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Elon Musk, Amber Heard Something's Fishy On Wrapped-Up Sushi Last we heard, Elon Musk and Amber Heard were "not back together" even though they kiss goodbye and dance real close ... sorry, we're not buying that now. Amber and Elon went on a sushi date Monday in WeHo, and looked like the full-blown hand-holding couple that's definitely on again. But that's only because that's exactly what they are -- no matter how many times they try to say they're not reunited. We broke the story ... Elon and Amber started hanging out again this past fall ... after announcing their split in the summer. Since then, they've smooched and gone dancing together. If it looks like a reunited duck, walks like a reunited duck ... TMZ.com
Entertainment
Scientists are developing more than 100 coronavirus vaccines using a range of techniques, some of which are well-established and some of which have never been approved for medical use before. Most of these vaccines target the so-called spike proteins that cover the virus and help it invade human cells. The immune system can develop antibodies that latch onto spike proteins and stop the virus. A successful vaccine for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus would teach peoples immune systems to make antibodies against the virus without causing disease. Whole-Virus Vaccines Vaccines that modify the entire coronavirus to provoke an immune response. Inactivated and Live Attenuated Vaccines Most vaccines in use today incorporate an inactivated or weakened form of a virus that is not able to cause disease. When immune cells encounter them, they make antibodies. Making these vaccines means growing viruses and lots of them. Influenza vaccines are typically grown in chicken eggs, and other vaccines are grown in tanks full of floating cells. These procedures can take months to produce a batch of new vaccines. EXAMPLES: Conventional vaccines for influenza, chickenpox, measles, mumps and rubella all fall into this category. COMPANIES DEVELOPING SARS-COV-2 VACCINES: Sinovac and others. Genetic Vaccines Vaccines that use part of the coronaviruss genetic code. DNA Vaccines A number of experimental coronavirus vaccines dont deliver whole viruses. Instead, they deliver genetic instructions for building a viral protein. The protein can then stimulate the immune system to make antibodies and help mount other defenses against the coronavirus. One of these genetic approaches is known as a DNA vaccine. A circle of engineered DNA is delivered into cells. The cells read the viral gene, make a copy in a molecule called messenger RNA, and then use the mRNA to assemble viral proteins. The immune system detects the proteins and mounts defenses. Prototype DNA vaccines based on the spike protein protected monkeys from the coronavirus. EXAMPLES: DNA vaccines have been approved for veterinary cases such as canine melanoma and West Nile virus in horses. There are no approved DNA vaccines for use in humans, but researchers are running trials to see if they might be effective for diseases such as Zika and the flu. COMPANIES: Inovio and others. RNA Vaccines Some researchers want to skip DNA and instead deliver messenger RNA into cells. The cells read the mRNA and make spike proteins that provoke an immune response. The biotech company Moderna recently completed a small safety trial with eight volunteers that showed promising early results against the coronavirus. Both RNA and DNA vaccines can be produced more quickly than traditional methods. EXAMPLES: There are no approved RNA vaccines, but they are in clinical trials for MERS and other diseases. COMPANIES: Moderna, Pfizer and BioNTech, CureVac and others. Viral Vector Vaccines Vaccines that use a virus to deliver coronavirus genes into cells. Vaccines Using Adenovirus or Other Viruses Viruses are very good at getting into cells. Since the 1990s, researchers have been investigating how to use them to deliver genes into cells to immunize people against diseases. To create a coronavirus vaccine, several teams have added the spike protein gene to a virus called an adenovirus. The adenovirus slips into cells and unloads the gene. Because the adenovirus is missing one of its own genes, it cannot replicate and is therefore safe. EXAMPLES: Several virus vector vaccines are used to vaccinate animals against rabies and distemper. Johnson & Johnson has developed H.I.V. and Ebola vaccines using an adenovirus. Both have proven safe in humans and are now in efficacy trials. COMPANIES: Johnson & Johnson, CanSino, University of Oxford and others. Protein-Based Vaccines Vaccines that use a coronavirus protein or a protein fragment. Virus-Like Particle Vaccines Some vaccines are particles that contain pieces of viral proteins. They cant cause disease because they are not actual viruses, but they can still show the immune system what coronavirus proteins look like. EXAMPLES: The vaccine for HPV falls into this category. COMPANIES: Medicago, Doherty Institute and others. Recombinant Vaccines Yeast or other cells can be engineered to carry a viruss gene and spew out viral proteins, which are then harvested and put into a vaccine. A coronavirus vaccine of this design would contain whole spike proteins or small pieces of the protein. EXAMPLES: This category includes some vaccines for shingles and hepatitis B. COMPANIES: Novavax and others. Sources: World Health Organization, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Center for Biotechnology Information, NEJM
science
Jared Fogle Shut Down By Judge In Bid for Early Release 1/22/2018 Jared Fogle got no love from the judge who sentenced him to 15 years in prison ... ruling his legal arguments were BS. Fogle had filed legal docs he prepared himself in the prison library, claiming Judge Tanya Pratt had no jurisdiction to even hear the criminal case because the sex crime charges required proof he traveled from one state to another to engage in sex acts with minors ... and he says everything was done in 1 state. Judge Pratt begged to differ, repeatedly calling Fogle's argument "frivolous," saying federal law specifically covers his crimes. The judge invited him to appeal to a higher court, but made it clear ... that dog don't hunt.
Entertainment
The agency had come under fire from members of Congress and other groups for allowing dozens of wildly inaccurate tests to proliferate without oversight.Credit...David J. Phillip/Associated PressPublished May 4, 2020Updated May 7, 2020The Food and Drug Administration announced on Monday that companies selling coronavirus antibody tests must submit data proving accuracy within the next 10 days or face removal from the market.The antibody tests are an effort to detect whether a person had been infected with the coronavirus, but results have been widely varied. Since mid-March, the agency has permitted dozens of manufacturers to sell the tests without providing evidence that they are accurate.The F.D.A.s action follows a report by more than 50 scientists, which found that only three out of 14 antibody tests gave consistently reliable results, and even the best had flaws. An evaluation by the National Institutes of Health, working with other federal health agencies, has also found a concerning number of commercial tests that are performing poorly, the F.D.A. said.The agency has also been under fire from several members of Congress, with numerous lawmakers raising questions about the validity of some of the tests.So far, little is known about whether those who became ill will develop immunity and, if so, for how long, and that leaves the value of antibody tests still uncertain. Around the globe, government and health officials have hoped that antibody tests would be a critical tool to help determine when it would be safe to lift stay-at-home restrictions and reopen businesses. The tests might also be used to identify potential donors of convalescent plasma, an approach in which blood plasma containing antibodies from a recovered individual is used to treat a Covid-19 patient, the F.D.A. said.The highly infectious disease has now killed nearly 70,000 people and sickened more than 1.1 million in the United States alone.While 12 companies have been given F.D.A. clearance to sell the antibody tests, many other products do not have agency authorization. The result has been a confusing landscape in which tests by established companies such as Abbott Laboratories, Cellex and most recently, Roche Diagnostics, are competing with unapproved tests made by unknown companies and sold by U.S. distributors with spotty track records. The F.D.A. has blocked imports of some antibody tests at the U.S. border, and has ordered some distributors to revise claims about what individuals can learn from them, or halt sales.House Democrats Raja Krishnamoorthi, of Illinois, and Rosa DeLauro, of Connecticut, have both criticized the agency for its handling of the matter as has Representative Lloyd Doggett, Democrat of Texas.The administrations original serology testing policy, which allowed tests on the market with no F.D.A. review, felt like an overreaction to the criticism they faced for their slow rollout of molecular tests, Mr. Krishnamoorthi said. But F.D.A. went too far, completely abrogating regulatory responsibility.Overseeing development of coronavirus tests has been rocky from the start, with President Trump and others urging the agency to relax rules for commercial tests. Beginning in late February, the agency came under fire for taking too long to allow private companies to get diagnostic tests for the coronavirus onto the market. Now, the F.D.A. faces additional scrutiny for permitting manufacturers to distribute the antibody tests too quickly without proof of efficacy.Every step this agency has taken in response to Covid-19 has been a balance of risk and benefits, said Dr. Stephen Hahn, the F.D.A. commissioner, in a telephone call with reporters on Monday.In a statement on Monday, Dr. Anand Shah, the F.D.A. deputy commissioner for medical and scientific affairs, and Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, director of the Center for Devices and Radiological Health, defended the agencys initial policy, saying the tests were never intended to be used as the sole basis for determining whether anyone had been infected.We unfortunately see unscrupulous actors marketing fraudulent test kits and using the pandemic as an opportunity to take advantage of Americans anxiety, they said in the statement. Some test developers have falsely claimed their serology tests are F.D.A. approved or authorized. Others have falsely claimed that their tests can diagnose Covid-19 or that they are for at-home testing.Dr. Shah and Dr. Shuren also pointed to the N.I.H. evaluation that showed a number of tests producing faulty results. The F.D.A. declined to provide details on the number of tests that were studied, or how many did not work. They also said that the F.D.A. is reviewing more than 200 antibody tests to determine whether they work well enough to get the agencys go-ahead.Scott Becker, the chief executive of the Association of Public Health Laboratories, was pleased by the F.D.A.s announcement, which he said would improve the quality of antibody tests. He also said the crackdown comes six weeks too late.The Food and Drug Administration made the right decision by walking back its policy on serology testing for Covid-19, Mr. Becker said. Weve long been concerned that allowing tests on the market that have not been approved and authorized for use is a recipe for disaster.In addition, as states and cities look for ways to reopen businesses, Dr. Hahn said on Monday: Whether a test should be a ticket for someone to go back to work as the sole item, my opinion on that would be no, because there are a lot of unanswered questions.
Health
Credit...Jim Wilson/The New York TimesJune 30, 2018WASHINGTON On the final day of the Supreme Court term last week, Justice Elena Kagan sounded an alarm.The courts five conservative members, citing the First Amendment, had just dealt public unions a devastating blow. The day before, the same majority had used the First Amendment to reject a California law requiring religiously oriented crisis pregnancy centers to provide women with information about abortion.Conservatives, said Justice Kagan, who is part of the courts four-member liberal wing, were weaponizing the First Amendment.The two decisions were the latest in a stunning run of victories for a conservative agenda that has increasingly been built on the foundation of free speech. Conservative groups, borrowing and building on arguments developed by liberals, have used the First Amendment to justify unlimited campaign spending, discrimination against gay couples and attacks on the regulation of tobacco, pharmaceuticals and guns.The right, which had for years been hostile to and very nervous about a strong First Amendment, has rediscovered it, said Burt Neuborne, a law professor at New York University.The Citizens United campaign finance case, for instance, was decided on free-speech grounds, with the five-justice conservative majority ruling that the First Amendment protects unlimited campaign spending by corporations. The government, the majority said, has no business regulating political speech.The dissenters responded that the First Amendment did not require allowing corporate money to flood the political marketplace and corrupt democracy.The libertarian position has become dominant on the right on First Amendment issues, said Ilya Shapiro, a lawyer with the Cato Institute. It simply means that we should be skeptical of government attempts to regulate speech. That used to be an uncontroversial and nonideological point. Whats now being called the libertarian position on speech was in the 1960s the liberal position on speech.And an increasingly conservative judiciary has been more than a little receptive to this argument. A new analysis prepared for The New York Times found that the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has been far more likely to embrace free-speech arguments concerning conservative speech than liberal speech. That is a sharp break from earlier eras.As a result, liberals who once championed expansive First Amendment rights are now uneasy about them.The left was once not just on board but leading in supporting the broadest First Amendment protections, said Floyd Abrams, a prominent First Amendment lawyer and a supporter of broad free-speech rights. Now the progressive community is at least skeptical and sometimes distraught at the level of First Amendment protection which is being afforded in cases brought by litigants on the right.Many on the left have traded an absolutist commitment to free speech for one sensitive to the harms it can inflict.Take pornography and street protests. Liberals were once largely united in fighting to protect sexually explicit materials from government censorship. Now many on the left see pornography as an assault on womens rights.In 1977, many liberals supported the right of the American Nazi Party to march among Holocaust survivors in Skokie, Ill. Far fewer supported the free-speech rights of the white nationalists who marched last year in Charlottesville, Va.There was a certain navet in how liberals used to approach free speech, said Frederick Schauer, a law professor at the University of Virginia.Because so many free-speech claims of the 1950s and 1960s involved anti-obscenity claims, or civil rights and anti-Vietnam War protests, it was easy for the left to sympathize with the speakers or believe that speech in general was harmless, he said. But the claim that speech was harmless or causally inert was never true, even if it has taken recent events to convince the left of that. The question, then, is why the left ever believed otherwise.Some liberals now say that free speech disproportionately protects the powerful and the status quo.When I was younger, I had more of the standard liberal view of civil liberties, said Louis Michael Seidman, a law professor at Georgetown. And Ive gradually changed my mind about it. What I have come to see is that its a mistake to think of free speech as an effective means to accomplish a more just society.To the contrary, free speech reinforces and amplifies injustice, Catharine A. MacKinnon, a law professor at the University of Michigan, wrote in The Free Speech Century, a collection of essays to be published this year.Once a defense of the powerless, the First Amendment over the last hundred years has mainly become a weapon of the powerful, she wrote. Legally, what was, toward the beginning of the 20th century, a shield for radicals, artists and activists, socialists and pacifists, the excluded and the dispossessed, has become a sword for authoritarians, racists and misogynists, Nazis and Klansmen, pornographers and corporations buying elections.ImageCredit...Jose R. Lopez/The New York TimesChanging InterpretationsIn the great First Amendment cases in the middle of the 20th century, few conservatives spoke up for the protection of political dissenters, including communists and civil rights leaders, comedians using vulgar language on the airwaves or artists exploring sexuality in novels and on film.In 1971, Robert H. Bork, then a prominent conservative law professor and later a federal judge and Supreme Court nominee, wrote that the First Amendment should be interpreted narrowly in a law-review article that remains one of the most-cited of all time.Constitutional protection should be accorded only to speech that is explicitly political, he wrote. There is no basis for judicial intervention to protect any other form of expression, be it scientific, literary or that variety of expression we call obscene or pornographic.But a transformative ruling by the Supreme Court five years later began to change that thinking. The case, a challenge to a state law that banned advertising the prices of prescription drugs, was filed by Public Citizen, a consumer rights group founded by Ralph Nader. The group argued that the law hurt consumers, and helped persuade the court, in Virginia State Board of Pharmacy v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, to protect advertising and other commercial speech.The only dissent in the decision came from Justice William H. Rehnquist, the courts most conservative member.Kathleen M. Sullivan, a former dean of Stanford Law School, wrote that it did not take long for corporations to see the opportunities presented by the decision.While the case was litigated by consumer protection advocates, she wrote in the Harvard Law Review, corporate speakers soon became the principal beneficiaries of subsequent rulings that, for example, struck down restrictions on including alcohol content on beer can labels, limitations on outdoor tobacco advertising near schools and rules governing how compounded drugs may be advertised.That trend has continued, with businesses mounting First Amendment challenges to gun control laws, securities regulations, country-of-origin labels, graphic cigarette warnings and limits on off-label drug marketing.I was a bit queasy about it because I had the sense that we were unleashing something, but nowhere near what happened, Mr. Nader said. It was one of the biggest boomerangs in judicial cases ever.I couldnt be Merlin, he added. We never thought the judiciary would be as conservative or corporate. This was an expansion that was not preordained by doctrine. It was preordained by the political philosophies of judges.Not all of the liberal scholars and lawyers who helped create modern First Amendment law are disappointed. Martin Redish, a law professor at Northwestern University, who wrote a seminal 1971 article proposing First Amendment protection for commercial speech, said he was pleased with the Roberts courts decisions.Its most important contributions are in the commercial speech and corporate speech areas, he said. Its a workmanlike, common sense approach.Liberals also played a key role in creating modern campaign finance law in Buckley v. Valeo, the 1976 decision that struck down limits on political spending by individuals and was the basis for Citizens United, the 2010 decision that did away with similar limits for corporations and unions.One plaintiff was Senator Eugene J. McCarthy, Democrat of Minnesota, who had challenged President Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1968 presidential primaries from the left. Another was the American Civil Liberties Unions New York affiliate.Professor Neuborne, a former A.C.L.U. lawyer, said he now regrets the role he played in winning the case. I signed the brief in Buckley, he said. Im going to spend long amounts of time in purgatory.To Professor Seidman, cases like these were part of what he describes as a right-wing takeover of the First Amendment since the liberal victories in the years Chief Justice Earl Warren led the Supreme Court.With the receding of Warren court liberalism, free-speech law took a sharp right turn, Professor Seidman wrote in a new article to be published in the Columbia Law Review. Instead of providing a shield for the powerless, the First Amendment became a sword used by people at the apex of the American hierarchy of power. Among its victims: proponents of campaign finance reform, opponents of cigarette addiction, the L.B.G.T.Q. community, labor unions, animal rights advocates, environmentalists, targets of hate speech and abortion providers.The title of the article asked, Can Free Speech Be Progressive?The answer, the article said, is no.Shifting RightThe right turn has been even more pronounced under Chief Justice Roberts.The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a larger share of First Amendment cases concerning conservative speech than earlier courts had, according to the study prepared for The Times. And it has ruled in favor of conservative speech at a higher rate than liberal speech as compared to earlier courts.The courts docket reflects something new and distinctive about the Roberts court, according to the study, which was conducted by Lee Epstein, a law professor and political scientist at Washington University in St. Louis; Andrew D. Martin, a political scientist at the University of Michigan and the dean of its College of Literature, Science and the Arts; and Kevin Quinn, a political scientist at the University of Michigan.The Roberts court more than any modern court has trained its sights on speech promoting conservative values, the study found. Only the current court has resolved a higher fraction of disputes challenging the suppression of conservative rather than liberal expression.The court led by Chief Justice Earl Warren from 1953 to 1969 was almost exclusively concerned with cases concerning liberal speech. Of its 60 free-expression cases, only five, or about 8 percent, challenged the suppression of conservative speech.The proportion of challenges to restrictions on conservative speech has steadily increased. It rose to 22 percent in the court led by Chief Justice Warren E. Burger from 1969 to 1986; to 42 percent in the court led by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist from 1986 to 2005; and to 65 percent in the Roberts court.The Roberts court does more than hear a larger proportion of cases concerning conservative expression. It is also far more likely than earlier courts to rule for conservative speech than for liberal speech. The result, the study found, has been a fundamental transformation of the courts free-expression agenda.In past decades, broad coalitions of justices have often been receptive to First Amendment arguments. The court has protected videos of animal cruelty, hateful protests at military funerals, violent video games and lies about military awards, often by lopsided margins.But last weeks two First Amendment blockbusters were decided by 5-to-4 votes, with the conservatives in the majority ruling in favor of conservative plaintiffs.On Tuesday, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the majority that requiring health clinics opposed to abortion to tell women how to obtain the procedure violated the clinics free-speech rights. In dissent, Justice Stephen G. Breyer said that was a misuse of First Amendment principles.Using the First Amendment to strike down economic and social laws that legislatures long would have thought themselves free to enact will, for the American public, obscure, not clarify, the true value of protecting freedom of speech, Justice Breyer wrote.On Wednesday, in announcing the decision on public unions, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said the court was applying settled and neutral First Amendment principles to protect workers from being forced to say things at odds with their beliefs. He suggested that the decision on public unions should have been unanimous.Compelling individuals to mouth support for views they find objectionable violates that cardinal constitutional command, and in most contexts, any such effort would be universally condemned, he wrote. Suppose, for example, that the State of Illinois required all residents to sign a document expressing support for a particular set of positions on controversial public issues say, the platform of one of the major political parties. No one, we trust, would seriously argue that the First Amendment permits this.In response, Justice Kagan said the courts conservatives had found a dangerous tool, turning the First Amendment into a sword. The United States, she said, should brace itself.Speech is everywhere a part of every human activity (employment, health care, securities trading, you name it), she wrote. For that reason, almost all economic and regulatory policy affects or touches speech. So the majoritys road runs long. And at every stop are black-robed rulers overriding citizens choices.
