Showing posts with label Nevada. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nevada. Show all posts

Friday, April 01, 2022

April 1: Nevada, Ukraine, Inflation, Syria

Democrats Worry That What Happens in Nevada Won’t Stay in Nevada Democrats have long held up Nevada as a symbol of their future. But as the state’s economy struggles, it has become the epitome of the party’s midterm difficulties. ....... Democrats have long relied on working-class and Latino voters to win Nevada, but the loyalty of both groups is now in question. ....... Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, a Nevada Democrat and the country’s first Latina senator, is one of the party’s most endangered incumbents. ........ The state has long been a symbol of the Democratic Party’s future by relying on a racially diverse coalition to win elections, but those past gains are now at risk. ....... more than 28 percent of registered voters are now unaffiliated with any party, an increase from 20 percent in 2016 ....... an automatic voter registration system Nevada voters adopted in 2018. ...... they worried that they would not have enough money for the basics — rent, food, gas. .......

“I don’t know what the government does for us, even when they say they want to help.”

.......... Her father, Manny Cortez, was one of the most powerful figures in Las Vegas during stints on the Clark County Commission and later as the head of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. In that role, he approved the ubiquitous Las Vegas marketing phrase, “What happens here, stays here.” ....... “Every data point I’ve seen points to Hispanic voters being more open to supporting a Republican this cycle than any in recent memory,” Mr. Hughes said. “If the economy is the No. 1 issue on voters’ minds across the country, in Nevada and especially among Hispanic voters, it’s the No. 1, 2 and 3 issue.”

Republicans Sense an Opportunity in Nevada’s Restless Latino Voters Seizing on signs that suggest Democrats are losing support among Hispanic voters nationwide, Republicans are targeting Senator Catherine Cortez Masto’s seat. ....... Cortez Masto, the first Latina to serve in the U.S. Senate ...... Republicans enjoy a 9-point advantage over Democrats in the so-called congressional generic ballot among Latino voters ....... There are reasons to be skeptical of these specific numbers: The poll sampled only 165 Latino voters, and the margin of error was plus or minus 7.6 percentage points. And Latino voters are hardly a monolith — the anti-socialism messages that have appealed to Cuban Americans in Florida differ widely from the jobs and health care-themed proposals that are effective with Mexican Americans elsewhere. .......... Hispanics “a swing vote that we’re going to have to fight for.” ........ the shift toward Republicans among Latino voters in South Texas has continued. ..... “The problem for Democrats is they keep leaking oil against Republicans, and that is a trend that I think has been borne out over the last five years.” ....... Adam Laxalt, a former state attorney general and the scion of a Nevada political dynasty ........ One book was called Picturing Frederick Douglass, who was the most photographed person in the 19th century. .

