View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Shawn G. Kennedy, Times Reporter in a Vanguard, Dies at 73

Back in the 1970s, as The New York Times lagged behind other papers in hiring reporters and editors of color, Paul Delaney, the first Black reporter hired in the newspaper’s Washington bureau, was among those helping to recruit nonwhite journalists.

He was on assignment in New Orleans in 1973 when he ran into a Black television reporter, who told him that her twin sister, who worked as a fact checker for Playboy magazine in Chicago, was eager to move to a daily paper. The next time Mr. Delaney was in Chicago, he looked her up.

And that was how Shawn G. Kennedy came to work at The Times, taking a route as random as any in that era, before organizations like the National Association of Black Journalists were formed to help organize the recruitment of journalists.

Ms. Kennedy, who worked at The Times for 23 years, died on April 5 at the home of her sister, Royal Kennedy Rodgers, in San Francisco. She was 73 and lived in New Orleans. Ms. Rodgers said the cause was breast cancer.

Lt. Col. James Vincent Kennedy, was one of the Tuskegee Airmen, the all-Black corps of elite pilots; he completed his training too late to see combat in World War II but became a career Air Force officer and flew missions in Korea and Vietnam. He received degrees in electrical engineering and worked on the Apollo space program.

Shirley (Graves) Kennedy, went back to school after her children had grown and earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in African-American studies and her doctorate in political science. She then taught Black studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

With Mr. Kennedy in the military, the family lived on air bases around the world. The parents were intensely interested in current events and liked to read, and their children adopted the same habits. Royal Rodgers said that while living in Tokyo and having no television there, she and Shawn “devoured” American magazines. Shawn went to Ohio University in Athens but left for Playboy before graduating.

She married Harold Brown, an investment manager, in 1997 and left The Times shortly thereafter. They moved to Sacramento and Washington, D.C., before settling in New Orleans.

“New Orleans was her big second act,” her sister said. Ms. Kennedy and Mr. Brown were already involved in economic development there before Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, and afterward they devoted themselves even more to rebuilding the city. After Mr. Brown died in 2013, Ms. Kennedy continued many of his projects.

One project of which Ms. Kennedy was especially proud was overseeing the conversion of the historic St. Rosa de Lima church into a center for a Waldorf school, a performance space and a business incubator.

In addition to her sister, she is survived by two brothers, Kevin and Colin; a stepson, David Brown; and one step-grandson.

View Source

The Symbol of Bessemer

Bessemer — the Alabama city where Amazon warehouse workers recently voted not to join a union — is named for Henry Bessemer, a British inventor who revolutionized steelmaking. When an Alabama businessman founded the city in 1887, he called it Bessemer in the hope that it would become a steel-industry center.

It did. Using iron ore and the other natural resources in Alabama, Bessemer’s steel mills thrived. They provided jobs that helped many workers build middle-class lives. They were typical of the broad-based American prosperity of the mid-20th century.

Today, those steel jobs are long gone, done in by technology and global competition. Bessemer no longer makes any steel. On the site of a former mill — one owned by U.S. Steel — is the giant Amazon warehouse that has been in the news because of the union vote.

Amazon soundly defeated the union’s organizing effort by emphasizing that it already paid well above the federal minimum wage of $7.25. And that’s true: All of its employees make at least $15 an hour. The message resonated. Relative to other jobs they might find, Amazon workers decided they were already doing pretty well.

that were once available — factory jobs and others that allowed workers to rise up the economic ladder — Amazon jobs don’t look so appealing. Fifteen dollars an hour for a full-time worker translates to about $31,000 a year, less than half of U.S. median family income and low enough in many cases for a family to qualify for subsidized school lunches.

That is not the kind of pay that seems likely to help the country again build a growing, thriving middle class. And Amazon jobs are looking more and more like the future of the U.S. economy.

Amazon is the country’s fastest-growing company by many measures. Its founder and chairman, Jeff Bezos, is the world’s richest man. It employs about 1.3 million people worldwide, up from 750,000 only a year and a half ago. Among American companies, only Walmart has a larger work force.

Alec MacGillis, the author of an excellent new book about Amazon, called “Fulfillment,” points out that Amazon’s warehouse jobs have a lot in common with the industrial jobs of the past. They are among the main options for people who graduate from high school or community college without specific job skills. They are also physically demanding and dangerous.

