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What Crisis Communication Experts Would Say to Ted Cruz

He did What?

Senator Ted Cruz has never been on the shortlist for the Most Empathetic Politician Award. But his latest demonstration surprised even the most jaded political hands.

As Cruz’s home state of Texas rocked by a blizzard that caused widespread power outages and left dozens of deaths across the country, Cruz took a plane last night and s he flew to Cancún, Mexico for a family vacation. The photos have started circulated on social media this morning, accompanied by a chorus of dismay and ridicule.

Early this afternoon, he released a statement saying his children had wanted to take a vacation and arguing that he was still able to work from abroad. “Wanting to be a good dad, I flew with them last night and I’m coming back this afternoon,” he said, adding that he was planning to go home today.

Later, after returning to the United States, Cruz said the trip was “clearly a mistake” and said he started to “question” it as soon as he got on the plane to Mexico. .

I called a few crisis communications professionals who worked with other besieged politicians to get their views on Cruz’s fiasco. They all sang a variation on the same theme: just wow.

“You can pretty much do damage control for anything, and I think he could do damage control for that,” said Lis Smith, a Democratic strategist who worked on Pete’s presidential campaign. Buttigieg last year. Still, she added, “You must be wondering what the hell was he thinking about doing that. The optics of it couldn’t be much worse. “

Stu Loeser, the longtime press secretary to former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg – who often made low-key trips to Bermuda during his tenure – was also surprised by Cruz’s decision to fly the co-op out of town. one of the most vulnerable moments in his state of recent memory.

Credit…Reuters

“The hardest part in politics and the hardest part in crisis communication is the same thing: being able to predict the future,” Loeser said. “But in this case, people have been without electricity for days. You knew what was going to happen.

Risa Heller, a crisis consultant who advised disgraced former rep Anthony Weiner, said that even in a fast-paced 24-hour news cycle, Cruz’s decision to take his vacation could be hard to live with. “It will stay with him for a long time,” she said. “The people of Texas won’t forget that a guy they chose to advocate for went on vacation at their darkest moment.”

She added, “Sometimes someone comes out of town and something crazy happens and they have to come back. You can say, “I understand that”. But it’s not that. This storm happened and then he left. This sends a real message to his constituents. I guess time will tell if they’ll forgive him, but that’s pretty unforgivable.

Republican strategist Joel Sawyer helped former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford weather the 2009 scandal about his secret vacation with a lover, who nearly ended his political career. (He eventually finished his term as governor and then returned to his former seat in the House.) Sawyer said that after Sanford left the governor’s mansion, he worked to restore his reputation by offering contrition.

Sawyer was not so sure that Cruz wanted to do the same. “Yes, he can control the damage, but it will require great humility on his part,” he said. “I don’t know how well Ted Cruz can muster.”


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Covid restrictions could lead to avalanche deaths, experts say

Avalanche deaths tend to occur at the crossroads of science and human nature.

The conditions are mostly dictated by the snowpack, the danger often hidden far beneath the fresh powder – out of sight and, at times, out of mind. Humans are drawn to the promise of fresh air and fluffy snow.

This winter, however, an additional factor could be contributing to a sudden increase in the number of deaths: Covid-19.

At least 14 people died in seven avalanches during the first week of February. It was the highest number of recreation-related deaths in avalanches in the United States for at least a century, experts said.

The death toll rose in Washington on Monday, when a 51-year-old man who cycled on snow was buried in an avalanche and later found dead.

“The snowpack is the main reason – people die because it’s very dangerous,” said Simon Trautman, avalanche specialist for the National Avalanche Center of the US Forest Service. “The question is the effect of the second or third order. I don’t know, but what I do know is that there are more people this year because of Covid. There is no doubt about it.

Avalanche experts say this season would be dangerous without a pandemic. Early snow followed by a dry spell over much of the west created a weak first layer of snow. Recent storms have dumped huge, heavy loads on top of this weak layer – snow that attracts people outside, but also threatens to shatter the support below, sending it all downhill in a battle of physics between gravity and friction.

A single misstep on a slope silently ready to give way can be the narrow line between thrill and tragedy.

An average of about 25 people have died in avalanches in the United States each winter for the past decade. This season, through Sunday, 21 have died, according to reports compiled by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

Deadly avalanches are almost always triggered by humans. The people captured there are usually among those who inadvertently set the snow in motion.

Eight backcountry skiers were caught in an avalanche in Utah on Saturday; four died. That same day, a group of Montana snowmobilers were trapped in a slide that killed one of them.

Earlier last week, three Colorado skiers were killed in an avalanche. The next day, an avalanche killed three hikers in Alaska. A day later, two people in California were buried and one died.

