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The cost of a stuck ship

After nearly a week of dredging, dredging and towing – and with the help of the moon – rescue crews yesterday freed the giant container ship stuck in the Suez Canal, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. important parts of the world.

As a result, traffic has resumed for the hundreds of ships waiting at both ends of the canal. And while the estimates have varied enormously, the delay is also costly. “The disruption caused the canal authorities in Egypt to lose $ 95 million in revenue,” Peter Goodman of The Times told me.

And while the ship is free, the disruption is not over.

“It’s not just like flipping a switch,” Vivian Yee, Times bureau chief in Cairo, told me. Now that the ship is out of range, the backlog will take at least a few days, if not weeks, to resolve.

Strong winds from a sandstorm caused the ship, the Ever Given, to turn sideways into the channel and get stuck, its operators said. But shipping experts have suggested that while the wind likely played a role in the crisis, human error could also have a role.

Last year, nearly 19,000 ships crossed the canal without accident, according to the head of the Suez Canal Authority, the Egyptian agency that operates the waterway. And high winds are not unusual in the area. “We have seen worse winds,” Ahmad al-Sayed, a security guard, told The Times, “but nothing like this has ever happened before.

The crews who worked to unearth the ship depended largely on forces beyond their control: the moon and the tides. Sunday’s full moon offered a few extra inches of tidal flow and gave workers the boost they needed to free the ship.

It is rare that a maritime disturbance makes international news. But it wasn’t your average accident. On the one hand, the Suez Canal is not like other waterways. “It’s a vital channel connecting factories in Asia to affluent customers in Europe, as well as a major oil channel,” writes Peter.

And the Ever Given is one of the largest container ships in the world. “From a distance it’s difficult to understand its size,” Vivian told us. “From dry land, all the containers on top look like Legos – and then you realize each of those Legos is 20 or 40 feet long.”

In addition to shipping delays, traffic jams also affected manufacturing. There are a limited number of large containers in the world, and many of them are stranded at sea, creating a backlog of goods in factories, waiting to be boxed, Vivian says.

The crisis highlights a vulnerability of our interconnected world, Peter told us: “We have built a global distribution network that relies on goods getting where they are needed, when they are needed, with little room for money. error.”

The story: It took 10 years of hard work – in which tens of thousands of Egyptian workers died – to build the canal in the 19th century.

For more: This is how giant container ships are built.

  • The trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with the murder of George Floyd, began yesterday.

  • The prosecution argued that Chauvin acted with excessive force and released a video showing him kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes. “You can believe your eyes that this is homicide,” a prosecutor told the jury.

  • The defense argued that Floyd’s death was caused by underlying medical conditions and a drug overdose, and urged jurors to look at the evidence beyond the video.

  • This two-minute video shows key moments from the first day of the trial.

After the Jan.6 attack on Capitol Hill, does the United States need a national terrorism law?

  • Yes: Making domestic terrorism a federal crime would help law enforcement punish violent extremists, says Elizabeth Neumann, a former Trump administration official. It would also discourage future violence, write Mary McCord and Jason Blazakis in Lawfare.

  • No: “The problem is not the lack of laws. It’s a lack of will ”to prosecute extremists using existing law, argues Hina Shamsi of the ACLU. And some progressives fear that the government could exploit the law to limit the rights of Americans or target minority communities, says Nicole Narea de Vox.

Makeover: The beauty industry has entered a phase of total domination of pop culture. Celebrities, social media stars, and lifestyle influencers are changing how selling works.

Lives lived: A staunch advocate for people with disabilities in New York, Edith Prentiss fought to make the city she loved more navigable for everyone. She died at age 69.

Chinese restaurants suffered more during the pandemic than most other American restaurants.

Their activity began to decline earlier – in January of last year, when news broke that a new virus was circulating in Wuhan, China. Restaurants have also had to deal with a rise in anti-Asian racism – “vandalized, stolen, attacked online in racist Yelp reviews,” as the Washington Post reported. Xi’an Famous Foods in New York City began closing early after two employees were punched in the face as they walked to and from work.

Grace Young, a decorated cookbook author, fears traditional Chinatowns like New York City and San Francisco will never recover from the pandemic, and she has spent months trying to draw attention to the problem. “When you walk into these restaurants, you step back in time, and that’s a privilege,” Young said in a recent episode of “The Splendid Table,” a food podcast.

