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Michael Bloomberg’s Campaign Suddenly Drops Memes Everywhere

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Other influencers have been quick to praise the campaign. “Best advert ever,” commented Chris Burkard, a travel influencer who has more than 3.5 million followers. “So good,” commented Jason Strauss, a partner at the Tao Group.

Many meme account followers, however, were more skeptical. “This is a clear example of what wealth can get you votes. Bloomberg’s a billionaire and is able to pull in endorsements like this,” commented user @rebelwithoutapause_.

“I hate this,” commented Ed Droste, a musician.

Memers involved with Meme 2020 include: @MyTherapistSays, @WhitePeopleHumor, @TheFunnyIntrovert, @KaleSalad, @Sonny5ideUp, @Tank.Sinatra, @ShitheadSteve, @adam.the.creator, @moistbudda, @MrsDowJones, @TrashCanPaul, @cohmedy, @NeatDad, @FourTwenty, @GolfersDoingThings, @DrGrayFang, @MiddleClassFancy and @DoYouEvenLift. Together, the collective has an audience of more than 60 million followers.

“Mike Bloomberg 2020 has teamed up with social creators to collaborate with the campaign, including the meme world,” Sabrina Singh, a senior national spokeswoman for the Bloomberg campaign, said in a statement. “While a meme strategy may be new to presidential politics, we’re betting it will be an effective component to reach people where they are and compete with President Trump’s powerful digital operation.”

The campaign recently announced it had hired Eric Kuhn, who made a name for himself as Hollywood’s first “social media agent,” representing digital talent at United Talent Agency.



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C.D.C. Officials Warn of Coronavirus Outbreaks in the U.S.

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Federal health officials starkly warned on Tuesday that the new coronavirus will almost certainly spread in the United States, and that hospitals, businesses and schools should begin making preparations.

“It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more of a question of exactly when this will happen,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a news briefing.

She said that cities and towns should plan for “social distancing measures,” like dividing school classes into smaller groups of students or closing schools altogether. Meetings and conferences may have to be canceled, she said. Businesses should arrange for employees to work from home.

“We are asking the American public to work with us to prepare, in the expectation that this could be bad,” Dr. Messonnier said.

Shortly after the news conference, stock markets plummeted for the second day as investors dumped stocks and turned to the safety of government bonds. The S&P 500 fell by more than 3 percent, following a 3.4 percent slide on Monday — the worst day for the American markets since February 2018.

In contrast to his own health officials, President Trump, traveling in India, played down the threat, saying, “You may ask about the coronavirus, which is very well under control in our country.”

“We have very few people with it, and the people that have it are, in all cases, I have not heard anything other — the people are getting better, they’re all getting better.”

As of Tuesday, the United States has just 57 cases, 40 of them connected to the Diamond Princess, the cruise ship overwhelmed by the coronavirus after it docked in Japan. Those patients are in isolation in hospitals, and there are no signs of sustained transmission in American communities.

But given the outbreaks in more than two dozen countries, officials at the C.D.C. seemed convinced that the virus’s spread in the United States was inevitable, although they did not know whether the impact would be mild or severe.

“We cannot hermetically seal off the United States to a virus,” Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services, told a Senate panel on Tuesday. “And we need to be realistic about that.”

Globally, public health officials are confronting a multipronged threat. China’s battle to contain the epidemic has shown signs of success, with a plunge in the rate of new infections.

But this has been overshadowed by new clusters of infections in Iran, South Korea and Italy. The emergence of these new hubs underscored the lack of a coordinated global strategy to combat the coronavirus, which has infected nearly 80,000 people in 37 countries, causing at least 2,600 deaths.

By Tuesday, South Korea had reported a total of 893 cases, the second most in the world. The C.D.C. on Monday warned Americans not to travel there.

