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The Supreme Court offers a window into partisan Covid fallacies.
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When the Supreme Court justices emerged from the red drapes at the front of the courtroom last Friday and took their seats — to hear arguments about President Biden’s vaccine mandate — all but one of the justices there were wearing masks. The exception was Neil Gorsuch.
That Gorsuch would resist mask wearing is no surprise. He is a conservative judge with a libertarian streak who has spent his life around Republican politics. In conservative circles, masks have become a symbol of big-government subjugation.
But his decision not to wear one — while the other Republican appointees on the court all were — still felt surprising. The justices usually make an effort to treat one another respectfully. They disagree on the law, sometimes harshly, while maintaining productive and even warm relationships, like the famous friendship between Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
“When you’re charged with working together for most of the remainder of your life, you have to create a relationship,” Sonia Sotomayor said a few years ago, describing her welcoming of Brett Kavanaugh. “This is our work family.”
Gorsuch had to know that his masklessness could make other justices uncomfortable, including the 83-year-old Stephen Breyer and the 67-year-old Sotomayor, who has diabetes, a Covid risk factor. Sotomayor sits next to Gorsuch on the bench and, notably, chose not to attend Friday’s argument in person. She participated remotely, from her chambers.
When Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post asked a Supreme Court spokesperson whether Sotomayor had done so because Gorsuch was maskless, Marcus got no response.
One of the few public comments from somebody close to Gorsuch came from Mike Davis, a conservative activist and former Gorsuch clerk. On Twitter, Davis defended his former boss by writing, “We know cloth masks don’t [work].” It was a statement that managed to be both exaggerated and beside the point.
Masks, especially medical masks like KN95 and N95 masks, reduce the spread of Covid, studies show. In response to that evidence, the Supreme Court tells lawyers and reporters in the courtroom to wear medical masks.
The effect of masks may not be as large as their advocates sometimes claim, and masks can impede communication. So I recognize that well-meaning people can disagree about when they should be worn. Still, Gorsuch’s lack of a mask inside the courtroom seemed needlessly risky and disdainful of his colleagues.
“Wearing a mask is the decent thing to do,” Marcus wrote in her Washington Post column, “especially when you are around vulnerable individuals.” This week, Gorsuch again appeared without a mask at the court.
His decision seems emblematic of a country where partisan loyalty can trump Covid reality. It also seems emblematic of a court on which the justices are increasingly willing to behave as partisan actors rather than impartial judges.
And if you’re a liberal reader who’s tempted to believe that those descriptions apply only to Republicans — or a conservative reader who’s frustrated that I have focused on Gorsuch — I hope you will read the rest of today’s newsletter.
During the first hour of last Friday’s two-hour argument, Sotomayor listed the evidence of Covid’s continuing threat, to illustrate the benefits of a vaccine mandate. (Yesterday, the court ruled in the case, blocking Biden’s vaccine mandate for large employers, while allowing a narrower one for health care providers. Gorsuch opposed both mandates, while Sotomayor favored both.)
In making the case for mandates last week, Sotomayor first noted that Covid cases were surging and hospitals were near capacity. She then turned her attention to children: “We have over 100,000 children, which we’ve never had before, in serious condition and many on ventilators.”
That last sentence is simply untrue.
PolitiFact called it “way off.” Khaya Himmelman of The Dispatch described it as false and misleading. Daniel Dale of CNN wrote that Sotomayor had made “a significant false claim.” Glenn Kessler, The Washington Post’s fact checker, called it “wildly incorrect.”
Fewer than 5,000 U.S. children were in the hospital with Covid last week, and many fewer were in “serious condition” or on ventilators. Some of the hospitalized children probably had incidental cases of the virus, meaning they had been hospitalized for other reasons and tested positive while there.
Covid, as regular Morning readers have heard before, is overwhelmingly mild in children, even those who are unvaccinated. The risks are not zero, and they have risen during the current wave of infections, especially for children with major underlying health problems. But the risks remain extremely low.
Consider these numbers: Over the past week, about 870 children were admitted to hospitals with Covid, according to the C.D.C. By comparison, more than 5,000 children visit emergency rooms each week for sports injuries. More than 1,000 are hospitalized for bronchiolitis during a typical January week.
Similarly, the risk of Covid hospitalization for children — even in recent weeks — has been much lower than the risk from the respiratory virus known as R.S.V., as the epidemiologist Katelyn Jetelina has shown.