For anyone who wants to help out Chinese restaurants, Francis Lam, host of “The Splendid Table,” suggested, “If you can, order yourself some Chinese take-out. Get more. Leftovers are your friend. In The Times, Bonnie Tsui has more tips for supporting restaurants. – David Leonhardt

The umami-rich seaweed takes creamy asparagus pasta to the next level.

Watch an opera short starring drag queen Sasha Velor, winner of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and lip-syncing legend.

Young artists bypass art schools and student loans, quit their daily jobs, and pursue full-time artistic careers on TikTok. But what happens when the audience crumbles and imitators arrive?

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Minimum wage hike would contribute to poverty but cost jobs, budget office says

WASHINGTON – Raising the federal minimum wage to $ 15 an hour – a proposal included in the relief package pushed by President Biden – would add $ 54 billion to the budget deficit over the next decade, concluded Monday. Congressional Budget Office.

Normally, a forecast of increasing debt could hurt the political chances of the plan. But supporters of the wage hike have seized the forecast as proof that the hotly contested proposal could survive a procedural challenge under obscure Senate rules.

Democrats are trying to add the measure to a $ 1.9 trillion pandemic relief package that is progressing through a process called budget reconciliation, which requires a simple majority rather than the 60-vote margin for overcome a filibuster. But reconciliation is reserved for matters having a significant budgetary effect.

Independent Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont said the forecast for an increased deficit showed the measure passed the test. Raising the federal minimum wage to $ 15 “would have a direct and substantial impact on the federal budget,” he said in a statement. “This means that we can clearly increase the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour under the rules.”

Critics of the plan noted a different element of the report: its forecast that raising the minimum wage to $ 15 would wipe out 1.4 million jobs by the time the increase takes full effect.

“The Conservatives have been saying for some time that a recession is absolutely not a good time to raise the minimum wage, even if it is being phased in,” said Brian Riedl, senior researcher at the Manhattan Institute. “The economy is just too fragile.”

He also took issue with Mr Sanders’ argument that the study increased the odds that a pay rise could survive Senate rules. The study found that the measure would affect private sector wages much more than it would increase the deficit – $ 333 billion compared to $ 54 billion – showing that its effect on the deficit was incidental, Mr Riedl said. .

“I doubt the parliamentarian will determine that this is primarily a budgetary reform rather than an economic reform with a secondary budgetary effect,” he said.

The rules state that budgetary effects cannot be “merely incidental” but do not define the term. While Mr Sanders called a substantial $ 54 billion, Mr Riedl said it was about half of 1% of the 10-year projected deficit.

Congress last passed a minimum wage hike in 2007. The current federal minimum, $ 7.25 an hour, is about 29 percent below its 1968 high when adjusted for l inflation, according to the Left Economic Policy Institute. David Cooper, an economic analyst at the institute, said 29 states and the District of Columbia had higher minimums, and seven states plus the District of Columbia were phasing in the $ 15 an hour threshold.

Progressives see wage increases as a central weapon in the fight against poverty and inequality, while conservatives often warn that it will cut jobs.

The report basically said that both sides were right. He revealed that a minimum wage of $ 15 would raise 27 million people and lift 900,000 people above the poverty line, but it would also cost 1.4 million jobs.

Mr. Cooper challenged the job forecasts, arguing that they were not in line with recent studies that showed minimum wage increases had little or no effect on employment. “CBO seems to be going in the opposite direction,” he says.

Progressives like Sanders have argued that an increase in the minimum wage would reduce federal spending because fewer people would need safety net programs like food stamps or Medicaid. But the budget office warned those savings would be more than offset by the higher costs of providing services such as medical care, with employers raising the wages of their workers – a finding Mr Sanders continued to dismiss. citing other studies.

Overall, the report said the changes would benefit labor rather than capital.

“They assume that there is income transferred from workers at the top of the income distribution to workers at the bottom,” Cooper said. “Therefore, they implicitly say that the minimum wage is a tool to fight inequalities. This is probably the most explicit they have ever been on this point.

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The cost of an untargeted stimulus

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For many Americans, the coronavirus recession has hardly hurt their finances. They still have their jobs and their expenses have gone down when they mostly stayed at home. Their homes have not lost value, unlike the financial crisis of 2007-2009. If they are lucky enough to own stocks, their portfolio is probably worth more than a year ago.

Of course, millions of other Americans are in trouble. Nine million fewer people are employed than a year ago. Others face big medical bills. Many small businesses have closed or may soon. State and local governments are planning deep cuts.

