Iangotiana Rakotovao

Iangotiana Rakotovao

The pandemic paralyzed many industries, but restaurants faced a particularly difficult year. While dining dropped dramatically, food delivery saw tremendous growth. DoorDash and Uber Eats, the two largest delivery apps by market share, both saw their business double from the end of 2019 to the end of 2020. As of February 2021, DoorDash held by far the largest market share in the U.S.; but some cities have their own favorites, such as Uber Eats in Miami and Grubhub in New York. Restaurants are relying on these delivery apps more than ever.

How delivery apps have changed the restaurant industry.

DoorDash by itself delivered 543 million orders between January and September 2020. In an economy where there are about 9.5 million fewer jobs in February 2021 compared to February 2020, the flexibility of food delivery as a job can be beneficial.

While the delivery boom has provided new jobs for drivers, restaurants have faced some challenges. Delivery apps charge fees to restaurants in order to make money. Uber Eats charges about 350 dollars in setup and equipment fees, plus a 15- to 30-percent commission for each delivery. Grubhub charges a 20 percent marketing fee, a 10-percent delivery fee and a 0.30-cent processing fee plus 3.05 percent.

DoorDash said the company does not disclose specific fee amounts as the company offers a variety of services to sellers. These fees translate into higher food prices for consumers as well. There is the price of the meal you would receive if you physically went to a restaurant. The price usually goes up when restaurants offer food on these apps. Then come delivery fees, which are sometimes covered by subscriptions like DashPass and Grubhub, and service fees. There are also regulatory fees that companies, including DoorDash and Uber Eats, added to their accounts after cities like New York capped delivery fees at 15 percent.

After cities and states banned indoor dining in March 2020, restaurants across the country had to find new ways to stay in business. The majority of online orders come from third-party apps like DoorDash, Grubhub and Uber Eats. According to an analysis, nearly half of U.S. consumers used one of these food delivery apps in February 2021. The demographic trend is still pickup and delivery.

To help businesses in the early months of the pandemic, Grubhub suspended fees for independent restaurants in some major cities, Uber Eats waived delivery fees for more than 100,000 independent restaurants in the U.S., and DoorDash offered zero commission on pickup orders and implemented a $20 million merchant marketing program, among other initiatives.

Prior to and during the pandemic, U.S. restaurants could pay up to 30 percent in commissions for these delivery apps, in addition to other fees such as marketing and delivery costs.

Sources: Washington Post, The New York Times, Consumer News and Business Channel, Uber

There will be days where you may feel like everything is amazing and everything is going right. Then there are days where you feel like nothing is going the way you want it to. However, we cannot stay powerless and just wait for good days to come!

Choose to not be defeated. The very first thing that you can do is to make the decision that you will not let yourself be defeated. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the pressures of life beating down on you by simply telling yourself that you will succeed. You are already on the path to positivity.

“Life is not the way it’s supposed to be, it’s the way it is. The way you cope is what makes the difference.” – Virginia Satir

The power of statement rests in where you choose to apply your mindset. If you choose to be optimistic, then you are going to open your world to different opportunities to solving your problems.

Face your fear with head held high. It can become really easy to be afraid of making the wrong decision. Being positive requires people to be confident enough to not always get things right or to do things perfectly but to be ready for the challenges that may lie ahead of them. One simple and helpful trick to get into this mindset is to get your body physically active. Go running, do jumping jacks, start lifting weights. The more physically active your body is, the more ready it is to conquer any kind of action.

Build up your community and use your tough times to help other people. Dealing with people is probably the last thing people want to do when they are down. However, multiple studies show that when people are feeling depressed and they actually help someone else out, they in turn will gain some of those good feelings and will actually turn their mindset around. Humans by nature, thrive when they see others succeed, so whenever you are feeling beaten down and times are tough, help lift others up!

Slow down when you feel stressed. Pumping yourself up to take action and calming yourself down to manage stress are two totally different things, but both can help you think, act and behave more positively. For example, when you are speaking about something stressful, try slowing down your speech and you will start to see that your calming tone allows you to really address the situation much better. By focusing on the grace and simplicity of your voice, you can better connect to your situation and approach it in a much more rational and positive way.

Sources: Forbes, Lifehack, The Book “Resilience” written by Eric Greitens

Thursday, 22 July 2021 05:51

How to raise independent children.