Politics
Before Coming Out, a Hard Time Growing UpVideoMichael Sam, a defensive end at Missouri who will enter the N.F.L. draft, announced Sunday that he was gay. People in his hometown of Hitchcock, Tex., and on his college team voiced their support.CreditCredit...John Francis Peters for The New York TimesFeb. 11, 2014COLUMBIA, Mo. Michael Sam was the loud country boy who wore a tank top and a cowboy hat. He was the smooth-singing baritone who could irritate his coaches and crack up his teammates with his improvised songs.He was one of the best players to come out of tiny Hitchcock, Tex., where his family was well known for all the wrong reasons. He was an all-American and defensive terror on the football field. He was a regular at the gay club, where the bartenders knew him by name.Sam introduced himself to the world Sunday night as a National Football League prospect who happens to be gay. Now he is poised to become a trailblazer in a violent and macho world that will scrutinize his every action and turn his private life into a very public debate.But Sam has never had it easy. He grew up about 40 miles southeast of Houston near Galveston Bay in Texas, the seventh of eight children. Three of his siblings have died and two brothers are in prison. He lived briefly in the back seat of his mothers car, and his relationship with his family remains complicated: When he visits home, he usually stays with friends.Sams life has transformed overnight. His announcement this week prompted a state senator in Missouri to seek legislation to bar discrimination based on sexual orientation. His courage has been hailed by teammates, famous athletes, countless football fans and President Obama and the first lady.But to get a sense of the challenges awaiting Sam, look no further than his father.Last Tuesday, Michael Sam Sr. was at a Dennys near his home outside Dallas to celebrate his birthday when his son sent him a text message.Dad, Im gay, he wrote.The party stopped cold. I couldnt eat no more, so I went to Applebees to have drinks, Sam Sr. said. I dont want my grandkids raised in that kind of environment.Im old school, he added. Im a man-and-a-woman type of guy. As evidence, he pointed out that he had taken an older son to Mexico to lose his virginity.ImageCredit...Scott Dalton for The New York TimesOn Sunday night, just after Michael Sam announced his intention to make sports history, his father was still struggling with the news.Sam Sr. loves his son, and he said he hoped his son made it to the N.F.L. As a black man, we have so many hurdles to cross, he said. This is just one he has to cross.But he expressed discomfort at the very idea of a gay N.F.L. player, even if the player was his son. He grumbled that Deacon Jones, the Hall of Fame defensive end renowned for his toughness, is turning over in his grave.Michael Sam had anticipated his familys uneasiness. In an interview Sunday in North Hollywood, Calif., he spoke about his tough upbringing, which he said was more challenging than the decision to come out publicly.Im closer to my friends than I am to my family, Sam said.He declined to speak beyond the initial interview Sunday.Indeed, Sam had begun telling small groups of his University of Missouri teammates that he was gay two years earlier. In August, he told the whole group, along with the coaching staff. Most of them already knew.If he was not quite public about his sexuality, he certainly was not hiding it. His self-confidence blossomed, along with his game.I think mostly why Mike had such a great season this year is that he could be himself, said LDamian Washington, a wide receiver and close friend. He got that big boulder off his back. Like, finally. I think it was a huge relief. He could be himself and not always be hiding something from everybody.ImageCredit...Scott Dalton for The New York TimesThe Notorious SamsAs a boy growing up in Hitchcock, Michael Sam may not yet have known exactly who he was, but he did know what he needed. He needed to play sports. He needed to be part of a team.Life had hardly been kind to him or his family. Michael Sr. and his mother, JoAnn Sam, were separated after having eight children. He went to North Texas to work as a trucker. She tried to keep what was left of her family together.A sister drowned when she was 2, before Michael was born, when another child accidentally knocked her off a fishing pier. Another brother, Russell, was 15 when he was shot and killed trying to break into a home, in what his father said was part of a gang initiation. Another brother, Julian, has not been heard from since he left for work one day in 1998; his family believes he is dead. Two others are in jail.It was very hard growing up in that environment, Sam said. My family was very notorious in the town that we lived in. Everyone would say, There goes those damn Sams. I didnt want to paint that ill picture of me. I knew the good in my family. They didnt know our background and the adversity we had to endure. I wanted to succeed and be a beacon of hope in my family.If trouble runs deep in the Sam family, so does religion. And it, too, was a source of conflict. JoAnn is a member of the Jehovahs Witnesses, who do not celebrate holidays or believe in most birth control and generally shun participation in organized sports. Michael Sr. comes from a large Baptist family, and his father was a long-serving deacon at a church in nearby Texas City, Tex.But it was Sams desire to play football that caused a rift with his mother she believed that sports distracted from the mission of service. Sam simply saw football as salvation.There were confrontations, Michael said. I love my mother dearly. But I needed sports. I needed sports to make sure I cant get in trouble, to make sure I didnt do anything bad.Efforts to reach JoAnn Sam through her son, friends and at listed phone numbers and addresses failed.ImageCredit...Scott Dalton for The New York TimesNobody in Sams family had attended college, and Sam did not believe he would be the first. But as he coped with a disjointed family and wrestled with his sexuality, one certainty emerged in his life: He needed to get out of Hitchcock. He knew his best chance was through football.A Second HomeHitchcock High School sits on a long, quiet road, between a general store and the First Baptist Church. Freight trains rumble nearby. On fall nights, many of the towns 7,000 residents gather at the stadium to watch their Bulldogs play.It was there that Sam developed a controlled fury that helped him sack quarterbacks and collar running backs. It was there that he found an extended family that includes a prominent banker, an old football coach and a 3-year-old goddaughter named Peighton, who sees him adoringly as a giant.Sam began his football career as a water boy. In junior high school, Craig Smith, the football coach, saw that Sam was athletically blessed and, even better, hungry for guidance and camaraderie. The coaches drafted him to carry equipment and hang around the squad.At the start of high school, Smith put him in the starting lineup on the varsity team. Sam was already so much bigger than his teammates that he stood in the back row of the teams yearbook photograph.Sam was a natural peacemaker, but he was not afraid to use his size when needed. When he saw Robert Dohman, a friend since elementary school, with a busted lip outside a local mall, he waded into a crowd of two dozen and lifted the offender into the air.What do you know about jumping the white boy in the parking lot? Sam shouted, according to Dohman.The crowd scattered.He was trying to protect me, Dohman said.By his sophomore year, Sam played on the offensive and defensive lines. How good was he? Coach Smith did not know: Hitchcock, with only 300 students, was hardly a football powerhouse.ImageCredit...August Kryger for The New York TimesBut Smith had a hint of his potential in Sams senior year when the Bulldogs played Chavez High School, a much bigger school in Houston. It was the teams first game after Hurricane Ike devastated the region and closed the school for several weeks.Chavezs star was an all-American defensive tackle named Michael Brockers, who was bound for Louisiana State University. In 2012, the St. Louis Rams drafted him in the first round. Sam more than kept up with Brockers.We knew right then and there that Michael could really play with anybody, Smith said.Sam found a comfortable place off the field as well, in large part because of Ethan Purl, a classmate and the son of Ron Purl, the president of the local branch of Prosperity Bank.Rons wife, Candy, made sure their house was part recreation center and part counseling hub for their children and their friends. By Sams senior year, he had his own bedroom in the Purls house, along with chores like cleaning the pool and carrying the grocery bags.I look at our house as a kind of safe haven, said Ron Purl, who keeps a photograph of Sam in his Missouri football uniform in his office. He is just another son. If he did something wrong, he got yelled at just like the others did.It was the Purls who drove Sam from Texas to middle Missouri. It seemed like an improbable trip at the time.I didnt even dream of going to college, Sam said. College was not in my definition. If somebody told me I was going to play for the Missouri Tigers in 2009, I would laugh at them.Casual DisclosuresSam may have been big for Hitchcock, but he was small on Missouris defensive line. The coaches did not know what to make of their undersize freshman.ImageCredit...August Kryger for The New York TimesHe was a two-star recruit, said Pat Ivey, an associate athletic director who oversees the strength department. I didnt really see him being an all-American.At first, Sams teammates intimidated him. His affinity for Harry Potter books made him stand out. He was noisy and could not sit still. But he won the group over with improvised songs that ribbed teammates or described their grueling practices.Hes got a motor that never stops, defensive lineman Derrion Thomas said. He is a big personality, and when he started with the songs, you just knew that mind never stopped.The same went for his mouth.He drove me crazy, Coach Gary Pinkel said. He never shut up. I knew when he was in my office talking to the secretary. Id get up and shut the door.Before his senior year, Sam had begun telling those closest to him who he really was. He skipped the dramatic pronouncements in favor of casual disclosures. In a phone call to a high school friend, Tyler Sander, Sam confided that he was having romantic troubles. If Sander had been around more during the Christmas break, Sam said, You would have met him.There was a pause and I was like, Him? Sander said.He was like, Yeah, Im gay.Sander and Sam had a long conversation that night that made them even closer. Now theres nothing to hide, Sander said. We can literally talk to each other about anything.Two years ago during Christmas break, Sam brought home a friend from the swimming team, a man. His second family, the Purls, did not ask any questions. When Sam called Ron Purl later to say that he was gay, Purl assured him that he was perfectly fine with it and already knew.His teammates had similar reactions.I practiced across from him three years, and it was just war, said Elvis Fisher, an offensive lineman and captain of the 2012 Missouri team. You dont set out wanting to know each others life, but you spend so much time with each other you cant help but know them. I knew, and I love the guy.ImageCredit...August Kryger for The New York TimesA Singular SeasonBy last August, Sams sexuality was an open secret here. He had told a professor he was gay and had become a genial presence at the SoCo Club in Columbia, a nightclub and cabaret that hosts regular drag shows, among other events.Marty Newman, SoCos owner and general manager, said Sam was open about who he was: a gay man and a football star. He was happy to talk sports with the bartenders and anyone else.No one felt the need to out him, Newman said. He was respected here and was allowed to be himself.In Sams senior season, Missouri finished 12-2 and won the Cotton Bowl. He made first-team all-American and was voted by his teammates as Missouris most valuable player.On Monday, Pinkel tried to put in words a singular season that began with his noisiest players startling announcement, and ended with dozens of men standing by their teammate in the national spotlight.Pretty cool, was the best he could do.On Saturday night, over Chinese food at the home of his publicist, Howard Bragman, Sam was joined by an exclusive group: the fraternity of publicly gay athletes and their peers who have made a cause of supporting them.Dave Kopay and Wade Davis, who came out as gay after retiring from professional football, and Bill Bean, who did so after retiring from professional baseball, were there, along with Brendon Ayanbadejo and Chris Kluwe, two former N.F.L. players who have been outspoken in their support of gay rights.It was a chance to celebrate Sam on his last night of relative anonymity, but it was also a way to tell him about the world he was diving into.Kopay, a 71-year-old former running back, playfully punched Sam a couple of times to emphasize just how intensely he would have to work. He also reminded Sam that if they had been freshmen together in 1960, Sam, as a black man, would not have been entirely welcome. (Norris Stevenson broke the color barrier for Missouri in 1957.)Well, youre just taking another step forward now, Kopay said.Kluwe told him he would not have many problems with players. Theyre there to play football, he said.The men in charge will pose problems, Kluwe said. Its the general managers and coaches who are going to say its a distraction.Then theres the public at large, the millions of sports fans who will soon see a publicly gay player standing tall on an N.F.L. teams defensive line. It is too early to know how they will react, but perhaps the evolution in Sams own family offers a clue.I believe in a persons destiny, his aunt Geraldine Sam said. If thats the way he is, Im not trying to put my religious beliefs on anyone. I respect people for who they are, not who we want them to be.
Sports
Credit...Laurent Cipriani/Associated PressNov. 20, 2018BRUSSELS Gathered at a glitzy Dubai resort this week for their annual conference, the leaders of Interpol hoped to emerge from the shadow of the controversy that erupted after Beijing snatched the agencys Chinese president and unilaterally announced his resignation.Yet, just weeks later, Interpol appears poised to select as its next president a senior security official from Russia, which has been accused of manipulating the agencys arrest warrants to harass its enemies.American and European officials were lobbying behind the scenes to tip a vote on Wednesday away from the Russian candidate, Aleksandr V. Prokopchuk. The virulently anti-Russian Ukranian government went public, declaring that Mr. Prokopchuks candidacy was part of a Kremlin assault on the international order.For years, the Kremlin has used Interpol to demand the arrest of political enemies who have fled to other countries. This spring, William F. Browder, a critic of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, live-tweeted his arrest in Spain on a warrant issued in Moscow. He was quickly released, but the incident served as a reminder that Interpols vaunted systems remain vulnerable to Kremlin influence even after years of pressure from lawyers and rights groups.Despite its portrayal in spy movies as an omnipotent global police force, Interpol has no powers to investigate crimes or to make arrests. Rather, it serves as a sort of United Nations for police leaders and an information clearinghouse to help the local authorities catch international fugitives. The police can ask Interpol to approve international warrants, known as red notices, requesting the detention of fugitives around the world.For more than a decade, Mr. Prokopchuk has served in a department of the Russian Interior Ministry that has flooded Interpol with such requests. Interpol has repeatedly rejected warrant applications that it sees as fabricated or baldly political. Undeterred, Russia has sought more of a different type of warrant, known as a diffusion, which is circulated by Interpol but is not subject to its review.In a telephone interview, Mr. Browder described Mr. Prokopchuk as a nameless faceless bureaucrat who takes orders directly from the Kremlin.I cant imagine a more inappropriate person than a person who has been the architect of the abuse doled out to me by Russia at Interpol, Mr. Browder said at a news conference in London on Tuesday. This is a perfect way for Putin to basically breathe the fear of God into all of his enemies so they know they cant even escape Russia if one of his guys is at the head of Interpol.As criticism mounted this week, Mr. Putins spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, denounced what he called a particular kind of interference in elections at an international organization, according to the Russian state news agency Ria Novosti.The presidency of Interpol is in many ways a ceremonial position with little power to influence the issuance of warrants. Nevertheless, elevating a Russian in the face of such criticism would be a public relations coup for Mr. Putin. It would also be a setback for international lawyers, who have credited Interpol as taking steps in recent years to tighten administrative controls.If you have an organization where part of the job is to keep the chickens safe, and the head of the organization O.K., he doesnt really do much, but hes a fox? It sends a message, said Michelle Estlund, an American defense lawyer who tracks Interpol and its issuance of red notices. They can say, Dont worry, the fox doesnt really guard the hen house. But hes there.The president is selected by the Interpol General Assembly, which is made up of delegates from its member countries. Each country gets one vote, there is no veto, and the winner must carry two-thirds of the vote. Former colleagues say Mr. Prokopchuk, a current vice president, is regarded as well qualified, and members are encouraged to vote for the individual, not the country.ImageCredit...Valery Sharifulin/TASS, via Getty ImagesMr. Prokopchuk, a university graduate who speaks six languages, does not fit the image that many foreigners and many Russians have of Russian police officers as boorish brutes. He is well spoken, highly educated and has a long record of pushing for closer cooperation between police services in Russia and the West.American and European diplomats are backing Mr. Prokopchuks chief opponent, Kim Jong-yang of South Korea. American officials said they would not discuss their efforts, saying the vote would be carried out in secret.But the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, addressed the Interpol conference this week and took aim at governments that provided safe havens to cybercriminals while trying to game the international warrant system criticisms that the United States has had of Russia for years.We will continue to support legitimate investigations and prosecutions conducted by our Interpol partners, Mr. Rosenstein said. At the same time, we will expose schemes to manipulate the extradition process.Ronald Noble, who served for more than a decade as Interpols executive secretary the agencys senior operational position said that institutional safeguards would prevent any president from politicizing warrants.In terms of the day-to-day operations of Interpol, it will have zero political impact, he said. Since Aleksandr is the only active police officer running for president, his election would prove that delegates were voting for the police professional and not against Russia.But Jago Russell, the chief executive of Fair Trials International, a rights group based in London, argued in a letter to Interpol this week that countries that meddle with the agencys systems should not be rewarded with the presidency.He said that was particularly true after the disappearance last month of Meng Hongwei, whose resignation was announced by Beijing but whose fate has never been explained. Interpol has requested more information from China but has generally declared his disappearance a local matter.It is our belief that his presidency and his recent resignation have unfortunately undermined the organizations reputation, Mr. Russell wrote, referring to Mr. Meng.Mr. Meng, who was also Chinas vice minister of public security, vanished early last month during a visit from France, where Interpol is based. Several days later, the Chinese government produced a brief resignation in his name and said he had been detained on charges of bribery and other crimes. His wife, Grace Meng, has said those charges are politically motivated.China has an opaque, highly politicized legal system one that critics said should have given Interpol pause about making Mr. Meng president to begin with and the government has provided few details about Mr. Mengs whereabouts or the charges against him.But Interpol said it had little choice but to let the Chinese process continue. Jrgen Stock, the agencys secretary general, told The Financial Times that he had asked for more information. But again, on the other hand, we also have to accept that China says there are investigations going on and they are deciding about the next steps, he said.Rutsel Silvestre J. Martha, a former Interpol general counsel who now represents Mr. Mengs family, accused Interpol of rolling over for China in the face of violations of international law. In a telephone interview, Mr. Martha said the organization faced a crucial test that is larger than who wins the presidency, comparing it to Interpols darkest days, when Interpol allowed itself to be co-opted by the Nazis and then refused to help pursue German war criminals after World War II.If the organization allows whats happening in individual countries to impact its governance, then the organization isnt doing what it needs to do, Mr. Martha said. They need to make it a priority to ensure the organization never goes that way again.
World
Fortnites parent company, Epic Games, had broken its contract with Apple, a federal judge found. The case goes to trial next year.Credit...Brian Finke for The New York TimesPublished Oct. 9, 2020Updated Sept. 10, 2021SAN FRANCISCO A federal judge ruled on Friday that Apple did not need to reinstate the popular video game Fortnite in its App Store, in a blow to Fortnites parent company, Epic Games, which is locked in an antitrust battle with the tech giant over its app store fees and rules.Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of the Northern District of California said in her ruling that Apples ban of the game could continue because Epic had violated its contract with Apple. There is significant public interest in requiring companies to adhere to contracts or resolve disputes through the normal course, she wrote.But Judge Gonzales Rogers also said that Apple could not ban Unreal Engine, Epics developer tools, from its platforms because of the potential significant damage to both developers and gamers who rely on the software.The mixed ruling showed the high cost of taking on a tech behemoth like Apple, even for an established company like Epic. The 116 million people who have accessed Fortnite through Apples systems will continue to be kept away while Epic and Apple prepare for a trial in the case, which is scheduled for May.An Epic spokeswoman said the company is grateful that Apple will continue to be barred from retaliating against Unreal Engine and our game development customers. Epic will continue developing for Apples platforms and pursue all avenues to end Apples anti-competitive behavior, she said.An Apple spokesman said the company was grateful that the court recognized that Epics actions were not in the best interests of its own customers and that any problems they may have encountered were of their own making when they breached their agreement. The spokesman added that Apples app store has been an economic miracle that has created transformative business opportunities for developers.Epics battle with Apple comes as the largest tech companies face scrutiny of their power. On Tuesday, House lawmakers said Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google had exercised and abused their monopoly power to stifle competition and harm consumers and recommended that the companies be restructured. European regulators have also opened an investigation into whether Apples app store rules are anticompetitive. And in the coming days, the Justice Department is expected to sue Google over anticompetitive search practices.At the heart of Epics case is Apples and Googles tight grip over smartphone apps in their app stores. Both companies require that developers use their payment systems and pay a 30 percent cut of any money they make in their apps.They think they can just decide arbitrarily what apps can exist, and what fees can be charged, and tax all commerce, Tim Sweeney, Epics chief executive, said in an interview last month. We came gradually to the realization that we had to fight this, not just by words, but also by really broad actions.Epic has said it wants Apple to change its requirements that apps use its payment system and shell out a 30 percent fee. It also wants to operate its own app store within Apples.The companies began fighting in August, when Epic violated Apples and Googles rules by directing Fortnite users to its own payments service. Apple and Google responded by pulling Fortnite from their app stores. Epic then sued both companies, arguing they were breaking antitrust laws.Apple later also cut off its support for Unreal Engine, Epics software development tool that is used by thousands of game makers. Judge Gonzalez Rogers said on Friday that Apple must continue supporting Unreal Engine and could not retaliate against any of Epics other affiliated apps or products.The fight has escalated over the past few weeks. Apple has accused Epic of seeking a special deal for itself, while Epic has accused Apple of cherry-picking out-of-context emails in its legal response.Other companies have used the battle to criticize Apple. Microsoft filed a declaration in support of Epic and has announced a set of developer-friendly principles for its own app store. Facebook has also recently called out Apples 30 percent app fees.Smaller app makers, normally wary of angering the tech giants, have found strength in numbers. In September, more than a dozen of them, including the music streaming service Spotify, the dating service Match Group and the Bluetooth tracking device maker Tile, formed a nonprofit group called Coalition for App Fairness to push for changes to the app stores.In a hearing last month, Apple said it was willing to reinstate Fortnite to its app store before a trial if Epic would return to complying with its rules. Judge Gonzalez Rogers proposed an arrangement that would put Apples fees from Fortnite in an escrow account until after the trial. But Epic refused, arguing that doing so would be complying with a contract it views as unlawful.I didnt buy that argument before, Judge Gonzalez Rogers said in the hearing. Im not particularly impressed with it now.
Tech
Lil Pump Attention Record Companies ... $15 Mil or Take a Hike 1/27/2018 TMZ.com Lil Pump is super hot these days and he knows it ... because he ain't signing no recording contract for anything less than $15 mil. We got Pump leaving Avianne and Co. Jewelers Friday night in the Big Apple, where he says he dropped a quarter mil on bling. The 17-year-old rapper reportedly got out of his deal with Warner Bros. Records because it was never certified by a court ... something that's required when minors are involved. Pump's been getting offers, which makes sense. He's got several hit songs, including "Gucci Gang." He better sign a new deal fast ... he says he just bought a Rolls-Royce and is spending like crazy. Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.
Entertainment
The InterpreterCredit...Jean-Paul Pelissier/ReutersMarch 6, 2017BERLIN An idea, once unthinkable, is gaining attention in European policy circles: a European Union nuclear weapons program.Under such a plan, Frances arsenal would be repurposed to protect the rest of Europe and would be put under a common European command, funding plan, defense doctrine, or some combination of the three. It would be enacted only if the Continent could no longer count on American protection.Though no new countries would join the nuclear club under this scheme, it would amount to an unprecedented escalation in Europes collective military power and a drastic break with American leadership.Analysts say that the talk, even if it never translates into action, demonstrates the growing sense in Europe that drastic steps may be necessary to protect the postwar order in the era of a Trump presidency, a resurgent Russia and the possibility of an alignment between the two.Even proponents, who remain a minority, acknowledge enormous hurdles. But discussion of a so-called Eurodeterrent has entered the mainstream particularly in Germany, a country that would be central to any plan but where antinuclear sentiment is widespread.Jana Puglierin of the German Council on Foreign Relations said that a handful of senior European officials had for sure triggered a public debate about this, taking place in newspapers and journals, radio interviews and TV documentaries.She added: That in itself is remarkable. I am indeed very astonished that we discuss this at all.A Nuclear Plan BJaroslaw Kaczynski, Polands former prime minister and now the head of its ruling party, provided the highest-level call for a European Union nuclear program in a February interview with a German newspaper.But the most important support has come from Roderich Kiesewetter, a lawmaker and foreign policy spokesman with Germanys ruling party, who gave the nuclear option increased credibility by raising it shortly after President Trumps election.In an interview in the German Bundestag, Mr. Kiesewetter, a former colonel who served in Afghanistan, calibrated his language carefully, providing just enough detail to demonstrate the options seriousness without offering too much and risking an outcry from German voters or encouraging the American withdrawal he is hoping to avoid.My idea is to build on the existing weapons in Great Britain and France, he said, but acknowledged that Britains decision to leave the European Union could preclude its participation.The United States bases dozens of nuclear warheads in Germany, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands as both a quick-reaction force and a symbol of its guarantee to protect the Continent. Mr. Kiesewetter said his plan would provide a replacement or parallel program.This would require, he said, four ingredients: a French pledge to commit its weapons to a common European defense, German financing to demonstrate the programs collective nature, a joint command and a plan to place French warheads in other European countries.The number of warheads in Europe would not increase under this plan, and could even decrease if the United States withdraws.Its not a question of numbers, Mr. Kiesewetter said. The reassurance and deterrence comes from the existence of the weapons and their deployability.He envisioned a program designed to deter nuclear as well as conventional threats a clear nod to Russias military superiority.This would require a doctrine, he said, allowing Europe to introduce nuclear weapons to a non-nuclear conflict. He compared it to the Israeli program, which is believed to allow for a nuclear strike against an overwhelming conventional attack.These are political weapons. Their use must be unpredictable, he said. Smaller nuclear powers often maintain vague doctrines to deter more powerful adversaries.The goal, he said, would be to maintain Europes defense, seen as crucial for its internal unity, as well as its international diplomatic standing.German lawmakers across the political spectrum worry that Mr. Trump could strike a grand bargain with Russia that excludes Europe, a potential first step toward Washington and Moscow dictating Europes future. Mr. Kiesewetter believes a European nuclear program would allow Europe to preserve its autonomy.A Political MinefieldMostly, Mr. Kiesewetter said he hoped to spur Mr. Trump to end doubts over American security commitments to Europe, rendering unnecessary the nuclear Plan B.For now, Mr. Kiesewetters intention is merely to trigger a debate over addressing this silent, gigantic problem.It has worked. A small but growing contingent of German analysts and commentators have endorsed versions of a European nuclear program.Mr. Kiesewetter said he had heard interest from officials in the Polish and Hungarian governments, at NATO headquarters in Brussels and within relevant German ministries, though he would not say which.But any European nuclear program would face enormous hurdles.The public is totally opposed, Ms. Puglierin said, referring to German antinuclear sentiment, which has at times culminated in nationwide protests against the weapons.In practical terms, the plan would change the flag on Europes nuclear deterrent from that of the United States to that of France. But this would risk making an American exit from Europe more permanent.Oliver Thrnert, a German analyst with the Switzerland-based Center for Security Studies, warned in a white paper that any plan would not only be expensive, but also a political minefield full of undesirable potential political consequences.The biggest challenge may be who controls the French arsenal and where it is based.The United States currently shares warheads with allies like Germany, whose militaries are equipped to deliver the weapons, granting the program credibility as a Pan-European defense.But France has shown no willingness to share its weapons, much less put them under a joint European command. If Paris maintains final say over their use, this might cause an adversary to doubt whether France would really initiate a nuclear conflict to protect, say, Estonia.France and a Special ResponsibilityThese sorts of problems are why Bruno Tertrais of the Foundation for Strategic Research in Paris said, In other times I would have told you dont bother, theres no story here.Similar proposals have been floated before, including by the French government, and always rejected as politically risky and strategically unnecessary. But, he said, that calculus appears to have a potential to change with Mr. Trump.Theres already a bit more interest in Berlin and in Paris, Mr. Tertrais said, though he emphasized that this talk would become action only if there were a serious loss of trust in the U.S. umbrella.But a joint European command or funding scheme would most likely be impossible, he warned. The French government would insist on maintaining the final decision to use nuclear weapons.That is also United States policy in Europe, which is why Mr. Tertrais believes a more workable plan would be for France to reproduce American-style practices of basing its warheads abroad, while keeping them under French control.While most French warheads are lodged on submarines, a few dozen are fitted to air-launched cruise missiles that could be housed in, for example, German airfields. These are smaller, shorter-range tactical weapons exactly the American capability that Europe most fears losing.French policy already allows for, though does not require, using nuclear weapons in defense of an ally.With Britains exit from the European Union, the French might feel they have a special responsibility as Europes sole nuclear power.Vipin Narang, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who studies regional nuclear powers, was initially skeptical but came to see such a plan as both technically and politically feasible.For France, he said, it extends their frontier, making it likelier that a nuclear conflict would be fought far from French soil. For Germany and other European states, it would increase the credibility of the forward deployment against Russian aggression.An Insurance PolicySome observers believe that official shows of support are intended only to pressure Mr. Trump into maintaining the status quo, which Mr. Kiesewetter emphasized is his preferred outcome.But Mr. Narang said that, regardless of intentions, there is a blurry line between mere signaling and actually pursuing a fallback nuclear option.Nuclear scholars call this insurance hedging, in which a protectee comes to doubt its protector and responds by taking steps toward, but not actually completing, its own nuclear program. This is meant to goad the protector into staying, and to prepare in case it doesnt.Japan, for instance, has quietly developed latent capabilities that are sometimes figuratively described as a screwdrivers turn away from a bomb.Because Europes primary challenges are political rather than technical France already possesses the warheads sparking public discussion and exploring options makes those challenges more surmountable and the option more real.In order for it to be credible there has to be some sort of workable option, Mr. Narang said.I Never Thought We Would See This AgainMr. Kiesewetter hopes the United States will come around. He puts particular faith in Jim Mattis, the defense secretary, whom he met in Afghanistan and Brussels while both were military officers.But Mr. Mattis has echoed Mr. Trumps warnings that the United States could lessen its support for Europe, saying in a recent speech in Brussels, I owe it to you to give you clarity on the political reality in the United States.If Europeans grew more serious about a nuclear program, Mr. Tertrais said, you would not necessarily see it. Negotiations would most likely remain secret for fear of giving Mr. Trump an excuse to withdraw or of triggering a reaction from Russia.Mr. Narang said he was reeling from the seriousness of the discussion, the first since a failed and now-forgotten effort in the 1950s for French-German-Italian nuclear cooperation.I never thought we would see this again. I never thought there would actually be this concern, he said. But, he added, You can see where the debate is surfacing from. There is a logic to it.
