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A conversation with Joe Biden

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“This will be the first priority, the second priority and the third priority – dealing with Covid and reducing the spread and bringing down the death rate,” President-elect Joe Biden told me in a phone call yesterday.

I had asked how he would try to persuade Americans to make a last ditch effort to change their behavior in early 2021 and reduce the spread of the virus. It could save tens of thousands of lives.

His response was full of details that make it clear that he listens to public health experts. He will ask Americans to wear masks and demand them where he can, he said. He will ask governors to take similar action and wear masks themselves as role models.

The current rate of infection is “staggering,” Biden said. “It’s going to be incredibly high – the damage and the death toll.”

But I think his answer was also missing something important – something that will go a long way in determining how successful he is in reducing Covid deaths. It lacked an emotional component.

In Biden’s view, Americans already understand the need to reduce the infection rate in the coming months, as the vaccine is rolled out. “There is a new sense of urgency on the part of the general public,” he told me and the handful of other reporters on the roll call. “The American public is painfully aware of the extent, the damage and the incredibly high cost of not taking the kind of action we have talked about.

It sounds a little optimistic. The number of new daily cases has more than quintupled since Labor Day, in large part because Americans are tired of staying home and all the other disruptions to normal life – and understandably so. It’s pretty miserable.

Yet it’s also clear that our impatience kills people. Nearly 20,000 Americans died from confirmed cases of Covid last week, and next week’s toll will likely be worse.

The start of Biden’s presidency will give him the opportunity to deliver not only a scientific message, but an emotional one as well. He can make it clear that he understands people’s frustration – but that they need to redouble their efforts for a few more months, for the sake of themselves, their families and their communities.

He has taken a few steps in that direction, such as his plan to ask Americans to wear masks during his first 100 days in office. He added an intriguing idea during yesterday’s call: He said his administration would do more to publicize research into the social situations in which the virus is spread – which could in turn make people more aware of it. comfortable socializing so as not to spread the virus. virus. An effective public health message is not just about telling people do not to do, as Julia Marcus of Harvard Medical School pointed out.

One of Biden’s greatest strengths is his ability to look on the positive side. This allowed him to overcome personal tragedy and help him win the presidency. But optimism alone doesn’t quite capture the situation with the virus. On the current path, many Americans will die needlessly in the first few months of Biden’s presidency.

What Biden said on other topics:

  • He expressed confidence in his ability to forge bipartisan compromises and said the same people who doubted his ability to do so had previously questioned his ability to win the presidency. “I respectfully suggest beating everyone,” he said. “So I think I know what I’m doing.”

  • He cited a minimum wage of $ 15 and climate policies as two areas in which he was optimistic. “I’m going to be able to do things about the environment that you won’t believe”, he said, explaining that Americans are now feeling the effects of climate change and demanding change. “I couldn’t have done it six years ago,” he added.

  • Biden said he was naming people with significant government experience in part because of the damage the Trump administration has done to the federal government: “One of the reasons you need old hands is because old hands know where old bodies can be buried.

  • He criticized the idea, favored by some Democrats, of using executive action to forgive $ 50,000 in student debt per borrower: “I think that’s pretty questionable,” he said. “I’m unlikely to do this.” But he suggested he was willing to forgive $ 10,000.

Uprising: With all his overseas missions canceled this year, a Swedish photographer has refocused his lens on his home. The results are a winter wonderland.

From the review: Religious services are not the same on Zoom. “We stay because dating is not what the church gives us; it’s our way of giving something to God, ”writes Esau McCaulley of Wheaton College.

Lives lived: British model Stella Tennant’s detachment and relative maturity – who has inspired designers like Karl Lagerfeld and Gianni Versace – have served her well in a company renowned for its lightness. She died at age 50.

Rebecca Luker’s three decades on Broadway have earned her three Tony Award nominations. But she didn’t identify as a show type. “I love rock music and jazz,” she says. “I love the 70s stuff that I grew up with.” She died at 59.