MacGillis is careful to remind people about the injuries and deaths that came with old factory jobs, and he documents the similar risks that warehouse jobs can bring. Jody Rhoads was a 52-year-old mother and breast cancer survivor in Carlisle, Pa. Her neck was crushed by a steel rack while she was driving a forklift in an Amazon warehouse, killing her. (“We do not believe that the incident was work related,” an Amazon manager reported to the federal government, falsely suggesting her death was from natural causes.)

Spencer Cox, a former Amazon worker who’s now writing a Ph.D. thesis at the University of Minnesota about the company, told my colleague David Streitfeld, “Amazon is reorganizing the very nature of retail work — something that traditionally is physically undemanding and has a large amount of downtime — into something more akin to a factory, which never lets up.”

But for all of the similarities to factory work, Amazon jobs also have crucial differences. They are more isolating, as MacGillis explained to me. Rather than working in teams of people who are creating something, warehouse workers often work alone, interacting mostly with robots. Amazon jobs also pay less than many factory jobs did.

MacGillis tells the story of three generations of Bodani men who worked in the Sparrows Point steel mill, near Baltimore. The youngest, William Bodani Jr., was making $35 an hour in 2002 (about $52 in today’s dollars), along with bonuses. That’s enough for a solid middle-class income.

With the steel mill gone from Sparrows Point, Bodani instead took a job at the Amazon warehouse that occupies the same land. He was in his late 60s at the time and was making a fraction of what he once had.

It would be one thing if this sort of downward mobility were a reflection of the U.S. economy’s overall performance. But it’s not. Economic output is much higher, per person, than it was two decades ago and vastly higher than it was in Bessemer’s 20th century heyday. The bulk of the gains, however, have flowed to a narrow slice of workers — among the upper middle class and especially the affluent.

For many others, an Amazon job looks preferable to the alternatives, even if it is also part of the reason that so many American families are struggling.

the rapper DMX, who died on Friday.

Lives Lived: His famous clients included Marlon Brando, Magic Johnson, Morgan Freeman and Britney Spears. But he chose not to defend O.J. Simpson. Howard Weitzman has died at 81.

performing a song, often next to the singer. The best renditions don’t convey just the lyrics of a song; they convey its emotion.

writes in The Times. Deaf singers prepare by experiencing a song however they can. Mervin Primeaux-O’Bryant, a deaf actor and dancer, tucked a small speaker into his clothes, so that he could feel the vibrations of “Midnight Train to Georgia” while recording an interpretation for a series of American Sign Language covers of seminal songs by Black women.

“Sometimes interpreters don’t show the emotions that are tied to the music,” Primeaux-O’Bryant said. “And deaf people are like, ‘What is that?’”

In the performance, Primeaux-O’Bryant tugged at an invisible whistle to correspond to the woo-woo of the band’s horns. To interpret a drawn-out “oh,” he used movements that gently extended the words, his hands fluttering into his lap.

For more: Watch a clip of Primeaux-O’Bryant’s performance here. And GQ profiled Matt Maxey, who translates Chance the Rapper at his concerts.

Saturday Night Live” reacted to the Derek Chauvin trial. Carey Mulligan hosted.

play online.

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Where grizzlies might beat the heat (three 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. See you tomorrow. — David

P.S. Sixty-six years ago today, a trial showed that Dr. Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine was highly effective. The results received “fanfare and drama far more typical of a Hollywood premiere than a medical meeting,” The Times reported.

You can see today’s print front page here.

Today’s episode of “The Daily” is about Europe’s vaccine rollout. On the Book Review podcast, Blake Bailey discusses his new biography of Philip Roth, and the debate over Roth’s legacy.

Claire Moses, Ian Prasad Philbrick, Tom Wright-Piersanti and Sanam Yar contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at themorning@nytimes.com.

Sign up here to get this newsletter in your inbox.

View Source

José Baselga, Who Advanced Breast Cancer Treatments, Dies at 61

José Baselga was born in Barcelona on July 3, 1959, and earned his medical and doctoral degrees from the Autonomous University of Barcelona. He caught the attention of cancer researchers after participating in a medical fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering, where he worked with Dr. John Mendelsohn in researching the use of monoclonal antibodies in targeting certain proteins associated with aggressive cancers, including lung and breast cancers.