Experts are analyzing the anecdotal evidence, looking for answers beyond the scientific danger of this winter’s snowpack.

“It’s difficult to make a direct connection with Covid, but I think we can make an indirect connection,” said Karl Birkeland, director of the National Avalanche Center. “Across the country, we have seen a continuation of what we saw this summer, that more and more people are coming to our public lands. This winter we have seen more and more people heading out into the backcountry, whether on skis, snowshoes or snowmobiles. And with more people, you have a greater potential for people to get involved in avalanches. “

Most of the victims were lived in the hinterland, experts said, shattering any presumption that they are new adventurers, ill-equipped and desperate for socially remote outdoor pursuits. Most were men in their 40s and 50s, though the victims Saturday in Utah were all in their 20s and included two women. The victims had the recommended safety equipment of beacons, probes and shovels, according to avalanche investigations.

The eight victims in Colorado this winter were men over 40. All but one had considerable backcountry experience, according to Ethan Greene, director of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

And while a few accidents have occurred just outside ski areas, where chair lifts and loose boundaries allow quick access to enticing powder runs (called ‘sidecountry’), most have occurred in remote areas requiring hikes or climbs.

This has led some experts to speculate that experienced backcountry skiers, looking to get away from this season’s unusual crowds, are sinking deeper into unfamiliar terrain, all in extremely dangerous conditions.

“It’s a lot of guesswork, but it’s really part of the discussion we’re having around this stuff,” Birkeland said.

There is also speculation that nearly a year of restrictions linked to the coronavirus, which causes Covid-19 disease, could make people more apt to take risks. On January 30, a 57-year-old expert skier died in an avalanche outside the boundaries of Park City Mountain Resort.

His ski partner, who witnessed the slide and was unable to save it, said the coronavirus pandemic “has had an impact”.

“I now realize that I am exhausted after more than 10 months of almost constant stress that Covid brings to me worrying about my family, friends, job, etc.,” said the partner, who did not been identified in the accident report. “In addition to financial stress, school closures, lack of physical contact with family members / friends etc. As a result, my typical training, motivation and mental thinking were much lower than a normal fall / winter.

Such correlations are imprecise. In Europe, where an average of 100 people die in avalanches each winter, 56 have died this season. This is one more than all last winter, but well below the 128 deaths in 2017-2018.

The head of the Swiss Association of Mountain Guides told reporters last month that Covid could bore the decision-making process of backcountry skiers, who may be too eager to get out and tired of limited free time by virus rules.

Greene, of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, thinks there may be something to this, exacerbating what he calls the unique conditions of this year’s snowpack.

“The environment we are all in is stressful,” said Greene. “It affects your interactions with people at the grocery store, and it also affects the way you make decisions when you’re in avalanche terrain.”

Mistakes in the backcountry don’t have to be serious to be fatal.

Normally, the difference from season to season is almost entirely based on the snowpack, which can vary widely from slope to slope, depending on complex combinations of slope angle, sunlight. , wind, temperature and other factors. (A common factor: Most avalanches occur on slopes with slopes between 30 and 45 degrees. Steeper snowfall and snowfall usually does not accumulate in the necessary amounts. Any shallower snow and snow often does not move under gravity.)

Avalanche forecasting is done locally – by about 65 full-time forecasters, most of whom work for the US Forest Service or the State of Colorado.

Conditions in the Colorado Rockies could be completely different from, say, the Washington Cascades or California’s Sierra Nevada.

But this season was unusual in that a huge swath of the West received a similar dump of early snow that was left exposed to the elements for weeks. This created, in general terms, a thin layer of fragile, sweet crystals.

Like a house built on a bad foundation, the rest of this season’s snowpack sits precariously above this layer.

The National Avalanche Center compiles the latest forecasts in an interactive map on its home page.

“The past week has been fascinating, because as the storms rolled on you could just see different parts of the country light up and turn red, or even black, which is the highest level of danger. higher, ”Trautman said. “You can see this wave of instability and danger spreading through the central part of the West. It’s not that it doesn’t happen at other times, but the way this one happened was very dramatic.

And deadly. As the bigger storms have passed, for now, the light snow cover will likely last all season. This is the science.

The human nature part of the equation is the variable that will determine how many more lives will be lost.

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For Buttigieg, ‘generational’ transport shift may not be easy, experts say

WASHINGTON – Now that Pete Buttigieg is Secretary of Transportation, he faces a challenge: keeping his promises to overhaul infrastructure.

During his confirmation hearing in the Senate, he said there was a “generational opportunity” to change the infrastructure. In a series of news appearances over the past month – including ABC’s “The View” and an interview with actor Chris Evans – Mr. Buttigieg has said that climate change, racial justice and creation jobs could all be addressed through an overhaul of infrastructure.