The $ 900 billion stimulus bill that Congress passed last night will provide significant help to the economy. But many economists believe that it also has major flaws. Among them: It is not specifically targeted to those parts of the economy that need help.

A central part of the stimulus is the one-off checks that the government will send to people. Any household with an income of less than $ 150,000 will likely receive at least $ 1,200. Families with children will receive more.

Much of that money will go to Americans who are doing very well and saving the money they get, which in turn will do nothing to keep struggling businesses afloat or keep workers employed. Already, the personal savings rate had risen to around 14% this fall, from 8% at the start of the year.

At the same time, the bill only provides for 11 weeks of extended unemployment insurance. “This is not enough to bring us closer to the moment when a vaccine is widely distributed”, Ernie Tedeschi, a former Treasury Department economist wrote yesterday. In all, the invoice spend less on extended unemployment benefits than on stimulus checks.

An even bigger problem is the lack of support for state and local governments. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, insisted on ruling out such aid, saying it would be a bailout for financially irresponsible states. Many economists disagree and point to the pandemic’s toll on state budgets.

“Economists are particularly concerned that the final deal cut new funding for states and local governments, which is likely to lead to more job cuts and higher taxes in parts of the country “Wrote Heather Long of the Washington Post. Larry Johnson, a county commissioner in the Atlanta area, said, “The Congress that leaves out local aid is like the Grinch who stole Christmas.”

And Tracy Gordon of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center told Bloomberg CityLab: “I am in disbelief that they do not provide public and local assistance.” Among the areas likely to suffer the cuts the state and local government will have to make: public transport, police and firefighters, schools and health care programs.

The bottom line: The stimulus package looks big enough to keep the economy from sliding into another recession early next year. But a different plan could have avoided more economic hardship than this one.

Learn more about the bill:

  • It includes a ban on surprise medical bills from doctors that people didn’t know were outside of their insurance networks. “The legislation overcame strong opposition from doctors and hospitals, who feared new rules would reduce their profits,” says Sarah Kliff of The Times.

  • David roberts, author of the Volts newsletter, said reporters downplayed Democrats’ support for a larger bill that would have helped the economy more while Republicans insisted on a smaller one.

  • The Kilauea volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii, one of the most active in the world, erupted on Sunday. Authorities have warned residents to take shelter from the blown ash.

  • Russian hackers who broke into U.S. government agencies broke into the messaging system used by top Treasury Department officials. This is the first detail of the depth of hacking in the networks of the Trump administration.

  • The Justice Department indicted a former Libyan intelligence agent in the 1988 Pan Am flight explosion over Lockerbie, Scotland – an attack that killed 270 people.

  • The US Military Academy at West Point is facing its biggest academic scandal in almost 50 years over allegations that more than 70 cadets cheated on a calculus exam.

  • Workers removed a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from the Capitol. A statue of civil rights leader Barbara Johns will take its place.

The future of shopping: When Eden Chen wants new sneakers, he pulls out his smartphone and points it to his feet. He is one of the growing number of consumers who buy in augmented reality.

“Finding love with Martin was a great joy”: These were among the words that the old one Bloomberg Journalist Christie Smythe wrote to a judge about Martin Shkreli, the vilified former pharmaceutical executive whose case she had covered. Smythe revealed she was in a relationship with Shkreli, who is in prison, in an article by Elle.

From the review: Many Liberals do not speak honestly about the small risks they take to protect their mental health, says Michelle Goldberg.

Lives lived: The post of head of the White House was open. Henry Haller, a versatile chef of Swiss origin, got the role and would go on to become the country’s longest-serving executive chef. It has hosted five presidents of varying political, temperament and palate. He died at the age of 97.


Support from subscribers makes Times journalism possible. If you haven’t already subscribed, consider becoming one today.

The pandemic has caused a sharp drop in sales for much of the fashion industry. Yet the company owned by Telfar Clemens, a Liberian-American designer, is having its best year. He did so largely by abandoning the old fashion system, as Times fashion critic Vanessa Friedman writes in a profile of him.

Clemens launched its unisex line in 2005, years before the genderless bandage concept took off. The brand’s slogan – “Not for you, for everyone” – and relatively affordable prices have taken a more inclusive approach to fashion.

The company has eschewed other industry traditions as well, selling the majority of its products direct to consumers through its website, rather than relying on wholesale orders. These decisions have enabled the company to better endure the pandemic. “When Covid came, rather than knocking us out like everyone else, we just rode this wave,” Clemens told The Times.