Dr. Larry Norton, a senior vice president at Memorial Sloan Kettering and the medical director of the hospital’s Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center, quickly took an interest in Dr. Baselga and served as an early mentor. “He was an artist,” Dr. Norton recalled, adding that he had “a driving force within him, and he would focus all of his energies on accomplishing what was necessary to fulfill that vision.”

Dr. Baselga returned to Spain in 1996 to found the Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology at Vall d’Hebron University Hospital in Barcelona. Under his leadership, the center became an international powerhouse in cancer research, testing targeted cancer therapies in early-stage clinical trials. Dr. Baselga became a well-known figure in Spain.

“Spain was not known in the world as a cancer research place,” Dr. Antoni Ribas, the president of the American Association for Cancer Research, who did his medical residency at Vall d’Hebron just before Dr. Baselga assumed his role there, said in a phone interview. “He put Vall d’Hebron, Barcelona and Spain on the map of cancer research.”

Following a stint from 2010 to 2013 at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he was the chief of the division of hematology and oncology, Dr. Baselga returned to Memorial Sloan Kettering in 2013 to become physician in chief and, later, chief medical officer.

He also held several leadership roles in the world of cancer research, including president of the American Association for Cancer Research and editor of Cancer Discovery and other medical journals.

Dr. Baselga resigned from Sloan Kettering in September 2018 under pressure after The Times and ProPublica, the nonprofit investigative journalism outfit, reported that he had failed to disclose millions of dollars in payments from drug and health care companies in dozens of research articles in The New England Journal of Medicine and other publications.

View Source

Here Are Five Key Facts About Gun Violence

It’s a dismal ritual of American life: A mass shooting occurs — sometimes more than one, in quick succession. The country mourns the victims. And nothing changes.

I expect the same will happen following the killings in Atlanta and Boulder, Colo. But it is still worth taking a few minutes to lay out the basic facts about gun violence. The key one is simply this: The scale of gun deaths in the United States is not inevitable. The country could reduce the death toll, perhaps substantially, if it chose to.

When gun violence is counted as a single category — spanning homicides, suicides and accidents — it kills about 40,000 Americans a year.

That’s far behind the country’s biggest killers, like heart disease (about 650,000 annual deaths) or Alzheimer’s (about 125,000). But it is broadly comparable to the toll from many well-known causes of death, including an average flu season (35,000), vehicle accidents (39,000), breast cancer (42,000), liver disease (43,000) or pancreatic cancer (45,000).

dismissed calls for restricting gun availability, saying, “There’s not a big appetite among our members to do things that would appear to be addressing it, but actually don’t do anything to fix the problem.”

But there is overwhelming evidence that this country has a unique problem with gun violence, mostly because it has unique gun availability.

Michael Siegel of Boston University’s School of Public Health says.

“The main lesson that comes out of this research is that we know which laws work,” Siegel says. (Nicholas Kristof, the Times columnist, has written a good overview, called “How to Reduce Shootings.”)

one out of every 400 gun deaths was the result of a mass shooting (defined as any attack with at least four deaths). More than half of gun deaths are from suicides, as Margot Sanger-Katz of The Times has noted.

Still, many of the policies that experts say would reduce gun deaths — like requiring gun licenses and background checks — would likely affect both mass shootings and the larger problem.

Yes, an overwhelming majority of Americans support many gun-regulation proposals — like background checks — that congressional Republicans have blocked. And, yes, the campaign donations of the National Rifle Association influence the debate.

But the main reason that members of Congress feel comfortable blocking gun control is that most Americans don’t feel strongly enough about the issue to change their votes because of it. If Americans stopped voting for opponents of gun control, gun-control laws would pass very quickly. This country’s level of gun violence is as high as it is because many Americans have decided that they are OK with it.

Gun control is yet another issue in which the filibuster helps Republican policy priorities and hurts Democratic priorities. On guns (as on climate change, taxes, Medicare access, the minimum wage, immigration and other issues), Republicans are happier with the status quo than Democrats. The filibuster — which requires 60 Senate votes to pass most bills, rather than a straight majority of 51 — protects the status quo.