Transcript: Ezra Klein Interviews Larry Summers . For the last year or so, Larry Summers, the economist and former Treasury Secretary, has been this relentless, loud, frustrating economic Cassandra. He’s been saying often and to everyone that the risk of inflation was way higher than most economists believed. He flayed President Biden’s American Rescue Plan for being way too much stimulus too fast. ............ Month after month, he said that the inflation — it wasn’t just transitory. It wasn’t just going to go away. These weren’t just supply chain problems that would unkink. That this wasn’t just going to be a problem of autos and energy. That the markets were wrong, and the forecasters were wrong, and the pundits were wrong, and the Fed was wrong, and we were headed for a serious bout of inflation . ............ The idea of transitory inflation — that is gone. That has been retired. The data now shows that the inflation is pretty broad-based. .......... And it could be about to get worse. ......... But then Russia invaded Ukraine, creating a whole new disaster in the energy and commodity markets. Omicron began battering China. And we’ve seen huge lockdowns in regions like Shenzhen, which are critical for global manufacturing supply chains. So the disruptions — they may not be ending. They may be about to get worse. ............ I’m probably as apprehensive about the prospects for a soft landing of the U.S. economy as I have been any time in the last year. Probably actually a bit more apprehensive. In a way, the situation continues to resemble the 1970s ......... In the late ’60s and in the early ’70s, we made mistakes of excessive demand expansion that created an inflationary environment. ......... very difficult dilemmas as to whether to accept economic restraint or to live with high and quite possibly accelerating inflation. So I don’t envy the tasks that the Fed has before it. .......... the demand side is too much money chasing too few goods, or even just chasing the normal amount of goods ........ And then there’s a supply side. We are not being able to produce the goods. Factories are not being able to do things. There’s a war where an important natural resource is developed or there’s a lockdown where there’s a lot of manufacturing capacity. ........... Russia and China are adding more supply problems onto whatever we already had. ........ wage inflation in the United States was running at above a 6 percent rate and the labor market was only getting tighter. ....... a big driver of what we’re calling here excess demand was stimulus policies, credit policies, the Fed being really, really stimulative in the economy, the Biden administration putting out the stimulus checks, the American Rescue Plan being much bigger in relationship to the economic shortfall than say the Obama stimulus plan was. ........... People estimate that only about 30 percent of the stimulus checks were spent. So in terms of the impact on the economy, we’re feeling very substantial stimulus on a continuing basis for the next several years. ........ almost all forecasts of growth this year are forecast to say that the economy is going to grow more rapidly than its potential. They say that the unemployment rate is going to decline ....... there are things that feel just, that many of us have wanted for a long time. More hiring, wage increases, particularly at the bottom end, stimulus checks for people who have had a lot of bad years and didn’t have a lot of cushion behind them, child tax credit for families that could really use that. ........... this horrifying inflation problem, which is now eating back those wage increases, potentially going to require much sharper action from the Fed— I recognize the world doesn’t have to please me, but it is maddening ......... we care about is not just the level of employment this year, but the level of employment averaged over the next 10 years. That we care not just about wages and opportunities this year, but we care about wages and opportunities over the long-term. ......... the doctor who prescribes you painkillers that make you feel good to which you become addicted is generous and compassionate, but ultimately is very damaging to you. And while the example is a bit melodramatic, the pursuit of excessively expansionary policies that ultimately lead to inflation, which reduces people’s purchasing power, and the need for sharply contractionary policies, which hurt the biggest victims, the most disadvantaged in the society, that’s not doing the people we care most about any favor. It’s, in fact, hurting them. ............. what I did care about was real wage growth over time, average levels of employment and opportunity over time, and a sense of social trust that would permit progressive policies. ......... those vital ends were being compromised by those with good intentions but a reluctance to do calculations ........... wages are the ultimate measure of core inflation. Most costs go back to labor. ........ And wage growth had ratcheted up to a 6-plus percent rate by the end of the year. And there were desperate labor shortages, worse than we’ve ever had. And they were forecast to continue. ............ The long-predicted return to normal in used car prices, for example, is now substantially deferred. ........ And the good news — and this is highlighted by Paul Krugman and others — and they make an important point is that as of right now people are forecasting way accelerated inflation for this year. The market forecast is close to 6 percent. But they’re still forecasting more limited inflation beyond. And the question is, what’s going to happen to those inflation expectations? .......... will ultimately make it much easier to contain inflation than if we allow high inflation expectations to become entrenched. It’s precisely because it hasn’t happened yet that I think it is so important to be sending strong signals right now. ........ a consensus view would be that people learn from the past, because what else would you learn from? ......... If we would just live with a little more inflation, we could have lower unemployment and that would do so much for social justice. That was the prevailing macroeconomic theory of the 1960s. And that theory ended in the stagflation of the 1970s where we got the inflation, we got the acceleration in inflation, and we didn’t get any enduring benefit in terms of lower unemployment. ............. and create a need to do again what Paul Volcker did, at enormous cost, from 1979 to 1982. Most people don’t remember it today, but unemployment got to a much higher level in 1982 than it reached even during the financial crisis of 2008. ............ I think the developments in China, which suggest continuing interruptions in supply of a whole variety of goods have a reasonable chance of being with us for as much as another year. ........ I think one of the general principles to have is that things take longer than you think they will and then they happen faster than you thought they could. ........... one-year inflation expectations have shot up. But you look at three, you look at five, you look at 10-year expectations, they haven’t moved all that much. .......... the Fed has done more signaling of tightening in the last two months than any time in the last 40 years ........ The Fed going from saying that it was not going to raise interest rates at all until 2024, which was their position a year ago, to saying that they’re going to raise interest rates to 2 percent in 2022 ......... You’ve said, in an interview, that we’re going to need 4 percent to 5 percent interest rates, levels we’re not even thinking of as conceivable. ......... If we reduce tariffs, that would make more goods available at lower prices and perhaps reduce the Consumer Price Index by 1 percent or more. But their rhetoric has gone the other way on tariffs. ....... And, of course, the people who get hurt worst are the people who always get hurt worst. ........ Interest rate increases tend to have, as their major impact — a major impact — declines in asset prices. And assets are disproportionately held by the most wealthy people in the society. ........ Temporary tax changes on wealthy people almost all economists will tell you will not have large effects on the level of spending. .......... if you look back to say 2019, nonfinancial corporations had roughly a trillion dollars in profits. That had been more or less stable for a while. By 2021, they were a lot closer to $2 trillion. .......... Wage inflation is as pronounced a phenomenon as price inflation. ......... probably immigration policy, where if we could find a way to admit substantially more, particularly, but not only, high-skilled immigrants into the country, I think the benefits in terms of growth would really be very substantial. .......... we are way under-spending on fundamental research as a country, and by doing that are shortchanging one of our most fundamental strengths as a country ............ The government was more dysfunctional and corruption was greater when you had isolated state capitals. ........ I have the symmetrical humility to recognize that perhaps people should not pay great attention to my political advice, but instead should give more weight to my views about what economic science says about what the consequences of policies will be and undertake their own political evaluations. .............. I’m struck that when you ask the American people are you prepared to pay higher gas prices in order to sanction Putin, they overwhelmingly answer the question yes. ............ David Halberstam’s “The Best and the Brightest” as an avocation of how the well-intentioned but overconfident, and overly dogmatic, and unwilling to hear contrary evidence led to disastrous outcomes. ........ Zachary Carter’s recent biography of Keynes, which I think demonstrates that ideas and even economic models ultimately, and over time, have larger impacts than maneuvers and machinations in small rooms, despite the fact that the latter seem more important at any particular moment in time. .......... Brad DeLong’s “Slouching Towards Utopia” ..... ..... how profoundly different the 20th century was than all other centuries and points towards the combined power of science and markets to change the world profoundly .