World
Credit...Oded Balilty/Associated PressMarch 13, 2017JERUSALEM Jason D. Greenblatt, President Trumps special representative for international negotiations, flew to Israel on Monday and met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as part of an early diplomatic foray aimed at breaking the impasse in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.Mr. Greenblatts visit, during which he will also meet with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank, was in many respects a decidedly unconventional mission because he has no diplomatic experience.He also represents an administration that has upended some initial assumptions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian peace process after years of paralysis and frustration.As he made his way to Israel, Mr. Greenblatt, an Orthodox Jew who was Mr. Trumps real estate lawyer before being appointed as an adviser on Israel during the campaign, wrote on his Twitter account: Time for morning prayer (shacharit) at unexpected stop in Frankfurt. Pray for peace.In a photo op at the start of their meeting, Mr. Netanyahu greeted Mr. Greenblatt warmly, addressing him as Jason, and said, I hope we can do some good things together. Mr. Greenblatt replied, I think we are going to do great things together. Once seated, he thanked Mr. Netanyahu for reorganizing his schedule, throwing in a todah, Hebrew for thank you.Mr. Greenblatts visit followed the first telephone call from Mr. Trump to Mr. Abbas on Friday, in which he invited Mr. Abbas to the White House.After his meeting with Mr. Netanyahu, Mr. Greenblatt was scheduled to meet Mr. Abbas on Tuesday at his headquarters in the West Bank city Ramallah.On the Israeli side, much about Mr. Greenblatts visit was confidential. Mr. Netanyahus aides did not immediately respond even to basic questions about his schedule.Israeli officials have confirmed that since Mr. Netanyahus visit to Washington last month, Mr. Greenblatt has been trying to formulate understandings on the contours of future Israeli settlement construction in the occupied West Bank. The issue of continued settlement building enrages the Palestinians and became a constant source of tension between the Israeli government and the Obama administration.Israeli analysts said that Mr. Greenblatts talks with Mr. Netanyahu were likely to focus on this more modest issue than on any concrete grand plan to restart Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.Israels strong pro-settler constituency has cheered Mr. Trumps ascendance, seeing him as an ally. But after Mr. Netanyahu announced thousands of new homes in the West Bank, Mr. Trump asked him to delay new construction, saying it would not help peace efforts.ImageCredit...Evan Agostini/Invision, via Associated PressMr. Netanyahu, a conservative, already finds himself in a bind, having pledged to build an entirely new settlement in the West Bank the first in decades to appease the settlers after the recent, court-ordered removal of an illegal outpost.Emboldened by Mr. Trumps victory, the Israeli right has been asserting itself. On Sunday night, barely a week after the Israeli Parliament passed a contentious law barring foreign activists who call for a boycott of Israel or its settlements, the Israeli authorities prevented Hugh Lanning, the chairman of the Britain-based Palestine Solidarity Campaign, from entering the country.But some Israeli commentators surmise that when it comes to the peace process, the right may be in for an unpleasant surprise. From a messiah elected by divine miracle to deliver Israel from the injustices perpetrated by his predecessor, Trump could turn out to be the Israeli right wings worst nightmare, Chemi Shalev, a columnist, wrote on Monday in the liberal Haaretz newspaper.There was some consternation on the Palestinian side when, during Mr. Netanyahus visit to Washington, Mr. Trump discarded two decades of American support for the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, saying he would go along with any form of an agreement that made the Israelis and the Palestinians happy.But Palestinian officials said that Mr. Trump seemed serious about reaching a peace deal in his conversation with Mr. Abbas and reaffirmed Mr. Abbass status and that of his Palestine Liberation Organization as partners for any negotiation.We knew that the Israelis tried to exclude the Palestinian side, saying that the leadership does not represent the Palestinian people anymore, Hanan Ashrawi, a senior P.L.O. official, told the Voice of Palestine Radio on Monday. Mr. Greenblatts visit, she said, was all about exploring the two sides positions in order to find a path back to talks.For some here, the American envoys lack of any diplomatic experience makes his mission all the more intriguing.Noting that there was a long list of American mediators dating to the 1940s who failed to achieve peace, Michael Oren, a deputy minister for diplomacy in the prime ministers office, told Israel Radio, A background of policy-making in this matter is not necessarily a promise for success.Mr. Trump seemed to have tapped Mr. Greenblatt as an Israel adviser almost spontaneously when Mr. Greenblatt was called in to help answer questions as Mr. Trump briefed reporters from the Jewish news media during the campaign.A father of six from Teaneck, N.J., Mr. Greenblatt spent a year after high school in the 1980s studying at the Har Etzion Yeshiva in a West Bank settlement south of Jerusalem. In an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency during the campaign, he said he had not met any Palestinians since his stay at the yeshiva, where he had some interactions with Palestinian laborers, gardeners and shopkeepers.He also said that his main sources of information on Israel were daily email alerts, American Israel Public Affairs Committee materials and a weekly Jewish radio program featuring Malcolm Hoenlein, a Jewish communal leader, in addition to conversations with some people involved in the Israeli government. He, his wife and children also contributed to a family travel guide to Israel.Mr. Greenblatt wrote a post in October on Medium.com berating the Palestinian Authority leadership for showing what he described as contempt for its Jewish neighbors after Palestinian security forces detained four Palestinian civilians who had met with settlers during the Jewish Sukkot holiday.Yet in an appreciation after the death in September of Shimon Peres, Israels elder statesman who had become most identified with the pursuit of peace and the two-state solution, Mr. Greenblatt praised Mr. Abbas for his gesture of attending Mr. Peress funeral, despite the criticism Mr. Abbas faced from some of his own constituents.
World
Credit Photo Illustration by Getty Images Divorce can be a moment of liberation, or of devastation. In some countries, a rising divorce rate can be interpreted as a sign of women gaining control over their finances and future. In others, a woman who chooses to leave a bad marriage risks economic ruin, or even the loss of her children. Not all women even have this choice. In some communities and parts of the world, women lack any say in the decision to end their marriage. No matter where one lives, divorce is a deeply personal decision. But it is also one that plays out in public and has profound social and political implications. Wed like to hear from women around the world who have grappled with the decision to divorce or stay in an unhappy marriage, or whose spouse chose to initiate a divorce. What factors went into your decision, and what have been the repercussions? We may publish a selection of the responses. Sorry, but this form is no longer accepting submissions. More on NYTimes.com
World
Credit...Craig Sherod/AcelRx Pharmaceuticals, via Associated PressNov. 2, 2018WASHINGTON The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved a new form of an extremely potent opioid to manage acute pain in adults, weeks after the chairman of the advisory committee that reviewed it asked the agency to reject it on grounds that it would likely be abused.The drug, Dsuvia, is a tablet form of sufentanil, a synthetic opioid that has been used intravenously and in epidurals since the 1980s. It is 10 times stronger than fentanyl, a parent drug that is often used in hospitals but is also produced illegally in forms that have caused tens of thousands of overdose deaths in recent years.Although the F.D.A. advisory committee charged with evaluating the new formulation ultimately recommended in a 10-3 vote last month that the agency approve it, the panels chairman, Dr. Raeford Brown, wrote a letter to top F.D.A. officials afterward expressing deep concern.In the letter, which he wrote with leaders of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, Dr. Brown, an anesthesiology professor at the University of Kentucky, described Dsuvia, made by AcelRx Pharmaceuticals, as an extremely divertible drug, adding, I predict that we will encounter diversion, abuse and death within the early months of its availability on the market.After the final approval on Friday, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the F.D.A. commissioner, released a lengthy statement defending the agencys decision. He emphasized that Dsuvia is delivered through a pre-filled, single-dose applicator, and said that its only permitted use will be in hospitals, surgical centers and other medically supervised settings. It is ideally suited for certain special circumstances, he said, particularly for soldiers wounded on the battlefield who might not have access to intravenous painkillers.Dr. Gottlieb wrote that Dsuvia will not be dispensed to patients for home use or available at retail pharmacies, and that it should only be administered by health care providers with the single-dose applicators. It will likely hit the market early next year.These measures to restrict the use of this product only within a supervised health care setting, and not for home use, are important steps to help prevent misuse and abuse, he wrote.He also pointed to the agencys new powers to require post-market studies evaluating the efficacy of opioid medications that the F.D.A. might be having second thoughts about, and to consider abuse risk as a factor in making regulatory decisions about drugs after, as well as before, theyre on the market. Last year, the F.D.A. asked the maker of Opana ER, another super-potent opioid, to take it off the market because of concerns about abuse.Vince Angotti, the chief executive of AcelRx, said in a statement that the company would diligently follow a safety program, known as a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy, that the F.D.A. had approved for Dsuvia, including monitoring distribution of the drug and auditing wholesalers data; evaluating whether hospitals and other health care providers are using the drug properly; and monitoring for any diversion or abuse.The divisions over the new drugs approval comes after opioid overdose deaths surged to more than 40,000 last year, including more than 30,000 from fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. States and the federal governments have cracked down on the prescribing of opioids, and many chronic pain patients have complained about being undertreated or losing access to opioids entirely.Dr. Brown, who heads the advisory committee on analgesics and anesthetic drug products, was not present for the committee vote last month. But in the letter he wrote afterward, he described trying to resuscitate doctors, medical students and other health care providers some successfully who had overdosed on the IV form of sufentanil at the medical center where he worksIt is so potent that abusers of this intravenous formulation often die when they inject the first dose, he wrote.Dr. Brown also questioned whether the F.D.A. would succeed in enforcing regulations once dangerous drugs hit the market.It is my observation that once the F.D.A. approves an opioid compound, he wrote, there are no safeguards as to the population that will be exposed, the post-marketing analysis of prescribing behavior, or the ongoing analysis of the risks of the drug to the general population.Critics of the approval include four Democratic senators Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.In a letter to Dr. Gottlieb on Tuesday, they questioned why Dr. Browns committee went ahead and recommended approval on Oct. 12 without him present. They also asked why a different F.D.A. advisory group, the Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee, had not been involved.An F.D.A. spokeswoman said that while the issue was not brought formally in front of the drug safety committee, there were drug safety and risk experts on the committee whose expert input was taken very seriously throughout this process.
Health
Pablo Escobar's GF Sues Netflix Show Stole My 'Loving' Story 1/25/2018 Pablo Escobar's girlfriend is suing a production company for a Netflix show, claiming it's based on her memoir about her love life with the drug kingpin. Virginia Vallejo just filed suit against Caracol American Productions over the series, "Pablo Escobar: El Patron del Mal" -- alleging producers for the show stole specific stories from her 2007 memoir, "Amando a Pablo, Odiando a Escobar." That's "Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar" ... for the gringos. In the docs, obtained by TMZ, Vallejo -- a former journalist -- says she was in negotiations with Caracol, but they never struck a deal to use her work. According to the suit, Caracol went ahead and lifted scenes and narratives from her book. For instance, she says the scene of her getting an excessive amount of flowers from Pablo is a direct rip from her book. She also says they changed her name in the show, but it's not clever. As she points out ... Regina Parejo blatantly rhymes with Virginia Vallejo. We've reached out to Caracol for comment.
Entertainment
Credit...Ramin Rahimian for The New York TimesDec. 13, 2015Since it began 10 years ago, Pandora Media has become one of the most popular digital music services in the world, with around 80 million regular users. But it has never had a profitable year, its user growth has slowed and lately Wall Street has become impatient.Now Pandora is steeling itself for a legal decision that may have huge consequences for its business and for the evolving economics of digital music.The Copyright Royalty Board, made up of three federal judges in Washington, is set to rule by Tuesday on the royalty rates that webcasters like Pandora will pay record companies for the next five years. These royalties are Pandoras single biggest expense they amounted to 44 percent of the companys revenue last year as well as its biggest hurdle to profitability.The core problem of Pandora is that under the existing rate structure theyre not making any money, said Alice Enders, a media analyst with the firm Enders Analysis.Michael S. Herring, Pandoras chief financial officer, said in an interview last week that the company expected the judges to come out with a rate that is reasonable, that is in the ballpark of about what Pandora is paying today.The copyright judges have given no clear signals of how they might rule, but analysts expect that their decision might well add to Pandoras burden. Pandora wants its rate lowered, but those representing the music industry are asking for a significant increase.Anything other than the status quo is going to be dreadful for Pandora, because it means that the challenge for monetizing content is going to be that much higher, Ms. Enders said.On-demand services like Spotify, which let people choose exactly which songs to hear, must negotiate directly with the music industry to license the music they play. But Internet radio companies like Pandora which let people listen to stations tailored to their tastes, but do not let them pick specific songs often use a statutory licensing system under federal copyright law, with rates set by the copyright board.Pandoras current rate, 14 cents for every 100 songs, has been a proven rate structure both for healthy royalty payments, Mr. Herring said, and so that distribution arms like Pandora are able to function and be successful businesses.This system has let Pandora develop at arms length from the music industry. But the uncertainty around the rate litigation has long depressed its stock, and years of lobbying and behind-the-scenes battles over the laws and rate-setting procedures have also led to lingering ill will between Pandora and the music world.Recently, however, Pandora has taken steps to become less dependent on the statutory licensing system, and repair its conflicts with the music industry.Pandora was very aggressive in pushing back on what many on the label side saw as fair compensation, said Robert A. Jacobs, an entertainment lawyer at the firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips in Los Angeles who is not involved in the copyright board litigation. Over time, Pandora has recognized that they may get more by simply being cooperative.In October, Pandora paid $450 million for the online ticketing system Ticketfly, and last month it made a deal to pay $75 million for the assets of Rdio, a struggling competitor to Spotify. The company also recently agreed to pay $90 million to settle a long-running royalties dispute over recordings made before 1972, and has begun to strike direct deals with music publishers, which represent songwriting rights. (Pandoras songwriting royalties are not decided by the copyright board.)In announcing the Rdio deal, Pandora executives said they would begin making more extensive licensing deals with record companies, signaling that the company would soon begin to compete directly with Spotify and expand around the world. Largely because of its current licensing system, Pandora now operates only in the United States, Australia and New Zealand.We seek to be the definitive source for music enjoyment and discovery globally, Brian P. McAndrews, Pandoras chief executive, told investors last month.These deals, along with new efforts to promote artists and share data, have been seen as part of a strategy by Mr. McAndrews to mend fences with the music industry. Mr. McAndrews, the chief executive since late 2013, is also a director of The New York Times Company.Yet as eager as Pandora has been to strike new deals, it has also been engaged in intense litigation since early 2014 as part of the copyright board proceedings. SoundExchange, a nonprofit licensing agency that is representing the music industry, has asked the board to raise the rate that Pandora and similar webcasters pay record labels by almost 80 percent, to 25 cents per 100 plays, while Pandora wants it lowered to 11 cents.Both sides have filed mountains of contentious, heavily redacted documents. In one filing, Pandora mocked SoundExchanges arguments as a quest to reach a promised rate-land.The rates paid by services like Pandora have become a focal point for musicians who believe they are not being compensated fairly for their work, and the record labels argue in their filings that higher rates are necessary to cover their production and marketing costs for new music.The rates we proposed reflect what would happen in a true free market, which is what artists deserve under both the law and as a matter of fairness, Michael Huppe, the chief executive of SoundExchange, said in a statement.Pandoras current rate is already low, the labels argue. In 2007, the copyright board set webcasting rates that Pandora then a struggling start-up said were so high that they would have been ruinous. After a high-profile publicity campaign by Pandora, Congress authorized settlement talks to set temporary rates, and the payment structure for pure play webcasters, which includes Pandora, was set in 2009.In filings with the copyright board, Mr. Herring has argued that if Pandora had not gotten lower rates through that settlement, the company almost certainly would have been forced out of business years ago.But Pandora has been publicly traded since 2011, and is now a major force in digital music. Many analysts, as well as both technology and music executives, doubt that Pandora will receive another rate discount, whether from the copyright board or through another settlement. If Pandora or the other parties involved in the case are displeased with the boards decision, they can appeal it.For Wall Street, Pandoras flurry of recent deals may indeed help it survive an unfavorable ruling, and an expansion around the world could vastly increase the companys audience and advertising base. But its immediate costs may still increase, further depressing its stock, which is down about 29 percent this year.Richard Tullo, an analyst at Albert Fried & Company, said that he expected Pandoras operating expenses, including music costs, to increase almost 13 percent next year to $1.42 billion, from what Mr. Tullo estimates as $1.26 billion in 2015.Pandoras move into direct deals, Mr. Tullo said, is an indication that theyd rather negotiate a price today than negotiate a price tomorrow, when those rates may be higher.And if Pandora gets its way with a lower rate?Then, Mr. Tullo said, the stock explodes.
Business
Credit...Angela Weiss/Agence France-Presse Getty ImagesNov. 22, 2018Europes leaders need to send a much stronger message that they will no longer offer refuge and support to migrants if they want to curb the right-wing populism spreading across the Continent, Hillary Clinton warned in an interview published Thursday.Mrs. Clinton said that while the decision of some nations to welcome migrants was admirable, it had opened the door to political turmoil, the rise of the right and Britains decision to withdraw from the European Union.I think Europe needs to get a handle on migration because that is what lit the flame, Mrs. Clinton said in the interview with The Guardian, which was conducted before the United States midterm elections this month.I admire the very generous and compassionate approaches that were taken particularly by leaders like Angela Merkel, but I think it is fair to say Europe has done its part, and must send a very clear message we are not going to be able to continue provide refuge and support because if we dont deal with the migration issue it will continue to roil the body politic, she said.The issue of migration has been a divisive one worldwide, and especially so in Europe, in the wake of an influx of refugees and migrants that, in 2015 alone, drew one million people to the continent. Since then, its leaders have cut unauthorized migration to Europe by 90 percent, largely through the kinds of deterrents Mrs. Clinton belatedly recommended.In the United States, President Trump has mobilized his base of supporters by focusing on what he calls the perils of immigration. He spoke frequently before the midterm elections about a caravan of immigrants traveling north toward the countrys southern border. Democrats agreed on a strategy of mostly ignoring that issue, but the party is divided on how best to grapple with immigration in general.Mrs. Clintons remarks to The Guardian drew criticism and a dose of surprise from an array of scholars, pro-immigration advocates and pundits on both the left and right, some of whom were so perplexed by the comments that they wondered aloud whether Mrs. Clinton had perhaps misspoken. Mrs. Clinton, many said, has a long history of supporting refugees a track record seemingly at odds with her recent remarks. Her immigration platform in the 2016 presidential election boasted that we embrace immigrants, not denigrate them.A spokesman for Mrs. Clinton did not immediately reply to an email seeking comment on Thursday night.I was kind of shocked, Eskinder Negash, the president and chief executive of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, said of Mrs. Clintons comments. If shes simply saying you need to cut down on refugees coming to Europe to ask for asylum because they have a well-founded fear of persecution, just to appease some right-wing political leaders, its just not the right thing to do.Tanja Bueltmann, a history professor at Northumbria University in Britain who focuses on migration issues, said Mrs. Clintons perspective was tragically misjudged.Ultimately, immigration is not actually the problem that inflamed voters: Much more foundational issues, such as austerity, are the real reason, Professor Bueltmann said. Immigrants and refugees are simply the scapegoats populists have chosen to use to drive forward their ideas.Mrs. Clintons comments came against a complicated backdrop in Europe. Far-right parties have seized on the immigration issue and gained a foothold in parliaments and governments across the continent, while centrist leaders in a number of countries have undertaken largely successful efforts since 2016 to drastically lower the number of unauthorized immigrants now reaching their borders.Anti-immigration candidates have risen to power in Italy and Austria, and they have gained seats in countries like Germany. The open migration policies of Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany since 2005, ended up causing turmoil within her government and contributed to major electoral setbacks. She recently announced that she would step down as the leader of her conservative party in December and not seek re-election in 2021.To liberals in Europe, Mrs. Clintons advice may have seemed belated as the continent continues its conservative tilt; but it was right on time for the rising populists, who seized on her remarks as they seek to revive a fading and highly effective issue.Maybe Hillary has understood the lesson, said Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the far-right Brothers of Italy party, which has advocated an Italians First platform and a hard line against migrants entering their country.Ms. Meloni, who recently hosted Stephen K. Bannon President Trumps former chief strategist as a keynote speaker at her partys annual conference in Rome, added that Mrs. Clinton appeared to acknowledge that opposition to migration was not a problem of racism, and that if you dont control migration it will affect mostly poor people, people living on the outskirts, working classes.The left didnt understand that, or didnt want to, and they paid for their distance from the people, she said.At the same time, centrist leaders have worked to make the continent less hospitable to unauthorized migrants; the number of new arrivals there has dropped to a fraction of what it was.For instance, Ms. Merkel, the center-right German leader, and Frans Timmermanns, the center-left former Dutch foreign minister, led efforts to forge a counter-migration pact with Turkey in March 2016, promising the country billions of euros in aid for their help in stemming the migrant flow from Syria. Italy reached a similar deal with Libya. The deal was criticized by liberals, leftists and rights activists but afterward unauthorized migration to Europe plummeted by 90 percent.We must get the facts straight, said Gerald Knaus, the architect of the controversial deal with Turkey. Today in 2018, few irregular migrants reach the European Union.Mr. Knaus said that mimicking the approach of the far right only risked helping them. Just getting tough without any strategy does the work of the far right, he said.Democrats in the United States have also struggled to come up with a collective stance on immigration to counter President Trumps relentless focus on the issue.Indeed, Mrs. Clintons assessment represented a stark reminder of the sort of politics she and her husband were long identified with: pragmatic and canny in the view of moderates but, to progressives, nothing less than craven accommodation to the nationalism she purportedly wants to tame.Conversely, Mr. Trump has not hesitated to fully leverage the politics of immigration and fear to his advantage. In the days leading up to the midterm elections, Mr. Trump and his aides managed to overcome a steady stream of negative headlines about the brutal killing of a dissident by his close ally, Saudi Arabia, by shifting attention to the caravan of Central Americans traveling toward the United States.The strategy reprised some of the themes that he used to great effect during the 2016 presidential election. Since the midterm election, talk of the caravan has largely dropped off the Republican agenda.Mrs. Clinton was largely absent from the midterm campaigns, and figures on the American left swiftly seized on her comments to argue that she was badly out of step with the Democratic Partys ascendant liberalism and should remain sidelined.Our job on the left, Corey Robin, a progressive author wrote in a stinging Facebook post, is to say: goodbye to all that, were done being done.
World
Soccer|Kreis in Manchester: Settling Inhttps://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/09/sports/soccer/kreis-in-manchester-settling-in.htmlFeb. 8, 2014Jason Kreis, the coach of New York Citys expansion team in Major League Soccer that will begin play in 2015, has moved to England to soak up the culture of the city and of City.Other than dealing with learning to drive on the left-side of the road and negotiating the installation of Internet service, Kreis said in a video posted by Manchester City that he is settling in.In the video, Kreis said that the new M.L.S. team would have access to up to four loan players from the parent club (N.Y.C. F.C. is jointly owned by City of Englands Premier League and the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball).We will have the ability to take four players on loan from the club here, so Im looking a lot at the younger players, and the U18s and the U21s at the moment, he said. And also the players that are out on loan.We have a very big interest in bringing some City players over to join us in New York and I certainly think theres the talent there. And the ambition is there as well, so well have to get with those guys over the next six months to a year and see whether or not thats something they would like as well.Kreis, the former coach of Real Salt Lake, was named coach of the new M.L.S. club in early January. He plans to live in Manchester for the next six months in an effort to absorb the clubs culture and way of doing business ... and soccer. At the news conference introducing Kreis, club officials said the new team would probably also avail itself of the league maximum of three designated players.Last week, N.Y.C. F.C. also invited fans to chime in and create badges for the club, badges that will be part of a larger mosaic and that probably will not end up as the teams official crest. Some examples of fans submissions are here.
