris, a vice president at San Diego-based health care staffing firm Aya Healthcare. She said Aya has 48,000 openings for traveling nurses to fill.


At competitor SimpliFi, President James Quick said the hospitals his company works with are seeing unprecedented levels of vacancies.

“Small to medium-sized hospitals generally have dozens of full-time openings, and the large health systems have hundreds of full-time openings,” he said.

The explosion in pay has made it hard on hospitals without deep enough pockets.

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly lamented recently that the state’s hospitals risk being outbid for nurses by other states that pay a “fortune.” She said Wednesday that several hospitals, including one in Topeka, had open beds but no nurses to staff them.

In Kansas City, Missouri, Truman Medical Centers has lost about 10 nurses to travel jobs in recent days and is looking for travelers to replace them, said CEO Charlie Shields.

He said it is hard to compete with the travel agencies, which are charging hospitals $165 to $170 an hour per nurse. He said the agencies take a big cut of that, but he estimated that nurses are still clearing $70 to $90 an hour, which is two to three times what the hospital pays its staff nurses.


“I think clearly people are taking advantage of the demand that is out there,” Shields said. “I hate to use `gouged’ as a description, but we are clearly paying a premium and allowing people to have fairly high profit margins.”

In Texas, more than 6,000 travel nurses have flooded the state to help with the surge through a state-supported program. But on the same day that 19 of them went to work at a hospital in the northern part of the state, 20 other nurses at the same place gave notice that they would be leaving for a traveling contract, said Carrie Kroll, a vice president at the Texas Hospital Association.

“The nurses who haven’t left, who have stayed with their facilities,

The COVID-19 pandemic has ground the aviation industry to a halt over the last year and a half.

Airline emissions were unprecedentedly low throughout this period and are only just starting to rise again as international travel resumes.

But the nature of travel is changing, and this time it’s as a result of climate change. From increased turbulence to frequent flyer taxes, what is in the store for airline passengers as the climate crisis gets worse?

Turbulence could get worse on flights

‘Head-slamming’ turbulence is steadily increasing on flights, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in the US.

Over 65 per cent of severe injuries logged by US accident investigators from 2017 to 2020 on planes resulted from turbulence, triggered by atmospheric conditions that could be worsening due to climate change.

“Turbulence is the most common airline accident type today and it’s high time we reduce turbulence-related injuries,” says NTSB acting Chairman Bruce Landsberg.

Because they have to be on their feet for longer than passengers, flight attendants are the most vulnerable – in fact, they are 24 times more likely to be seriously injured.

They’ve been “slammed off ceilings, walls and floors, suffering broken vertebrae and other fractured bones as well as head injuries”, according to NTSB accident reports.

The problem has been exacerbated by insufficient weather reporting and outdated guidance to airlines.

You can also experience ‘clear air turbulence’, according to Dr. Paul Williams, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Reading.

In 2019 Williams told CBC, “Flying through a cloud, when at least you can see it, you know it’s there and you’re going to expect some turbulence in the next few minutes.

“But clear air turbulence is generated by instabilities in the jet stream because of very rapidly moving air currents at 35,000 feet. The wind speed increases with altitude.”

If the wind is too strong, says Dr. Williams, then “the atmosphere just can’t contain the stresses and strains. It becomes unstable and breaks down.”

“Because of our CO2 emissions, it’s modifying the jet stream and just increasing those instabilities,” he concludes.

More flights could be delayed due to extreme weather

​​Imagine boarding a flight only to be told that the airline needs a dozen passengers to get off because it’s too hot outside for the plane to take off fully loaded.

This could become a common experience for passengers at the world’s 19 major airports as extreme heatwaves get worse, according to a study by Columbia University in the US.

“As air temperatures rise at constant pressure, air density declines, resulting in less lift generation by an aircraft wing at a given airspeed and potentially imposing a weight restriction on departing aircraft,” the study details.

And it’s not just the heat that is starting to cause delays – storms and extreme weather are also a problem. Just this month, one airline passenger wrote about her experience of violent storms in Texas.

“Uncharacteristic tornadoes and severe thunderstorms had wracked the

In summary

COVID-19 burnout is driving many nurses to quit, and hospital administrators say the state’s new vaccine mandate is compounding the shortage, too.

In the past month, four emergency room nurses — exhausted by the onslaught of patients and emotional turmoil wrought by COVID-19 — have quit at the Eureka hospital where Matt Miele works.

Miele, who has been a trauma nurse for four years, is actively looking for a less stressful nursing position and has colleagues who are, too. 

“On the bad days, I think ‘What am I doing and is this what I want to be doing?’” Miele said. “It’s shifting me to my core.”

Matt Miele, a trauma nurse, is looking for a less stressful position after 18 months of fighting COVID. Photo courtesy of Matt Miele

Around California — and the nation —  nurses are trading in high-pressure jobs for a career change, early retirement or less demanding assignments, leading to staffing shortages in many hospitals.