U.S. intelligence suggests that Putin’s advisers misinformed him on Ukraine. . growing tension between Mr. Putin and the Ministry of Defense, including with the Russian defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, who was once among the most trusted members of the Kremlin’s inner circle. ....... Putin’s rigid isolation during the pandemic and willingness to publicly rebuke advisers who do not share his views have created a degree of wariness, or even fear, in senior ranks of the Russian military. ........ Mr. Putin seemed genuinely unaware that the Russian military had been using conscripts in Ukraine, and that drafted soldiers were among those killed in action ......... There “is now persistent tension” between Mr. Putin and the Defense Ministry ........ Putin had an incomplete understanding about how damaging Western sanctions had been on the Russian economy ...... Ukraine’s military has not only held its own but also begun counterattacking ....... afraid that the messengers of bad news will be ........ While Mr. Shoigu had been considered one of the few advisers Mr. Putin confided in, the prosecution of the war in Ukraine has damaged the relationship. ....... Putin has put two top intelligence officials under house arrest for providing poor intelligence ahead of the invasion, something that may have further contributed to the climate of fear. ....... Putin is continuing to be misled and that senior advisers are unwilling to tell the truth. ....... What American intelligence sources there might be in the Kremlin is a tightly held secret. But since Russia began its troop buildup along Ukraine’s borders last year, U.S. intelligence officials have accurately predicted Mr. Putin’s moves. ....... the moves are a further sign that Russia is adjusting its failing strategy. It is also possible that the shifting strategy is a sign of dysfunction and miscommunication in the upper ranks of the Russian Defense Ministry.

