Death toll from virus outbreak in China's Hubei reaches 17: state TV

The death toll from China's new flu-like virus in Hubei province has risen to 17 and the total number of confirmed cases has risen further, state television reported on Wednesday, citing the provincial government.
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A worker assembles cabinet doors at Riverside RV in LaGrange, Indiana, on January 24, 2020. | Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images A much-debated disability benefit crisis simply eased when the economy improved. A feature of the Great Recession was a cottage industry of explanations for why people were not just out of work, but dropping out of the workforce altogether — meaning they were without a job but not counted as unemployed. Several distinguished economists seriously contemplated the possibility that advances in video game technology were responsible. Business leaders (and at times then-President Obama) touted the notion that a “skills gap” had rendered many Americans unemployable. Casey Mulligan, a University of Chicago professor who was a New York Times columnist for much of the recession, argued that the country was suffering through “a redistribution recession”: things like the Affordable Care Act had created a situation in which people didn’t want to work anymore. (Mulligan later served on Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers.) A particularly widespread and pernicious notion was that people were making bogus Social Security Disability Insurance claims to cash a check rather than working. Now lots of labor force dropouts, especially disabled ones, are getting back in the game. About a third of new hires are coming from the ranks of people previously non-employed due to disability. Nothing has fundamentally changed about SSDI availability, ACA subsidies, video games, or Americans’ skills. The labor market today is in much healthier shape than it was five years ago, and low interest rates — and once Trump took office, significant increases in the federal budget deficit — have done their work. Prime-age (25-54-year-old) employment is growing at a pace of around +750,000 a year. Almost a third of these job finders are coming from the ranks of the disabled -- the single biggest source of new worker hires.— Ernie Tedeschi (@ernietedeschi) February 20, 2020 Of course, on one level this seems to confirm anecdotal reporting suggesting that some recession-era SSDI recipients were not genuinely “incapable” of working, in a totalistic sense. But the fact that they’ve gone back to work with no program reforms confirms the point that these weren’t fraud cases. Instead, during the depressed economy many people — especially people with health problems that limited the range of jobs they could realistically do — simply couldn’t find work. Thanks to SSDI, they were able to survive. And thanks to an improving economy, a wider range of work is available and employers have to be more accommodating of people’s special needs in order to find workers — so they’re able to come back to the labor force. Trump’s economic success shows liberals were right about a lot One of the big background debates of the Trump era is that the president and his allies want to take credit for the improved economic situation, while Democrats prefer to emphasize the extensive continuity with the Obama-era economy. The continuity is very real, but on another level the Trump critics are being too churlish. He clearly took some specific, economically significant steps that have helped make things better. But the steps he took were precisely the kinds of Keynesian stimulus measures that progressives spent the Obama years calling for. Instead of a “grand bargain” on deficit reduction and “regulatory certainty” to improve the business climate, Trump has given us a large short-term tax cut paired with a large increase in military spending, plus a large increase in domestic discretionary spending, plus steady ongoing increases in Social Security and Medicare spending. It’s deficits as far as the eye can see, and it’s been paired with a low interest rate policy from the Fed that Trump has very much encouraged that has helped people get jobs without sparking inflation. This formula of bigger deficits plus a supportive Fed is exactly what progressives spent the years from 2011 to 2016 calling for. Trump delivered a version of it (although a progressive administration would obviously have used the money for different things) and it’s basically working. As a result, the long-term unemployed, the disabled, the discouraged, and even some early retirees are hopping back into the labor force with no need to cut anyone off from benefits.