Or consider this: Vaccinated elderly people are at much more risk of severe Covid illness than unvaccinated children.
Sotomayor’s statement may not have been central to the case. But it was not a random error, either. Many other Americans on the left half of the political spectrum have also been exaggerating Covid’s risks to children. As the authors of a Gallup poll last year wrote, “Republicans consistently underestimate risks, while Democrats consistently overestimate them.”
I understand that these exaggerations often stem from an admirable desire to protect children from harm. But the result has been the opposite: The pandemic’s disruptions have led to lost learning, social isolation and widespread mental-health problems for children. Many American children are in crisis — as a result of pandemic restrictions rather than the virus itself.
Last week’s Supreme Court session was striking because it highlighted both halves of the country’s partisan-based self-deceptions. Many conservatives are refusing to wear masks — or, even worse, refusing to be vaccinated — out of a misplaced belief that Covid is harmless. Many liberals are sensationalizing Covid’s risks out of a misplaced belief that it presents a bigger threat to most children and vaccinated adults than continued isolation and disruption do.
Partisanship, as some political scientists like to say, is a helluva drug.
My colleague Adam Liptak explains yesterday’s court decisions on the mandates.
The lack of a broad mandate will probably lead to more hospitalizations and deaths, experts say. About 27 percent of U.S. adults are not fully vaccinated.
For more on Covid, I appeared on podcasts this week from Mediaite and the American Enterprise Institute.
The U.S. rapid test reimbursement program is set to start tomorrow. Many insurers aren’t ready.
New York State’s ban on evictions expires tomorrow. What happens now?
U.S. college enrollment has dropped by about 6 percent since the fall of 2019.
Australia canceled Novak Djokovic’s visa for a second time, days before the Australian Open.
The leader of the far-right Oath Keepers militia was charged with seditious conspiracy in the Capitol riot investigation.
Biden will nominate three new Fed officials. If confirmed, they would bring more diverse leadership to the central bank.
Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema reiterated their support for the filibuster, damaging hopes for voting rights legislation.
Georgia Republicans are again considering voting restrictions.
Republican officials will ask candidates not to participate in presidential debates run by the nonprofit commission that has long organized them.
A week of talks between Russia and the West over Ukraine ended without a resolution.
The British royal family stripped Prince Andrew of his military titles as he awaits sexual abuse charges.
Reckless driving, drug deaths and hate crimes are up. America is falling apart, says David Brooks.
“A strange sort of resigned calm”: Michelle Goldberg on Omicron’s arrival in her house.
Nasal ranger: His inventions have advanced the science of smell.
On Tech: Our columnist describes life after Amazon Prime.
The Hunt: An Upper West Side upgrade, but no doorman. Which home would you choose?
Modern Love: A divorce in which nobody moves out.
Advice from Wirecutter: Nonalcoholic drinks for Dry January.
Lives Lived: Alan Scott, the “Father of Botox,” turned a toxin into a medical treatment — and then watched as his innovation became a cosmetic phenomenon. He died at 89.
The Oscars haven’t had a host since Jimmy Kimmel in 2018. That’s changing this year, organizers announced this week, though they haven’t confirmed who will be stepping into the role.
Hosting the Academy Awards is a tough gig: It’s tricky to achieve the right balance of seriousness and humor in an hourslong broadcast. There have been great hosts, like Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal, and strange ones, like an animated Donald Duck in 1958.
But many have struggled with the job, including seasoned comedians like David Letterman (“the gold standard of Oscar bombing,” The Atlantic wrote), and Hollywood stars like James Franco and Anne Hathaway (a disastrous attempt to attract younger viewers). In 2019, the show went hostless after the comedian Kevin Hart dropped out amid backlash over his past homophobic tweets.
The ideal host is a star with mass appeal who can help boost the show’s ratings, which reached an all-time low in 2021. Organizers are apparently considering Tom Holland, who starred in “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” The Hollywood Reporter writes. Award nominations will be out on Feb. 8, and the ceremony will air on March 27. — Sanam Yar, a Morning writer
Caramelized mushrooms are bathed in a satiny glaze of honey and butter in this udon dish.
“Belle,” about a high school student who journeys into a virtual world, is “rapturously beautiful,” Manohla Dargis writes. It’s one of several recent critically acclaimed animated films.