If Democrats were to change the filibuster, as many favor, it isn’t hard to imagine how a gun-control bill could become law this year. With the filibuster, it is almost impossible to imagine.

a song by Kermit the Frog.

Lives Lived: Jessica McClintock dressed generations of women in calico, lace and beribboned pastiches known as granny dresses. Her clients included Vanna White and a 27-year-old Hillary Rodham for her 1975 wedding to Bill Clinton. McClintock died at 90.

Ian Parker writes in The New Yorker. “The latest streaming-video subscriptions have been sold on the promise of content that is remarkable.” HGTV, as Parker notes, “is low-budget and unassuming.”

Torn Down for What.”

HGTV is now part of the Discovery+ streaming platform, which is tiny compared with Netflix and Disney+. But HGTV’s value also lies in the size of its library, which includes hundreds of episodes of popular shows like “House Hunters” and “Fixer Upper.”

For more: Discovery+ brings a cable-era way of watching TV to streaming.

play online.

today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Frequent flier (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. See you tomorrow. — David

P.S. Priya Krishna, a food writer who previously worked at Bon Appétit, is joining The Times, where she will write and appear on NYT Cooking’s YouTube channel.

You can see today’s print front page here.

Today’s episode of “The Daily” is about the vaccine rollout. On “Sway,” Glennon Doyle discusses misogyny, the power of apologies and more.

Lalena Fisher, Claire Moses, Ian Prasad Philbrick, Tom Wright-Piersanti and Sanam Yar contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at themorning@nytimes.com.

Sign up here to get this newsletter in your inbox.

View Source

Advanced Cancers Are Emerging, Doctors Warn, Citing Pandemic Drop in Screenings

Yvette Lowery usually gets her annual mammogram around March. But last year, just as the pandemic was gaining a foothold and medical facilities were shutting down, the center where she goes canceled her appointment. No one could tell her when to reschedule.

“They just said keep calling back, keep calling back,” said Ms. Lowery, 59, who lives in Rock Hill, S.C.

In August, Ms. Lowery felt a lump under her arm but still couldn’t get an appointment until October.

Eventually, she received a diagnosis of Stage 2 breast cancer, started chemotherapy in November and had a double mastectomy this month.

an analysis of data by the Epic Health Research Network. Hundreds of thousands fewer screenings were performed last year than in 2019, according to the network data.

“We still haven’t caught up,” said Dr. Chris Mast, vice president of clinical informatics for Epic, which develops electronic health records for hospitals and clinics.

Another analysis of Medicare data suggested that as Covid cases spiked during certain periods in 2020, cancer screenings fell. The analysis — conducted by Avalere Health, a consulting firm, for Community Oncology Alliance, which represents independent cancer specialists — found that testing levels in November were about 25 percent lower than in 2019. The number of biopsies, used to diagnose cancer, decreased by about one-third.

While it is too early to assess the full impact of the delays in screenings, many cancer specialists say they are concerned that patients are coming in with more severe disease.

“There’s no question in practice that we are seeing patients with more advanced breast cancer and colorectal cancer,” said Dr. Lucio N. Gordan, the president of the Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, one of the nation’s largest independent oncology groups. He is working on a study to see if, over all, these missed screenings resulted in more patients with later-stage cancers.

And even though the numbers of mammograms and colonoscopies have rebounded in recent months, many people with cancer remain undiagnosed, doctors are reporting.

Some patients, like Ms. Lowery, could not easily get an appointment once clinics reopened because of pent-up demand. Others skipped regular testing or ignored worrisome symptoms because they were afraid of getting infected or after losing their jobs, they couldn’t afford the cost of a test.

“The fear of Covid was more tangible than the fear of missing a screen that detected cancer,” said Dr. Patrick I. Borgen, the chair of surgery at the Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn who also leads its breast center. His hospital treated such large numbers of coronavirus patients early on that “we’re now associated as the Covid hospital,” he said, and healthy people stayed away to avoid contagion.

Even patients at high risk because of their genetic makeup or because they previously had cancer have missed critical screenings. Dr. Ritu Salani, the director of gynecologic oncology at the UCLA Health Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center said one woman, who was at risk for colon cancer, had a negative test in 2019 but didn’t go for her usual screening last year because of the pandemic.

When she went to see her doctor, she had advanced cancer. “It’s just a devastating story,” Dr. Salani said. “Screening tests are really designed when patients aren’t feeling bad.”