  • Updated Feb. 25, 2020

    • What is a Coronavirus?
      It is a novel virus named for the crown-like spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people, and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
    • How contagious is the virus?
      According to preliminary research, it seems moderately infectious, similar to SARS, and is probably transmitted through sneezes, coughs and contaminated surfaces. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures.
    • Where has the virus spread?
      The virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, has sickened more than 80,000 people in at least 33 countries, including Italy, Iran and South Korea.
    • Who is working to contain the virus?
      The World Health Organization officials have been working with officials in China, where growth has slowed. But this week, as confirmed cases spiked on two continents, experts warned that the world is not ready for a major outbreak.
    • What if I’m traveling?
      The C.D.C. has warned older and at-risk travelers to avoid Japan, Italy and Iran. The agency also has advised against all non-essential travel to South Korea and China.
    • How do I keep myself and others safe?
      Washing your hands frequently is the most important thing you can do, along with staying at home when you’re sick.

Of the 60 new cases reported by South Korea’s federal health agency, 49 came from Daegu, the city at the center of the country’s outbreak.

In Iran, a spike in coronavirus infections — including to the top health official in charge of fighting the disease — has prompted fears the contagion may spread throughout the Middle East. In Italy, one of Europe’s largest economies, officials are struggling to prevent the epidemic from paralyzing the commercial center of Milan.

Keenly aware that the virus has the potential to wreak havoc in the United States, lawmakers from both the Democratic and the Republican parties grilled Mr. Azar and other members of the administration at the Senate hearing, apparently unconvinced that the Trump administration was prepared for the outbreak that the C.D.C. is forecasting.

Senator John Kennedy, Republican of Louisiana, grew exasperated when the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Chad F. Wolf, could not say how many people were expected to become infected.

“I’m all for committees and task forces, but you’re the secretary,” Mr. Kennedy responded. “I think you ought to know that answer.”

The administration officials overseeing the response to a coronavirus outbreak told lawmakers that the initial funding requested by the White House — $1.25 billion in new funds and $1.25 billion taken from other programs — would most likely be just a first round.

Mr. Azar said that there were 30 million N95 masks, respirators best suited to guarding against viruses that typically cost less than $1 apiece, in the nation’s emergency stockpile.

Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, asked the health secretary whether he thought the United States currently had enough health masks in stock.

“Of course not,” he responded, “or else we wouldn’t be asking for more.” Health care workers may need 300 million masks in the event of an outbreak, he added.

Mr. Azar said he was alarmed by the human-to-human transmission of the virus in other parts of the world without an identifiable connection to confirmed cases, and what that could mean for how the virus may spread in the United States.

But other federal health officials were trying to tamp down concerns.

“You need to do nothing different than you’re already doing,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said at a news briefing.

Federal officials were only trying to tell Americans that if an outbreak occurs, he added, “these are the kinds of things you want to think of.”

Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, declared on CNBC that the coronavirus had been “contained” and would not do serious harm to the economy.

“I don’t think it’s going to be an economic tragedy at all,” Mr. Kudlow said.

Preparations to respond to a potential outbreak have begun, government officials said, but are far from complete.

[Like the Science Times page on Facebook. | Sign up for the Science Times newsletter.]

It still is difficult to diagnose the infection. The C.D.C. performs most of the testing, and samples must be sent from state and local laboratories to the agency in Atlanta, a process that takes days.

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Disney C.E.O. Bob Iger Steps Aside, Ending 15-Year Run at Top

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“Chapek is a really good, no-brainer pick — the other division leaders have been there too short of a time,” Michael Nathanson, a media analyst and founding partner at MoffettNathanson, said in a phone interview. “He’s a really nice person who is part of the Disney culture, which is important.” Other candidates to succeed Mr. Iger included Kevin A. Mayer, chairman of Disney’s direct-to-consumer and international division, and Peter Rice, chairman of Walt Disney Television.

Since taking over as chief executive in 2005, Mr. Iger has led Disney to record financial results, even in the face of economic downturns, the occasional horrendous movie write-off and changing consumer habits that dented ESPN, the company’s longtime profit engine. Last year, Mr. Iger completed a $71.3 billion acquisition that gave Disney the bulk of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, substantially altering the entertainment landscape. Mr. Iger then oversaw the successful introduction of Disney Plus.

The downside to that success? Nobody seemed to measure up, complicating succession at a company that has a history of bumpy transfers of power. Mr. Iger’s predecessor, Michael D. Eisner, tried to cling to his job, resulting in him eventually turning over a company that was struggling.

