Covid-19 “Vaccine Passports” Will Be the New Normal, and Other News

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CastleBranch’s Covid-19 “vaccine passport”

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CastleBranch rolls out a Covid-19 “vaccine passport” that verifies vaccination status.

Welcome back to reality… sort of. The next widespread form of ID may very well be aligned with the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines. The North Carolina compliance management firm CastleBranch has begun issuing ID cards for U.S. citizens to prove that they’ve received the vaccine. To qualify for the card, individuals submit vaccine documentation for review to the firm, which will verify the vaccine manufacturer, administration date, and time between doses.

“CastleBranch’s real vaccination ID will be your passport to the world,” says Brett Martin, CEO of CastleBranch, who further notes that the ID cards let holders “retain complete control and ownership over their own personal information” despite concerns over potential data breaches. The credit-card sized documents, which cost $19.95, will use “forgery-prevention technology” and unique access codes that can be used to electronically verify vaccination status.

Amazon’s expansion continues with the announcement of 3,000 new jobs in Boston. 

Amazon, the nation’s second-largest employer, continues to expand its reach, announcing it will add 3,000 new employees in Boston. The roles will include technology and software development, and span numerous divisions: Amazon Robotics, Amazon Web Services, Alexa smart speaker system, and newcomer Amazon Pharmacy. The announcement follows a record year of expansion for the tech company, which expanded its payroll by more than 400,000, bringing its global workforce to 1.1 million. The total number of U.S. employees now stands at more than 800,000, reflecting the rapid growth in cities such as New York, San Diego, and Dallas this past year.  

Three years after Kate Spade’s untimely death, her best friend is upholding her legacy. 

When Kate Spade took her own life, in 2018, people around the world mourned her loss and reflected how her namesake brand shaped their sensibilities. Spade sold her company more than a decade prior, but in the years preceding her death, she launched another label, Frances Valentine, that expressed her brazen, yet ebullient perspective. The six-year-old brand is now being helmed by Elyce Arons, a longtime confidante and business partner of Spade, who’s working to keep her departed friend’s legacy alive. In an interview, Arons notes that the company saw a 40 percent spike in orders after producing physical catalogs—a conversion rate 275 percent higher than the industry average—that has helped keep the business afloat during the pandemic. “They are pieces that make you feel happy,” Arons tells Fast Company. “They’re designed to be heirloom pieces that you pass on to your kids.” She adds: “I think [Spade] would be very happy with where the company is now.” 

Rendering of the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center

Ukraine will create an interactive Holocaust memorial that’s generating controversy.

As the world was recognizing Holocaust Remembrance Day, Ukraine unveiled plans for the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center—a major memorial and museum complex outside the city where Nazis executed 100,000 people in 1941. The filmmaker Ilya Khrzhanovsky is helming the $100 million project, slated for completion by 2026, while consulting with a team that includes the performance artist Marina Abramovic. 

Khrzhanovsky’s involvement with the project has been met with criticism. His 2018 film DAU generated major controversy following allegations of sexual misconduct and child abuse on set. His plans for Babyn Yar, meanwhile, are raising ethical concerns. The historian Karel Berkhoff recently departed the project, citing Khrzhanovsky’s plans to submit visitors to “psychometric algorithms” and experiments in which they’d “find themselves playing the role of victims, collaborators, Nazis, or prisoners of war who were forced to burn corpses” after completing a questionnaire and psychological test. It remains unclear to what extent the memorial’s current plan incorporates these elements, but more than 80 Ukrainian academics, artists, and historians have penned an open letter asking for his removal from the project.

Despite connections to Jeffrey Epstein, Leon Black remains the chairman of MoMA. 

Despite calls for his removal following the revelation he paid convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein $158 million, Leon Black has remained the chairman of MoMA even after resigning as chief executive of Apollo Global Management this week. Activists such as the feminist art collective Guerrilla Girls have called for Black’s removal. “An educational, tax-exempt institution like MoMA should not tolerate individuals like Black on its board,” the group said in a statement. “Time for him to go.” 

In 2018, Black and his wife, Debra, gave $40 million to the museum.  MoMA honored them by creating the Debra and Leon Black Family Film Center, home to multimedia exhibition galleries and two theaters. Although several women on the board have privately expressed concern about Black’s chairmanship, there is speculation the trustees are hesitant to remove him given the valuable artworks he may bequeath MoMA from his private collection—considered one of the most exceptional in the world. 

Kim Jones created a glass maze for Fendi

Today’s attractive distractions:

For his first show at Fendi, Kim Jones creates a shimmering glass maze.

A complex camera captures wildly high-resolution pictures of snowflakes.

Tour Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s studio in advance of a Sotheby’s auction.

Uniqlo debuts a collection that honors the beloved illustrator Jason Polan.

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