Sports
While the unknowns about coronavirus abound, a new study finds we can handle the truth.Credit...Stephen SavageApril 7, 2020These are, safe to say, uncertain times.The confirmed global cases of illness from coronavirus are approaching 1.5 million, and reported deaths are well into the six figures, but what are the true rates of infection and mortality?We dont know.Last week, Dr. Robert Redfield, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that up to 25 percent of people infected with coronavirus show no symptoms. But at the White House coronavirus task force briefing on Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, gave a markedly broader range.Its somewhere between 25 and 50 percent, Dr. Fauci said. And trust me, that is an estimate. I dont have any scientific data yet. You know when well get the scientific data? When we get those antibody tests out there.This type of uncertainty about facts, numbers and science is called epistemic uncertainty. It is caused by a lack of knowledge about the past and the present our ignorance, said David Spiegelhalter, a statistician and chair of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication at the University of Cambridge.Science is full of epistemic uncertainty. Circling the unknowns, inching toward truth through argument and experiment is how progress is made. But science is often expected to be a monolithic collection of all the right answers. As a result, some scientists and the politicians, policymakers and journalists who depend on them are reluctant to acknowledge the inherent uncertainties, worried that candor undermines credibility.Then there are scientists like Dr. Fauci, who has also acknowledged uncertainty about matters like the time needed to flatten the curve, to develop an antibody test and to find a vaccine.I will say whats true, and whatever happens, happens, he told Vanity Fair.What happens when scientists do acknowledge uncertainty is the question behind a study, published March 23 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences. It explored The Effects of Communicating Uncertainty on Public Trust in Facts and Numbers.The accusations of a post-truth society, and claims that the public had had enough of experts, prompted us to investigate whether trust in experts was lowered by their openly admitting uncertainty about what they know, said Dr. Spiegelhalter, one of the principal investigators.The studys findings suggest that being transparent about uncertainty does not harm the publics trust in the facts or in the source.These results indicate that people can handle the truth about the level of certainty or uncertainty of scientific facts and knowledge, said Anne Marthe van der Bles, a psychologist at the University of Groningen, who is the lead author and an affiliate with the Cambridge research team.Using online surveys, the study measured reactions to uncertainty expressed in statements about various subjects: the number of tigers left in India, the increase in global average surface temperature between 1880 and 2010 and unemployment figures in the United Kingdom. The survey was replicated in the wild with a field study on the BBC News website. The researchers tested uncertainties presented quantitatively, with a numerical range or percentage; and more qualitatively, using a word such as estimated or approximately.The precise numerical statements were more effective both in conveying uncertainty and in maintaining trust. (There was in fact a minor reduction in trust, but the researchers deemed the effect so small as to be trivial.)I find it heartening, and very good advice, said Ed Humpherson, the director general of the Office for Statistics Regulation in the U.K. Being trustworthy depends not on conveying an aura of infallibility, but on honesty and transparency.Starting on March 19, the experiment was replicated in several countries with statements about the severity of Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. Early results confirm the papers findings.So, where there is uncertainty around for example, the death rates from Covid-19 people shouldnt feel concerned about communicating this to the public, said Alex Freeman, a co-author, and the executive director of the Winton Centre. It may be important to do so.The public, in turn, must be open to considering and adapting to new evidence, said Lorraine Daston, a historian of science at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. We the public must expect scientific views on the nature of the virus and how best to combat it to change as more evidence comes in, and be prepared to change our conduct accordingly, she said.Varieties of uncertaintyThe Cambridge team has been exploring uncertainty in its many forms for a while now. Last year, they published a theory paper, reviewing related research. At a conference of uncertainty quantification specialists about two years ago, Dr. Freeman asked attendees to write definitions of uncertainty on Post-it notes and stick them on the wall. Every one was different, she said. I have to say my favorite was: Anything and everything that can **** up a decision [insert descriptor of your choice].The recent study, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, focused on peoples reactions to epistemic uncertainty: things we dont know about the past and present but in theory could come to know, through measurement. The team is now researching perceptions of aleatory uncertainty unknowns about the future due to randomness, indeterminacy, chance or luck. (In Latin, alea means dice or gambling.)Most uncertainty is a mix of epistemic and aleatory elements. For instance: How many more people will get Covid-19? And once transmission is suppressed below the R0=1 threshold (the reproduction number required to rapidly reduce the number of cases to low levels), how will we avoid a rebound?Common wisdom from the psychologists perspective is that people do not like uncertainty, especially about the future, and that it generates a negative response. (Psychologists call this ambiguity aversion.) From the statisticians perspective, the hypothesis is that people have a positive reaction and trust information more when the communicator is being open about uncertainties in facts and figures.The motivation was to try to adjudicate between these competing hypotheses, said Sander van der Linden, a principal investigator, and a psychologist and the director of the Cambridge Social Decision-Making Lab. Ultimately we didnt find support for the notion that communicating uncertainty enhances public trust, but it also didnt substantially undermine it.Models are the maps, not the territoryEither way, there is little to assuage our most pressing existential uncertainty: When will the pandemic end?In the early days of the outbreak, when data was beginning to emerge from China, we were in a state of deep uncertainty, also known as radical uncertainty or Knightian uncertainty. (The economist Frank Knight distinguished between risk and uncertainty about a century ago.) Deep uncertainty is the quagmire of unknown unknowns; there are no constraints.Risk is yet another type of uncertainty, usually pertaining to things in the future that might turn out badly. Risk encompasses the known unknowns and can be calculated with probabilities. As more reliable data comes in, said Dr. Spiegelhalter, the Covid-19 pandemic is rapidly becoming a constrained problem.Earlier in March, he sought to tame the uncertainty and the fear by investigating exactly how much normal risk infection with coronavirus represents.We face normal risk daily We are all going to die sometime, said Dr. Spiegelhalter. And the odds increase from one day to the next, with age.Working with the latest (albeit uncertain) data about Covid-19 mortality rates, he found that getting infected essentially compressed a years worth of normal risk into a couple of weeks. His risk of dying in the next year, as a 66-year-old man, was about 1.5 percent. Very roughly, getting Covid-19 seems to be like packing that much risk into the time that you are ill, he said. Of course, if you survive, you still have your standard ration of risk to deal with.Statistical science, he said, is a machine, in a sense, to turn the variability that we see in the world the unpredictability, the enormous amount of scatter and randomness that we see around us into a tool that can quantify our uncertainty about facts and numbers and science.But as he acknowledged in his book, The Art of Statistics, models are simplifications of the real world they are the maps not the territory. (This is reminiscent of Jorge Luis Borgess story, On Exactitude in Science, about a map growing as large as the territory it was meant to represent.)The limitations and uncertainties inevitably get exploited in politicized narratives, and entangled in misinformation and disinformation, making it all the more important to confront them head on.Neil Ferguson, who heads the team of epidemiologists at Imperial College London that produced the influential March 16 report modeling the viruss spread, said that it is the role of modelers, in presenting the projections, to at once indicate the uncertainties and to evaluate effectively how the uncertainties the extent of asymptomatic infection, for instance; the overall lethality of this virus might change the conclusions, particularly qualitatively rather than quantitatively.In communicating uncertain or ambiguous results for governments, Dr. Ferguson usually includes confidence bounds or error bars. But in doing a radio interview, for instance, he tends to opt for more qualitative descriptions. He was surprised to hear that the studys results indicated that quantitative statements are more effective in conveying uncertainty even with a more general audience. Maybe Ill take that on board, he said.The study is, in a sense, proof of the value in acknowledging these unknowns. As Dr. Spiegelhalter noted, it is an empirical test of humility.[Like the Science Times page on Facebook. | Sign up for the Science Times newsletter.]
science
Credit...David J. Phillip/Associated PressFeb. 9, 2014SOCHI, Russia The Dutch long-track speedskater Ireen Wust reclaimed her Olympic title Sunday, winning the gold medal in the womens 3,000 meters. After her race, Wust posted a triumphant photograph on Twitter. The pressure was enormous, she said after finishing in 4 minutes 0.34 seconds. I gave everything. I did not focus on a specific time; I just decided to skate a consistent race. Wust, who also won golds in the 3,000 at the 2006 Games in Turin, Italy, and in the 1,500 at the 2010 Vancouver Games, added: I have now won this three times in a row. I cant believe it.Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic, who won the 3,000 in 2010, was second, trailing her rival with a time of 4:01.95. Olga Graf of Russia, a crowd favorite who was encouraged with screams and Russian flags as she looped around Adler Arena, claimed the bronze medal in 4:03.47. One of Wusts top competitors, Claudia Pechstein, 41, of Germany, was hoping her performance would provide some redemption. Pechstein had won nine Olympic medals five of them gold a total that made her the most successful speedskater in the world and among the most decorated Winter Olympians ever. But Pechstein had also served a two-year suspension for using prohibited substances, not for a failed drug test but for an irregular biological passport. Officials accused Pechstein of blood doping, and her attempts to appeal the charges failed. She was not required to return her previous Olympic medals, but the ban kept her out of the 2010 Games.The scandal also prompted some to label her the Lance Armstrong of speedskating and put a cloud of intrigue around her performance Sunday, in a sport that has long been plagued by the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Pechstein, who had a solid performance, collapsed on a bench and downed a bottle of water upon finishing. But her time (4:05.26) kept her just off the podium, in fourth place. Pechstein will have another chance to earn a medal at a sixth Games she is also competing in the 5,000 meters in Sochi but after stepping off the ice Sunday, she retreated to the dressing room with tears in her eyes. Now Im satisfied, Pechstein said after returning to answer questions from dozens of reporters. After all, Im 41, and Im still able to finish fourth in the Olympic Games. That is not bad at all. Im happy with that result. She added, The Olympics can be bitter.The day had its humorous moments as well. After finishing her race, Graf unzipped her suit down to her waist, creating a plunging neckline. She looked around, embarrassed, and zipped the suit up again, smiling and waving to the crowd apologetically.I just forgot everything for a minute, and I hope it cut out of the pictures, Graf said. Anna Ringsred of the United States, making her Olympic debut, said she was disappointed with her time after she finished in 4:21.51, failing to achieve her goal, 4:18. Still, she was upbeat. I knew I wasnt a medal contender going into this, said Ringsred, who finished 26th. But people dont seem to care. They seem to come out and support you because youre their friend, and they came out.Ringsreds teammate Jilleanne Rookard placed 10th.As for Wust, her competition here is just beginning: The 3,000 meters is one of her five events here.
Sports
The New New WorldThe Chinese telecom giant seeks acceptance in the West, but its structure and value system patterned after Chinas ruling party could stand in the way.Credit...Jialun DengMay 1, 2019The Huawei Technologies founder Ren Zhengfei once recommended that his senior executives watch a TV series called Proof of Identity. In that 2009 series, a Communist spy who had infiltrated the Nationalist army during Chinas civil war struggles for years to prove his loyalty and identity after the Communists prevail.Today, 32 years after he founded the telecom giant with $3,000 of borrowed money, Mr. Ren is struggling to prove that Huawei is a private enterprise and independent of the Chinese government.The task is more urgent than ever. In recent months, the Trump administration has said China could use Huaweis equipment to spy on other countries, though it hasnt offered proof. Critics accuse the company of being controlled by the Chinese government. Huawei has repeatedly denied these allegations, saying it is owned by its employees and wouldnt spy on its customers. Regardless of the issues of ownership and control, which have been subjects of heated debate, Huaweis struggle stems in part from its own internal conflict. The company has been deeply influenced by Western competitors. Huawei wants to help determine the worlds technological future, and Mr. Ren himself has said the company may need to adapt to get there. But at its core, from its organizational structure to the way it builds employee loyalty, Huawei closely resembles the Chinese Communist Party itself.Mr. Rens management thinking will naturally carry very deep imprints of the Communist Party culture, according to a 2017 book, Will Huawei Be the Next to Fall? (A different version was published in English as The Huawei Story.) Though effusive in tone, the book named after the sort of question Mr. Ren often poses to employees to inspire urgency offers hints of why Huawei has struggled to reconcile its global ambitions with its Chinese values. The book benefits from access, including interviews with more than 100 top executives. The lead writer, Tian Tao, a management professor, has been a friend of Mr. Rens for two decades, and Huawei sometimes gives out copies as gifts.Huawei disputed that its internal identity contributed to its problems. Citing strong financial results, it said in a statement that over all, Huaweis identity is accepted by customers across most of the world.All we can do to address the issues of identity is to remain open and transparent, and we intend to do that, it added.Huawei isnt the first Chinese institution to grapple with how to relate with the rest of the world. Since the late 1800s, China has debated how much it should learn from the West while retaining what many people see as core Chinese values: patriotism, loyalty, collective values over individual rights. The idea is known as Chinese substance, Western application, and it calls for seeking the tools for Chinas economic and military revival without embracing ideas like individual rights, rule of law and transparency.That model served China well for decades. But it falters when institutions like Huawei start reaching out to the rest of the world. Many in the West worry that Huawei doesnt share their values and that it could become an actor for an authoritarian state. It will take more than a few rounds of media interviews to overcome that mistrust. Mr. Ren understands the differences between the two systems. In a September speech, he instructed the companys public relations department to highlight the Huawei values that align with the West to help reach consensus.We have our own value system. We dont accept the Western political value system completely, Mr. Ren said. Still, he added: Their civilization was built in thousands of years. A small company like Huawei wont be able to change it.Judging from the book, his speeches and other appearances, Mr. Ren is a student of Western learning. He has said he admires the American political and legal systems because they offer better protection for businesses not an unusual idea among Chinas business class. He paid I.B.M. consultants for nearly two decades to help Huawei institute American-style corporate management. To catch up with the Western competitors, he once said, Huawei needed to wear American shoes even if it meant hurting its feet.Only by learning from them with all our humility can we defeat them one day, Mr. Ren was quoted as saying in the book.Still, while Huawei is eager to learn from the West, its soul is steeped in Communist Party culture.In a country with little business management philosophy and experience, Chinas entrepreneurs had to resort to the traditional political and party culture for guidance, according to the book.Huaweis structure looks strikingly similar to the partys. Each is run by a senior group of seven officials, with similarities even further down the line. It calls its management training program its Central Party School, which is the name of the Communist Party institution that trains promising cadres.When it comes to team-building and loyalty-building, Mr. Ren turned to the partys system of self-criticism, in which cadres confess to their misdeeds. Self-criticism sessions are called democratic life meetings, just like the partys. This is the Chinese heritage, the books authors wrote. Western companies will never understand it. Even if they understand, they wont be able to practice it.Huawei also routinely holds ceremonies for its executives, from the board down, to pledge integrity and honesty, much as the party does. Mr. Ren, a former military engineer, also infuses Huawei with a militant culture. He sometimes refers to major business deals as a Battle for Triangle Hill, a reference to a clash during the Korean War that included Chinese and American troops. The ultimate Battle for Triangle Hill, he has said, is to surpass American rivals. His 2012 annual letter ends with the sentence, With lofty aspirations and esprit de corps, we are striding across the Pacific Ocean, referring to the lyrics of a famous song about the Chinese Army crossing the Yalu River to fight the Americans and South Koreans.He told CNBC that he liked using military terms because they were easy to understand. When I cant find a better term to easily describe how business works, I use military terms, he said.Huaweis hard-charging corporate spirit known as wolf culture to outsiders and employees and as striving culture to executives can trace its roots to the party. When Huawei came under attack a decade ago after some employee suicides made headlines in China, Mr. Ren remarked, according to the book: Whats wrong with striving? We learned this from the Communist Party. Well strive for the realization of communism until the end of our lives.Even Mr. Rens leadership status looks like that of Deng Xiaoping, Chinas former paramount leader, who started Chinas reform and opening period in the late 1970s. Deng gave up his titles in his later years though he remained chairman of the China Bridge Association but he held the ultimate authority in Chinas decision making until his death in 1997.Though Mr. Ren is Huaweis chief executive, he has said he holds no decision-making power except for vetoing proposals and removing executives from their posts. Huaweis board secretary, Jiang Xisheng, told journalists last week that Mr. Ren had limited veto power.But within Huawei, he is clearly the paramount leader. One cant use ones veto and impeachment power too often. Once or twice a year would suffice, he was quoted as saying in the book. Nuclear deterrence only works when the bomb remains unexploded.Huaweis pledge to remain open isnt likely to be enough to win over those put off by its culture. To win trust in the West, Huawei may have to change its DNA. The same goes with China. When value systems are incompatible, and the two sides see each other as existential threats, it will be hard to find solutions.
Tech
Special Report: Energy for TomorrowDec. 7, 2015PARIS The weeks leading up to the United Nations global climate conference here could have been one of the finest hours for Frances ecology movement, which is one of the oldest in Europe and was, for one brief, shining moment, one of the Continents most politically successful.That moment came in 2009, when the countrys main green party, Les Verts, scored 16.28 percent of the vote in French elections to the European Parliament, the highest total ever for a French environmental party in any election.Since then, the party, now known as Europe cologie Les Verts, or E.E.L.V., has imploded. Some of its leading members have split to found a new group, and others are casting about for a political future before French regional elections this month and a presidential vote in 2017.This tumult pushed the E.E.L.V. party off the stage as France was preparing to host the ambitious COP21 climate conference, which is viewed as a chance for President Franois Hollande and his Socialist government still loosely allied with the greens to shine in the international spotlight.For Daniel Cohn-Bendit, who headed the French ecologists list in 2009, the collapse of E.E.L.V. is a painful memory. We created an incredible hope and then that hope was destroyed, he recalled in a recent telephone interview. But Mr. Cohn-Bendit, known for his leading role in the May 1968 student protests in Paris, takes the long view on the influence of the ecologist movement on the climate-change debate.Old Europe France included is deeply conscious of the problem, and about the necessity to do something, he said. The software is there; now we have to put in the hardware. The thinking is done; now is the time for doing.He credits a grab bag of associations, local groups and old-fashioned militants, or activists, with having raised consciousness about the environment, food safety and climate change. The movement in France has been helped by such media-savvy personalities as Nicolas Hulot, a television host who is Mr. Hollandes envoy to the COP21 conference, and Jos Bov, an activist whose causes have included battling the spread of fast food. Even Pope Francis has had an affect, with his insistence on the need to act on climate issues.The terrain was prepared and that is what has allowed society to move forward, Mr. Cohn-Bendit said. One result is that a large majority of citizens in most European countries from 64 percent to 82 percent blame human activity for global warming, compared with only 54 percent in the United States, according to an Ipsos Mori global poll in 2014. Another is that Europe is widely considered to be in the lead on climate change, despite some glaring setbacks. In October, the European Unions 28 countries were collectively able to show that they were on track to meet, or even surpass, the goal of reducing 1990-level greenhouse-gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020. Such an achievement was unimaginable just five years ago, Mr. Cohn-Bendit said. In his view, the ecologists most significant advances and influence have in fact taken place on the European rather than national level. National debates in European countries have varied widely. In Germany, which historically has had a strong environmental party, Chancellor Angela Merkels decision to close the countrys nuclear reactors by 2022 has spurred not only the search for alternative energy but also a greater reliance on coal an industry that is both a major cause of pollution and a major employer.In France, by contrast, where more than 75 percent of electricity is produced by nuclear power, the debate about a nuclear-free future gets little political traction.Mr. Hollandes record on the environment has been inconsistent. A 2012 campaign promise to close an aging nuclear plant at Fessenheim in eastern France remains unfulfilled, though government support for renewable energy has been increased.In late October, the French governments claim to be a leader in the fight against pollution and climate change took a beating when it joined with a majority of European governments in backing a European Union measure to allow the maximum levels of nitrogen oxide emissions from diesel cars to double from the current level until 2017. The vote in Brussels was quickly and widely denounced by opponents as a concession to Europes automobile industry.Mr. Cohn-Bendit attributes the E.E.L.V.s political failure to its refusal to open the ecologist movement to the entire political spectrum, as has happened in Germany. Instead, the French party got swept up in the clannish politics of the French left what Mr. Cohn-Bendit calls leftist infantilism resulting in amoeba-like splits along personal and ideological lines. (It is interesting to note that two major figures in Frances ecological movement are not French-born: Mr. Cohn-Bendit, born in France of German parents, chose German nationality as a youth, and Eva Joly, who ran for president in 2012 garnering just 2.28 percent of the vote in the first round is a native of Norway. Both now have French citizenship.)Mr. Cohn-Bendit believes that as a political force, French environmentalists have difficulty translating popular awareness into the kind of political action that can hold its own against powerful lobbies and economic interests at a time when the French economy is stagnant. There is resistance from industry, from oil companies and producers, he said. We also need to reduce consumption, which is not always popular.Like temperatures, awareness levels have been rising around the world. With Obama, the U.S. is going in the right direction, and now China is going in the right direction for the simple reason that its cities are suffocating, Mr. Cohn-Bendit said. Now we have the momentum to go forward.
Business
VideoFujian Jinhua, a new semiconductor maker, is building a chip factory with 100,000 square feet of office space in a region formerly known for manufacturing shoes.CreditCredit...Paul Mozur/The New York TimesJune 22, 2018JINJIANG, China With a dragnet closing in, engineers at a Taiwanese chip maker holding American secrets did their best to conceal a daring case of corporate espionage.As the police raided their offices, human resources workers gave the engineers a warning to scramble and get rid of the evidence. USB drives, laptops and documents were handed to a lower-level employee, who hid them in her locker. Then she walked one engineers phone out the front door.What those devices contained was more valuable than gold or jewels: designs from an American company, Micron Technology, for microchips that have helped power the global digital revolution. According to the Taiwanese authorities, the designs were bound for China, where they would help a new, $5.7 billion microchip factory the size of several airplane hangars rumble into production.China has ambitious plans to overhaul its economy and compete head to head with the United States and other nations in the technology of tomorrow. The heist of the designs two years ago and the raids last year, which were described by Micron in court filings and the police in Taiwan, represent the dark side of that effort and explain in part why the United States is starting a trade war with China.A plan known as Made in China 2025 calls for the country to become a global competitor in an array of industries, including semiconductors, robotics and electric vehicles. China is spending heavily to both innovate and buy up technology from abroad.Politicians in Washington and American companies accuse China of veering into intimidation and outright theft to get there. And they see Micron, an Idaho company whose memory chips give phones and computers the critical ability to store and quickly retrieve information, as a prime example of that aggression.Three years ago, Micron spurned a $23 billion takeover offer from a state-controlled Chinese company. Today it faces a lawsuit and an investigation in China, which accounts for about half its $20 billion in annual sales.Then Micron was the target of the heist in Taiwan, according to officials there and a lawsuit the company has brought against the Taiwanese company that employed the engineers, UMC, and the Chinese company it says wanted access to the technology, Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Company.Other companies may face predicaments similar to Microns, industry experts said.One state-backed factory in the city of Wuhan, owned by Yangtze Memory Technology Company, or YMTC, will be turning out chips that look similar to those made by Samsung, the South Korean chip maker, said Mark Newman, an analyst at Sanford Bernstein.ImageCredit...Tomohiro Ohsumi/BloombergThe YMTC one is virtually identical to Samsungs, which makes it pretty clear theyve been copying, Mr. Newman said.A Samsung spokeswoman declined to comment, and YMTC officials did not return calls for comment. President Xi Jinping of China visited YMTCs production facilities this year, one way Chinas leaders show their endorsement for projects.China defends Made in China 2025 as necessary for its economic survival. It still depends on other countries for crucial goods like chips and software, and China is offering funding for homegrown labs and for entrepreneurs who hope to grab a piece of the future.But Trump administration officials in a report this year recounted how Chinese officials have at times helped local companies get intellectual property from American firms, including in the energy, electronics, software and avionics sectors.American business groups worried about Made in China 2025 point to Micron. The account of its struggles was based on Taiwanese and American legal documents.In 2015, representatives from Tsinghua Unigroup, a Chinese chip maker with major state backing, approached Micron with an acquisition offer, which the company rejected. It later also turned down several partnership offers from Chinese companies out of concern for protecting its technology, said a person with knowledge of the situation, who asked not to be identified because the person lacked authorization to speak publicly.That was when one Chinese company resorted to theft, Micron said in documents filed last December in Federal District Court for the Northern District of California.Microns accusations focus on efforts by Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit, a state-backed chip maker, to build a $5.7 billion factory in Chinas Fujian Province. Two years ago, Jinhua tapped UMC, a Taiwanese company, to help it develop technology for the factory. Instead of going through the lengthy steps required to design the technology, Micron said in its suit, UMC and Jinhua decided to steal it.A UMC spokesman denied the allegations and declined to comment further. Jinhua did not respond to requests for comment.First, UMC lured away engineers from Microns Taiwan operations with promises of raises and bonuses, according to the Taiwanese authorities. Then, it asked them to take some of Microns secrets with them, according to Microns court filings and the authorities. The engineers illegally took with them more than 900 files that contained key specifications and details about Microns advanced memory chips, the authorities said.Micron grew suspicious, according to its court documents, after discovering that one of its departing engineers had turned to Google for instructions on how to wipe a company laptop. Later, at a recruiting event in the United States aimed at Micron employees, Jinhua and UMC showed PowerPoint slides that used Microns internal code names when discussing future chips it would make, according to the court documents.ImageCredit...Charlie Litchfield/Associated PressAlerted by Micron, the Taiwanese police tapped the phone of one Micron engineer, Kenny Wang, who was being recruited by UMC. According to an indictment in Taiwan against Mr. Wang and others, UMC reached out to Mr. Wang in early 2016 using Line, the smartphone messaging app, while he was still working for Micron. UMC explained it was having problems developing its memory chip technology. Mr. Wang then grabbed the information it needed from Microns servers, and later used it to help UMCs design. The police said Mr. Wang received a promotion at UMC.When investigators showed up at UMCs offices early last year, the police said, some employees rushed to hide what they had taken from Micron. Mr. Wang and another former Micron employee gave laptops, USB flash drives and documents to an assistant engineer, who locked them in her personal locker. She then left the office with Mr. Wangs phone the one that the police had tapped, which was quickly tracked down.UMC filed its own criminal complaint against Mr. Wang last year, which Taiwanese prosecutors rejected. Mr. Wang and other engineers who were charged said they had taken the trade secrets for personal research. Mr. Wang did not respond to emails and phone calls for comment.In January, Micron was hit with a patent infringement suit by Jinhua and UMC over several types of memory. As part of the suit, the companies requested that the court bar Micron from making and selling the products and pay them damages. The case is being heard by a court in Fujian Province. The Fujian provincial government is an investor in Jinhua.In a letter sent to President Trump, Senators Jim Risch and Michael D. Crapo, Republicans of Idaho, expressed concern about the entire case and specifically the rapid pace with which the patent lawsuit has proceeded. The case could block Micron from selling some products in China.If the case against Micron moves forward, and the Chinese government once again rules in favor of itself, it would cause substantial damage to Micron and the U.S. tech industry as a whole, said the letter, which was viewed by The New York Times.In May, Chinas market regulator opened a price-fixing investigation into Micron, along with the South Korean memory makers SK Hynix and Samsung Electronics. Memory prices have jumped over the past year, because of spiking demand and limited production by the three companies, which dominate the market. Another China regulator, which has said it is also monitoring the price jump, also gave a multimillion-dollar grant to Jinhua.Jinhua and other Chinese chip makers face hurdles in catching up. Production of semiconductors involves a highly complex and automated process that controls everything down to the atomic level.Jinhua and others are spending big to get there. In Jinjiang, a city in Fujian Province once known as a shoe-manufacturing center, Jinhuas new factory is almost finished. Rising five stories and stretching several football fields long, the structure boasts 100,000 square feet of new office space.Economic planners in Jinjiang said they were hoping to attract more talent from Taiwan. In addition to adding more flights there, the town was in the process of building out a bilingual international school, a hospital with international accreditation and upscale apartments. The new plant is just a short drive from the airport.Most of Made in China 2025 is likely to succeed. Not all technologies are rocket science, said Dan Wang, a technology analyst in Beijing with Gavekal Dragonomics, a research firm. With enough subsidies, Chinese firms have a good shot at catching up to the technological frontier.