The brand has also achieved high level improvements this year. Oprah Winfrey chose her signature shopping bag, also known as Bushwick Birkin, as one of her ‘favorite things’. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez praised the bag on Instagram.

Everything Clemens has always stood for, writes Friedman, is everything the fashion world “desperately wants to embrace.”

If you’re looking for something sweet, try these peanut butter blossoms.

The first “Wonder Woman” movie, directed by Patty Jenkins, proved that female superheroes can anchor a successful franchise. Prior to the release of “Wonder Woman 1984” on December 25, The Times interviewed Jenkins about the making of the sequel.

From “Wind of Change” to “My Year in Mensa,” this list contains the best podcasts of the year.

With the help of Celine Dion’s music, comfort food like a salty tourtière, and a virtual tour of a local gallery, you can pretend to be in Quebec City.

We look back on the past year on late night television.

Yesterday’s Spelling Bee pangram was captivity. Today’s puzzle is above – or you can play it online if you have a Games membership.

Here are today’s mini crosswords and a hint: default on a phone screen (five letters).


Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow. – David

PS “Time” – a film about a mother struggling to keep her family together while fighting for the release of her incarcerated husband – was named best non-fiction film by the New York Film Critics Circle and also made Barack Obama’s list of his favorite 2020 movies.

You can see the first printed page of the day here.

Today’s episode of “The Daily” examines the lives of four complex and dynamic people we have lost this year. On the last episode of “Sway,” a conversation with Nicholas Kristof of The Times.

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Navy will not fix fire damaged warship, claiming it will cost billions

A US Navy warship that was engulfed in fire in July while docked in San Diego will be decommissioned instead of rebuilt, the Pentagon said on Monday, deciding to forgo a repair project that could have exceeded $ 3 billion.

The ship, the USS Bonhomme Richard, will be scrapped and some of its spare parts will be used in other Navy ships, officials said.

The Navy said it would have taken five to seven years to complete repairs to the Bonhomme Richard, which is one of eight Wasp-class amphibious assault ships and can carry more than 1,000 sailors.

Even the cost of rebuilding the ship for some other purpose could have exceeded $ 1 billion, according to the Navy. That’s more than the cost of the ship when it was built in the 1990s, which was estimated at $ 761 million by the Federation of American Scientists.

Navy officials have called the decommissioning of a ship due to the damage rare.

“We did not come to this decision lightly,” Secretary of the Navy Kenneth J. Braithwaite said in a statement on Monday. “Following a thorough physical assessment during which various courses of action were considered and assessed, we came to the conclusion that it is not financially responsible to restore it.

The fire began on July 12 and burned for four days while the ship was docked at the US Naval Base San Diego. There were no deaths, but 68 military and civilian firefighters were treated for injuries that included smoke inhalation and heat exhaustion.

The fire started in a lower hold used for vehicle storage on the ship, which was rocked by an explosion. Temperatures in parts of the ship reached 1,000 degrees as the fire raged.

The New York Times reported in August that the blaze was under investigation as arson and that a sailor from the ship had been questioned, according to a senior Navy official and Department of Justice official. defense. The arson investigation was first reported by ABC 10 News in San Diego.

The Navy said Monday the cause of the blaze was still under investigation and declined to say whether the blaze was being treated as arson.

A spokeswoman for the San Diego Fire Department, which responded to the blaze, said the department was not involved in the investigation.

The ship was named after the French translation of the pen name of Benjamin Franklin used as the author of “Poor Richard’s Almanac”. It is the third naval warship to bear the Bonhomme Richard name.

Commissioned in 1998, the ship can carry helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft and landing craft to transport equipment and troops. It is 847 feet long and has a crew of 102 officers and just over 1,000 sailors.

One of its first combat deployments was after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, when the ship was sent to the Persian Gulf, said Christopher Gunther, a retired Marine Corps colonel who served on Bonhomme Richard with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

“The ship is not just a piece of steel,” Gunther said in an interview on Monday. “You have all your memories of the great young Sailors and Marines who have served in this field over the years. You kind of see it as a symbol of their dedication to the country, and there it burns.

It was not immediately clear whether the crew of the Bonhomme Richard would be reassigned to the other seven Wasp-class assault ships. At the time of the fire, the ship was undergoing a long period of maintenance after years of deployment in Japan.

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The cost of not wearing a mask: maybe 130,000 lives

Universal use of a mask could prevent nearly 130,000 deaths from Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, in the United States until next spring, scientists reported on Friday.