We “have a historic opportunity to take transportation in our country to the next level,” he said on Mr. Evans’ program, “A Starting Point,” which interviews elected officials and policy makers. “We should actually be using transportation policy to make things better for people, to make it easier to get to your destination, to find jobs more easily, and to prosper.”

His statements aroused the enthusiasm of transport experts, who are not used to seeing the transport secretary adopt an information strategy to communicate on the country’s infrastructure. But deep institutional change remains difficult and reform will not be easy, they said.

“These are exciting times,” said Paul Lewis, vice president of policy and finance at the Eno Center for Transportation, a non-partisan public transportation research center in Washington. “But I think a lot of important things – reform efforts – are going to take more time and effort than a lot of people expect.”

Mr Buttigieg is now responsible for a ministry that oversees the country’s airways, railways, highways, pipelines and navigation infrastructure. His department’s regulatory powers and budget of around $ 87 billion give Mr. Buttigieg influence over how Americans travel and transport goods safely across the country.

In an email to his colleagues on Wednesday, Buttigieg outlined his goals to more than 55,000 employees in the department.

“I imagine our department plays a central role in the vital national project to better rebuild the American economy and infrastructure,” Mr. Buttigieg wrote. “We will innovate: by ensuring that our economy recovers and rebuilds itself, by addressing the climate challenge and by ensuring that transport is a driver of equity in this country.

During his first in-person event as Secretary of Transportation on Friday, he met with Amtrak and commuter rail transportation workers at Union Station in Washington to bolster his support for Mr. Biden’s executive order that imposes masks on some interstate travel modes; and to urge lawmakers that the United States needs to rebuild the country’s infrastructure “better than before.”

Despite these stated goals, Mr. Buttigieg is constrained.

Much of the ministry’s budget, including much of the nearly $ 47 billion allocated to roads and public transit, is controlled by funding formulas established by Congress. Any hope of significantly overhauling the country’s infrastructure – which has become an eternal joke on Capitol Hill – would require significant negotiations with federal lawmakers.

Transit advocates and former government officials said Mr. Buttigieg’s profile in the news media and the favorable bipartisan reception he received last month during his Senate confirmation hearing gave them reason to believe he could achieve change, but there are still other factors to consider.

“I think he’s got the skills,” said Beth Osborne, director of Transportation For America, an advocacy group. “The question is, what priority are these things going to have and will the White House support it?”

Timing is also an issue. Democrats control the White House and both houses of Congress, but pushing through a version of Mr. Biden’s $ 2 trillion infrastructure reform plan could become difficult if it doesn’t happen this year, political analysts warn, because the 2022 midterm elections could change the political calculus for lawmakers.

On Friday, Biden said infrastructure overhaul will be a priority this year for his administration and that he “looks forward” to sitting down with Representative Peter A. DeFazio of Oregon, the committee’s top Democrat. transport and infrastructure, to start the effort.

Ray LaHood, President Barack Obama’s transportation secretary from 2009 to 2013, said passing transportation reform by Congress would force Buttigieg to develop relationships with lawmakers in Washington, and noted that it was an area in which Mr. Buttigieg had “work to do. “

Mr LaHood added: “He really needs to develop a relationship now to help President Biden get his legislative agenda through Congress very quickly. He’s due to start meeting DeFazio and the White House. “

Mr Buttigieg is expected to make changes in some areas, including the ministry’s $ 1 billion BUILD grant program that funds road, rail, transit and port projects across the country. Mr Buttigieg has broad control over crafting the criteria that make these project proposals competitive for funding, former transport officials said, and it is a place that transport secretaries on both sides have generally identified. their priorities.

Experts said climate-friendly road projects, such as those that encourage bike lanes and bus travel, would likely get higher priority funding under the Biden administration. Projects that support sidewalks in struggling neighborhoods or cheaper transportation costs for low-income workers could also become more competitive, they said. Under the Trump administration, the department often prioritized projects that increased car use.

Addressing race and climate issues through the transport department could pose some difficulty for Mr Buttigieg. Republican Senator Bill Hagerty of Tennessee was one of 13 senators to vote against Mr. Buttigieg’s confirmation because he said the secretary would “use the ministry for social, racial and environmental justice causes.” , instead of focusing on “streamlining environmental reviews of projects or other deregulation efforts.” “

Another area where transport secretaries can exercise control is federal rule making. Under the Trump administration, the department prioritized deregulation and working with the private sector. Under Mr Biden’s leadership, public transport advocates are pressuring Mr Buttigieg to pass rules that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote rail service in rural communities and demand projects to better measure a community’s access to jobs and essential services through public transit.