Tech
Credit...Whitten Sabbatini for The New York TimesUnder President Trump, once stately medallions have gotten glitzier, and at least one featured a Trump property. Ethics watchdogs are worried.The presidential challenge coin produced for White House Communications Agency members.Credit...Whitten Sabbatini for The New York TimesJune 24, 2018WASHINGTON Since Bill Clinton occupied the White House, the commemorative medallions known as challenge coins have been stately symbols of the presidency coveted by the military, law enforcement personnel and a small circle of collectors.Then came Donald J. Trump.His presidency has yielded more and more elaborate coins that are shinier, flashier and even bigger, setting off a boom for coin manufacturers, counterfeiters and collectors, with one official Trump challenge coin recently fetching $1,000 on eBay.Among those produced in recent months by members of a White House military unit is a coin featuring Mr. Trumps private Florida club, Mar-a-Lago, on the front, and the presidential seal, the White House and Air Force One on the back. Another has Pope Francis on one side and the presidents face set against the White House on the other.And Mr. Trumps aides have commissioned multiple versions of an official challenge coin, for which the president himself has reviewed several proposals, according to people familiar with the process. One such design, which was approved by Mr. Trump and paid for by the Republican National Committee, is thicker, wider and more gold than those of preceding presidents, and bears his campaign slogan Make America Great Again, as well as his name emblazoned three times. Missing was a traditional staple of presidential challenge coins: the presidential seal with the national motto, E pluribus unum, or Out of many, one. The break from tradition comes against larger debates over Mr. Trumps fascination with the trappings of power, and his blurring of the lines between his presidency and both his campaign and business operations.And, though challenge coins seem relatively trivial, the shift has caused headaches for the Trump White House.The official Challenge coin for the first lady, Melania TrumpImageCredit...Jared Soares for The New York TimesImageCredit...Jared Soares for The New York TimesThe official challenge coin for Vice President Mike PenceImageCredit...Jared Soares for The New York TimesImageCredit...Jared Soares for The New York TimesConcerned about running afoul of rules barring government resources from being used for partisan political purposes, the White House Counsels Office warned staff members not to display the Republican National Committees challenge coin, or any paraphernalia with Mr. Trumps campaign slogan, in government buildings.Outside ethics watchdogs say the Make America Great Again coins shouldnt be distributed to military personnel a traditional use of presidential challenge coins since the military is supposed to be walled off from politics. And those watchdogs warn that coins featuring Mr. Trumps properties, such as Mar-a-Lago, should not be produced using government resources including funds, work hours or even phone calls and emails since federal ethics laws prohibit the use of public resources to promote private businesses.The Mar-a-Lago coins are akin to a metallic tourist brochure, said Norman L. Eisen, a former ethics lawyer in President Barack Obamas White House and the chairman of a watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.The Mar-a-Lago trip coin produced for White House Communications Agency membersImageCredit...Jared Soares for The New York TimesImageCredit...Jared Soares for The New York TimesLindsay Walters, a White House deputy press secretary, said those laws didnt apply to the Mar-a-Lago coins, because no public funds were used in their design or creation. Instead, Ms. Walters said, individual personnel assigned to the White House Communications Agency, a military unit that provides technological support for the president and his staff, used their own private funds to pay for the coins.But Karen Brazell, the chief of staff for the White House Military Office, which oversees the communications agency, declined to comment on whether other agency resources were used for the coins.After The New York Times inquired about the coins, agency personnel abruptly canceled plans for a coin featuring the presidents signature Trump Tower in Manhattan and his golf course in Bedminster, N.J.The coins, which are usually slightly larger than a silver dollar, are intended to represent trips taken by the president and vice president, and are collected or traded by the staff members involved in facilitating those trips. Only a limited number are purchased for each trip, Ms. Brazell said, and sold to her offices employees to benefit what she described as a private morale organization.The Vatican trip coin produced for White House Communications Agency membersImageCredit...Whitten Sabbatini for The New York TimesImageCredit...Whitten Sabbatini for The New York TimesThe World Economic Forum trip coin produced for White House Communications Agency MembersImageCredit...Whitten Sabbatini for The New York TimesImageCredit...Whitten Sabbatini for The New York TimesAny profit beyond the design and production costs goes to that fund for team-building activities like ceremonies and retirement gifts, Ms. Walters said, stressing that neither Mr. Trump nor his staff had any involvement in the creation, design, distribution or funding of the agencys coins.She acknowledged, though, that the president is involved in the selection and design of his official presidential challenge coins, which have been funded partly by the Republican National Committee.People who have traveled with Mr. Trump say he has become enthralled by challenge coins, attributing his interest to his appreciation for military traditions and might, as well as his attraction to gaudy displays of gilded excess. That fascination grew during the presidential campaign, when he would receive coins from law enforcement and military personnel whom he encountered at stops.It wasnt long before coins bearing the campaign logo and slogan began circulating among his campaign team. Traveling aides usually kept a supply on hand to distribute to dignitaries and military and law enforcement personnel. Even the campaigns private security detail, made up of former F.B.I. agents and New York City police officers, jumped in on the act. The group which was accused of using heavy-handed tactics produced a coin featuring the phrase Have Gun, Will Travel. After Mr. Trump was sworn in, he had a sampling of his challenge coin collection displayed on a credenza behind his desk in the Oval Office, where it is visible in photographs alongside a Frederic Remington sculpture of a cowboy riding a rearing bronco.The challenge coin for the Trump Campaigns private security detailImageCredit...Jared Soares for The New York TimesImageCredit...Jared Soares for The New York TimesThe numismatic side of Mr. Trumps presidency elicited unwanted headlines after images of two coins the Republican National Committees Make America Great Again coin, and one issued ahead of Mr. Trumps meeting with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un were published.Replacing the nations motto with his campaign slogan is kind of tacky, the comedian Stephen Colbert said, riffing on the Republican National Committee coin on his CBS late-night show. But he quipped, It beat the first choice good for one free drink.The North Korea coin, ordered by White House Communications Agency personnel, drew umbrage across the political spectrum for a different reason. Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, urged the administration to remove Mr. Kims likeness. He is a brutal dictator and something like the Peace House would be much more appropriate, Mr. Schumer wrote on Twitter, referring to the site used for negotiations between North and South Korea, in the Demilitarized Zone separating the two nations.But the coin incited a surge of interest in challenge coins like nothing that collectors could recall, spawning a host of knockoffs and creating an opportunity for a private company based in central Pennsylvania, the White House Gift Shop. The shop, which was once affiliated with the federal government, quickly ordered nearly 100,000 copies of a version of the coin from the company that had designed and produced the original, Challenge Design. Consumers seeking to buy the coins crashed the White House Gift Shops website and jammed its phone lines. The coin, which differs substantially from the original, is listed for $49 on the companys website.The North Korea coin produced for White House Communications Agency membersImageCredit...Whitten Sabbatini for The New York TimesImageCredit...Whitten Sabbatini for The New York TimesThe North Korea summit MEETING coin produced for the white house gift shopImageCredit...Whitten Sabbatini for The New York TimesImageCredit...Whitten Sabbatini for The New York TimesThe White House Gift Shop plans to sell two additional North Korea coins in what it bills as a historic art coin series. The second coin will have a side showing Mr. Trump flanked by Mr. Kim and President Moon Jae-in of South Korea in front of their nations flags with a dove holding an olive branch in its beak. The reverse side is essentially a paean to the Singapore summit meeting, depicting the resort at which it was held and a banner that lists the date and the words Diplomatic History.The third coin will seek to capture the outcome of the talks, possibly including the Nobel Prize, should Mr. Trump or Mr. Kim win it, said Mary H. Harms, the owner and creative director of Challenge Design.What we try to do with our coins is tell stories, said Ms. Harms, whose company also makes coins for an array of military units, as well as private sector clients like musicians. Those worlds sometimes collide, as with a coin she produced for the band 3 Doors Down, which commemorated its performance during Mr. Trumps inaugural festivities. It featured the bands logo and the American flag on one side, and the seals of the president and vice president against the Lincoln Memorial on the other.the inauguration performance coin produced for 3 doors downImageCredit...Whitten Sabbatini for The New York TimesImageCredit...Whitten Sabbatini for The New York TimesIn some ways, the proliferation of splashy presidential coins under Mr. Trump is emblematic of his convention-defying presidency, said John Wertman, a former Clinton White House aide who is a leading expert on challenge coins. His collection includes the official presidential challenge coins of Mr. Clinton and Mr. Obama, muted bronze affairs that have the presidential seal on one side and the White House and the presidents signature on the other. (The two coins made for Vice President Mike Pence by the Republican National Committee are equally understated, and the one for the first lady, Melania Trump, while gold, is much less ornate than her husbands.)Mr. Wertman was one of the few to receive a copy of Mr. Trumps Make America Great Again Republican National Committee coin, which was largely removed from circulation after the round of mocking by the media. He said he was surprised by its thickness and lack of the presidential seal, but not necessarily its hue.If you look at what he did with the design of the White House drapes and his general inclination toward gold, thats his personal preference, Mr. Wertman said of Mr. Trump.
Politics
Credit...Eduardo Munoz/ReutersJune 21, 2017As health insurers scrambled to decide whether to stay or go by Wednesdays deadline to file plans for the federal marketplace, Anthem, one of the Obamacare markets major players, announced that it would pull out of two more states, Wisconsin and Indiana, in 2018.The company, which offers for-profit Blue Cross plans in 14 states, had already said this month that it would stop selling coverage in the marketplace next year in Ohio. In making the announcement, Anthem said offering plans had become increasingly difficult due to a shrinking and deteriorating individual market, as well as continual changes and uncertainty in federal operations, rules and guidance.Even as Senate Republicans hurry to finish their plan to overhaul the law, insurers are racing to meet not just federal but also state deadlines to submit rate requests.While the Wednesday deadline does not represent a final commitment by any insurer, it will be a good indicator of the health of these markets, said Sabrina Corlette, a research professor at Georgetown University.House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, whose home state of Wisconsin was among those Anthem plans to exit, pointed to the decision as reason the Republicans needed to pass their overhaul of the health care legislation.This law has failed our state, he said. Obamacare is clearly collapsing, and we have to step in before more families get hurt.Anthems exit underscores the rapidly changing dynamics of the market. Other insurers have indicated they will stay and a few are even expanding into more states.Oscar Health, the New York insurance start-up, said on Wednesday that it expected to offer policies in three additional states for 2018: Ohio, New Jersey and Tennessee. The company, which covers about 105,000 people, also plans to expand in California and Texas while remaining in New York. Oscar had previously sold policies in New Jersey but did not offer them there this year.Backed by venture capitalists, including Josh Kushner, one of the companys founders and the brother of Jared Kushner, President Trumps son-in-law, Oscar has focused almost exclusively on selling insurance in the market created by the Affordable Care Act.Were confident that when the dust settles, the market for health insurance will stabilize in time for 2018, Mario Schlosser, the companys chief executive, wrote in a blog post. For all of the political noise, there are simply too many lives at stake for representatives in Washington, D.C., not to do whats right for the people.Other insurers also appear to be gambling on the current market, in spite of the political turbulence. Molina Healthcare, another major player in the market that has expressed concerns about its stability, said it had filed initial proposals in all nine states where it has business, according to a company spokeswoman.Medica, a small nonprofit insurer, said on Monday that it would offer plans statewide in Iowa, although it is seeking rate increases that average 43 percent. Its decision would cover the yawning gap left by Aetna and the state Blue Cross plan, which left the market for next year, raising the possibility that no carrier would offer coverage to the bulk of the states residents.Centene, another large insurer, announced its plans last week to offer coverage for the first time in Nevada, Missouri and Kansas.But other insurers have emphasized they remain ambivalent about staying. Health Care Service Corporation, which operates nonprofit Blue Cross plans, said it would file proposals in all five states where it offers coverage, but could still decide to leave. The insurer covers more than one million people in the individual market.The overall market appears to be worsening as more insurers leave, said Dan Mendelson, the president of Avalere, a consultant, who said there is a lot of variation by local market.There are some markets that are doing fine, he said, while others, particularly rural ones, could still be left without an insurer willing to offer coverage.Anthems departure from Wisconsin and Indiana, where the company is headquartered, does not seem to add to the dozens of so-called bare counties across the country where no insurer has yet said it will offer insurance in the state marketplace for that area.Anthem covers about a million people through the state marketplaces or exchanges, and has filed proposals to sell policies in other states, like Connecticut.ImageCredit...Jacquelyn Martin/Associated PressIn the three states that it is leaving, the insurer will offer at least one plan outside of the marketplace that reserves the option of returning to that state to offer coverage.Anthems view of the future of the marketplaces has clearly turned negative, driven by some underlying market instability and uncertainty drummed up by the Trump administration, said Larry Levitt, an executive with the Kaiser Family Foundation.If an insurer misses the Wednesday deadline, regulators could still choose to accept a last-minute application, as they did last year in Arizona, to make sure residents have access to a policy through the state marketplace. State officials and governors are going to be very pragmatic to make sure people have coverage, Ms. Corlette said.To stay, insurers are asking for much higher prices, according to Avalere, which analyzed filings in eight states. Insurers are seeking an 18 percent increase, on average, for the most popular so-called silver plans.Many insurers are blaming the current political uncertainty when requesting much higher rates. The Trump administration and Congress have yet to commit to critical funding for subsidies worth billions of dollars to low-income individuals. Insurers are also concerned that the administration will stop enforcing the penalties people face when they choose to go without coverage, which they say would also drive up prices.In Washington State, Molina is seeking rate increases that average 38.5 percent, citing the lack of enforcement and the return of a special tax on insurers. In developing its rates, the company said it assumed that major provisions of the law, including the existing subsidies and tax credits, would continue.In Connecticut, Anthem wants an average rate increase of 33.8 percent, much of which it attributed to higher medical costs and increased demand for services.We are forecasting that the individual market will continue to shrink and that those individuals with greater health care needs will be the most likely to purchase and retain their coverage, the insurer told state regulators.Companies are likely to seek very high rates, said Ms. Corlette. They are going to build all of this uncertainty into their rates to the maximum extent to protect themselves, she said, and insurance regulators will have to decide whether to push back.Even those insurers that plan to stay say the market has been challenging. While its losses have narrowed, Oscar lost about than $200 million last year and said that other changes were needed to stabilize the market. We are not immune to the pressures in the individual market, Mr. Schlosser said.But he said the insurers partnerships with health systems like the Cleveland Clinic to offer new plans in northeastern Ohio should allow it to be successful. If you have the right products and the right partner, you can make it work, Mr. Schlosser said.
Health
Science|Causes of Blindness Vary for Older Adultshttps://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/08/science/causes-of-blindness-vary-for-older-adults.htmlQ&ACredit...Victoria RobertsMarch 5, 2016Q. Whats the No. 1 cause of blindness in older adults in the United States?A. It sounds like a simple question, but theres no perfect answer, said Dr. Susan Vitale, a research epidemiologist at the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health. It depends on age, how blindness is measured and how statistics are collected. For example, some studies have relied on the self-reported answer to the vague question: Do you have vision problems?The best available estimates, she said, come from a 2004 paper aggregating many other studies, some in the United States and some in other countries, updated by applying later census data.This paper and others have found striking differences by age and by racial and socioeconomic groups, Dr. Vitale said. In white people, she said, the major cause of blindness at older ages is usually age-related macular degeneration, progressive damage to the central portion of the retina. In older black people, the major causes are likely to be glaucoma or cataracts. In older people of working age, from their 40s to their 60s, the major cause, regardless of race, is diabetic retinopathy, damage to the retina as a result of diabetes.Many studies have shown that white people are more likely to have age-related macular degeneration, Dr. Vitale said, but as for cataracts, for which blindness is preventable by surgery, there are questions about access to health care and whether those affected can get the needed surgery. It is not known why black people are at higher risk of glaucoma. There are also some gender differences, she said, with white women more likely than white men to become blind. Studies have not found the same difference by gender in black and Hispanic people.Because many of the causes of blindness at all ages are preventable, Dr. Vitale said, it is essential to have regular eye checkups, even if there are no obvious symptoms. question@nytimes.com
science
Credit...Matthew Abbott for The New York TimesMarch 9, 2017YOUNG, Australia On a rural road about two hours drive from the nearest major city, the small Australian town of Young has long been known for cherries and little else. But in recent years, the once largely white, working-class community has seen a steady influx of Lebanese Muslim families, many who say they have relocated from Sydney for a better and safer life.Among them are members of the Zahab family. Now one of them, Haisem Zahab, a 42-year-old electrician, is accused of using the internet to try to help the Islamic State develop a guided missile. Officials suspect that some of his relatives traveled to Syria to join the extremist group, which is also known as ISIS or ISIL.The allegations about the Zahab family have rattled many residents of this town, who have long taken pride in its peaceful multiculturalism. They have also stoked some of the worst fears about homegrown links to terrorism in a country that is grappling with immigration policy and labor shortages.One argument developing is that Muslims cannot be trusted, they are all bad, and with so many in our town, it was only a matter of time before trouble raised its head, Craig Thomson, editor of The Young Witness, the local newspaper, wrote in an opinion column after Mr. Zahabs arrest. The other point put forward is that hatred is not the way to handle this situation and one mans actions should not condemn the entire towns Muslim population.The case is playing out as Australia contends with the same nationalist, anti-immigrant forces that helped propel Donald J. Trump to the American presidency and that prompted voters in Britain to approve a withdrawal from the European Union. Visiting Australia last year, Mutuma Ruteere, the United Nations special rapporteur on racism, condemned Australian politicians as engaging in xenophobic hate speech, and likened the countrys mood to nationalist ideologies brewing in Europe and the United States.Mr. Zahab was arrested, with his family present, in a raid at his property in Young on Feb. 28. He was accused of researching and designing a long-range guided missile and laser warning device for use by Islamic State militants.Mr. Zahabs extended family had been under investigation for 18 months, and officials suspected that some of his relatives had traveled to Syria to join the Islamic State and had sent money from the sale of their Sydney home to terrorists in Syria. A police report detailed how investigators believed the family had moved money to the Islamic State.Family members had access to a significant amount of funds in an Australian bank account and were suspected of using international travel cards and a computer consulting company based in the Middle East to remit funds out of Australia for the use and benefit of Islamic State in Syria, the report said, adding that members of the family were believed to have already traveled to Syria to become members of the terrorist group.ImageCredit...Lukas Coch/Australian Associated Press, via ReutersMr. Zahab was charged with foreign incursion offenses, which are antiterrorism statutes that carry a maximum penalty of life in prison. After Mr. Zahabs arrest, police officers spent days searching his 10-acre property, using metal detectors and digging up the yard in search of evidence.Mr. Zahab is no stranger to law enforcement, having pleaded guilty previously to drugs and firearms charges. He is linked to a business called Oz Survival Gear, which is registered to the address that was raided by the police. The company sells items such as Swiss Army knives and flashlights, and it proclaims that a knifeless man is a lifeless man.Mr. Zahab was known as something of an outsider who rarely interacted with the local Lebanese Muslim community. But his arrest has sent some Muslim residents of Young into hiding, people in the community said.Youngs council administrator, Wendy Tuckerman, said that Mr. Zahabs arrest should not taint the rest of the community, which has a rich multicultural history.It is important that we acknowledge that the scope of the arrest is limited to the actions of one individual, Mrs. Tuckerman said.Muslim families first moved to the area more than two decades ago to work on cherry farms. John Barton, who was a real estate agent when some of the first Muslim families came to Young, remembers them buying several properties with orchards, and he has since watched those families grow and settle in.Theyve got shops in town coffee shops, a new kitchen shop, and the younger ones work in the big stores like Woolworths, Mr. Barton said. Local Muslim residents turned a former drive-in movie theater into a mosque, and they opened an Islamic school last year. Theyve added to the culture of the town, Mr. Barton said. Its a very friendly community.David McCabe, a local lawyer who has represented Muslim slaughterhouse workers in the area, said some of the families who relocated to Young did not want their children to grow up with the gang mentality fostered in parts of Sydney.Once they got to 15 to 17, they thought theyd lost control of them in western Sydney, Mr. McCabe said. And they thought theyd have a better chance of controlling them in the country.ImageCredit...Matthew Abbott for The New York TimesBut Clarke Jones, an expert at Australian National University on terrorism and radicalization, said that Youngs remoteness may have made it an attractive spot for hiding efforts to support foreign terrorist groups.Young was probably chosen as a destination because its out of the radar of the usual police attention of Melbourne and Sydney, Dr. Jones said.Dr. Jamal Rifi, a Muslim community leader in Sydney, called it unfortunate that the actions of one man could taint Australias Muslims.That is symptomatic of what exactlys been happening in the last couple of years when the actions of a small number like this Young man discredit the Australian Muslim community at large, he said.It is a phenomena thats been happening across Australia, he added.Mr. Zahabs arrest comes as Australians have been on heightened alert. The terrorism threat level in the country was elevated to probable in September 2014, and since then there have been four attacks tied to terrorism in Australia. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said that a dozen more have been foiled and that more than 60 people have been charged as a result of counterterrorism operations across the country.Of particular concern to many Australians is the rise in the number of terrorism suspects born and raised in the country. About 100 Australians are believed to be fighting with or engaged in terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq, according to the Attorney Generals Department. The government is working to strengthen laws to prosecute returning foreign fighters.In recent days, Mr. Turnbull, who has seized on Mr. Zahabs arrest as yet another reminder of the enduring threat we face from Islamist terrorism, has ramped up his language, declaring his countrys objective is to kill Islamic State fighters.Our goal as far as those who serve with Daesh in the Middle East is to kill them, he said, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State. Let me be quite frank that is our goal.But Dr. Jones, the terrorism expert, cautioned against vilifying a whole community based on the actions of one person.The more than 70 odd families that are there are hardworking, productive members of the Young community, he said.