Ryan Bellamy felt no hurry last spring to reschedule a canceled colonoscopy, even though the presence of blood in his stool had prompted him to look up symptoms. “I really didn’t want to go to the hospital,” Mr. Bellamy said. He decided it was unlikely he had cancer. “They’re not following up with me so I’m OK with Googling,” he told himself.

A resident of Palm Coast, Fla., Mr. Bellamy said that after his symptoms worsened, his wife insisted that he go for testing in December, and he had a colonoscopy in late January. With a new diagnosis of Stage 3 rectal cancer, Mr. Bellamy, 38, is undergoing radiation treatment and chemotherapy.

Colon screening remained significantly lower in 2020, declining about 15 percent from 2019 levels, according to the Epic network data, although overall screenings were down 6 percent. The analysis looked at screenings for more than 600 hospitals in 41 states.

Lung cancer patients have also delayed seeking appropriate care, said Dr. Michael J. Liptay, chairman of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. One patient had imaging that showed a spot on his lung, and he was supposed to follow up, just as the pandemic hit. “Additional work-up and care was deferred,” Dr. Liptay said. By the time the patient was fully evaluated, the cancer had increased in size. “It wasn’t a good thing to wait 10 months,” Dr. Liptay said, although he was uncertain whether earlier treatment would have changed the patient’s prognosis.

Just as previous economic recessions led people to forgo medical care, the downturn in the economy during the pandemic has also discouraged many people from seeking help or treatment.

“We know cancers are out there,” said Dr. Barbara L. McAneny, the chief executive of New Mexico Oncology Hematology Consultants. Many of her patients are staying away, even if they have insurance, because they cannot afford the deductibles or co-payments. “We’re seeing that, particularly with our poorer folks who are living on the edge anyway, living paycheck to paycheck,” she said.

Some patients ignored their symptoms as long as they could. Last March, Sandy Prieto, a school librarian who lived in Fowler, Calif., had stomach pain. But she refused to go to the doctor because she didn’t want to get Covid. After having a telehealth visit with her primary care doctor, she tried over-the-counter medications, but they didn’t help with the pain and nausea. She continued to decline.

“It got to the point where we didn’t have a choice,” said her husband, Eric, who had repeatedly urged her to go to the doctor. Jaundiced and in severe discomfort, she went to the emergency room at the end of May and was given a diagnosis of Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. She died in September.

“If it wasn’t for Covid and we could have gotten her some place earlier, she would still be with us today,” said her sister, Carolann Meme, who had tried to persuade Ms. Prieto to go to an academic medical center where she might have gotten into a clinical trial.

When patients like Ms. Prieto are not seen in person but treated virtually, doctors may easily miss important symptoms or recommend medication rather than tell them to come in, said Dr. Ravi D. Rao, the oncologist who treated Ms. Prieto. Patients may downplay how sick they feel or neglect to mention the pain in their hip, he said.

“In my mind, telemedicine and cancer don’t travel together,” Dr. Rao said. While he also made use of telemedicine during the height of the pandemic, he says he worked to keep his offices open.

Other doctors defended the use of virtual visits as a critical tool when office visits were too hazardous for most patients and staff. “We were grateful to have a robust telemedicine effort when people simply couldn’t come into the center,” said Dr. Borgen of Maimonides. But he acknowledged that patients were frequently reluctant to discuss their symptoms during a telehealth session, especially a mother whose young children could be listening to what they were saying. “It’s not private,” he noted.

Some health networks say they took aggressive steps to try to counteract the effects of the pandemic. During the initial stay-at-home order last year, Kaiser Permanente, the large California-based managed care outfit, spotted a declining number of breast cancer screenings and diagnoses in the northern part of the state. “Doctors immediately got together” to begin contacting patients, said Dr. Tatjana Kolevska, medical director for the Kaiser Permanente National Cancer Excellence Program.

Kaiser also relies on its electronic health records to make appointments for women who are overdue for their mammograms when they book an appointment with their primary care doctor or even want to get a prescription for new glasses.

While Dr. Kolevska says she is waiting to see data for the system as a whole, she has been encouraged by the number of patients in her practice who are now up to date with their mammograms.

“All of those things put in place have helped tremendously,” she said.

View Source