“The mechanics of this stuff can seem dull,” said Ben Fried, a spokesperson for TransitCenter, a transportation philanthropy. “But the cumulative effect can be significant.”

One of the topics Mr Buttigieg is expected to address is the Gateway Project, which is a program that aims to build tunnels under the Hudson River for Amtrak and commuter trains. Approval of the project was stalled under the Trump administration. Mr. Buttigieg, during his confirmation hearing, said he would work with Mid-Atlantic lawmakers to “move forward.”

And as Mr Buttigieg takes over the country’s transport agency, transit experts and former officials have said they want to see how his sequel, and his heralded ambitions for a higher office, will affect his approach to the role. “I don’t think the Biden administration would have chosen Pete Buttigieg if they wanted him to shut up and stay in line,” said Mr. Lewis of the Eno Center for Transportation. “It’s just not his style.”

Others said Mr Buttigieg’s approach to rule making and regulatory changes, more than his public statements, would be to judge its effect. “Are they creating big messaging events without any substance? Without real change? Said Ms. Osborne of Transportation for America. “I am looking for substantial action.”

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Which Covid vaccine should you get? Experts cite the effect against serious illnesses

At first glance, the results reported on Friday of Johnson & Johnson’s long-awaited coronavirus vaccine trial might have seemed disappointing. Its overall effectiveness – the ability to prevent moderate and severe disease – has been reported to be 72 percent in the United States, 66 percent in Latin American countries and 57 percent in South Africa.

These numbers appear well below the fixed bar set by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, the first two vaccines authorized for emergency use in the United States, which have reported an overall efficacy of 94-95%.

Dr Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease expert and now President Biden’s senior medical adviser on the coronavirus pandemic, acknowledged the striking difference during a briefing on Friday.

“If you wake up and say, ‘Go to the left door and you get 94 or 95 percent, go to the right door and you get 72 percent,’ which door do you want to go to? ” He asked.

But Dr Fauci said the most crucial measure is the ability to prevent serious illness, which translates into keeping people out of hospital and preventing deaths. And that result, for Johnson & Johnson, was 85% in all countries where it was tested, including South Africa, where a rapidly spreading variant of the virus had shown some ability to evade vaccines.

More important than preventing “some pains and sore throats,” said Dr Fauci, it is fending off serious illnesses, especially in people with underlying illnesses and in the elderly, who are more likely to get seriously ill and die from Covid. 19.

“If you can prevent serious illness in a high percentage of people, it will alleviate the stress of human suffering and death so much in this epidemic that we are seeing, especially now,” said Dr Fauci, “as as we know, over the past few weeks our healthcare system has been stressed by the number of people requiring hospitalization, as well as intensive care.

Dr Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, compared the ability to prevent serious illness to the effects of flu shots, which don’t always completely prevent the flu but can make it less severe.

“The same seems to apply here, in a circumstance where this variation clearly makes it a little more difficult to get the most vigorous response you would like to have,” Dr. Collins said. “But still, for a serious illness, it looks really good.”

The Moderna vaccine has also shown high efficacy, 100%, against serious diseases. Pfizer-BioNTech’s also appeared to do this, but the total number of severe cases in the study was too small to be sure.

But the researchers warn that trying to compare the effectiveness between the new studies and the previous ones can be misleading because the virus evolves quickly and to some extent the trials have looked at different pathogens.

“You have to recognize that Pfizer and Moderna had an advantage,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University, in an interview. “They did their clinical trials before the variant strains became very apparent. Johnson & Johnson was testing their vaccine not only against the standard strain, but they had the variants. “

The best way to stop the spread of mutants and prevent new mutants from emerging is to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible, say Dr Fauci and other researchers. Viruses cannot mutate unless they replicate, and they cannot replicate unless they can get into cells. Keeping them out by vaccinating people can interrupt the process.

In addition to the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines already in use in the United States, three others may soon become available: those from Novavax, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca. AstraZeneca’s vaccine has already been authorized in Great Britain and other countries.

Globally, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is expected to play an important role, especially in low- and middle-income countries, as it works after a single injection, is relatively inexpensive, and is easier to store and distribute than vaccines manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech. and Moderna because it does not share their strict freezing and refrigeration requirements.

People who are waiting to be vaccinated may wonder whether they will be able to choose from among the vaccines, and whether they should hold on and wait until the one they think is best available.

Vaccines against covid19>

Answers to your questions about vaccines

Currently, more than 150 million people – almost half of the population – can be vaccinated. But each state makes the final decision as to who goes first. The country’s 21 million healthcare workers and three million residents of long-term care facilities were the first to qualify. In mid-January, federal officials urged all states to open eligibility to all people 65 and older and adults of all ages with health conditions that put them at high risk of becoming seriously ill. or die from Covid-19. The adults of the general population are at the back of the pack. If federal and state health authorities can remove the bottlenecks in vaccine distribution, everyone 16 and older will become eligible as early as this spring or early summer. The vaccine has not been approved in children, although studies are ongoing. It can take months for a vaccine to be available to anyone under the age of 16. Visit your state’s website for up-to-date information on immunization policies in your area.