A humanitarian corridor is agreed on for Mariupol, a city under siege. Russian forces have diminished the once thriving Ukrainian city of Mariupol to a shell of its former self ...... a city whose prewar population was about 430,000. ...... an announcement by Russia’s Defense Ministry that a cease-fire in the city on Thursday would start at 10 a.m. local time and allow people to leave to the west. ........ Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Iryna Vereshchuk, said in an address on Thursday morning that a convoy of 45 buses had set out for Mariupol to try to reach trapped civilians.

Shaken at First, Many Russians Now Rally Behind Putin’s Invasion Polls and interviews show many Russians now accept the Kremlin’s assertion that their country is under siege from the West. Opponents are leaving the country or keeping quiet. ....... Five weeks into President Vladimir V. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, there are signs that the Russian public’s initial shock has given way to a mix of support for their troops and anger at the West. ........ On television, entertainment shows have been replaced by extra helpings of propaganda, resulting in an around-the-clock barrage of falsehoods about the “Nazis” who run Ukraine and American-funded Ukrainian bioweapons laboratories. ........ many Russians now accept Mr. Putin’s contention that their country is under siege from the West and had no choice but to attack. The war’s opponents are leaving the country or keeping quiet. ........ “We are in a time machine, hurtling into the glorious past” .......... polls released this week by Russia’s most respected independent pollster, Levada, showed Mr.

Putin’s approval rating hitting 83 percent, up from 69 percent in January

. Eighty-one percent said they supported the war, describing the need to protect Russian speakers as its primary justification. ............. Analysts cautioned that as the economic pain wrought by sanctions deepens in the coming months, the public mood could shift yet again. Some also argued that polls in wartime have limited significance, with many Russians fearful of voicing dissent, or even their true opinion, to a stranger at a time when new censorship laws are punishing any deviation from the Kremlin narrative with as much as 15 years in prison. ...... many Russians had adopted the belief that a besieged Russ ......... feeding the Kremlin line that the West is waging an economic war on the Russian people. ........ those who still oppose the war have retreated into a parallel reality of YouTube streams and Facebook posts increasingly removed from the broader Russian public. ......... “There’s a dividing line being drawn, as in the Civil War,” he said, referring to the aftermath of the Russian Revolution a century ago. “It was a war of brother against brother, and now something similar is happening — a war without blood this time, but a moral one, a very serious one.” ............. most supporters of the war did not appear to be especially enthusiastic. ...... the channel launched a new program called “Antifake” dedicated to debunking Western “disinformation” .......... Antiwar protests, which led to more than 15,000 arrests across the country in the first weeks of the war, have largely petered out. .... at least 50,000 tech workers alone had left the country. .......... a local opposition lawmaker, said he had received about 100 letters asking him “to do everything” to stop the war in its first two weeks, and only one supporting it. But after Mr. Putin signed legislation effectively criminalizing dissent over the war, that stream of letters dried up .......... she also found that the police officers she dealt with did not seem particularly aggressive, or enthusiastic about the war. Over all, she believed that most Russians were too scared to voice opposition, and were convinced that there was nothing they could do about it.