World
In a North Dakota deposit far from the Chicxulub crater in Mexico, remains of the rock from space were preserved within amber, a paleontologist says.Credit...Kansas University, via Agence France-Presse Getty ImagesApril 7, 2022GREENBELT, Md. Pristine slivers of the impactor that killed the dinosaurs have been discovered, said scientists studying a North Dakota site that is a time capsule of that calamitous day 66 million years ago.The object that slammed off the Yucatn Peninsula of what is today Mexico was about six miles wide, scientists estimate, but the identification of the object has remained a subject of debate. Was it an asteroid or a comet? If it was an asteroid, what kind was it a solid metallic one or a rubble pile of rocks and dust held together by gravity?If youre able to actually identify it, and were on the road to doing that, then you can actually say, Amazing, we know what it was, Robert DePalma, the paleontologist spearheading the excavation of the site, said on Wednesday during a talk at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.A video of the talk and a subsequent discussion between Mr. DePalma and prominent NASA scientists will be released online in a week or two, a Goddard spokesman said. Many of the same discoveries will be discussed in Dinosaurs: The Final Day, a BBC documentary narrated by David Attenborough, which will air in Britain in April. In the United States, the PBS program Nova will broadcast a version of the documentary next month.A New Yorker article in 2019 described the site in southwestern North Dakota, named Tanis, as a wonderland of fossils buried in the aftermath of the impact some 2,000 miles away. Many paleontologists were intrigued but uncertain about the scope of Mr. DePalmas claims; a research paper published that year by Mr. DePalma and his collaborators mostly described the geological setting of the site, which once lay along the banks of a river.When the object hit Earth, carving a crater about 100 miles wide and nearly 20 miles deep, molten rock splashed into the air and cooled into spherules of glass, one of the distinct calling cards of meteor impacts. In the 2019 paper, Mr. DePalma and his colleagues described how spherules raining down from the sky clogged the gills of paddlefish and sturgeon, suffocating them.Usually the outsides of impact spherules have been mineralogically transformed by millions of years of chemical reactions with water. But at Tanis, some of them landed in tree resin, which provided a protective enclosure of amber, keeping them almost as pristine as the day they formed.In the latest findings, which have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, Mr. DePalma and his research colleagues focused on bits of unmelted rock within the glass.All these little dirty nuggets in there, said Mr. DePalma, a graduate student at the University of Manchester in England and an adjunct professor at Florida Atlantic University. Every single speck that takes away from this beautiful clear glass is a piece of debris.Finding amber-encased spherules, he said, was the equivalent of sending someone back in time to the day of the impact, collecting a sample, bottling it up and preserving it for scientists right now.ImageCredit...Kenneth Chang/The New York TimesMost of the rock bits contain high levels of strontium and calcium indications that they were part of the limestone crust where the meteor hit.But the composition of fragments within two of the spherules were wildly different, Mr. DePalma said.They were not enriched with calcium and strontium as we would have expected, he said.Instead they contained higher levels of elements like iron, chromium and nickel. That mineralogy points to the presence of an asteroid, and in particular a type known as carbonaceous chondrites.To see a piece of the culprit is just a goose-bumpy experience, Mr. DePalma said.The finding supports a discovery reported in 1998 by Frank Kyte, a geochemist at the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Kyte said he had found a fragment of the meteor in a core sample drilled off Hawaii, more than 5,000 miles from Chicxulub. Dr. Kyte said that fragment, about a tenth of an inch across, came from the impact event, but other scientists were skeptical that any bits of the meteor could have survived.It actually falls in line with what Frank Kyte was telling us years ago, Mr. DePalma said.ImageCredit...Joshua Knuppe, via ReutersIn an email, Dr. Kyte said it was impossible to evaluate the claim without looking at the data. Personally, I expect that if any meteoritic material is in this ejecta it would be extremely rare and unlikely to be found in the vast volumes of other ejecta at this site, he said. But maybe they got lucky.Mr. DePalma said there also appears to be some bubbles within some of the spherules. Because the spherules do not look to be cracked, its possible that they could hold bits of air from 66 million years ago.Jim Garvin, the chief scientist at NASA Goddard, said it would be fascinating to compare the Tanis fragments with samples collected by NASAs OSIRIS-REX mission, a spacecraft currently en route to Earth after a visit to Bennu, a similar but smaller asteroid.State-of-the-art techniques being used to study space rocks, such as the recently opened samples from the Apollo missions 50 years ago, could also be employed on the Tanis material. They would work perfectly, Dr. Garvin said.In the talk, Mr. DePalma also showed other fossil finds including a well-preserved leg of a dinosaur, identified as a plant-eating Thescelosaurus. This animal was preserved in such a way that you had these three-dimensional skin impressions, he said.VideoNOVA Dinosaur Apocalypse premieres Wed., May 11 at 9 p.m. Eastern time on PBS. The two-hour special will also be available for streaming online and via the PBS Video app.There are no signs that the dinosaur was killed by a predator or by disease. That suggests the dinosaur might have died the day of the meteor impact, perhaps by drowning in the floodwaters that overwhelmed Tanis.This is like a dinosaur C.S.I., Mr. DePalma said. Now, as a scientist, Im not going to say, Yes, 100 percent, we do have an animal that died in the impact surge, he said. Is it compatible? Yes.Neil Landman, curator emeritus in the division of paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, visited Tanis in 2019. He saw one of the paddlefish fossils with spherules in its gills and is convinced that the site does indeed capture the day of the cataclysm and its immediate aftermath. Its the real deal, he said in a phone interview.Mr. DePalma also showed images of an embryo of a pterosaur, a flying reptile that lived during the time of the dinosaurs. Studies indicate the egg was soft like those of modern-day geckos, and the high levels of calcium in the bones and the embryos wing dimensions support existing research that the reptiles might have been able to fly as soon as they hatched.Steve Brusatte, a paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland who served as a consultant for the BBC documentary, is also convinced that the fish died that day, but he is not yet certain that the dinosaur and the pterosaur egg were also victims of the impact.I havent yet seen slam-dunk evidence, he said in an email. Its a credible story but hasnt yet been proven beyond a reasonable doubt in the peer-reviewed literature.But the pterosaur embryo nonetheless is an amazing discovery, he said. Although initially skeptical, he added that after seeing photos and other information, I was blown away. To me, this may be the most important fossil from Tanis.
science
Economy|Broad Effort Aims to Expand Financial Services to Low-Income Consumershttps://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/02/business/economy/initiatives-aim-to-expand-financial-services-to-low-income-consumers.htmlCredit...Alex Wong/Getty ImagesDec. 1, 2015WASHINGTON The Obama administration, teaming with private partners including the Gates Foundation and JPMorgan Chase, announced initiatives on Tuesday to expand banking services to millions of Americans and others worldwide who lack essentials like checking or savings accounts and access to credit.More than two billion people around the world rely solely on cash transactions, and basic financial services are out of reach for one in four individuals on earth, the Treasury Secretary, Jacob J. Lew, said at a two-day financial inclusion forum of government, financial industry, academic and nonprofit leaders at the Treasury Department.Even in the United States, with greater access to conventional financial services, one in five households continues to use alternatives like check cashers or auto title loans, Mr. Lew added, and millions do not have enough financial history despite years of paying rent and bills to have the credit score needed for access to loans.Many of the 10 initiatives announced to reduce the ranks of the so-called unbanked were intended to harness technological innovations to provide access to financial services for low-income people.To that end, the Gates Foundation and JPMorgan Chase have joined to create a new fund for investment and development, while PayPal and Village Capital are partners in a venture to support entrepreneurs seeking technology-based solutions to expanding financial services in the United States and Mexico.One public-private partnership would focus on bringing basic banking services to the Mississippi Delta one of the most unbanked regions in the country, according to a Treasury statement. Another, financed by Coca-Cola, which is based in Atlanta, would provide training in financial literacy and entrepreneurship for women and girls in the southeastern United States.Several companies and nonprofits, along with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, intend to work to develop systems that provide a credit history for more Americans, taking into consideration, for example, their rent payment record.For many, it is hard to imagine how it would be possible to manage financial affairs without basic products like a checking account or a credit card, Mr. Lew said. But the consequences of exclusion are real, and expanding access to financial services is important at every level of the global economy.
Business
SharedElizabeth Wolf lives with her 81-year-old father and 65-year-old mother who both have dementia. Here, Elizabeth helps her mother, Nancy.Credit...Mark Makela for The New York TimesSlide 1 of 15 Elizabeth Wolf lives with her 81-year-old father and 65-year-old mother who both have dementia. Here, Elizabeth helps her mother, Nancy.Credit...Mark Makela for The New York TimesMarch 4, 2016In 2010, Elizabeth Wolf, then 30, was living in Vermont, working for a nonprofit and happily exploring new pursuits, from raising chickens to contra dancing.But after several disturbing phone calls from and about her parents, Louis and Nancy Brood, she moved back into the split-level in Mt. Laurel, N.J., where she and her siblings had grown up, with her now husband, Casey Wolf. She expected to arrange caregiving help for her parents, then return to Vermont. Five years later, she is still taking care of her 81-year-old father and 65-year-old mother, both with dementia. Ms. Wolf, who volunteers with the Alzheimers Assoication, writes about the experience at upsidedowndaughter.com. Her interview has been edited and condensed for space and clarity.My parents called me one day in March and started singing Happy Birthday. It was unsettling. My birthday is in May.My uncle called, too. He and my father had owned an upholstery shop in Philadelphia for 50 years, and it was really bothering him that my dad couldnt do simple math anymore.I dont remember all the doctors appointments that led to Dad seeing a neurologist, but I do remember the appointment where they subjected him to the mini-mental test. He came away from that examination with an Alzheimers diagnosis.We were very concerned about my mother, too. She was asking us the same questions over and over. I said Id talk to the teacher whose classroom she worked in as an aide.The teacher said, Your mother is basically not functioning. She just sits at a table in the back of the classroom and stares out the window.It had been going on for a long time, and we had all been so focused on my dad we had missed it. We ended up taking her to the same neurologist, and she got an Alzheimers diagnosis, too.I told Casey, Were going to come back for two months, October through December. It became apparent very soon that we would need to stay longer.The doctors told me that people with Alzheimers have an average life span, between diagnosis and death, of five to seven years. So I knew were in this for the long haul, whatever that looks like.Now, every morning, I wake up around 6 or 6:30. Ill bring Dad his medicine.I take Mom to the bathroom. I have to take her every couple of hours, otherwise we have what happened this morning, when theres not only a major accident, but the mess ends up everywhere and I have to get her in the bath.I prepare their breakfast. She takes medicine for diabetes, hypothyroidism, high blood pressure, and shes on seizure medication and two antipsychotics because she has hallucinations. She stopped swallowing pills willingly a few years ago we were having all-out wars. Now we hide them in chunks of banana.My dad goes to a day program for adults with Alzheimers and dementia. Five days a week, he gets picked up at 8:40 and comes back between 1 and 1:30.Im always looking for more activities to do with him. I found a local voice teacher, and once a week she plays the piano and they sing together, old songs he has in his deep memory recesses. All the Way. Some Enchanted Evening.My mom doesnt have much of an attention span for activities anymore. A lot of what we do all day is wander and sit and stare out the window.At night, we have a motion sensor so that any time their bedroom door opens if my mom has to go to the bathroom, shell wander into the hallway a receptor in our room bings. It goes off maybe six times a night, on average. Some nights it feels like every half-hour.One night recently my dad was so confused, up so many times, and I was exhausted and full of frustration and anger and overwhelming grief. I just went in there and cried in his arms, begging him, Please, go back to sleep. He didnt understand, but he was holding me and crying, too, and saying, Im so sorry. Ill do better. Ill do better.I dont know how to describe that feeling, where you just dont feel like you can go on anymore. And I know I have a lot of things on my side relative to other people in this situation. A supportive husband. Paid help.We just got a grant from the organization Hilarity for Charity. They gave us 25 hours of care a week for a year. We also have a caregiver from one of the state programs. So now we have help Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sunday mornings.But most of the caregivers arent able to handle my mom in the bathroom or bathe her, so often theyre assisting me. And when I do have help, Im running around trying to do the other thousand things that need to happen to maintain a household. I also work part time from home.Most of my me time is spent going to the gym; I see a therapist and get acupuncture a couple of times a month, too. These are the things I do to stay alive.More than anything, the grief or loss I feel is in the form of loneliness. The isolation. I dont know how to relate to people my age.Once in a while I let myself think about what Ive given up. Casey and I decided not to have children, but I feel like a mother to my parents.I value the incredible intimacy I get to share with them. When I was a teenager, my mother was pretty critical; she ignored me for days at a time. I think she was overwhelmed by motherhood.Now, this role that we share, its changed the dynamic, the history of our relationship. However many years down the line, looking back, Ill think of the moments of tenderness I shared with her, every single day.There was a point in May of 2013 wed been here two and a half years when we had plans to move my parents into a facility. We were going to do a respite stay, and if they fit in, if it went well, wed sell the house.We did everything we could we brought couches and furniture from their bedroom to make the place feel homelike. But it wasnt home. For my dad, it lasted three days. He started having panic attacks, to the point where he was throwing up.He was still with it enough to call us. I remember getting a message from him, weeping. Its Daddy. Please, me and Mom want to come home.Everybody, including his doctor, said, You have to leave him, you have to let him adjust. I couldnt do it. I would never judge the people who do, but I couldnt.Theyve been here 40 years. All my dad ever wanted was this home. Who am I, if I take my dad from his home?
Health
Health|Vaccine Makers Ranked on Pricing and Researchhttps://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/13/health/vaccine-makers-ranked-on-pricing-and-research.htmlGlobal HealthCredit...Jacquelyn Martin/Associated PressMarch 13, 2017The pharmaceutical companies GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi sell many doses of vaccines at high prices and do a lot of research with the profits, while the Serum Institute of India makes more doses than any other manufacturer and sells them at low prices, according to the first Access to Vaccines Index, which was released last week.The new index is produced by the Dutch foundation that issues the biennial Access to Medicines Index, which ranks drug manufacturers according to how easy it is for people in poor countries to get the companies lifesaving medications. GSK has led that list since it was first published in 2008.The vaccines index does not rank companies from one to 20, as the medicines index does. There are so few large vaccine companies, and their product portfolios are so diverse, that giving each an overall ranking seemed unfair, said Jayasree K. Iyer, executive director of the Access to Medicines Foundation.So the foundation ranked each vaccine manufacturer on three criteria: research, pricing and supply. Generally, GSK led Sanofi, Johnson & Johnson and Merck, while Pfizer lagged behind.Despite providing vaccines at low cost, the Serum Institute scored poorly on pricing because it does not explain how it sets fees. The institute concentrates on vaccines recommended by the World Health Organization and sells 1.4 billion doses a year around the world.The vaccine industry has changed rapidly in the past two decades, the report found. The market grew to $33 billion from $6 billion between 2000 and 2014.Generous donor support has gotten vaccines for diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, measles and hepatitis B to more than 80 percent of the worlds poorest children. But the rest are still missed or do not get the booster doses they need.Also, children in rich countries get protection against certain diseases like chickenpox, German measles, rotavirus, pneumonia, flu and papillomavirus that poor children do not.There is a world to be won by increasing access to vaccines, Dr. Iyer said.The report lists 32 diseases for which vaccines are urgently needed but none exist. A consortium led by donors recently pledged $500 million toward developing vaccines against three of them: Lassa, Nipah and MERS viruses.
Health
Credit...Michael Stravato for The New York TimesJune 10, 2017As more details emerge about the first-ever charges of female genital mutilation in the United States, the case is opening a window onto a small immigrant community, while stirring impassioned discussion about genital cutting among women who have experienced it.At a hearing in Michigan this past week, a federal prosecutor said the defendants two doctors and a clinic manager from a small Shiite Muslim sect were believed to have arranged cutting for up to 100 girls since 2005. The prosecutor, Sara Woodward, said investigators had so far identified eight girls.The unprecedented charges provide an unusual case study of a practice outlawed in the United States two decades ago but still seen in parts of Africa, the Middle East and, less frequently, South Asia. The focus on the Dawoodi Bohra, a sect of about 1.2 million based in western India, with clusters in the United States, Pakistan and elsewhere, is spurring Bohra women to describe their experiences publicly. Some are doing so for the first time, defying the sects historic secrecy about cutting and taking a risk that they or relatives will be ostracized.This Michigan case made me think I want to speak out, said Nazia Mirza, 34, who was cut at age 6 in her hometown, Houston. To me its very much like a rape survivor. If you dont say anything, then how are you going to expose it and bring awareness?The case prompted Tasneem Raja, 34, a journalist, to write about being cut in New Jersey. She said she had received an outpouring of emails from people saying thank you.But Ms. Raja said the case was exposing a spectrum of feelings. Even among Bohra women who oppose cutting, she said, views range from women who say this has greatly impacted their sex life and their ability to enjoy sex, to people like me who walked away with lifelong emotional trauma, to people who say, I dont see what the big deal is.Some worry the case is stoking anti-Muslim sentiment, though cutting is not in the Quran or practiced in many Muslim societies. And some Bohras who oppose cutting nonetheless feel the defendants are being unfairly demonized for a practice endorsed by their religions leadership.I dont want to be pro the practice, but I dont want it to be exaggerated into something completely barbaric, said Maryah Haidery, 37, who comes from a Bohra family in New Jersey and had never spoken publicly about her cutting before.Ms. Haidery, who does medical writing for pharmaceutical companies, said she was very concerned about this violation in Michigan, but also taken aback by how vilified that Michigan doctor had become.Prosecutors, citing phone records, texts, interviews and surveillance video, accuse Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, an emergency medicine physician, of cutting the genitals of two 7-year-old girls from Minnesota. Dr. Fakhruddin Attar, an internist, is accused of letting Dr. Nagarwala use his Burhani Medical Clinic in Livonia. His wife, Farida Attar, the clinics office manager, is accused of holding the girls hands during the Feb. 3 procedures and urging others to deceive investigators.According to a criminal complaint, one of the Minnesota girls told investigators that it was a special girls trip for a procedure to get the germs out. A medical examination showed that the girls labia minora had been altered or removed, that the clitoral hood was abnormal in appearance and that she had scar tissue and small lacerations.The other girl said that she got a shot and it hurt really badly and she screamed, and that after the procedure, she could barely walk, and she felt pain all the way down to her ankle, the complaint said. An examination found a small incision in her clitoral hood and a small tear to her labia minora.Dr. Attar said Dr. Nagarwala occasionally used his clinic to see 6- to 9-year-old Bohra girls for problems with their genitals, including treatment of genital rashes, the complaint said.The Minnesota girls parents have not been charged. At least one girl was briefly removed from her parents custody.Michigans Child Protective Services has initiated petitions to terminate custodial rights of several Bohra parents whose daughters are believed to have undergone cutting, including Dr. Nagarwalas 12-year-old daughter and the Attars 8-year-old daughter. The Attars were released on bond, confined to house arrest; Dr. Nagarwala remained in prison.Michigans Dawoodi Bohra mosque, Anjuman-e-Najmi, where the defendants worship, said in a statement after the arrests that any violation of U.S. law is counter to instructions to our community members and does not reflect the everyday lives of the Dawoodi Bohras in America.Recently, the Dawat-e-Hadiyah, an organization overseeing smaller Shiite Muslim sects, hired two well-known lawyers, Alan Dershowitz and Mayer Morganroth, to help the defense, The Associated Press reported.ImageCredit...Clarence Tabb Jr./Detroit News, via Associated PressDr. Nagarwala, 44, who was born in America, received her medical degree from Johns Hopkins and worked at Henry Ford Health System, which fired her after the arrest and said no cutting had occurred at its facilities.Her lawyer, Shannon Smith, said Dr. Nagarwala acknowledged removing a sesame seed-sized amount of mucous membrane from the clitoral hood.What she did does not meet the definition of female genital mutilation, Ms. Smith said, calling it a ritual nick and a protected religious procedure.Dr. Attars lawyer, Mary Chartier, said her client was at a bookstore when prosecutors claim he met Dr. Nagarwala at the clinic. But she said he knew that this century-old religious rite of passage was being conducted at his clinic and believed it wasnt female genital mutilation.It is unclear how common cutting is in the United States. In 1996, genital mutilation of girls was banned, and in 2013, so was traveling outside the United States for cutting. The World Health Organization considers all forms of cutting to be human rights violations.The practice varies by culture and can include narrowing the vaginal opening and sewing it virtually closed, removing the clitoris or labia, or cutting, piercing, burning or scraping the clitoral hood. Dawoodi Bohras form of it, sometimes called khatna, typically involves the clitoral hood. But all types can vary depending on tradition and whether the practitioner has medical training.Lawyers for the Michigan defendants argue that their clients practice is milder than male circumcision.With what my client was doing, Ms. Smith said, were talking removal of the mucous membrane, and the girls are walking out the door 10 minutes later just fine.But while male circumcision has opponents, it is legal, and some medical experts link it to health advantages. In contrast, the cutting of female genitalia can cause serious difficulty or pain during sex, pregnancy or childbirth.Health providers know the harms and the short-term and long-term complications, said Dr. Nawal Nour, director of the African Womens Health Center at Brigham and Womens Hospital in Boston, who is experienced in treating such patients.For the Dawoodi Bohra sect, which encourages education, particularly on a path toward medical and engineering professions, cutting increasingly generates debate.In 2015, three Bohras in Australia were convicted of performing cutting. Afterward, leaders in India circulated letters to mosques worldwide, saying Bohras should follow laws of the countries where they live. Later, however, several Bohra women recalled, the highest Bohra leader gave a speech saying Bohra traditions should continue despite Western opposition.Khatna, like many cutting traditions, is performed by women; men often say they are unaware of its occurrence. Justifications for it vary, including to curb sexual promiscuity, preserve tradition or, said Ms. Raja, take a bad bug or a germ out of you.Ms. Mirza mostly remembers a woman holding me I was screaming. Married with two children, Ms. Mirza, who left the sect, said cutting had totally affected me in terms of my intimacy and struggling to feel pleasure.Ms. Haiderys experience is complex. Cut by a relative with medical training using an anesthetic, she remembers little pain, saying she was told that I had to do this in order to be fit to be married. When an obstetrician examining her during pregnancy noticed nothing unusual, I thought maybe its not a huge deal, she said.Still, she said that I was shocked when Bohra friends in New Jersey mentioned getting their daughters cut and was very happy that I didnt have a girl.Mariya Taher, a co-founder of a Bohra anti-cutting group, Sahiyo, which conducted a 2015 survey of Bohra women, said some Bohras considered cutting a social norm and if you dont get it done youre doing something wrong and youre not helping your daughter out.But more women now consider it gender violence, especially serious because its happening to little girls, she said.Youre tampering with female genitalia, Ms. Mirza said. It violates you as a human being and it shouldnt be done, end of story.