You shouldn’t have to pay anything out of pocket to get the vaccine, although you will be asked for insurance information. If you don’t have insurance, you should still get the vaccine at no cost. Congress passed a law this spring that prohibits insurers from enforcing any cost sharing, such as a copayment or deductible. It was based on additional protections prohibiting pharmacies, doctors and hospitals from billing patients, including those who are uninsured. Even so, health experts fear that patients will stumble upon loopholes that expose them to surprise bills. This could happen to those who are charged a doctor’s visit fee with their vaccine, or to Americans who have certain types of health coverage that do not fall under the new rules. If you get your vaccine from a doctor or emergency care clinic, tell them about any hidden costs. To make sure you don’t get a surprise bill, your best bet is to get vaccinated at a health service vaccination site or local pharmacy once vaccines become more widely available.

This remains to be determined. It is possible that the Covid-19 vaccination will become an annual event, just like the flu vaccine. Or it may be that the benefits of the vaccine last for more than a year. We have to wait and see how long the protection against vaccines is. To determine this, researchers will follow vaccinated people looking for “revolutionary cases” – those people who contract Covid-19 despite being vaccinated. This is a sign of weakening protection and will give researchers clues about how long the vaccine will last. They will also monitor the levels of antibodies and T cells in the blood of people who have been vaccinated to determine if and when a booster injection might be needed. It’s conceivable that people would need boosters every few months, once a year, or just every few years. It’s just a matter of waiting for the data.

Dr Paul Offit, a vaccine expert at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, told CNN that if there was an abundant supply of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, they would be his top choices due to their overall effectiveness. higher.

But for now, there are not enough of these vaccines.

If he couldn’t get the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, he would take the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Dr Offit said – as long as the data the company presents to the Food and Drug Administration looks just as good. like what the company reported on Friday.

He said Johnson & Johnson’s report on critical illness reduction was a strong selling point.

“This is what you want,” said Dr Offit. “You want to stay out of the hospital and stay out of the morgue.”

He noted that the company is also studying a two-dose regimen, which may increase its effectiveness.

People who take the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should be able to safely receive a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine later if a booster shot is needed, he said.

Dr Schaffner said he had just attended a meeting with other public health experts and they wondered what they were going to tell their spouses or partners if they could get vaccinated tomorrow , or if they had to wait three weeks for Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna.

“We all said, ‘Get the one tomorrow,’” Dr. Schaffner said. “The virus is bad. You risk three more weeks of exposure instead of getting protection tomorrow. “

He said Johnson & Johnson’s 85% effectiveness against serious illness was a little lower than reported by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, “but it’s still damn high.”

It is not yet clear whether it would be safe to take one type of vaccine once in a while and another later, Dr Schaffner said, adding, “We haven’t studied this.

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Attack on Capitol Hill could fuel extremist recruitment for years, experts warn

“Luck may be needed in Civil War II,” Larry Rendell Brock Jr., a Texas accused in connection with the attack, wrote on Facebook in the days leading up to the events in Washington, according to federal prosecutors. Mr Brock had aspired to take hostages, prosecutors said, and tagged the post with the names of two anti-government groups.

At least two prominent activists involved in the Charlottesville rally in 2017 were also present at the Capitol riots, according to Amy Spitalnick, executive director of Integrity First for America, a nonprofit group supporting a Charlottesville violence lawsuit .

One of them was Nicholas J. Fuentes, 22, a far-right agitator whose online rants in favor of white nationalism and attacks on Jews and LGBT people drew significant audiences among students. His supporters, waving flags bearing the logo of his America First organization, were seen storming the Capitol. Mr. Fuentes, in one video, hailed the assault for being more cheeky than any Black Lives Matter or anti-fascist protest, although it appears to have stayed on the outside.

“We forced a joint session of Congress and the Vice President to evacuate because Trump supporters knocked and then made it through the doors,” he exclaimed.

Lindsay Schubiner, program director at the Western States Center which focuses on combating white nationalism, said it was frightening to see the rise of far-right groups in recent years that present dangers to people of color and LGBTQ communities. Without major disruption, she expects extremist groups to remain a risk to the country’s public safety and democracy for years to come.

“It’s not something that can be put back into the bottle – at least not quickly or easily,” Ms. Schubiner said.