Maren Morris is a “soulful, R&B-obsessed hook machine and a storyteller in a Southern tradition,” Joe Coscarelli writes.
Test your knowledge of this week’s headlines with our news quiz.
Stephen Colbert discussed Oath Keepers.
The pangram from yesterday’s Spelling Bee was fidgety. Here is today’s puzzle — or you can play online.
Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: The “E” of E.T. (five letters).
If you’re in the mood to play more, find all our games here.
Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. There’s no newsletter on Monday because of Martin Luther King’s Birthday. See you Tuesday. — David
Here’s today’s front page.
“The Daily” is about Sidney Poitier. “Popcast” is about pandemic jazz.
Claire Moses, Ian Prasad Philbrick, Tom Wright-Piersanti, Ashley Wu and Sanam Yar contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at email@example.com.
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The Rise of Online Businesses: A Comprehensive Guide to Success
In a world increasingly connected through the internet, the possibilities for starting and growing online businesses have expanded exponentially. Whether you’re looking to escape the traditional nine-to-five grind, want to tap into a global market, or are simply passionate about a niche interest, launching an online business is a promising venture. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the key steps to success in the dynamic world of online entrepreneurship.
1. Choose Your Niche
The first crucial step in starting an online business is selecting the right niche. Identify your passions, expertise, and market demand. Research the competition and look for gaps that your business can fill. A well-defined niche will help you target the right audience and stand out in the crowded online marketplace.
2. Develop a Business Plan
Just like traditional businesses, online ventures require a solid business plan. Your plan should outline your business goals, strategies, financial projections, and marketing tactics. It’s a roadmap that will keep you focused and serve as a valuable reference point as your business grows.
3. Legal Structure and Registration
Choose a legal structure for your online business, such as a sole proprietorship, LLC, or corporation. Register your business with the necessary authorities and obtain any required licenses or permits. This step is vital to ensure your business operates legally and efficiently.
4. Website Development
Your website is the heart of your online business. Create a professional, user-friendly website that reflects your brand and offers a seamless customer experience browse around this site. Ensure your site is mobile-responsive and optimized for search engines (SEO) to maximize your online visibility.
5. Branding and Identity
Build a strong brand identity that differentiates your online business. This includes designing a captivating logo, crafting a unique value proposition, and maintaining a consistent visual style and tone across all your online platforms.
6. E-Commerce and Payment Solutions
If your online business involves selling products or services, choose a reliable e-commerce platform and payment gateway. Offer various payment options to cater to your customers’ preferences and ensure secure transactions.
7. Content Creation
High-quality content is key to attracting and engaging your target audience. Develop a content strategy that includes blog posts, videos, and other relevant content that provides value to your audience. Consistent and relevant content can drive traffic and establish your authority in your niche.
8. Digital Marketing
Promote your online business through various digital marketing channels. These may include social media marketing, email marketing, pay-per-click advertising, and search engine optimization. Tailor your marketing efforts to reach your specific target audience.
9. Customer Service
Deliver excellent customer service to build trust and loyalty. Respond promptly to inquiries, resolve issues, and seek feedback to continually improve your products or services. Happy customers are more likely to become repeat buyers and refer others.
10. Data Analysis and Adaptation
Regularly monitor your online business’s performance through analytics tools. Analyze the data to make informed decisions and adapt your strategies accordingly. The online landscape evolves quickly, so staying agile and open to change is essential.
11. Legal and Tax Compliance
Stay informed about legal and tax obligations relevant to your online business. Compliance is vital to avoid legal issues and financial penalties. Consider consulting with a professional accountant or attorney to navigate the complexities of online business regulations and taxation.
12. Scale and Diversify
Once your online business is thriving, explore opportunities for growth. This might involve expanding your product or service range, reaching new markets, or diversifying your income streams. Continual innovation is key to long-term success.
In conclusion, the world of online businesses offers endless possibilities for aspiring entrepreneurs. By following these essential steps, you can increase your chances of creating a successful online venture. Remember that persistence, adaptability, and a commitment to providing value to your audience are fundamental qualities of a thriving online business owner.
The internet has revolutionized the way we do business. If you have a unique idea, a passion, or a solution to a problem, there’s never been a better time to start your online business. So, why wait? Take the plunge and embark on your journey to online business success today.