By the late 1950s, Billy Strayhorn – songwriter and collaborator to Duke Ellington – was growing tired of revamping classic swing tunes for Ellington’s band. Strayhorn has therefore launched a much more daring challenge: Reimagine the suite “The Nutcracker” by Tchaikovsky for big band jazz.

Together, Strayhorn and Ellington spent months working on the project, both in person and over the phone. When Strayhorn was alone, he hummed, whistled and even danced while writing music, says David Hajdu in “Lush Life,” his Strayhorn biography.

The result was a masterpiece. Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Reed Flutes” became “Toot Toot Tootie Toot” and “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” became “Sugar Rum Cherry”.

One of my favorite December traditions is listening to a live performance of the play. Unfortunately, that is not possible this year. But there is an alternative: a new live recording of Ellington and Strayhorn’s “The Nutcracker” by the Eric Felten Orchestra, available on Spotify, Apple Music or CD. Try.

“I hope that next year there will be a big restoration of the activities we all do together,” Felten told me. Until then, we can still enjoy good music.

This spicy white bean stew is very flexible – add whatever you have in the fridge.

The Joan Didion and George Saunders essay collections are on The Times’ list of 13 books to watch in January.

George Clooney talks about his new Netflix movie and why he doesn’t think theaters are going away anytime soon.

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Travel News

A conversation with Todd Gloria, Mayor-elect of San Diego

Hello.

San Diego is the second largest city in California. Its population of around 1.4 million also makes it the eighth largest city in the country, just behind San Antonio and ahead of Dallas.

However, it often looks like a small town, especially in its local politics. As the Voice of San Diego recently reported, its mayor-elect, current member of the state assembly, Todd Gloria, aims to change that.

Mr Gloria will be the city’s first colored mayor and the first openly gay mayor.

He is also perhaps the most powerful mayor the city has ever had, reported The Los Angeles Times, as a Democrat leading a Democratic-majority council in the city’s “strong mayor” system. (Mayor Kevin Faulconer is known as a moderate Republican, more in tune with former mayors. And he will be called.)

This week I spoke with Mr Gloria about his victory and his priorities. Here’s our conversation, lightly edited and condensed:

Tell me how you feel and what it means to have all these historical distinctions, especially in the context of Kamala Harris victory.

As a native of San Diegan this is especially nice because growing up I didn’t see many people like me in government and that is about to change. And I think about what this achievement can mean for children of color, young LGBTQ youth, who are wondering if there is a place for them in the city. And I hope my election will tell them yes, if they are willing to work hard.

[Read the background on California’s key races this election.]

I’m sure you mentioned it, but for those of us not fortunate enough to live in San Diego, can you tell me about your background?

So my background is a bit more complex and I love our Vice-President-elect because she makes “multiracial” understandable. I remember growing up and talking mostly about Tiger Woods and Mariah Carey.

I describe myself as a quintessential San Diegan. I am Native American, Filipino, Puerto Rican and Dutch. And the way it happened is that my four grandparents came to San Diego because of the military and to work in the defense industry.

You have people from these very different backgrounds who can come here and make a living and I’m very concerned that stories like theirs will not be replicable in San Diego in 2020. My public service tries to ensure these avenues of opportunity continue. to exist.

[See California election results.]

Can you say more about what you mean when you say, and I’m paraphrasing, that San Diego is a big city, so it should act like one?

So I hate to start with a negative, but that doesn’t mean turning San Diego into Los Angeles. In fact, it’s in my DNA to resist.

But here are a few quick examples of what I mean: A good chunk of the primary election was spent debating vacation rentals and scooters. And these are our problems, but they are not the biggest problems, and frankly, these are problems that other cities have successfully solved. And we didn’t.

Another example is that we are spending more than ever on the homeless, but we are not seeing the progress expected by the San Diegans. And I think a lot of it is because we don’t spend the money to follow national best practices.

We are doing things like buying indoor skydiving facilities to convert them into homeless service centers that have no housing. It is the thought of small towns in a big city.

I want to talk more about housing. I saw that you did not support SB 50, for example, but you supported zoning for higher density in some areas. What’s your plan?