The way parents talk to their children is the single greatest factor in shaping their personalities and their independence. Raising happy, healthy and self-confident children is a much more difficult job than it seems, but by gum, it is possible. According to some study, there are certain ways that parents respond to and interact with their children which help to ensure their success in life.

•    First thing first, one of the most helpful tips parents with independent children do is to ensure their children have rules. Children need rules within which they can grow. Most of the time, parents tend to establish communication, discipline and obedience without coming across as a third world dictator. Some parents make the mistake of trying to be friends with their children or not establishing firm guidelines because they fear their children will resent them for it. However, kids want to be cared, nurtured, and taught. Subconsciously, children expect their parents to provide a set of guidelines so they will have some structure and stability in their lives.

•    Empower children to make their own decisions. When children can make differences between what the rewards and the punishments are, for any given situation, children will build self-confidence through making their own decisions. Soon after, they will be able to take good initiatives; they will be empowered to make decisions and take responsibility for their actions. They need parents’ love, care, guidance and direction. Mutually, parents also need their kids to listen to them and to follow the home-established rules so that they both can take advantage.

•    Talk to children in a certain manner. The way parents talk to their children is the single greatest factor in shaping their children’s personalities and independence. The foundation of self-confidence or independence is self-esteem which is defined as how much a person loves and respects oneself. When children grow up, they have no self-concept, they have no idea of themselves. They take on their whole beliefs about themselves from the way the most important people in their lives—their mother and father—treat them. Hence, if parents want to have a great impact on their children, constantly they are encouraged to feed their kids positive reinforcement by lessen criticism. Based on several searches, destructive and negative criticism is seen as the greatest destroyer of personalities in the world. Here is the key, always tell them how wonderful they are, always build them up and be understanding when they are going through hard times sometimes.

Sources: Psychology Today, Defend Innocence, Girl Scouts, Mind Champs, Mayo Clinic

Over hundreds of years, European explorers have sought out the legendary golden cities of California on this coastline. Yet treasure hunters have always missed the entrance to one of the world's most beautiful harbors, "The Golden Gate".

Where does the name "Golden" come from?

Many believes that the Golden Gate Straight and the Golden Gate Bridge were named after the famous California Gold Rush, but this is not the case. The gold rush has nothing to do with the name of the Golden Gate. Back then, the entrance to the bay that lies between San Francisco and the Pacific Ocean remained hidden for so long because of, as the explorers used to say, the rocky shoreline, turbulent waters and the invisible opening sign. The bay opens about three miles back from the Pacific. Its entrance is only a mile wide, difficult to spy from the sea. As a matter of fact, it was a land expedition that finally spotted the entrance from the nearby hills. 230 years later, the first Spanish ships passed through, and a 19th century U.S. Army Captain John C. Fremont gave the passage its name of Golden Gate.

Today, anyone entering the bay from the sea must pass under San Francisco's most iconic structure: "The Golden Gate Bridge". It is hard to imagine today that before the bridge was built, the only way to cross the bay was by ferry. Boats carried about 50,000 commuters a week. Not surprisingly, the greatest opposition to the bridge came from ferry operators. However, in 1930, San Francisco voters finally gave engineer Joseph Strauss the green light. Strauss said he dreamed of building the largest such thing a man could build. His design ranks up there with the Empire State Building and the Brooklyn Bridge as a symbol of American progress and ingenuity.

The entire bridge is 1.7 miles long. Its towers rise 746 feet above the bay. To build a similar bridge today would cost over one billion dollars. In 1937, the Golden Gate made its debut as the world's longest suspension span. Its two main cables stretch 4,200 meters from tower to tower. The Golden Gate Bridge is called a suspension bridge because the roadway is suspended from the cables, which are held by the two towers and anchored at each end of the bridge. While most bridges at the time were painted black, the Art Deco-style Golden Gate was painted reddish orange—or international orange— to catch the light and stand out in the fog.

Sources: History, Golden Gate, National Park Services, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy

For people in Antambahoaka on the southeast coast, in Mananjary and surrounding area, raising twins is seen as a "fady" (taboo). The origin of the fady kambana or "taboo of twins" remains unknown. According to legend, the original Antambahoaka man married a woman who died after giving birth to twins. His two other wives suffered the same fate. This led him to decide that his descendants would never raise twins again. In the Manajary region, twins, regardless of their gender, are considered evil or even devilish.