The attack on Capitol Hill was likely to become “a major driver of violence for a diverse set of domestic violent extremists,” a range of government agencies said in a joint intelligence bulletin released on January 13. The storming of the building, several analysts said, could fuel a dangerous retaliation against the new Biden administration and its agenda on gun control, racial justice, public lands and other issues by extremists who are not afraid to use violence to fight their way.

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Liability of experts

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Americans under 40 vote at relatively low rates. They also lean to the left politically. The same goes for Latinos and Asian Americans.

This combination helped fuel a widely held belief that an increase in voter turnout would benefit Democrats. People ranging from Bernie sanders to President Trump made this claim. Me too: “The real silent majority in the country prefers Democrats,” I wrote in 2017.

I now think that is at least partly wrong, and I want to explain it today.

First, a little background: Ten years ago journalist Dave Weigel – now a Washington Post reporter – introduced a concept he called expert liability. The idea was that journalists make a lot of analytical judgments and that sometimes we should review them to recognize what we have right and wrong. This is a sign of respect for the readers and may improve our work in the future.

Over the years, several journalists have picked up on Weigel’s idea, especially towards the end of the year. I do this with today’s newsletter.

I’ll start with the nicer side of the responsibility. Looking back, I feel good about articles explaining why Trump was unlikely to win re-election, why Democrats should hope Joe Biden would run for president, and why the United States would struggle to contain the coronavirus.

I don’t feel so good about largely canceling Biden after losing New Hampshire and Iowa and treating the 2020 polls with gullibility. The conducting wire: Politics is less predictable than we sometimes imagine. I’ll try to remember it better.

This idea also helps explain misconceptions about voter turnout. In 2020, the turnout skyrocketed, but Democrats did worse than expected. Yes, they have defeated Trump, but they have failed to retake the Senate (as of yet) and have lost ground in the House and state legislatures.

How could that be, as large demographic groups with low participation rates – Millennials, Latinos and Asian-American – lean to the left?

Because infrequent voters in these groups are less liberal than frequent voters. “Latino non-voters, for example, seem to have a better opinion of Trump than Latino voters,” Yanna Krupnikov, a political scientist at Stony Brook University, told me. Overall, non-voters are roughly evenly split between skinny Democrats and Republicans, according to a recent Knight Foundation study.

Once you think about it, the template makes sense. It involves social class.

People who don’t vote (or who didn’t vote before 2020) are more likely to be working class – that is, not having a college degree – than reliable voters, a concluded Knight. And working-class Americans are more conservative on several big issues, including abortion, guns and immigration. They also trust institutions and elites less.

The fact that the turnout increased this year and that the Democrats did not do as well as expected is another example of the party’s struggles with working class voters, and not just working class whites. The question of whether Democrats can figure out how to do better is perhaps the biggest question hanging over US politics.

Have you changed your mind about anything lately? Email us at themorning@nytimes.com and put “change of mind” in the subject line.

Each December, The Times Magazine honors some of the remarkable people who have passed away during the year in an issue called The Lives They Lived. The last one came out this morning and includes:

Chadwick boseman, the actor who built his career playing the giants of American history.

Mimi Jones, a civil rights activist best known for her participation in swimming in St. Augustine in 1964.

Bill withers, a three-time Grammy Award winner whose songs have transformed the loves, struggles, regrets and joys of workers in art.

Tom seaver, the greatest New York Met of all time.

Cecilia Chiang, who escaped the war in China and shaped Chinese cuisine in the United States, with a little help from Henry Kissinger.


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

Over the past couple of years, Spotify has tried to become the go-to place for podcasts as well as music.

In May, the company struck a deal worth more than $ 100 million with popular podcaster Joe Rogan. Spotify has also signed exclusive deals with the Obamas, Kim Kardashian West and Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan. And he’s bought top-tier podcasting companies including Gimlet Media – the creator of “Crimetown” and “Reply All” – and The Ringer, which focuses on sports and pop culture.

Why is Spotify so invested in podcasts? He sees them as an opportunity to make more money from advertising than music alone allows. Podcasts allow advertisers “to have a more intimate relationship with the user,” a Spotify executive told CNBC, adding that advertisers also like the user data the company tracks.

Another draw for advertisers is deals with stars like Rogan, an analyst told The Times, “Spotify is not only buying Joe Rogan’s vast and future library of content, but its loyal following as well.”

This creamy noodle dish will appeal to vegans and non-vegans alike.

Want to fall in love with Mozart, the opera or the piano? Five minutes of listening is enough, and this list is a great place to start.

Read this interview with actress Carey Mulligan, who delivered her career performance in “Promising Young Woman,” an upcoming dark comedy about consent and revenge.