Syrian Mercenaries Deploy to Russia en Route to Ukrainian Battlefields Syria has grown in recent years into an exporter of mercenaries, a grim aftereffect of years of war that gave many men combat experience but so damaged the country’s economy that people now struggle to find work. So they have deployed as guns-for-hire to wars in Libya, Azerbaijan, the Central African Republic — and now Ukraine. ........ sign up to fight because they simply need the money and believe recruiters’ promises that they will have noncombat jobs, such as guarding bases or oil facilities. ....... “What we are seeing is predatory recruitment,” said Sorcha MacLeod, the chair of the United Nations Working Group on the use of mercenaries. “They are taking advantage of the poor socioeconomic situation that these people find themselves in.” ...... a messy system in which men with few options scramble for limited opportunities to risk their lives for salaries they could not match at home. ....... Recruiters often collect payment for registration, and scams are rife. ........ The lack of other work and a currency collapse that has made basic items like bread and cooking gas exorbitantly expensive in Syria have driven up interest in Ukraine, with the promise of earning $1,000-$2,000 a month. ........ The roughly 300 soldiers already in Russia are from the 25th Division of the Syrian Army, known as the Tiger Forces, which are seen as elite and work closely with Russian officers. The Russians have offered them $1,200 a month for six months with a $3,000 bonus when they return to Syria, said the Syrian government ally. ...... Their families are promised $2,800, plus $600 a month for one year, if their loved ones are killed in combat, he said, adding that in Syria, those soldiers earn about $100 a month, while soldiers from less elite units earn less than $50 per month.......... A Syrian man who returned recently from fighting in Libya said he had gone solely for the money, but would never do it again. ....... He was happy to make it home and used his earnings to clear his debts and open a cigarette shop, he said. But his activities had left a social stain that could hurt his marriage prospects, he said. ......... He tells anyone who will listen not to go to Ukraine. “People who go there will die,” he said.

Having Won Syria’s War, al-Assad Is Mired in Economic Woes After a decade of war, the biggest threat now to President Bashar al-Assad is an economic crisis. But at a recent meeting, he had no concrete solutions to his country’s extreme distress. ....... With the rising cost of food, 60 percent of Syrians are at risk of going hungry........ the currency collapse that has gutted salaries, the skyrocketing prices for basic goods and the chronic shortages of fuel and bread. ....... he offered no concrete steps to stem the crisis beyond floating this idea: Television channels should cancel cooking shows so as not to taunt Syrians with images of unattainable food. ........ a leader who seemed out of touch with the real concerns troubling his people and helpless to do anything about them. ....... Even speaking in private, Mr. al-Assad stuck with the platitudes that characterize his public speeches. Wearing a dark suit and speaking with a professorial air, he blamed a range of forces for Syria’s woes: the “brutality” of world capitalism, “brainwashing” by social media and an ill-defined “neoliberalism” that was eroding the country’s values. ........ Lest anyone worry, he assured the journalists, Syria will not make peace with Israel or legalize gay marriage. Those are not the issues most Syrians are worrying about. ........... the Syrian pound reached an all-time low against the dollar on the black market, decimating the value of salaries and rocketing up the cost of imports. .......

60 percent of Syrians, or 12.4 million people, were at risk of going hungry

...... Most Syrians now devote their days to finding fuel to cook and warm their homes, and standing in long lines for rationed pita. Power shortages are constant, with some areas getting only a few hours of electricity a day, barely enough for people to keep their cellphones charged. ..... Desperate women have taken to selling their hair to feed their families. ........ With the $55 she got for her hair, which will be used to make wigs, she bought two gallons of heating oil, clothes for her children and a roast chicken, the first her family had tasted in three months........ She cried from shame for two days afterward. ......... The falling currency means that doctors now earn the equivalent of less than $50 a month. ....... The causes are multiple and overlapping: widespread damage and displacement from the war; sweeping Western sanctions on Mr. al-Assad’s government and associates; a banking collapse in neighboring Lebanon, where wealthy Syrians kept their money; and lockdowns to combat the coronavirus. ......... Most of the country’s oil fields and much of its agricultural land are in the northeast, which is controlled by Kurdish-led forces backed by the United States. ....... Last week, having arrested a young Israeli woman who had wandered into Syria, the Syrian government used her as a bargaining chip to obtain the release of two Syrian shepherds and 60,000 doses of coronavirus vaccines, for which Israel paid Russia $1.2 million. ......... Last month, Hala Jerf, a former news announcer on Syrian state television, posted a quote from Jean-Jacques Rousseau on Facebook in answer to the question, “What is the nation?” “In respect of riches, no citizen shall ever be wealthy enough to buy another, and none poor enough to be forced to sell himself,” she wrote. She was arrested for violating the country’s “electronic crimes” laws. ........... Not far from the al-Assads’ palace, one father of nine earns the equivalent of $5 a day selling vegetables. His simple produce stand, with boxes on the ground full of eggplants, potatoes and apples, provided for his family even during the war’s worst years. ........ His struggles have left him with little patience for the government’s focus on political issues that do not affect his daily life, like the struggle against Israel.