The fady kambana continues to be an ancestral practice in Antambahoaka and consists of rejecting twins at birth or even abandoning them.  In the past, they were killed or one of them was excluded from the village. Anyway, for the sake of their children, some mothers have decided to break the ancestors’ oath and to keep their children even if it means being ostracized from the community. These mothers run the risk of being rejected by their spouses, their family, and the community, and excluded from the family tomb, which makes them even more precarious and fuels the belief in the taboo.

In 2008, the Analysis and Prospects Center on the Development of Madagascar (Capdam) conducted a survey on fady kambana at the request of the United Nations Committee on Human Rights. A book has been published: The Mananjary twins between abandonment and protection, explaining that abandoned babies have a low life expectancy because they are left at the bottom of a tree or on the roadside. In the old days, they were deposited along the Pangalanes Canal, promised to a certain death; today they are placed in reception centers where their destiny is not certain. Some families now prefer to place their twins in shelters, such as the “Centre d'Accueil et de Transit des Jumeaux Abandonnés” (CATJA)— the Reception and Transit Center for Abandoned Twins— or to have them adopted by close relatives.

"Many dies before the end of the first semester, mainly from dysentery and malnutrition, without mentioning the shock of abandonment. The luckiest ones may be taken care of by adoptive families in France," explains a volunteer from CATJA in Mananjary.

Finding one and a half tons of rice every month to feed the hundred or so children taken in, without state subsidies, is the ever-recurring challenge of the CATJA center. In 2013, the “Tsy Manary Zaza” association – “We do not abandon our children” association —was set up with the support of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to defend the rights of children and help parents raise their twins.

Sources: The New Humanitarian, United Nations Development Program, United Nations Children's Fund

The Sainte-Marie island, located in the north-east of Madagascar, stretches over about 50 kilometers. Between the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea, the island abounds in assets to shelter sailors in search of food and peace: a vast coastline with many creeks, a luxuriant vegetation, fresh water and a warm and welcoming community. The most famous bay of Ambodifotatra treasures memories of a mythical period when Sainte-Marie was a hideout for pirates. The Island of Forbans, dominated by the pirates' cemetery and protected by an isle named “Ilot de Madam”, is located in the heart of the island.

Pirates’ history: an orally passed on treasure that grows richer with each generation, for three centuries now.

It is believed that in the middle of the 17th century, more than a thousand privateers, freebooters and traffickers of all kinds once reigned over this small piece of land.

The story goes that English, French and American pirates hid some of their treasures there. Thomas White, an Englishman, is said to be the grandfather of the famous Malagasy princess Betty, who gave the island to France in 1750. It is also believed that Caribbean pirates, chased away by the English monarchy at the beginning of the 18th century, took refuge in the welcoming waters of Sainte-Marie. The question is, how much is left of the great piracy era?

Hardly anything: the leftovers of history are mostly the work of the Indian Company, a prosperous trading company that dominated the island in the 18th century: a landing stage, a strong and a few graves in a devastated cemetery. This is the famous pirate cemetery, which is more the cemetery of traders than of forbidden men: we can meet merchants, governors, a few privateers, women, children and missionaries; but few pirates.

A memorial to the famous pirate William Kid, who was hanged in England in 1701, and a quaint headstone engraved with two tibias surmounted by a hilarious skull, the tomb of a certain Pierre le Chartier, who was born in Normandy and died in Sainte-Marie in March 1834, but nobody knows anything about him.

Pirates die without leaving many traces: their ships are sunk and their bodies are more often thrown into the sea than lying wisely underground. Their intense activity around Sainte-Marie has been attested by others: acts of the maritime companies that declare the disappearance of ships, judgments and a few interesting or terrifying stories. Few vestiges remain, but their presence seems much more alive in the collective memory than the merchants.

The power of the cemetery is not to provide historical clues, but to bring together in the same place of memories: the enemy brothers, pirates and merchants; and to bring them back to life through an epitaph.

Sources : Madagascar Treasure Island, lle Sainte Marie Madagascar, Office du Tourisme de Sainte-Marie

The first flag of the United States was adopted in 1777 out of three colors: red, white, and blue. The new country had just declared its independence from Britain, and was made up of 13 new states that used to be British colonies. So, they decided to put 13 red and white stripes on the flag. In the blue area of the flag, called the canton, they placed one white star for each of the 13 states of the union: Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island.