From where I sit as state legislator, I see San Diego making an effort, and I see a lot of cities doing nothing. So, I think the involvement of the state in this area is important.

Hopefully, a Biden-Harris administration will be a better partner from a federal perspective, especially when it comes to very low income housing, section 8, public housing.

But at the local level, we can do a lot.

San Diego has a long history of a Low Income Housing Trust, which has funded and successfully built thousands of low income housing units. I believe it is time to create a middle income housing trust. This would allow housing to be built priced only for working and middle class people – people who do not earn enough for market rate housing being built, but who earn too much to qualify for low-cost programs. income that currently exist.

I think where we start to see opposition is when people feel that houses are being built without adequate infrastructure to protect the quality of life.

This is where we need to focus some of our time and attention to make sure that this density occurs in those communities where it makes the most sense, that those communities get the investment in parks and mobility and other assets to ensure that what they like about their community is in fact improved.

San Diego County was fair moved to the most restrictive purple level of the plan to reopen the state after hanging on to the red level for weeks. What’s your reaction to this? And how do you see the role of the city in the response?

Obviously, this is regrettable. And I know there are a lot of small businesses that are very concerned about this development, and especially the kind of back and forth movement, opening and closing. This kind of uncertainty is bad for businesses in general. But it can be fatal. The only solution is to contain the virus.

The city can play a cooperative role in this effort by ensuring that we continue to fight pandemic fatigue, reinforcing the message around our individual responsibility in facing our collective challenge.

And as much as we talk about business a lot – and that’s understandable – I think we need to talk more about schools. In San Diego, where the city does not oversee the school district, we have always been tempted to say that it is therefore not our responsibility. I’m not prepared to say that – it goes back to the little town, the big town. You know, if you’re building a great city, you can’t do it without good schools.

[See California coronavirus case counts.]

Currently, our public schools are largely closed. And that’s because they can’t provide the tests and personal protective equipment and other precautions necessary to reopen safely.

I think that by working with the county, state, federal government, and I think in particular by working with the creative relationship with the University of California at San Diego, that we can provide more resources, especially under the form of testing, to allow our schools to reopen more safely.

I think it will be essential for businesses to reopen, so that employees can return to work, to finally reopen our economy.

(This article is part of California today newsletter. Register to have it delivered to your inbox.)


California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. PT on weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: CAtoday@nytimes.com. Have you been forwarded this email? Sign up for California Today here and read each edition online here.

Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, graduated from UC Berkeley, and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles – but she always wants to see more. Follow us here or on Twitter.

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from UC Berkeley.

Categories
Travel News

‘We don’t have to put up with this’: a candid conversation about the bodies

Mara: I’m so glad you went!

Luce: I had to in part because, you know, it’s so, so, so desperately lonely when you think you’re the only one getting wet. I was scared of my own room and didn’t know where to go with it.

Mara: The stigma surrounding these issues is so strong, but really not that surprising when you learn, for example, that “pudenda”, the Latin word for female genitalia, literally means “to be ashamed”.

Luce: Yes! The stigma runs very deep. We can see it in medical history. I found references to middle aged women in the Middle Ages getting mad in a pub and it was the same kind of shameful joke we get now.

Mara: Yeah, and when you look back at douching, for example, it was originally a (dull) contraceptive, but it turned into a way of making our crotch seem coarse and smelly ( we are mean women after all!) Smell the flowers.

Luce: But what’s kind of ignored about stacking shame is that there’s a real person under the broken body. A real, normal, upset, exhausted, tired, tired, funny, loving underneath, who just needs a break. And not to pee in his pants all the time.

Mara: I think the antidote is to talk about it, to tell our stories. Everything is so heavy when parts of our body – asymmetrical lips, scented crotch, hairy nipples – are meant to be kept a secret or even vilified. I had to trust that I wasn’t that original, that out of billions of women, I couldn’t be the only one feeling these things about my body or having thoughts like, “Who’s going to pluck my hair?” chin if I’m ever in a coma? And luckily, the # 1 response I got from readers of my book is, “I’m feeling normal for the first time in my life.”