Health
TrilobitesResearchers are gaining a better understanding of the biochemical processes that precede female octopuses deaths after they lay and then tend their eggs.Credit...Matt Cosby for The New York TimesPublished May 14, 2022Updated May 16, 2022Most octopus species live for one year. But the deaths of octopus mothers after they reproduce have long been a scientific spectacle.Why exactly octopus mothers engage in a form of self-harm that leads to death just after they reproduce remains something of a mystery. But a study published Thursday in the journal Current Biology uses the California two-spot octopus as a model to help explain the physiology of this strange behavior.Z. Yan Wang, an assistant professor of psychology and biology at the University of Washington and an author of the study, explained that the female of the species goes through three reproductive stages.After she mates, the mother produces her eggs and handles them with care. She takes each egg, one by one, carefully stringing them into long strands. Then she cements them to the wall of her den, and stays there, blowing water over the eggs to keep them oxygenated and fiercely protecting them from predators.But then she stops eating. She begins to spend a lot of time away from the eggs. She loses color and muscle tone; her eyes become damaged. Many mothers begin to injure themselves. Some rub against the gravel of the seafloor, scarring their skin; others use their suckers to create lesions along their bodies. In some cases, they even eat their own arms.Scientists have known for some time that reproductive behavior in the octopus, including death, is controlled by the animals two optic glands, which function like the pituitary in vertebrates, secreting hormones and other products that control various bodily processes. (The glands are called optic because of their location between the animals eyes. They have nothing to do with vision.) If both glands are surgically removed, the female abandons her brood, begins eating again, grows and has an extended life span.The new study describes specific chemical pathways produced by the optic glands that govern this reproductive behavior.One pathway, they found, generates pregnenolone and progesterone, which is unsurprising, because these substances are produced by many other animals to support reproduction.Another produces the precursors of bile acids that promote the absorption of dietary fats, and a third makes 7-dehydrocholesterol, or 7-DHC. 7-DHC is generated in many vertebrates as well. In humans, it has various functions, including essential roles in the production of cholesterol and of vitamin D. But elevated levels of 7-DHC are toxic, and are linked with disorders like Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome, a rare inherited disease characterized by severe intellectual, developmental and behavioral problems. In octopuses, Dr. Wang and her colleagues suspect that 7-DHC may be the essential factor in triggering the self-harming behavior that leads to death.Roger T. Hanlon, a senior scientist at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., who was not involved in the study, said thatthis is an elegant and original study that addresses a longstanding question in the reproduction and programmed deaths of most octopuses.Dr. Wang said that for us, what was most exciting was seeing this parallel between octopuses, other invertebrates, and even humans. She added that it was remarkable to see this shared use of the same molecules in animals that are very distant from each other.The molecules may be the same, but the death, she said, is very different. We generally view human death as a failure, of organ systems or of function.But in an octopus thats not true, Dr. Wang said. The system is supposed to be doing this.
science
Credit...Bridget Bennett for The New York TimesJune 23, 2018HENDERSON, Nev. The clash began Saturday morning with a populist denunciation of President Trumps policies, delivered in Reno, Nev., by a Democratic senator who is one of his most ferocious critics.It intensified within hours, with a sarcastic, racially incendiary jibe Pocahontas lobbed by Mr. Trump himself during a visit to Las Vegas.And it reached its third, climactic act in yet another arena in this sun-scorched swing state, as Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts redoubled her criticism and volleyed the presidents taunt.Look, he thinks hes going to shut me up? Ms. Warren said, as laughter echoed from her audience in a crowded brewery in this southern Nevada suburb. Thats not going to happen, baby!The fast-burning, eight-hour exchange between political rivals came about as an accident of Nevada political scheduling, but it played out far more suggestively as the most direct confrontation yet between Mr. Trump and one of his leading potential opponents in the 2020 election. And it unfolded on a portentous stage, in the cities and suburbs of a state that is likely to be crucial both in the Democratic presidential primaries and in the general election.Mr. Trump came to Las Vegas not to needle Ms. Warren, but to raise money for an embattled Republican senator, Dean Heller, seeking re-election in a state where Hillary Clinton beat Mr. Trump in 2016 by a little more than two percentage points. Ms. Warren mapped her own Nevada visit a swing through Reno and the Las Vegas suburbs in part to help Mr. Hellers challenger, Representative Jacky Rosen, and had planned it well before Mr. Trump revealed that he would be in town.Yet 2020 hung over the day from the outset: Ms. Warren, addressing a convention of the Nevada Democratic Party in Reno, thundered against Mr. Trumps administration, bringing a crowd to its feet with exhortations to take on corporate special interests and drive Donald Trump and his enablers out of power. In a call to elect more women to high office, Ms. Warren tucked in an oratorical wink to the crowd: One of those offices, she said, was that really nice, oval-shaped room at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.The current occupant of the Oval Office, sweeping into an event of his own in Las Vegas, could have easily ignored the presence of a combative critic some 400 miles away. But Mr. Trump did not, instead looking away from the ostensible subjects of his visit Mr. Heller and the tax cuts he helped pass to swing repeatedly at Ms. Warren.He labeled her, not for the first time, as Pocahontas, a biting reference to Ms. Warrens description of herself as having Native American ancestry. Mr. Trump and other Republicans have questioned that claim, sometimes drawing criticism from Native American tribes for their mocking language.Wacky Jacky is campaigning with Pocahontas, Mr. Trump announced, tagging Ms. Rosen with a derisive nickname of her own. You believe this? In your state?His audience laughed along and erupted in boos aimed at Ms. Warren and Ms. Rosen, seemingly encouraging Mr. Trump. The president, who drew a backlash in November for calling Ms. Warren Pocahontas during an event with Navajo military veterans, noted that he had faced calls to apologize for the epithet.I did apologize, Mr. Trump said. To the memory of Pocahontas, I apologized.The side-by-side contrast, of Ms. Warrens event in Reno and Mr. Trumps in Las Vegas, conjured an image of a presidential matchup defined on one side by unrelenting liberal criticism of Mr. Trumps policies and ethics, and on the other side by unrestrained personal attacks on a Massachusetts progressive that are aimed at delighting conservatives. While Mr. Trump often speaks in harshly derogatory terms about his political adversaries, Ms. Warren appears to inspire distinctive scorn among his likeliest Democratic challengers for re-election. None of more than a dozen other Democrats known to be eyeing 2020 has drawn such a contemptuous label from the president, or faced as much early pressure to answer his swipes as Ms. Warren.It was in her final public event of the day a question-and-answer session with voters hosted by Nevadas Democratic senator, Catherine Cortez Masto that Ms. Warren did just that. In a tone that mingled defiance with disdain, Ms. Warren accused Mr. Trump of seeking to distract from what she cast as a popular revolt against his agenda, most recently his zero tolerance policy on the border that separated migrant children from their parents.How does he do that? He attacks Jacky Rosen and he throws out a racial slur at me, Ms. Warren said, retorting that she would not be shut up and noting as long as Native American heritage was under discussion that the National Congress of American Indians had condemned the family separation policy.And again, without explicitly stating her own plans, Ms. Warren said the effort to stop Mr. Trump and his cohort would have to extend beyond 2018 and into 2020. Blasting the tax-cut law that Mr. Trump visited Nevada to tout, Ms. Warren suggested she was just getting started.I am in this fight, she said. And I am in this fight all the way.
Politics
Politics|Is this a coup? Experts say no, but that it could be just as dangerous.https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/07/us/politics/is-this-a-coup-experts-say-no-but-that-it-could-be-just-as-dangerous.htmlCredit...Jason Andrew for The New York TimesJan. 7, 2021Call them rioters. Or armed insurrectionists. But Erica de Bruin, a political scientist who literally wrote the book on how to prevent coups, said she would not call it a coup.I dont object to anyone wanting to use the term coup at this point, she said in an interview. The word coup conveys seriousness, and I dont want to police the language of politicians or activists or those trying to oppose Trumps actions. But I dont think were there yet.The crucial factor, she said, is that a coup attempt requires force or the threat of force from an organized armed group, usually, though not necessarily, a military. And while many in the violent mob of President Trumps supporters that stormed the Capitol building on Wednesday were armed, they did not appear to be part of any organized paramilitary organization.Naunihal Singh, a professor at the Naval War College whose research focuses on coups, said he did not think this was a coup because President Trump encouraged the insurrectionists in his capacity as head of their movement, but did not do so via the powers of the president. We can deal with this sort of power grab far more easily than one which uses presidential authority, if were willing to treat him the same way we would treat any regular citizen doing the same, he said. (Dr. Singh spoke in his personal capacity.)The scenes at the Capitol bear an obvious resemblance to coups, which often involve an armed takeover of legislative buildings. But the resemblance, Dr. de Bruin said, is a superficial one. Theyre emulating coup plotters, she said. But when coup plotters do that, its because they think that occupying that position makes them look like they are holding political power. No one thinks that this group is actually in control.Both experts, however, cautioned against concluding that this is not a serious threat to American democracy.Coups arent that common these days, Dr. de Bruin said. The way we tend to see democracies fail these days is through this subtle undermining and chipping away of democracy.
Politics
Science|How to Watch the Total Solar Eclipsehttps://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/09/science/how-to-watch-the-solar-eclipse.htmlTrilobitesCredit...Beawiharta/ReutersMarch 8, 2016With protective glasses at the ready, skywatchers across Southeast Asia and the western Pacific are preparing to witness a total solar eclipse. But you dont have to live in those parts of the world to observe it. With only a few hours before the cosmic spectacle starts, here are answers to some questions you might have.When does the eclipse begin?Observers in the first places where the total eclipse will be viewable will see it around midnight G.M.T. on Wednesday (7 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday) and those in the last places to witness it will do so around 4 a.m. G.M.T. (11 p.m. Eastern).How can I watch the eclipse from the other side of the world?You have options.Starting at 6 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday (11 p.m. G.M.T.) the Slooh Community Observatory, which operates a global network of telescopes, will begin broadcasting the eclipse live from Tadulako University in Palu, Indonesia. From their vantage point, the moon will commence consuming the sun at 7:37 p.m. Eastern, casting its entire shadow across the sky for about 2 minutes and 4 seconds.The webcast will end at 9:00 p.m. Eastern and then at midnight staff members at Slooh plan to post a time-lapse video of the entire event.If I miss that show, can I still catch the eclipse?Nearly 1,700 miles away on Woleai atoll in Micronesia, a team from NASA and the San Francisco Exploratorium will also be livestreaming the eclipse beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern. At approximately 8:38 p.m. Eastern, the moon will plunge the island into complete darkness. The sun will re-emerge around 8:42 p.m. Eastern. Several intrepid researchers traveled to the remote island which is 420 miles away from its nearest airport because at 4 minutes and 3 seconds, Woleai offers one of the longest views of the total eclipse. Watch the stream at this link, or in the embedded player below. NASA is also showing raw footage without commentary.How are people sharing photos on social media?Several hashtags on Instagram, Twitter and other social media sites have popped up in preparation for the eclipse including #eclipse2016, #totalsolareclipse and #shadeup, as well as #GerhanaMatahariTotal2016 among users in Indonesia. Those who capture images of the event can also add their photos to the NASA flickr group.How else are people watching the eclipse?About 170 passengers aboard Alaska Airlines Flight 870 will be viewing the eclipse from 36,000 feet in the air as they fly from Anchorage, Alaska, to Honolulu, Hawaii. The airline decided a year ago to delay the flights ordinary schedule by 25 minutes to give astronomers and other eclipse enthusiasts a rare chance to chase the event from the sky. For a minute and 53 seconds of the planes route, the sky will be blacked out.
science
Credit...Greg Lehman/Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, via Associated PressNov. 2, 2016Summer is the season when children play outdoors tirelessly until nightfall, burning up all the energy they had stockpiled throughout the school year, right?Reality check: According to a new national study of younger elementary school students, the risk of gaining excessive weight is far greater during the summer than when they are in school.A nationally representative sample of 18,170 kindergartners was weighed in the early fall and again in the late spring from 2010 through 2013, when the children were finishing second grade. The prevalence of children who were overweight increased to 28.7 percent from 23.3 percent. The prevalence of those who measured as obese grew to 11.5 percent from 8.9 percent. Most strikingly, according to the study published on Wednesday in the journal Obesity, all of the increases were during the summer breaks. No increase in the prevalence of being overweight or obese was seen during the school year.Its dispiriting how little progress we can see as a result of all these school-based fitness and nutrition programs, said Paul von Hippel, the lead author and an associate professor of public affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. He was referring to initiatives such as soda bans, recalibrated school cafeteria food and more attention to physical education and nutrition curriculums.But it makes sense if you believe that schools were never the problem to begin with. Nor can they be much of the solution, added Mr. von Hippel, who said that family education and access to summer fitness programs needed to be bolstered.The research is the most rigorous and long-term in a growing collection of evidence suggesting that childrens ability to maintain a healthy weight can slip when they are out of school, much like their reading and math skills.The complex factors that contribute to this phenomenon are only beginning to be examined. Experts note that in the summer, children do not have a strict, school-defined schedule, so they spend more sedentary time snacking in front of screens. They go to bed later and get less sleep (which can contribute to weight gain). And because heat renders them sluggish, they can be less active.By contrast, despite schools limitations, it offers a built-in protective structure for weight-and-fitness maintenance. During the academic year, meal times at home and school become more fixed; sleep is better regulated; physical education and recess, however minimal, is in the schedule; and, most critically, by being in class during the day and doing homework afterward, students have less time for screens.Dr. Natalie Muth, a pediatrician and dietitian in Carlsbad, Calif., whose practice includes a healthy weight clinic, frequently sees children who struggle with summertime weight gain. One challenge for many during those months, she said, is that they are not getting free school lunches, which may be healthier than those they eat at home.Another, she added, is that while parents are working, they turn to other caregivers, who may not follow the familys school-year regimen. Grandparents love to use food as rewards, Dr. Muth said.The obesity rates will continue to remain high, Mr. von Hippel said, until we get serious about reducing screen time and confronting food marketing practices outside of school.Mr. von Hippel first noted this trend in a shorter study published in 2007, in which he examined results from the federal Early Childhood Longitudinal Study in which federal researchers collected statistics over time on a wide range of issues that could relate to school performance.In 2014, a study by Harvard researchers, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, summarized the results of seven smaller summer-weight-gain studies. It found that some minorities might be more vulnerable to gaining weight, and it raised concerns about long-term health implications. The new research found no significant difference either by race or income in summers effect. Like the C.D.C., the new Obesity report also encouraged more access for children to recreational facilities and physical activity programming in the summertime.We put so many resources into fine-tuning healthy school curriculums, and then we send children off for three or four months with very little in terms of resources. So why do we think childrens development only happens part of the year? said Amy Bohnert, an associate professor of psychology at Loyola University Chicago and the lead author of a chapter on obesity in a new book, The Summer Slide: What We Know and Can Do About Summer Learning Loss.Schools could begin conversations with children and families earlier in the year about summer routines, she said, noting, Kids are sent home with summer reading lists, so we need to send a message that this is important, too.Amy Moyer, a registered dietitian with Action for Healthy Kids, which supports health-based programs around the country, said schools still play a critical role in educating children about nutrition. Schools are in the unique position of modeling healthy behaviors and supporting kids and their families in making healthy choices, she said.Experts say that schools are assuming an increasing burden in educating children about the many risks in modern living, but community and statewide organizations also need to step up their involvement. A key player, they add, is the pediatrician.Dr. Teresia OConnor, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Baylor College of Medicine, who researches childhood nutrition and obesity, wonders whether parents tend to be more lenient with behavioral rules in the summer. In her practice, she said, Weve been starting to talk with parents in the late spring about what they can do to help their child maintain healthy behaviors that they do during the school year, when school lets out.
Health
Sports|B.C. Wins Beanpot, Againhttps://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/11/sports/bc-wins-beanpot-again.htmlSports Briefing | College HockeyFeb. 11, 2014Patrick Brown tipped in a shot from the point with 5 minutes 30 seconds minutes to play for the tiebreaking goal and added another in the final minute, lifting Boston College to a school-record fifth straight Beanpot championship with a 4-1 win over Northeastern.Boston College (22-4-3) took over the No. 1 spot in the national rankings.
Sports
Health|The Delta variant caused a spike in deaths among nursing home residents, a study finds.https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/03/health/delta-deaths-nursing-homes.htmlNursing homes reported nearly 1,800 deaths among their residents and staff in August, the highest monthly toll since February.Credit...Seth Wenig/Associated PressPublished Oct. 3, 2021Updated Oct. 10, 2021Although nursing home deaths from Covid-19 remain dramatically down from their peak at the end of last year, a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis shows a significant uptick in August as the Delta variant swept through the country.After declining for months, largely because of the federal effort to vaccinate residents, the number of deaths rose sharply from July to August. Nursing homes reported nearly 1,800 deaths among their residents and staff in August, which represented the highest monthly toll since February.The findings underscore the ongoing vulnerability of nursing home residents, who are old and in poor health, and highlight the importance of getting booster shots to people in this population. The rising number of infections could fuel more calls to vaccinate nursing home workers ahead of the federal requirement announced in August by President Biden.While the vast majority of Covid-19 deaths happened outside of nursing homes in July and August, the high rate of increase within nursing homes indicates that residents and staff in these settings are at risk of death during the Delta surge, the researchers said. The study, published Friday, did not break out how many of the dead were unvaccinated.August saw a much steeper increase in deaths in nursing homes than in the community at large, said Priya Chidambaram, a senior policy analyst for the foundation and one of the studys authors. Vaccinations are very strongly protecting people in these facilities, but the Delta variant did have an impact, she said.Preliminary data from September may indicate deaths are falling again, she said.Nursing homes were especially hard hit early on in the pandemic, accounting for nearly a third of the countrys overall deaths through the end of June, according to the Kaiser analysis. But the vaccination of residents brought the monthly number of deaths down from a high of around 22,000 in December and January to around 300 for June and July.Although cases did increase, were still nowhere near our peak in December 2020, nor at any point last year, thanks to safe and effective vaccines as well as providers ongoing vaccination efforts and infection control measures, the American Health Care Association, a major nursing home trade group, said in a statement.The association said infections were largely the result of a high number of cases in the surrounding community. The very small number of cases occurring are largely happening in communities where there is high spread and low vaccination rates among the general population, the group said.But the group added that it was encouraged by the recent rollout of booster shots for the Pfizer vaccine and said it was eager to follow any developments regarding the other vaccines.While the vaccination rate among residents is now approaching 85 percent, according to the latest data from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, only about 65 percent of nursing home employees are vaccinated, roughly the same percentage as American adults overall.The rate of increase among staff is slower than among residents, Ms. Chidambaram said.
Health
Europe|In Armenia, What Do You Want to Be? Is Asked in Infancyhttps://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/12/world/europe/armenia-atam-hatik-agra-hadig.htmlCredit...Illustration by Leif Parson; Photographs by Africa Studio, Oleg Krugliak, Chanyoot_CB, Rawin Tanpin, Olga Popova, Ruslan Ivantsov/ShutterstockMarch 12, 2017Children in Armenia start thinking about their careers at a very young age around six months or so.When an infants first tooth arrives, typically in four to seven months, a celebration takes place known variously as the agra hadig or atam hatik.As part of the ritual, objects symbolizing different professions are arrayed in front of a child: a microphone for an entertainer, a stethoscope for a doctor, scissors for a tailor or money for a banker. Whichever object the baby chooses first is thought to be a sign of where the childs professional aptitude lies.With the appearance of teeth, a child can begin to eat solid food, and the acquisition of this adult skill is believed to be a propitious time to foretell what the future holds, said Yulia Antonyan, a professor in the department of cultural studies at Yerevan State University in Armenias capital.There are no obligatory objects, but sets available for purchase will often include traditional artisan tools and choices epitomizing a more modern lifestyle. Parents are free to add to or omit from the mix as they wish.Parents may orchestrate the future life of their offspring by choosing only those objects that symbolize prestigious and desired professions, Professor Antonyan said. A book for a scientist or writer; a pencil for an architect, designer or artist; a calculator for an accountant.Parents can also game the selection by positioning objects nearer to or farther from their infants reach. At one recent ceremony, the father of the baby asked to place a ladle a bit far from his daughter to save her from a destiny of a housewife, Professor Antonyan said.At the foundation of the ritual, and reflected in its names, is a magical association between teeth (agra or atam) and grain (hadig or hatik), according to Professor Antonyan.The ceremony begins by pouring various cereal grains over and around the child. Typically but not always, the babys head is protected by a piece of fabric, a pair of hands or sometimes even an umbrella.The ritual sprinkling is thought to ensure that the child will have healthy, even teeth. It could also have fertility associations, akin to throwing rice at a wedding, according to Levon Abrahamian, a cultural anthropologist in Yerevan.Today, teeth-shaped cakes, toys, candy and balloons are popular party favors at these celebrations, which are widely practiced in Armenia and across the Armenian diaspora.In the earliest written references to the ritual, from the 19th century, just two objects were put before the teething child. The prediction then was not about an adult profession but the sex of the next sibling: Grasping a knife meant a brother was on the way, a comb (or mirror) a sister.The divination for the future profession was developed much later in the urbanized and modernized environment of Soviet Armenia and the diaspora, Professor Antonyan said, when the future career would determine the babys life.
World
Technology|Google Takes Aim at Amazon. Again.https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/23/technology/google-ecommerce-amazon.htmlThe company is unveiling another initiative to compete more effectively with Amazons e-commerce business.Credit...Jason Henry for The New York TimesJuly 23, 2020Google is getting serious about competing with Amazon in online shopping just as it did in 2013, 2014, 2017 and 2019.But in 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to grip America, the push to create an online shopping marketplace to compete with Amazon has taken on new urgency as consumers are avoiding stores and turning to the internet to fill more of their shopping needs.On Thursday, Google announced that it would take steps to bring more sellers and products onto its shopping site by waiving sales commissions and allowing retailers to use popular third-party payment and order management services like Shopify instead of the companys own systems. Currently, commissions on Google Shopping range from a 5 percent to 15 percent cut depending on the products.Google is usually the starting point for finding information on the internet, but that is often not the case when consumers are searching for a product to buy. More consumers in the United States are turning first to Amazon to find products that they plan to purchase. This has allowed Amazon to build a rapidly growing advertising business, which is a threat to Googles main financial engine.Googles seven-year battle to take on Amazon has had more lows than highs. In 2013, it started Google Shopping Express, a service offering free same-day delivery. It offered $95 annual memberships for faster delivery, and it tried delivering groceries. Google eventually scrapped the efforts.Google Express evolved into an online mall filled with top retailers like Target and Best Buy. In 2017, it added Walmart to its virtual mall, but the partnership was short-lived. Last year, Google ditched Google Express for Google Shopping and introduced a buy button to allow shoppers to use credit cards stored with the company to complete the transaction without leaving the search engine.This year, Google brought in Bill Ready, a former executive at PayPal, to be its president of commerce and to compete more successfully with Amazon.Google announced in April that it would allow anyone to list products for free on its shopping site, reversing its previous policy of requiring sellers to buy an ad for products to appear. The company also announced that those free listings would appear on its search results. By eliminating the cost of listing and selling products, Google aims to make it more appealing for retailers to put products in front of the search engines enormous user base.In an interview, Mr. Ready said most retailers were already lagging behind in e-commerce before the pandemic hit. And as more consumers moved to shop online in recent months, the gap has widened with much of the growth in online sales swallowed by a handful of players.We want to make sure selling online is easy and inexpensive, he said.The changes are expected to start immediately in the United States before rolling out to other countries this year. Google also said sellers that had an inventory of products listed on Amazon could move them over to Google without changing the data format.While all of Googles moves are clearly aimed at unsettling Amazon, Mr. Ready wouldnt address its Seattle rival and refused to utter the A-word even once in a 20-minute discussion. (He even dodged a question about what is the name of the giant rainforest in South America.)The closest he came was not very close.Consumers benefit from a diverse and thriving ecosystem of sellers, he said. There is no one player that can serve all the needs of consumers.