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It’s not a fluke, an error, or an outlier. In poll after poll, the results are clear: Climate change is one of the most important issues in the 2020 presidential election.A new survey, released today and provided exclusively to The Atlantic, only drives the point home: Climate is the clear number-two issue—second only to health care—for Democrats who live in one of the upcoming primary or caucus states. Among all voters, the warming planet is now one of the most salient issues in American politics. The poll was conducted by Climate Nexus, a nonpartisan nonprofit group, in partnership with researchers at Yale and George Mason University, and included nearly 2,000 registered voters.Climate change now sits alongside only four other mainstays—health care, the economy and jobs, immigration policy, and Social Security—in its ability to command the electorate’s attention. And for self-described liberal Democrats, climate change is now nationally the most important issue, beating out 28 others, Anthony Leiserowitz, a senior research scientist at Yale, told me.“This is the first time in American political history where climate change is not just a top tier issue—it is the top tier issue,” ​said ​Leiserowitz, the director of the Yale Program on Climate-Change Communication, which helped conduct the new poll​.Yet while Democrats have grown ever more alarmed by climate change, self-identified Republicans remain largely unmoved. In the poll, Democrats are much more likely than Republicans to say climate change is one of their top two issues, and they support more aggressive policies. This reflects a deepening divide among Americans: Climate change, Leiserowitz said, “has become more polarized now than any other issue, including abortion.”The Climate Nexus-Yale-George Mason poll was conducted online from February 6 to February 9, among 1,934 respondents in 26 states. Each of those states—they include Nevada, South Carolina, California, and Texas—will hold a Democratic primary or caucus between now and March 17. Climate Nexus then weighted the responses from each state in line with Census Bureau estimates of local age, gender, race, education, and Hispanic demographics.The poll’s results fit into a remarkably consistent pattern: American voters are taking climate change seriously. Last March, a CNN/Des Moines Register poll found that climate change was a top-two issue for Iowa Democrats. Since then the same results have kept showing up in opinion surveys, exit polls, and Associated Press vote-cast data, Leiserowitz said.Earlier this week, the Pew Research Center announced that a majority of Americans now say that dealing with climate change should be a top priority for the president and Congress. Since 2016, that number has increased by 14 percentage points. And nearly as many Americans (64 percent) now rank protecting the environment as highly as they do strengthening the economy, the Pew report found.Some of this effect may reflect President Trump’s broad rejection of climate policy and embrace of fossil fuels. It is common for public polling to swing in the opposite direction of the president’s policy views, a phenomenon that political scientists call “thermostatic public opinion.”And while the polling shows that concern about climate change is growing, it is also divided by party. “Over the past five years, public concern about climate change has soared, particularly among Democrats. It’s also gone up substantially among independents, but it’s stayed relatively flat among Republicans,” Leiserowitz said.The new poll shows some signs of that disconnect. Nearly seventy percent of respondents said they were very worried or somewhat worried about climate change. This is a larger group than said the United States is on the wrong track (52 percent) or approved of Donald Trump’s performance as president (45 percent).This worry ran parallel with a desire for new policy, the poll found. Among all voters, seven out of 10 said the government should do more about climate change. Fifty-nine percent of respondents went further, saying they would strongly or moderately support a Green New Deal. Only 25 percent of respondents said they strongly or somewhat opposed such an aggressive measure.More moderate policies were more popular. Nearly three-quarters of all voters said they wanted a candidate who would set stronger pollution standards, and 70 percent said they wanted the next president to strengthen federal fuel-economy standards. (As I reported earlier this month, the Trump administration has fought for years to weaken them.) And nearly four in five voters, from all parties, support providing “assistance, job training or guaranteed wages” to workers from the oil, gas, and coal industries who have lost their jobs.Not every climate policy commanded a majority. Roughly the same percentage of voters (42 percent) support opening up new federal lands for oil and gas drilling as oppose it (41 percent), the poll found.Perhaps the most intriguing finding: large majorities of voters want most future energy infrastructure to come from renewable sources, such as wind and solar. More than 70 percent of voters said they would support requiring 100 percent of electricity in their state to come from wind and solar plants by the year 2050. Most respondents said such a policy would boost the economy, lower electricity costs, and help rural and farming communities in their state. Most also said it would have either a positive effect, or no effect at all, on worker’s wages and the unemployment rate. It’s a commonplace in climate politics that Americans love solar and wind energy, but this has not, so far, translated into market power for the technologies.The poll also asked about a series of head-to-head matchups between Donald Trump and one of the Democratic candidates.Michael Bloomberg fared the best here: 47 percent of respondents supported the former mayor, 40 percent supported Trump, and 13 percent said they weren’t sure. In the Sanders-Trump matchup, 47 percent supported Sanders. But fewer voters (11 percent) were unsure in this scenario; 43 percent supported Trump. In the Buttigieg-Trump matchup, 45 percent supported Buttigieg, 41 percent supported Trump, and 14 percent of respondents said they weren’t sure. Joe Biden did nearly as well as Buttigieg, winning 45 percent to Trump’s 42 percent. Elizabeth Warren tied Trump in the head-to-head matchup, and Amy Klobuchar lost by one point. In every case, the number of undecided voters was larger than winner’s margin.The full list of states polled were—take a deep breath—Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.It’s not as if candidates are ignorant of this shift in voter priorities. Every Democratic candidate has announced a climate plan and talks about it on the stump. (Even Trump alluded to a tree-planting plan in his State of the Union address.) In televised debates, such as the one earlier this week in Nevada, Democratic candidates hurried to bring up climate change before any questions about it were asked. The discussion hasn’t always been satisfying, Leiserowitz admitted, but “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they’re all elbowing each other to talk about it,” he said. “There’s a climate vote for the first time.”
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