Hospitals are struggling to comply with the state’s nurse staffing requirements as pandemic-induced burnout has exacerbated an already chronic nursing shortage nationwide. 

But burnout isn’t the only thing compounding California’s nursing shortage: The state’s new vaccine mandate for health care workers is already causing headaches for understaffed hospitals before it is even implemented. Some traveling nurses — who are in high demand nationwide — are turning down California assignments because they don’t want to get vaccinated. 

Hospitals say they are reaching a crisis point, straining under the dual forces of more people seeking routine care and surging COVID-19 hospitalizations driven by the Delta variant.

“Oftentimes at hospitals there are long waits and long delays,” said Dr. Tom Sugarman, an emergency physician in the East Bay and senior director of government affairs at Vituity, a physicians’ group. “There’s not enough staff to keep beds open, and patients can languish waiting.”

In March 2020, the California Department of Public Health contracted with Aya Health — one of the nation’s largest traveling nurse providers — to pay up to $1 billion over six months to help hospitals meet nursing and other clinical staff shortages.

Department officials did not respond to multiple requests about the number of hospitals now seeking emergency staffing, and would not release the updated contract.

Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order reinstating emergency provisions aimed at ensuring adequate staffing. In part, the order allows health care workers from out of state to work in California.

Unprecedented staff shortages 

Before the pandemic, nursing shortages were common in most areas of the state, according to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.

Now the pandemic has stretched resources to a breaking point.

Hospitals, some with more COVID-19 patients now than during the winter surge, say they are confronting unprecedented staffing shortages, particularly among nurses.

“All of our hospitals are saying staffing is a big problem,” said Lois Richardson, attorney for the California Hospital Association. “We have fewer personnel than at the beginning of the pandemic and

The head of global airline industry body IATA blames overly risk-averse governments for prolonging the COVID-19 crisis for the travel sector but expects the outlook to brighten in the second half of the year.

IATA Director General Willie Walsh, the former boss of British Airways owner IAG (ICAG.L), expects positive data on vaccine effectiveness to convince governments to start rolling back restrictions.

“There is some good evidence there to be optimistic that, going into the second half of this year, we will see a better environment that will allow more people to travel,” he told Reuters on Friday.

Most international air travel remains depressed almost 18 months into the pandemic because of continuing restrictions.

Walsh, who took the top job at IATA in April, said that governments are being too risk-averse and need to change rules to reflect data showing that vaccinated travel or travel with testing poses little risk to a country’s infection rate.

“The crisis in the airline industry, which was initially caused by a health pandemic, is now really a crisis caused by restrictions being imposed by government,” Walsh said.

He singled out Britain in particular, citing rules that require people entering the UK from nearly all countries to take at least two coronavirus tests and enter quarantine. Walsh also hit out at what he said was “incredible farcical confusion” created by mixed political messages on travel.

Many countries on Britain’s “amber list” for medium-risk travel have very, very low transmission rates, said Walsh.

“If I was vaccinated, I wouldn’t hesitate to fly to these countries,” he said of places such as the United States, Spain, France and Italy, which were top destinations for Britons before the pandemic.

Britain and the United States both have high vaccination levels, which Walsh said gives him confidence that a travel corridor could be opened between the countries in June.

“I think there’s a good reason to be optimistic that we should be able to see the UK and U.S. open transatlantic flying again,” he said.

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines have suspended flights to Israel amid rising violence in the conflict between Israel and Palestinians.

Israeli airstrikes hit Gaza, and Palestinian militants in Gaza fired rockets at targets in Israel, including the main airport in Tel Aviv.

United Airlines canceled flights from Chicago, Newark and San Francisco through Saturday. A spokeswoman said United will let customers booked on Tel Aviv flights through May 25 change their itineraries without paying a higher fare.

American Airlines canceled its daily flight from New York to Tel Aviv on Wednesday and Thursday and offered to put passengers on flights at later dates, according to an airline spokesman. Delta canceled flights from New York to Tel Aviv through Thursday.

Company representatives said the airlines were monitoring the situation for when they might resume the flights.

► Israel, Hamas escalate heavy fighting: At least 53 Palestinians, 6 Israelis killed

► Fears of a ‘full scale war’: Biden administration dispatches envoy to Middle East

President Joe Biden faces growing pressure to help stem the violence and heightened international alarm over the spiraling death toll. The United Nations’ special coordinator for the Middle East, Tor Wennesland, warned on Wednesday that the situation “is escalating toward full scale war.” 

More than 80 Palestinians have been killed in the fighting, including 17 children and seven women, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, and another 480 people have been wounded. Hamas, the Islamic militant group that seized power in Gaza in 2007, acknowledged that a top commander and several other militants were among the dead. 

Contributing: Deirdre Shesgreen, USA TODAY

JUPITER, Fla. — In a growing regional trend, a lack of workers is causing logistical problems for South Florida businesses, and the sectors hardest hit in Palm Beach County are restaurants and hotels.