Eventually, two more states were added to the U.S., so they added two more stripes and, of course two more stars for Vermont and Kentucky15 stripes and 15 stars. Soon enough, there were five new states: Tennessee, Ohio, Louisiana, Indiana and Mississippi. People started to realize that if they kept adding more stripes, those stripes were going to get ridiculously skinny.

In 1818, the United States passed a new Flag Act law, which would keep the number of stripes at 13 in honor of those first 13 states. However, they would add new stars for the flag for the new states to come in the future.

The next state to enter in the union was Illinois, on December 3, 1818. The new Flag Act declared that once a new state or states enter the union, the flag would not officially get its new stars until the next Independence Day, July 4th, which is still the rule today. Because Illinois became a state on December 3, 1818, a new star was officially added to the flag on July 4, 1819.

Two new states had joined the union in the same one-year period: Alabama and Maine—which split off from the Massachusetts. The flag jumped from 21 stars straight to 23 stars in 1820. As time goes by, the number of states increased steadily. From 1822 to the Civil War in 1861, 11 states joined the Union which made the stars number rise to 34: Missouri, Arkansas, Michigan, Florida, Texas, Iowa, Wisconsin, California, Minnesota, Oregon, and Kansas.

The Unites States kept all the stars even for those states that were trying to leave the union. During the war, a bunch of the western counties of Virginia wanted to stay part of the USA. Therefore, in 1863, Congress let them split from Virginia and become the brand-new state of West Virginia, and the flag had 35 stars. Later, from 1865 to 1912, there were 13 new states: Nevada, Nebraska, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona—48 stars.

In 1912, the first specific star pattern was made official by the U.S. government. Before that year, people were just making up lots of different star arrangements. The number of stars stayed at 48 for quite a while until 1959, when Alaska and Hawaii became the two last stars of the U.S. flag—with 50 stars that we still have today.

Sources: USA Today, Britannica, Public Broadcasting Service, US history, US Flag, History, National Flag Foundation, Battlefield

« Lahaly eh! Tsara be fanotsafa e! » Such is how we greet people in Manambato, in the eastern side of the island. Many holidaymakers travel to Manambato because of its free clean air. Manambato is simply put a touristic destination. Yet, it is noteworthy that Manambato has its own history.

The unique feature of Manambato lies in its blue river along with its beautiful beaches. Geographically, Manambato is part of the fokontany that makes up Vohitranivona, in the district of Brickaville.

In the past, Manambato was just a simple green forest. The city of Manambato was formed only in 1947 and divided into four parts. The name of Manambato comes from the presence of rocks in the lake. The people who came first to Manambato were its first settlers. Then they made many of friends and became a whole population.

As for the freshwater lake, embellished by a fine sandy beach, it was a lake of a certain giant named Darafify - a ruler at that time.  According to legend, Rasoabe was named after the first wife of the giant Darafify. Legend tells that she lived in the place where the lake stands and where her husband had put her to make rice fields. The lake bears her name now. When her husband was away, Rasoabe cheated on him with another man and when he found out, Darafify drowned her in the lake. She then built a village at the bottom of the water where she lived with her slaves. Some say that when the water is calm, you can still see the falafa – traditional huts— at the bottom of the abyss.

Pork remains one of the taboos still observed in Manambato because of the river's virtues that no one dares to abuse. If someone does it intentionally, rituals must be performed to break the curse, otherwise it is believed that the person will die.
Besides, other taboos do exist due to the presence of crocodiles in the lake of Manambato. Therefore, the inhabitants of Manambato have imposed the Fanidy – other small taboos such as removing all gold jewelry before bathing – to stop the crocodiles from attackingpeople passing on the beach. By respecting all these guidelines, your stay will be more than pleasant.

Manambato is also home to products highly valued in the eastern part of the island.  During the litchis harvest, Manambato produces up to 50 tons of litchis per day. In addition to litchis, coconuts are also harvested.  What makes Manambato similar to other parts of Madagascar is the fact that it also produces rice but only for local consumption. Manambato is also famous for fishing— one of the main means of subsistence for local people. The Manambato River is connected to the sea which also makes it a shipping lane.

Sources: Madagascar Treasure Island, Madagascar Green Island Discovery

The world is changing in every way, and engineers are those who would change the future and contribute to a better world. Some of them, scientists for the majority, have been true geniuses by creating absolutely incredible things while they were still young. Here are five game-changers whose inventions have gone essential for the humanity.