Scooby Snacks, Everlasting Gobstoppers, Burple Nurples: Times art critic Maya Phillips wrote an ode to candy “dreamed of in the fictional worlds of television and film, summoned from the imagination like the multi-colored pies of Peter Pan.”

Yesterday’s Spelling Bee pangram was moon walk. 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: the elf in “Elf” (five letters).


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Experts issue warnings after 3 skiers die in Colorado avalanches

The deaths of three skiers in two avalanches since late last week have prompted state and local authorities in Colorado to warn people visiting the mountainous backcountry areas to monitor the forecast and be careful.

“When recreating in the backcountry, it is essential to check the current state of the avalanches,” DeAnne Gallegos, spokesperson for the San Juan County Emergency Management Office, said Tuesday.

She said people can get the latest forecast by visiting the Colorado Avalanche Information Center website, which shares statewide color-coded avalanche warnings.

Ms. Gallegos said backcountry and Nordic hikers, snowmobilers and skiers should always wear emergency equipment, such as a beacon, shovel and probe, “and be extremely aware of the mountainous terrain. that surrounds you.

She added, “Mother Nature is responsible when you live, work and play in the mountains.”

On Sunday afternoon, a rescue team recovered the bodies of two backcountry skiers who had been reported missing the night before. The Avalanche Information Center said in a preliminary report that the couple planned to ski an area known as the Battleship, which lies southeast of Ophir Pass in the San Juan Mountains, in the southwest Colorado.

Officials said the skiers were caught and buried in an avalanche. San Juan County Coroner Keri Metzler identified them as Albert Perry, 55, and Dr. Jeff Paffendorf, 51, both of Durango, Colo.

Ms Gallegos said their beacons helped other members of their party locate their bodies.

“All agencies wish to extend their condolences to the Perry and Paffendorf families,” the San Juan County Emergency Management Office said in a statement.

These were the state’s second and third fatalities of the 2020-2021 ski season, according to the Avalanche Information Center.

A lone skier died on Friday after being buried in an avalanche at the northeast end of the Anthracite Range in the Rocky Mountains west of Crested Butte, Colo., According to the center.

The avalanche occurred on a northeast trending slope at an elevation of about 10,500 feet, the group said. The Crested Butte Ski Patrol identified the skier as Jeff Schneider, a ski patroller based in Crested Butte.

“Jeff was a bastion of kindness, knowledge, hard work, wit and humor,” the Ski Patrol said in a Facebook statement, adding that “adventure has no better emissary. “

Six people were killed in avalanches in Colorado during the 2019-20 season.

There have been 244 avalanche deaths in the United States in the past 10 ski seasons, according to the National Ski Areas Association, a trade organization for ski area owners and operators.

The majority of avalanches occur in the hinterland, or on terrain outside the operating limits of a ski area, the association said. Off-piste skiers should always ski or ride with a partner, the group said.

“People need to recognize that we have unusual conditions and their usual practices may not put them out of danger,” Ethan Greene, director of the Avalanche Information Center, said in a statement. There have been 132 avalanches reported in the state since Friday, he said.

“As we gain more snow in the coming weeks, avalanches could become even more dangerous,” he said.

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Covid survivors with long-term symptoms need urgent attention, experts say

Dr John Brooks, CDC’s chief medical officer for Covid response, co-chairing one session with Dr Haag, said he expected long-term post-Covid symptoms to affect ‘order tens of thousands of people in the United States. States and maybe hundreds of thousands. “

He added: “If you ask me what we know about this post-acute phase, I really have a hard time telling you that we know a lot. This is what we are really working on epidemiologically to understand what it is, how many people get it, how long does it last, what causes it, who affects it, and then , of course, what can we do to prevent it. event.”

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Presentations from Covid-19 survivors – including Dr Peter Piot, a world-renowned infectious disease expert who helped uncover the Ebola virus – made it clear that for many people, recovering from the disease is not like flipping a switch.

Dr Piot, who is the director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and special advisor on Covid-19 research to the President of the European Commission, said he contracted the coronavirus in March and was hospitalized for a week in April. The acute phase of his illness involved some, but not all, of the classic symptoms of the illness. For example, his oxygen saturation was very low, but he did not develop shortness of breath or cough until after returning from the hospital.

The following month, he experienced a rapid heart rate for several hours a day, he said. For almost four months, he experienced extreme fatigue and sleeplessness. “What I found most frustrating personally was that there was nothing I could do,” said Dr Piot, who now considers himself to be cured except for needing more sleep than before his infection. “I just had to wait for an improvement.”

Chimera Smith, 38, a teacher in Baltimore who has been unable to work since she fell ill in March, said she had struggled for months to have her symptoms, which included loss of vision from one eye, taken seriously by doctors.

“It has been a daunting task and the task and the journey continues,” she said.