U.N. Investigator Accuses Israel of Apartheid, Citing Permanence of Occupation Strongly denied by Israel and its supporters, the claim is the first time that a U.N.-appointed rapporteur has accused Israel of apartheid in such an unequivocal way. ......... have sought to recast the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a struggle for equal rights instead of a territorial dispute. ........ it met the legal definition of apartheid set out by international law. ....... The two-tier legal system enforced by Israel in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, he said, enshrined a system of domination by Israelis over Palestinians that could no longer be explained as the unintended consequence of a temporary occupation. ............. “In the Palestinian territory that Israel has occupied since 1967, there are now five million stateless Palestinians living without rights, in an acute state of subjugation, and with no path to self-determination or a viable independent state which the international community has repeatedly promised is their right” ......... “The differences in living conditions and citizenship rights and benefits are stark, deeply discriminatory and maintained through systematic and institutionalized oppression” ......... Several Israeli and foreign groups have produced similar reports recently, including the international rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as B’Tselem, a leading Israeli human rights group.

What if College Were Free? This State Is Trying to Find Out. As states take the lead in the tuition-free movement after President Biden’s plans failed to gain traction in Congress, New Mexico emerges as a leader. ....... As universities across the United States face steep enrollment declines, New Mexico’s government is embarking on a pioneering experiment to fight that trend: tuition-free higher education for all state residents. ....... New Mexico, one of the nation’s poorest states ....... A new state law approved in a rare show of bipartisanship allocates almost 1 percent of the state’s budget toward covering tuition and fees at public colleges and universities, community colleges and tribal colleges. All state residents from new high school graduates to adults enrolling part-time will be eligible regardless of family income. The program is also open to immigrants regardless of their immigration status. ....... The legislation, which seeks to treat college as a public resource similar to primary and secondary education, takes effect in July. ....... “The New Mexico program is very close to ideal” ....... New Mexico’s program is among the most generous in the country. ......... a state where Hispanic and Native-American residents together account for more than 60 percent of the population. ...... a group of Republicans in the Democratic-controlled legislature crossed party lines to support the measure. ....... the state needed people to get training in areas like nursing, truck driving and maintenance of electricity systems. ........ The program is unusually inclusive, covering tuition for prison inmates and unauthorized immigrants, as well as Native Americans from tribal nations whose boundaries extend into neighboring states, meaning someone from the Navajo Nation in Arizona can be considered a New Mexico resident for tuition purposes. ....... New Mexico now ranks as the second-largest oil producing state in the country behind Texas, eclipsing North Dakota and Alaska. ........ “We build the budget on $60 a barrel oil,” Governor Lujan Grisham said in an interview, noting that oil prices have recently been hovering around $100 a barrel. .......... The University of Texas System created a $300 million endowment in February that expands tuition assistance for thousands of students. Michigan provides free college to residents who were essential workers during the pandemic, while also covering tuition at community colleges for people ages 25 or older. .......... dissatisfaction with online learning, as well as the hesitancy of some international students to study in the United States at a time when immigration rhetoric has grown more poisonous, also drove students away ........ “Free primary and secondary education is seen as a public good no matter what walk of life you come from,” he said, contending that higher education should be viewed in the same light. ........ Recipients need to have graduated from a high school in New Mexico or lived in the state for 12 consecutive months to be considered a resident.