No Workers, No Service

WPTV NewsChannel 5 talked to frustrated business owners all over South Florida, and they are all dealing with the same crippling business issue.

“People aren’t coming in and applying,” said Angelo Abbenante, owner of four Lynora’s restaurants. “We have openings right now at all of our locations.”

“We’ve been hiring for a week and we’ve had three people come in and say, ‘You know, I’d like to work here,'” said Rocco Mangel.

Both restaurateurs are frustrated and reaching a tipping point because they don’t have the staff to provide their guests quality service. They along with other small business owners think they know why.

“When people tell you they want to work? No, they want to sit at home and collect unemployment,” said Randy Singer from Boca Black Box Theater.

“Lot of these folks are making as much money to stay home than they would be to come to work,” said John Reisigl, president of Cheney Brothers.

RELATED: Restaurants can start applying for revitalization fund

“I feel like we are competing against unemployment on some level,” said Jodi Cross, regional director for the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, which is based in Jupiter.

It’s a competition, they believe, they can’t win right now.

“The government is paying people to stay home, and when you pay people to stay home, you know, this is the consequences,” said Abbenante.

“People have a paid vacation until unemployment runs out,” said Mangel.

“You may have 10 people accept an interview and nobody show up,” said Mark DeAtley, managing partner of Scusi Trattoria in Palm Beach Gardens.

“It’s something I’ve never seen before,” said Abbenante.

No Help Available

“You’ll go days and not even one application comes in. Because half the workforce is lazy. Half the workforce doesn’t want to work,” said Michelle Lefkowitz, owner of Salute Market.

That may sound harsh, but Lefkowitz is at the end of her rope.

“When you need the right people for your team to grow and you can’t find them because no one wants to work — you’re talking about a front-of-house manager, a lead hostess, a line cook and a prep cook,” said Lefkowitz.

That’s about $200,000 in salaries she is looking to fill.

“Yeah, those four positions we are hiring for right now and we can’t get qualified applicants that want to work,” Lefkowitz said.

RELATED: Boca Raton pizzera says workers are hard to find

Lefkowitz added that other businesses are offering cash incentives to attract employees to join the workforce like signing bonuses.

“I don’t want to have to motivate somebody to get off their couch to come to work,” said Lefkowitz, adding that the workers she does have are putting in overtime. “Our kitchen has been putting in 70 hours a week. We have to pay overtime.

The U.S. told American citizens in India to leave the country immediately, as the COVID-19 crisis in the country deepens.

The State Department issued a Level 4 travel advisory Wednesday after the department approved the voluntary departure of family members of government employees. A Level 4 advisory warns U.S. citizens “do not travel” to the country in question, usually due to “life-threatening risks.”

The advisory indicates a “very high level” of COVID-19 in the country, and the government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in “rural areas,” the department said. 

“U.S. citizens are reportedly being denied admittance to hospitals due to the lack of space and resources,” an alert on the State Department website read.

People wait in queues outside the office of the Chemists Association to demand the necessary supply of the anti-viral drug Remdesivir, in Pune, India. As India faces a devastating surge of new coronavirus infections overwhelming the health care system, people are turning to desperate measures to keep loved ones alive. (AP Photo, File)

People wait in queues outside the office of the Chemists Association to demand the necessary supply of the anti-viral drug Remdesivir, in Pune, India. As India faces a devastating surge of new coronavirus infections overwhelming the health care system, people are turning to desperate measures to keep loved ones alive. (AP Photo, File)

The advisory also specifically warns against travel to the states of Jammu and Kashmir due to “terrorism and civil unrest.”

Citizens looking to leave should take advantage of one of 14 direct daily flights between India and the U.S., according to Bloomberg.


India has recently seen a steep rise in COVD-19 cases, recording more than 300,000 new daily cases for almost a week straight, with reports that the death count has been underreported.

New data from the Indian government reported 3,293 deaths on Wednesday, marking the first time the nation surpassed 3,000 deaths in one day, according to Forbes — this more than one year into the pandemic and as some other countries, including the U.S., have successfully gotten their vaccination programs off the ground.


However, the number of deaths in India may be far higher, with locals telling Sky News: “The Delhi government says that 380 peoples are dying every day from coronavirus but it’s actually around 1,000… more than 1,000.”


The U.S. announced Wednesday that it would send $100 million in coronavirus supplies to India to provide urgent relief.

The emergency supplies will include oxygen materials, personal protective equipment (PPE), vaccine manufacturing supplies, rapid testing kits and therapeutics.


The U.S. also pledged public health assistance and said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) experts will “work hand-in-hand with India’s experts in the following areas: laboratory, surveillance and epidemiology, bioinformatics for genomic sequencing and modeling, infection prevention and control, vaccine rollout, and risk communication.”

Fox News’ Alexandria Hein contributed to this report.