Ms Smith, who is black, said it was especially important to inform residents of underserved communities that the long-term effects are “as real and possible as dying from the virus itself.”

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Hotter planet is already killing Americans, warn health experts

Rising temperatures and environmental pollutants are already endangering the health and well-being of Americans, with fatal consequences for thousands of older men and women, a team of public health experts warned on Wednesday. Their report, published in The Lancet, called on lawmakers to stem the rise of gases that warm the planet over the next five years.

The section on the United States presents climate change as a risk to public health now, rather than a danger to future generations. It highlights the immediate dangers of extreme heat, forest fires and air pollution, and advocates for a rapid shift to a green economy as a way to improve public health.

The coronavirus pandemic, the authors point out, has served as a reminder of the urgent need to strengthen the nation’s public health system – which will be all the more necessary for Americans to deal with the health effects of climate change, which, the the authors conclude that disproportionately harm those with the fewest resources to respond to threats.

“The overriding theme that I stress to the incoming administration is to make health central,” said Dr. Renee N. Salas, assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and lead author of the US policy document contained in The Lancet report, in an appeal with reporters. “Climate action is a prescription for health.”

The report contains a set of general recommendations aimed directly at the new presidential administration. To improve the health of Americans, the authors recommend ending fossil fuel subsidies, investing in public transit, and reducing the use of nitrogen fertilizers on U.S. farms, which are both a source of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions that warm the planet.

“We need to stop investing in what is a thing of the past and is harmful to health,” said Dr Salas.

The report summarizes research on how rising temperatures – and in particular more frequent and intense heat waves – are already damaging human health around the world. Over the past 20 years, according to the report, extreme heat has been linked to a 50% increase in deaths of people over the age of 65, with 296,000 deaths in 2018. Most of those deaths occurred in Japan, China, India and parts of Europe.

The extreme heat also makes it difficult to work, especially outdoors. According to the report, 302 billion hours of potential labor productivity were lost in 2019 alone. Workers in hot and humid countries like India and Indonesia have been hit the hardest.

Over the past 20 years, the risk of forest fires has also been higher. The fires have grown bigger and more severe in landscapes like the western United States, destroying four million acres in California alone this year so far. The number of days with forest fire smoke in the air has also increased significantly.

The Lancet Climate Change and Health Countdown, as it’s officially called, is published annually by the medical journal. Wednesday’s edition was the fifth annual report and was written by experts from more than 35 research institutes around the world.

The report found that climates conducive to infectious diseases had expanded, with areas ripe for dengue-spreading mosquitoes increasing by 15 percent since the 1950s. It also highlighted worrying signs about food security . Between 1981 and 2019, according to the report, the “yield potential” of several staple crops plummeted, meaning crops are ripening faster and production is below average. The biggest drops are in maize, a staple food in parts of Africa and Latin America. The world still produces enough food, even if it does not always go to the people who need it most.

The Lancet Countdown calls on national governments to dramatically reduce emissions over the next five years. Without them, say its authors, it will be increasingly difficult to avoid the worst effects of global warming. “The next five years will be crucial,” the authors wrote.

The United Nations on Wednesday released a separate report concluding that governments must cut fossil fuel production by 6% per year over the next 10 years to limit catastrophic warming.

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With winter on the way and Trump still in charge, virus experts fear the worst

Mr Biden said if elected president he would take a very different approach to the virus, acting aggressively to encourage – and possibly mandate – mask wear and remain open to imposing restrictions if necessary to slow the spread of the virus.

Mr Biden’s political advisers drew up plans that would go into effect upon taking office, including stepping up testing, ensuring a steady supply of protective gear, handing out a vaccine and getting money from Congress for schools and hospitals.

Under normal circumstances – not counting Mr. Trump’s transition in 2016 – Mr. Biden would likely wait to move these plans forward. Presidents-elect have generally chosen not to be in the limelight until inauguration day, following the general principle that the United States should have one president at a time.

And outgoing presidents, even of opposing parties, often try to support the efforts of their successors, especially when the country is in the midst of a crisis.

But few in Washington expect an orderly transition if Mr. Biden wins.

Mr. Trump is unlikely to stick to established traditions, and he has made his views on the virus clear at numerous rallies in the closing days of the campaign, telling crowds that a vaccine will arrive soon to end the threat.

“It’s ending anyway, but we’ve got the biggest companies in the world and we’re literally weeks away,” Trump told supporters in Butler, Pa. On Saturday. “We will eradicate the virus faster, eliminate the scourge from China once and for all, and we will return to work, to work, that’s what we want. Do you know what we want? We want normal.

Dr Koplan said if Mr Biden wins, he should move quickly to build relationships with governors and unveil a national strategy for the pandemic.