One internal candidate to succeed Mr. Iger, the well-regarded Thomas O. Staggs, abruptly left Disney in 2016 after losing the unqualified support of Mr. Iger and some other board members. Since then, Disney has been engaged in a quiet hunt for a successor.

Even among media conglomerates, Disney has a unique mix of businesses, some of which are healthier than others. The company’s movie studio is widely regarded as the strongest in Hollywood and the Disney theme parks are delivering record profits. But the company’s vast consumer products division has been in decline, and Disney’s television operation, which includes ABC, Disney Channel and Freeform, has been struggling with ratings weakness and a lack of breakout shows. Now it has entered the streaming era with Disney Plus, which has started strong but will lose money for the coming years as Disney spends billions of dollars on original content and technological infrastructure.

Mr. Iger started his entertainment career at ABC in 1974. Disney has no mandatory retirement age for chief executives; the company’s mandatory retirement age for board members is 74.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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Michael Hertz — You’ve Surely Seen His Subway Map — Dies at 87

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Michael Hertz, whose design firm produced one of the most consulted maps in human history, the curvy-lined chart that New York City subway riders peer at over one another’s shoulders to figure out which stop they want, died on Feb. 18 in East Meadow, N.Y. He was 87.

His son Eugene announced the death, at Nassau University Medical Center, but did not give a cause. Mr. Hertz also lived in East Meadow, on Long Island.

In the mid-1970s the Metropolitan Transportation Authority gave Mr. Hertz’s firm, Michael Hertz Associates, the task of coming up with a map of the New York City subway system that would help riders make sense of that many-tentacled beast.

There was already a system map (or “diagram,” as some preferred to call it), a colorful Modernist thing created by the Italian designer Massimo Vignelli and introduced in 1972. It was fun to look at — the Museum of Modern Art in New York has that version in its collection — but few users loved it, in part because the Vignelli map didn’t relate the underground to the aboveground.

“It was the 1970s,” Arline L. Bronzaft, a psychologist who worked on Mr. Hertz’s replacement map, told Newsday in 2004. “People were fearful of going on the subways. We wanted people to use the map to see the sights of New York.”

The map that Mr. Hertz’s firm came up with included streets, neighborhoods and other surface reference points. And it depicted the city and its signature elements like Central Park and the waterways in a fashion more reflective of reality — the park wasn’t square, as on the earlier map, and the water wasn’t beige.

The new map was a group effort. An M.T.A. committee led by John Tauranac studied various designs and gathered input. A Japanese painter and designer working for Mr. Hertz, Nobuyuki Siraisi, rode every subway line with his eyes closed so that he could better feel the curves in the routes. (One of the complaints about the Vignelli diagram was that it was done entirely in straight lines.)

He worked for the Walt Disney Company as art director for movie advertising for a decade before starting his own firm in the late 1960s. He worked on transit maps for Houston and Washington, maps of New York City’s various neighborhoods, airport maps and directories, and more.

In addition to his son Eugene, Mr. Hertz is survived by his wife, Carole Ann (Ruden) Hertz, whom he married in 1954; two other sons, David and Joseph; a daughter, Leslie B. Kawaler; and eight grandchildren.

For the M.T.A. map, he told the news website Gothamist in 2007, the team started out handcuffed.

“Perhaps the biggest constraint was that it had to fit into the existing map frames in every subway car,” Mr. Hertz said. Since the city is taller and narrower than Vignelli had made it, he added, the team had to “knead, bend and squeeze the map to fit in the already existing frame.”

A breakthrough, he said, was the idea that a bit of distortion could be introduced.

“We realized that we could nip and tuck smaller areas of the city to give more space to congested areas like Lower Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn without major damage to the overall sense of the city’s geography,” he said.

The team tested preliminary designs on actual subway users. The result, Mr. Hertz believed, did the job nicely. “It continues to be the right balance between information and graphic clarity,” he told The Times in 2010.

He especially wanted the map to be understandable to tourists and other first-time users.

He told The Times in 2004, “I still get a pleasure in a subway station when I see somebody in lederhosen looking at the map.”

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