How Pandemics End An infectious outbreak can conclude in more ways than one, historians say. But for whom does it end, and who gets to decide? ....... pandemics typically have two types of endings: the medical, which occurs when the incidence and death rates plummet, and the social, when the epidemic of fear about the disease wanes. ....... “When people ask, ‘When will this end?,’ they are asking about the social ending” ....... And a fear epidemic can have far worse consequences when complicated by issues of race, privilege, and language.” ........ The medieval pandemic began in 1331 in China. The illness, along with a civil war that was raging at the time, killed half the population of China. From there, the plague moved along trade routes to Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. In the years between 1347 and 1351, it killed at least a third of the European population. Half of the population of Siena, Italy, died. ......... The dead were buried in pits, in piles. ....... the plague recurred. One of the worst outbreaks began in China in 1855 and spread worldwide, killing more than 12 million in India alone. Health authorities in Bombay burned whole neighborhoods trying to rid them of the plague. “Nobody knew if it made a difference,” the Yale historian Frank Snowden said. ......... But while it still raged, smallpox was horrific. Epidemic after epidemic swept the world, for at least 3,000 years. Individuals infected with the virus developed a fever, then a rash that turned into pus-filled spots, which became encrusted and fell off, leaving scars. The disease killed three out of 10 of its victims, often after immense suffering.......... In 1633, an epidemic among Native Americans “disrupted all the native communities in the northeast and certainly facilitated English settlement in Massachusetts,” said Harvard historian Dr. David S. Jones. ....... The last person to contract smallpox naturally was Ali Maow Maalin, a hospital cook in Somalia, in 1977. He recovered, only to die of malaria in 2013. ....... The 1918 flu is held up today as the example of the ravages of a pandemic and the value of quarantines and social distancing. Before it ended, the flu killed 50 million to 100 million people worldwide. ....... After sweeping through the world, that flu faded away, evolving into a variant of the more benign flu that comes around every year. ........ In the Hong Kong flu of 1968, one million people died worldwide, including 100,000 in the United States, mostly people older than 65. That virus still circulates as a seasonal flu

The Library Ends Late Fees, and the Treasures Roll In The decision by the New York Public Library set off a wave of returns, accompanied by bashful notes of apology and gratitude. ....... Some items, checked out decades ago, arrived with apologetic notes. “Enclosed are books I have borrowed and kept in my house for 28-50 years! I am 75 years old now and these books have helped me through motherhood and my teaching career,” one patron wrote in an unsigned letter that accompanied a box of books dropped off at the New York Public Library’s main branch last fall. “I’m sorry for living with these books so long. They became family.” ......... When New York’s public library systems announced last October that they would be eliminating all late fines, the goal was to get books and people back to the more than 200 branches, as well as research centers, across the city after a year and a half of limited hours and access. ....... most overdue items are returned by mail or book drop, rather than in person ...... Before the change in policy, New York’s public libraries had charged overdue fines since the late 1800s. Early on, the rate was 1 cent per day. In 1954, it increased to 2 cents, then 5 cents in 1959. The most recent rate was 25 cents a day in New York City ...... After 30 days, a book would be deemed lost and a replacement fee would be charged. Fines didn’t accrue forever, but anyone owing $15 or more in fees would be blocked from checking out materials. In 2019, the New York, Brooklyn and Queens Public Libraries collected more than $3 million in late fees ....... in 2017, the public library in Nashville eliminated fines, and those in Chicago, Dallas and San Francisco followed two years later. ...... “We are not in the fine-collection business. We’re in the encouraging-to-read-and-learn business, and we were getting in our own way.”