Louis Braille. He invented the Braille language at the age of 15. Louis Braille, born in 1809, was the inventor of the tactile writing system with raised dots commonly called Braille for blind or severely visually impaired people. He invented it when he himself became blind due to an accident while handling objects as a child.

Alexander Graham Bell. Graham Bell was the father of the first telephone. Many are those who are hooked on their smartphones but do not know the man behind this invention—the one who has revolutionized the world of telecommunications. At the age of 18, Alexander Graham Bell became a phonologist and a specialist of sound emission. Alexander created the first harmonica telegraph during his research on sound with his sidekick named Watson. His goal, at that time, was to transmit speeches throughout his country.

Philo Taylor Farnsworth. Philo Taylor was born in 1906 and created the television design at the age of 14. He came up with the idea in 1920. It is important to note that this young American did not invent television, but he was the one who created a complete television system, including transmission and reception. After a few years in the army, he returned to western Idaho through the state of Washington and Oregon where his first research was supported and funded.

Mark Zuckerberg. He developed the world's largest social network at age 21. Mark Zuckerberg was born in 1984 in New York. He was passionate about computers and gifted in programming from a very young age. At the age of 20, in 2003, he created his first social network when he entered Harvard University. In 2004, at the age of 21, Mark Zuckerberg officially launched his Facebook site—a social network initially for Harvard students’ use only, and eventually for other universities later. It was an immediate success. Gradually, he added features that could make it easy to find acquaintances and mutual friends.

Boyan Slat. While a young Dutch ecologist was studying aeronautical engineering, he wanted to clean up the oceans. He was born on July 27, 1994 and made his name when he created the OCEAN CLEAN project in 2012 at the age of 18. The aim of his project is to clean the oceans by placing floating barriers three meters deep. The barriers retain plastics and other drifting objects, then lead them to an extraction platform. The extraction platform is powered by solar energy and recovers the materials for disposal and recycling. His project has already been tested in June 2015 on the island of Chichi-Jima located between Japan and South Korea. Once popularized, the project was entitled to a two-billion-dollar crowdfunding.

Sources: Britannica, History, Biography, Computer History, Paths to Literacy, Sight Scotland, Clean Ocean

The BlackFly, also called a sleek, conical, somewhat confusing flying car, like what Hollywood would give a sci-fi hero to rescue faster. It is not a helicopter not a plane either; it is a cross between both, with a curved hull, two small wings, and eight spinning rotors aligned on its nose and tail.

"It may look like a weird beast, but it will change the way transportation goes," said Marcus Leng, the Canadian inventor who conceived the plane named BlackFly.

Marcus Leng refers to his invention as an electric personal aviation vehicle, a plane so easy to fly that you just need a little training and no license in hand. Engineers and entrepreneurs like Marcus Leng have spent more than a decade developing this new breed of aircraft, electric vehicles that can take off and land without runways.

Fun things to discover about the flying car.

Computer-controlled flight. With just a press on a computer screen in a nearby tent, it powers up, rising from a grassy slope on a central California ranch and speeding toward cattle grazing under a tree.

No need for a landing strip. Just state where you want to go and the car will fly for you within two to three minutes. When you arrive, it lands safely for you. You always have the final decision on the safety of the landing. In a matter of seconds, the plane transforms into a car, providing true door-to-door transportation.

Two electric motors and a megawatt of power lift you up. Dr. Sebastian Thrun, the Stanford University computer science professor who founded Google's autonomous car project, now says autonomy will be far more powerful in the air than on the ground, and will enter our daily lives much sooner. "You can fly in a straight line and you don't have the massive weight or stop-and-go of a car on the ground”, he said.

What is the goal of the inventors of flying vehicles?

They envisioned the vehicles would be cheaper and safer than helicopters, and could offer virtually anyone a way to fly over crowded streets.

"Our dream is to free the world from traffic. " said Thrun

Currently, dozens of companies are building these aircrafts, and three of them recently agreed to go public in deals that value them at up to $6 billion. Others are building larger vehicles that they hope will roll out as urban air cabs as early as 2024 - an Uber for the sky. Some others are designing vehicles that can fly unmanned.

Sources: The New York Times, Aeromobil, Pal V, British Broadcasting Corporation

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This website was funded by a grant from the United States Department of State. The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.