The findings follow a claim by Dr. Scott W. Atlas, the president’s scientific adviser, that the masks are ineffective, in a tweet that was subsequently removed by Twitter for spreading disinformation. On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidelines recommending the use of the mask in public places, including public transportation.

A wave of infections, partly due to failure to adhere to safety measures, has started to overwhelm hospitals across much of the country. More than 75,000 new cases were reported in the United States on Thursday, the second-highest nationwide daily total since the start of the pandemic. Eight states have single-day case records.

Those numbers are likely to continue through fall and winter, with cases and deaths steadily increasing through January and remaining high afterward, said Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health. Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington and senior author. of the report.

“We strongly believe that we are heading into a pretty gloomy winter season,” said Dr Murray.

The new study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, also offered a rough estimate of the pandemic’s toll in the United States: perhaps 500,000 deaths by March 2021, even with social distancing mandates restored in most states. .

Other experts have warned that, as with any model, the new estimates are based on many assumptions and should not be viewed as predictions.

“This is not a prediction or a forecast because we can take that number off,” said Shweta Bansal, an infectious disease modeler at Georgetown University who was not involved in the new work.

Instead, she said, the model should be viewed as a “sophisticated thought experiment” whose conclusions can change dramatically if people change their behavior.

“I would like people to see this study as a call to action, a kind of wake-up call, especially for people who are unconvinced by the devastation caused by this pandemic,” she said.

Epidemiological models that attempt to predict trends in the future, like the new one does, are particularly prone to flaws “given the dynamics of the situation and how quickly things can change,” added Ashleigh Tuite, a modeler. of infectious diseases at the University of Toronto.

Still, she and others have said the numbers look reasonable as a rough estimate of the toll by March 2021 if current trends continue.

Dr Murray and his colleagues analyzed the number of cases, testing rates, use of masks and cell phone data to estimate the movement of people from the first recorded case in each state through September 21. They then estimated the death toll through March 2021 for each state, with or without a social distancing and mask use warrant.

While many states continue to roll back existing warrants, the team said the death toll by Feb.28 could exceed one million, with a third in California, Florida and Pennsylvania.

More likely, states could reinstate distancing warrants when daily deaths hit a threshold of eight deaths per million. That would result in 511,373 deaths by the end of February 2021, according to the model.

Other models do not look as far into the future or have not taken seasonality into account and have underestimated the number of deaths that could result, Dr Murray said.

Such models “fuel the poorly science-based opinions circulating that the epidemic is over or the worst is behind us,” he said. “And that’s a pretty risky strategy.”

But Dr Tuite said she was unsure whether, even taking seasonality into account, deaths would peak in the spring, as the model estimates. Dr Murray’s model does not take into account the treatments currently available for people in hospital, she added.

For example, deaths among hospitalized patients fell to 7.6% from 25.6% in the spring, according to a study.

The new research is based on other flawed assumptions, Dr Bansal said. The model offers estimates for individual states but does not account for variations based on age or location within states, and the numbers are based on limited testing and death data at the onset of the pandemic.

Due to these and other assumptions, the estimated number of deaths is at best an approximation. Still, the figure highlights the need for individual and population-wide precautions.

Dr Murray and his colleagues have shown that the use of masks, in particular, has a huge impact, reducing the risk of infection by about half at the individual and population level.

As of September 20, just under half of Americans said they still wear a mask. But the regular use of masks by 95% of the population would save 129,574 lives, according to the new analysis. Regular use of masks by just 85% of Americans could prevent 95,814 deaths by March 2021, possibly avoiding restrictive lockdowns, Dr Murray said.

“Increasing the use of masks is one of the best strategies we have right now to delay the imposition of social distancing warrants and all the economic effects of that, and save lives,” he said. declared.

Mask warrants and sanctions for not wearing a mask may increase the number of people wearing masks, he suggested.

The mask estimates are also likely to be rough approximations, but even so, said Dr Tuite, “the qualitative conclusion is really important, that is, it has an impact, and an impact of ‘a much less disruptive way than locks or the like. more restrictive types of interventions. “

Masks are an effective and inexpensive tool to stem the spread of the virus and yet they have unfortunately become politicized, like many others in the pandemic, said Dr Carlos del Rio, an infectious disease expert at Emory University at Atlanta.

“If you wear a mask, you are a Democrat,” he said. “If you don’t wear a mask, you are a Republican. And I think that’s what’s wrong at all.

“The fact that we continue to make masks as a political issue is really upsetting,” he added, “because frankly I don’t want to see people die.”