Tech
Buying PowerCredit...Left: Patrick McMullan Company; Right: Doug KuntzDec. 29, 2015WASHINGTON The hedge fund magnates Daniel S. Loeb, Louis Moore Bacon and Steven A. Cohen have much in common. They have managed billions of dollars in capital, earning vast fortunes. They have invested large sums in art and millions more in political candidates.Moreover, each has exploited an esoteric tax loophole that saved them millions in taxes. The trick? Route the money to Bermuda and back.With inequality at its highest levels in nearly a century and public debate rising over whether the government should respond to it through higher taxes on the wealthy, the very richest Americans have financed a sophisticated and astonishingly effective apparatus for shielding their fortunes. Some call it the income defense industry, consisting of a high-priced phalanx of lawyers, estate planners, lobbyists and anti-tax activists who exploit and defend a dizzying array of tax maneuvers, virtually none of them available to taxpayers of more modest means.In recent years, this apparatus has become one of the most powerful avenues of influence for wealthy Americans of all political stripes, including Mr. Loeb and Mr. Cohen, who give heavily to Republicans, and the liberal billionaire George Soros, who has called for higher levies on the rich while at the same time using tax loopholes to bolster his own fortune.All are among a small group providing much of the early cash for the 2016 presidential campaign.Operating largely out of public view in tax court, through arcane legislative provisions and in private negotiations with the Internal Revenue Service the wealthy have used their influence to steadily whittle away at the governments ability to tax them. The effect has been to create a kind of private tax system, catering to only several thousand Americans.The impact on their own fortunes has been stark. Two decades ago, when Bill Clinton was elected president, the 400 highest-earning taxpayers in America paid nearly 27 percent of their income in federal taxes, according to I.R.S. data. By 2012, when President Obama was re-elected, that figure had fallen to less than 17 percent, which is just slightly more than the typical family making $100,000 annually, when payroll taxes are included for both groups.The ultra-wealthy literally pay millions of dollars for these services, said Jeffrey A. Winters, a political scientist at Northwestern University who studies economic elites, and save in the tens or hundreds of millions in taxes.Some of the biggest current tax battles are being waged by some of the most generous supporters of 2016 candidates. They include the families of the hedge fund investors Robert Mercer, who gives to Republicans, and James Simons, who gives to Democrats; as well as the options trader Jeffrey Yass, a libertarian-leaning donor to Republicans.Mr. Yasss firm is litigating what the agency deemed to be tens of millions of dollars in underpaid taxes. Renaissance Technologies, the hedge fund Mr. Simons founded and which Mr. Mercer helps run, is currently under review by the I.R.S. over a loophole that saved their fund an estimated $6.8 billion in taxes over roughly a decade, according to a Senate investigation. Some of these same families have also contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to conservative groups that have attacked virtually any effort to raises taxes on the wealthy.In the heat of the presidential race, the influence of wealthy donors is being tested. At stake is the Obama administrations 2013 tax increase on high earners the first substantial increase in two decades and an I.R.S. initiative to ensure that, in effect, the higher rates stick by cracking down on tax avoidance by the wealthy.While Democrats like Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have pledged to raise taxes on these voters, virtually every Republican has advanced policies that would vastly reduce their tax bills, sometimes to as little as 10 percent of their income.At the same time, most Republican candidates favor eliminating the inheritance tax, a move that would allow the new rich, and the old, to bequeath their fortunes intact, solidifying the wealth gap far into the future. And several have proposed a substantial reduction or even elimination in the already deeply discounted tax rates on investment gains, a foundation of the most lucrative tax strategies.Theres this notion that the wealthy use their money to buy politicians; more accurately, its that they can buy policy, and specifically, tax policy, said Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities who served as chief economic adviser to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Thats why these egregious loopholes exist, and why its so hard to close them.The Family OfficeEach of the top 400 earners took home, on average, about $336 million in 2012, the latest year for which data is available. If the bulk of that money had been paid out as salary or wages, as it is for the typical American, the tax obligations of those wealthy taxpayers could have more than doubled.Instead, much of their income came from convoluted partnerships and high-end investment funds. Other earnings accrued in opaque family trusts and foreign shell corporations, beyond the reach of the tax authorities.The well-paid technicians who devise these arrangements toil away at white-shoe law firms and elite investment banks, as well as a variety of obscure boutiques. But at the fulcrum of the strategizing over how to minimize taxes are so-called family offices, the customized wealth management departments of Americans with hundreds of millions or billions of dollars in assets.Family offices have existed since the late 19th century, when the Rockefellers pioneered the institution, and gained popularity in the 1980s. But they have proliferated rapidly over the last decade, as the ranks of the super-rich, and the size of their fortunes, swelled to record proportions.We have so much wealth being created, significant wealth, that it creates a need for the family office structure now, said Sree Arimilli, an industry recruiting consultant.Family offices, many of which are dedicated to managing and protecting the wealth of a single family, oversee everything from investment strategy to philanthropy. But tax planning is a core function. While the specific techniques these advisers employ to minimize taxes can be mind-numbingly complex, they generally follow a few simple principles, like converting one type of income into another type thats taxed at a lower rate.Mr. Loeb, for example, has invested in a Bermuda-based reinsurer an insurer to insurance companies that turns around and invests the money in his hedge fund. That maneuver transforms his profits from short-term bets in the market, which the government taxes at roughly 40 percent, into long-term profits, known as capital gains, which are taxed at roughly half that rate. It has had the added advantage of letting Mr. Loeb defer taxes on this income indefinitely, allowing his wealth to compound and grow more quickly.The Bermuda insurer Mr. Loeb helped set up went public in 2013 and is active in the insurance business, not merely a tax dodge. Mr. Cohen and Mr. Bacon abandoned similar insurance-based strategies in recent years. Our investment in Max Re was not a tax-driven scheme, but rather a sound investment response to investor interest in a more dynamically managed portfolio akin to Warren Buffetts Berkshire Hathaway, said Mr. Bacon, who leads Moore Capital Management. Hedge funds were a minority of the investment portfolio, and Moore Capitals products a much smaller subset of this alternative portfolio. Mr. Loeb and Mr. Cohen declined to comment.ImageCredit...Left: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg News, via Getty ImagesOrganizing ones business as a partnership can be lucrative in its own right. Some of the partnerships from which the wealthy derive their income are allowed to sell shares to the public, making it easy to cash out a chunk of the business while retaining control. But unlike publicly traded corporations, they pay no corporate income tax; the partners pay taxes as individuals. And the income taxes are often reduced by large deductions, such as for depreciation.For large private partnerships, meanwhile, the I.R.S. often struggles to determine whether a tax shelter exists, an abusive tax transaction is being used, according to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office. The agency is not allowed to collect underpaid taxes directly from these partnerships, even those with several hundred partners. Instead, it must collect from each individual partner, requiring the agency to commit significant time and manpower.The wealthy can also avail themselves of a range of esoteric and customized tax deductions that go far beyond writing off a home office or dinner with a client. One aggressive strategy is to place income in a type of charitable trust, generating a deduction that offsets the income tax. The trust then purchases whats known as a private placement life insurance policy, which invests the money on a tax-free basis, frequently in a number of hedge funds. The persons heirs can inherit, also tax-free, whatever money is left after the trust pays out a percentage each year to charity, often a considerable sum.Many of these maneuvers are well established, and wealthy taxpayers say they are well within their rights to exploit them. Others exist in a legal gray area, its boundaries defined by the willingness of taxpayers to defend their strategies against the I.R.S. Almost all are outside the price range of the average taxpayer.Among tax lawyers and accountants, the best and brightest get a high from figuring out how to do tricky little deals, said Karen L. Hawkins, who until recently headed the I.R.S. office that oversees tax practitioners. Frankly, it is almost beyond the intellectual and resource capacity of the Internal Revenue Service to catch.The combination of cost and complexity has had a profound effect, tax experts said. Whatever tax rates Congress sets, the actual rates paid by the ultra-wealthy tend to fall over time as they exploit their numerous advantages.From Mr. Obamas inauguration through the end of 2012, federal income tax rates on individuals did not change (excluding payroll taxes). But the highest-earning one-thousandth of Americans went from paying an average of 20.9 percent to 17.6 percent. By contrast, the top 1 percent, excluding the very wealthy, went from paying just under 24 percent on average to just over that level.We do have two different tax systems, one for normal wage-earners and another for those who can afford sophisticated tax advice, said Victor Fleischer, a law professor at the University of San Diego who studies the intersection of tax policy and inequality. At the very top of the income distribution, the effective rate of tax goes down, contrary to the principles of a progressive income tax system.A Very Quiet DefenseHaving helped foster an alternative tax system, wealthy Americans have been aggressive in defending it.Trade groups representing the Bermuda-based insurance company Mr. Loeb helped set up, for example, have spent the last several months pleading with the I.R.S. that its proposed rules tightening the hedge fund insurance loophole are too onerous.The major industry group representing private equity funds spends hundreds of thousands of dollars each year lobbying on such issues as carried interest, the granddaddy of Wall Street tax loopholes, which makes it possible for fund managers to pay the capital gains rate rather than the higher standard tax rate on a substantial share of their income for running the fund.The budget deal that Congress approved in October allows the I.R.S. to collect underpaid taxes from large partnerships at the firm level for the first time which is far easier for the agency thanks to a provision that lawmakers slipped into the deal at the last minute, before many lobbyists could mobilize. But the new rules are relatively weak firms can still choose to have partners pay the taxes and dont take effect until 2018, giving the wealthy plenty of time to weaken them further.Shortly after the provision passed, the Managed Funds Association, an industry group that represents prominent hedge funds like D. E. Shaw, Renaissance Technologies, Tiger Management and Third Point, began meeting with members of Congress to discuss a wish list of adjustments. The founders of these funds have all donated at least $500,000 to 2016 presidential candidates. During the Obama presidency, the association itself has risen to become one of the most powerful trade groups in Washington, spending over $4 million a year on lobbying.And while the lobbying clout of the wealthy is most often deployed through industry trade associations and lawyers, some rich families have locked arms to advance their interests more directly.The inheritance tax has been a primary target. In the early 1990s, a California family office executive named Patricia Soldano began lobbying on behalf of wealthy families to repeal the tax, which would not only save them money, but also make it easier to preserve their business empires from one generation to the next. The idea struck many hardened operatives as unrealistic at the time, given that the tax affected only the wealthiest Americans. But Ms. Soldanos efforts funded in part by the Mars and Koch families laid the groundwork for a one-year elimination in 2010.The tax has been restored, but currently applies only to couples leaving roughly $11 million or more to their heirs, up from those leaving more than $1.2 million when Ms. Soldano started her campaign. It affected fewer than 5,200 families last year.If anyone would have told me wed be where we are today, I would never have guessed it, Ms. Soldano said in an interview.Some of the most profound victories are barely known outside the insular world of the wealthy and their financial managers.In 2009, Congress set out to require that investment partnerships like hedge funds register with the Securities and Exchange Commission, partly so that regulators would have a better grasp on the risks they posed to the financial system.The early legislative language would have required single-family offices to register as well, exposing the highly secretive institutions to scrutiny that their clients were eager to avoid. Some of the I.R.S.s cases against the wealthy originate with tips from the S.E.C., which is often better positioned to spot tax evasion.By the summer of 2009, several family office executives had formed a lobbying group called the Private Investor Coalition to push back against the proposal. The coalition won an exemption in the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, then spent much of the next year persuading the S.E.C. to largely adopt its preferred definition of family office.So expansive was the resulting loophole that Mr. Soross $24.5 billion hedge fund took advantage of it, converting to a family office after returning capital to its remaining outside investors. The hedge fund manager Stanley Druckenmiller, a former business partner of Mr. Soros, took the same step.The Soros family, which generally supports Democrats, has committed at least $1 million to the 2016 presidential campaign; Mr. Druckenmiller, who favors Republicans, has put slightly more than $300,000 behind three different G.O.P. presidential candidates.A slide presentation from the Private Investor Coalitions 2013 annual meeting credited the success to multiple meetings with members of the Senate Banking Committee, the House Financial Services Committee, congressional staff and S.E.C. staff. All with a low profile, the document noted. We got most of what we wanted AND a few extras we didnt request.A Hobbled MonitorAfter all the loopholes and all the lobbying, what remains of the governments ability to collect taxes from the wealthy runs up against one final hurdle: the crisis facing the I.R.S.President Obama has made fighting tax evasion by the rich a priority. In 2010, he signed legislation making it easier to identify Americans who squirreled away assets in Swiss bank accounts and Cayman Islands shelters.His I.R.S. convened a Global High Wealth Industry Group, known colloquially as the wealth squad, to scrutinize the returns of Americans with incomes of at least $10 million a year.But while these measures have helped the government retrieve billions, the agencys efforts have flagged in the face of scandal, political pressure and budget cuts. Between 2010, the year before Republicans took control of the House of Representatives, and 2014, the I.R.S. budget dropped by almost $2 billion in real terms, or nearly 15 percent. That has forced it to shed about 5,000 high-level enforcement positions out of about 23,000, according to the agency.Audit rates for the $10 million-plus club spiked in the first few years of the Global High Wealth program, but have plummeted since then.ImageCredit...Left: Carly Erickson/BFA; Right: Doug Kuntz for The New York TimesThe political challenge for the agency became especially acute in 2013, after the agency acknowledged singling out conservative nonprofits in a review of political activity by tax-exempt groups. (Senior officials left the agency as a result of the controversy.)Several former I.R.S. officials, including Marcus Owens, who once headed the agencys Exempt Organizations division, said the controversy badly damaged the agencys willingness to investigate other taxpayers, even outside the exempt division.I.R.S. enforcement is either absent or diminished in certain areas, he said. Mr. Owens added that his former department which provides some oversight of money used by charities and nonprofits has been decimated.Groups like FreedomWorks and Americans for Tax Reform, which are financed partly by the foundations of wealthy families and large businesses, have called for impeaching the I.R.S. commissioner. They are bolstered by deep-pocketed advocacy groups like the Club for Growth, which has aided primary challenges against Republicans who have voted in favor of higher taxes.In 2014, the Club for Growth Action fund raised more than $9 million and spent much of it helping candidates critical of the I.R.S. Roughly 60 percent of the money raised by the fund came from just 12 donors, including Mr. Mercer, who has given the group $2 million in the last five years. Mr. Mercer and his immediate family have also donated more than $11 million to several super PACs supporting Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, an outspoken I.R.S. critic and a presidential candidate.Another prominent donor is Mr. Yass, who helps run a trading firm called the Susquehanna International Group. He donated $100,000 to the Club for Growth Action fund in September. Mr. Yass serves on the board of the libertarian Cato Institute and, like Mr. Mercer, appears to subscribe to limited-government views that partly motivate his political spending.But he may also have more than a passing interest in creating a political environment that undermines the I.R.S. Susquehanna is currently challenging a proposed I.R.S. determination that an affiliate of the firm effectively repatriated more than $375 million in income from subsidiaries located in Ireland and the Cayman Islands in 2007, creating a large tax liability. (The affiliate brought the money back to the United States in later years and paid dividend taxes on it; the I.R.S. asserts that it should have paid the ordinary income tax rate, at a cost of tens of millions of dollars more.)In June, Mr. Yass donated more than $2 million to three super PACs aligned with Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who has called for taxing all income at a flat rate of 14.5 percent. That change in itself would save wealthy supporters like Mr. Yass millions of dollars.Mr. Paul, also a presidential candididate, has suggested going even further, calling the I.R.S. a rogue agency and circulating a petition in 2013 calling for the tax equivalent of regime change. Be it now therefore resolved, the petition reads, that we, the undersigned, demand the immediate abolishment of the Internal Revenue Service.But even if that campaign is a long shot, the richest taxpayers will continue to enjoy advantages over everyone else.For the ultra-wealthy, our tax code is like a leaky barrel, said J. Todd Metcalf, the Democrats chief tax counsel on the Senate Finance Committee. Unless you plug every hole or get a new barrel, its going to leak out.
Business
Health|CureVac has withdrawn its Covid vaccine application to European regulators.https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/12/health/curevac-covid-vaccine-europe.htmlCureVac has withdrawn its Covid vaccine application to European regulators.Credit...Thomas Kienzle/Agence France-Presse Getty ImagesOct. 12, 2021The German company CureVac announced on Tuesday that it was withdrawing its mRNA vaccine for Covid-19 from the approval process in Europe. The company pulled the plug after determining that it might take until June for regulators to make a ruling about the vaccine.With other mRNA vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech already in wide distribution, the company decided it was time to give up on its initial efforts to address the Covid-19 emergency.The pandemic window is closing, Franz-Werner Haas, CureVacs chief executive, said in an interview.The company will also terminate its advance agreement with the European Commission to sell it 405 million doses of the vaccine after approval.But in the longer term, CureVac is not out of the Covid-19 vaccine business. The company is partnering with the pharmaceutical giant GSK to start a clinical trial of a new version of the vaccine that they hope will be more effective. The companies are also investigating how to combine seasonal booster shots to work against both Covid-19 and influenza.Founded 20 years ago, CureVac pioneered early research on mRNA vaccines along with the German firm BioNTech and the U.S. company Moderna. At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, all three companies developed new vaccines against the coronavirus.While Moderna and BioNTech moved swiftly into clinical trials, CureVac was slower to find partners to support its vaccines development. Nevertheless, some experts saw promise in the CureVac shot, hoping that it could help address the global shortfall in Covid vaccines.The European Medicines Agency gave CureVac special priority for its application, cutting the time needed for authorization. But in June, the company made a disappointing announcement: A clinical trial found that the vaccines efficacy was just 48 percent. By comparison, the vaccines from BioNTech and Moderna had efficacies around 95 percent.Despite that disappointment, CureVac went ahead with its application for authorization in Europe, and submitted a final data package in September. In its updated application, CureVac asked that the vaccine be considered only for people 18 to 60 years old. In that group, the clinical trial had found a moderately higher vaccine efficacy, of 53 percent.The European regulators response was less than encouraging. We were not being lined up for emergency review, said Dr. Klaus Edvardsen, the companys chief development officer.CureVacs Covid-19 vaccine is now the seventh to be abandoned after entering clinical trials. Last month, Sanofi announced it was giving up on its mRNA vaccine.But CureVacs newer version may have more success. In August, the company shared the results of an experiment on monkeys, showing that the new vaccine generated 10 times as many antibodies against the coronavirus as the original one did. CureVac will begin testing it in people in the next couple of months.Dr. Haas said the companys strategy is now to be fast with a second generation rather than to be very late with the first generation.
Health
TrilobitesCredit...J.J. HarrisonNov. 9, 2016Over the vast plains of the open ocean, where wave lines may be the only markers, seabirds, including albatrosses, manage to find food.They feed on swarms of krill tiny crustaceans that swirl near the surface of the ocean and their relatives. But over the last 50 years, they also feed on a bounty of plastic from trash, usually broken up into small pieces by exposure to waves, ultraviolet radiation and other factors, often called microplastics.Many theories about why these birds and other marine animals eat plastic have been raised. Some people have speculated that they mistake it for food because of its appearance. To two scientists from the University of California, Davis, that explanation didnt fully account for what they knew about birds. And in a study released Wednesday in Science Advances, their suspicions were confirmed.Matthew S. Savoca, a graduate student at the university and the papers lead author, said, People say its because the animals dont know any better, or theyre stupid, or it looks like other food they eat, he said. But that really doesnt take into account that these animals have been honed evolutionarily over hundreds of thousands of years to find little patches of food in the open ocean.Gabrielle A. Nevitt, a professor of life sciences who specializes in animal behavior and sensory biology and an author of the paper, has been studying these types of seabirds for decades. In her previous research, she found that these types of birds (which the paper describes as procellariiform species) have a strong sense of smell, and respond to a certain chemical, dimethyl sulfide, as a cue to find their prey.Dimethyl sulfide is released by phytoplankton as it gets eaten by a predator or breaks down in the ocean or on shore, signaling to these birds and others to come eat the phytoplanktons predators (like krill).Dr. Nevitt and Mr. Savoca found that the chemical is also released when tiny pieces of plastic are present in the ocean, often a result of biofouling, which describes the process when algae colonizes pieces of plastic, and then die or are eaten by other organisms.In this study, the scientists used plastic beads of the type used in bottles, bags, textiles and hundreds of applications, ranging from four to six millimeters in diameter. After the microplastics had been in the ocean for about three weeks, dimethyl sulfide was found in the water and air around them in concentrations high enough that these types of birds may be able to smell, the scientists found, using tools that are otherwise meant for measuring sulfur in beer or wine.The study suggests that the odor of dimethyl sulfide on or around marine plastic debris is maladaptive foraging behavior that the birds are using their evolutionary traits to forage for food in ways that might be bad for them, causing problems like chemical toxicity or obstruction. According to the study, a recent projection model concluded that more than 99 percent of all seabird species will have eaten plastic debris by 2050.Dr. Nevitt said that the study could have implications for other marine animals. Those that eat similar species to these birds like baleen whales or those that may also be attracted to dimethyl sulfide like sea turtles could be at risk. The researchers hope the study will help determine strategies for how to fight this growing environmental problem, as plastic pollution increases in the ocean.Fifty or 60 years ago, there was no plastic in the ocean, Mr. Savoca said. Now, estimates hover in the hundreds of millions of tons. Were changing the world so rapidly that these animals cant evolve rapidly enough to keep up.
science
VideotranscripttranscriptStudent Death Leads to Protests in DhakaStudents took to the streets to protest the killing of a liberal blogger who was attending the university in Dhaka. The death came after a string of similar attacks by Islamist militants on liberal bloggers.AP TELEVISION - AP CLIENTS ONLY // Dhaka - 7 April, 2016 // Various more of protest // Various of Jagannath University students demonstrating in front of their campus against the killing of Nazimuddin Samad, who was hacked and shot to death // DHAKA, BANGLADESH (APRIL 7, 2016) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) // SOUNDBITE) (Bengali) UNIVERSITY STUDENT, BILLAL HOSSAIN, SAYING: We are protesting here because one of our law students at the university was brutally killed, we want a proper investigation and we want justice for the killing. // Senior assistance police commissioner briefing the press // SOUNDBITE (Bengali): Shahen Shah Mahmud, Senior Assistance Police Commissioner with Dhaka Metropolitan Police: Some miscreants killed him after tracking (him down). It could be linked to previous enmity or a personal clash. We are investigating it, keeping such factors in mind. // Various of body of Samad on guerney // Exterior of Dhaka Mitford Hospital mortuaryStudents took to the streets to protest the killing of a liberal blogger who was attending the university in Dhaka. The death came after a string of similar attacks by Islamist militants on liberal bloggers.CreditCredit...Munir Uz Zaman/Agence France-Presse Getty ImagesApril 7, 2016NEW DELHI Men armed with machetes killed a secular activist at a crowded intersection in Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital, a police official said on Thursday, the latest in a series of grisly attacks on intellectuals and bloggers who have written critically about militant Islam on social media.Witnesses said a group of cleanshaven men surrounded Mohammad Nazim Uddin, a law student, around 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday and slashed his head, then shot him when he fell to the ground, said Syed Nurul Islam, the deputy commissioner of police for Wari, the area of Old Dhaka where the killing took place.Mr. Uddin, 26, was an atheist who frequently expressed his views on Facebook, often posting as many as five times a day. His family had asked him to stop, fearful that the posts would make him a target, and for about four months, ending in January, he had complied, said Gulam Rabbi Chowdhury, a childhood friend.To tell the truth, he was always a little detached from his family; he had trouble with them because of his views on religion, he said. He was very outspoken. He didnt worry about whether you were with him or not.Mr. Uddins killing deepens the sense of dread among those campaigning for secular causes, said Mr. Chowdhury, an official in a regional chapter of the Communist Party of Bangladesh.If we keep our mouths shut, then theyll finish the atheists one by one, and after that, theyll eventually come to us, he said. Everyone is afraid to speak out now.The assault was eerily similar to a series of attacks on bloggers carried out last year, often in crowded public places. The leader of Al Qaedas branch in the Indian subcontinent released a video taking responsibility for two of the killings, calling the victims blasphemers. In October came fatal attacks on two men who had published the works of atheist writers.Many writers and journalists have become hesitant to publish work that could attract the attention of Islamists, and a growing list of activists have applied for asylum in Western countries.Robert D. Watkins, the United Nations resident coordinator in Bangladesh, called on the government to ensure the perpetrators were brought to justice. His statement noted that courts had so far delivered a verdict in only one of the recent blogger killings, the murder of Rajib Haider in 2013.As a student, Mr. Uddin was part of the Shahbag movement, which seeks to punish Islamist leaders convicted of war crimes during the bloody 1971 war for independence from Pakistan.His Facebook writings focused on the ideological rift that has opened among young Bangladeshis, between those who see the country as fundamentally secular and those gravitating toward orthodox Islam.He frequently urged the government to take a tougher line with Islamist groups. In one post, he used a proverb to criticize the governments approach to rising militancy, likening it to raising a baby snake by feeding it milk and bananas. Asked for his religious views, Mr. Uddin wrote, I have no religion.In August, he responded publicly to what appeared to be threats, saying: No one is forcing you to read or look at what I write. So why this violence, this murdering? Then he abruptly ceased his prolific postings, explaining his decision with a grim verse: I wont write anymore. I wont stay here anymore. Your hell can stay your own. Everyone can burn or die in this hell.In January, when he resurfaced on social media, his friends cheered his return and asked why he had been away so long.
World
Dec. 14, 2015Gilt Groupe, a onetime darling of online fashion sales, is nearing a deal to sell itself albeit at a steep discount to its once lofty valuation.The Hudsons Bay Company, which owns Saks Fifth Avenue, is in advanced talks to buy the start-up for about $250 million, a person briefed on the matter said on Monday. That is down significantly from the $1 billion valuation that Gilt fetched more than three years ago.A deal could be announced early next year, though people briefed on the talks cautioned that negotiations were still underway and could still fall apart. Gilt is also speaking with a handful of other potential buyers in addition to Hudsons Bay, according to another person briefed on the talks.Should the two sides reach an agreement, it would cap a long and volatile ride for Gilt, which shook up the fashion industry when it opened for business eight years ago. The company focused on so-called flash sales, in which consumers have a limited amount of time to buy clothes, accessories and furniture sold by the site.The business model was so popular that Gilt raised $138 million from investors like SoftBank of Japan and Goldman Sachs in 2011, even as it remained unprofitable. And the online retailer was regarded as a star in New York Citys start-up community.The companys early success bolstered the reputations of its founders, including Alexis Maybank, Alexandra Wilkis Wilson and Kevin P. Ryan, the former chief executive of the online ad company DoubleClick, who also served as chief executive of Gilt.But flash sale sites, like Gilt, have lost their luster as consumers become increasingly desensitized to deals, analysts say.Estimated sales at the biggest flash sale sites, including Gilt, Rue La La and Zulily, have stalled in recent quarters, and Gilt most likely does not turn a profit, according to analysts. Gilts sales came to less than $700 million last year. In February 2015, Gilt raised $50 million in funding from investors led by the equity firm General Atlantic.And it still had not taken a step toward an initial public offering, as had been discussed earlier with investors.Other flash-sales specialists like Groupon have moved away from the model, while Zulily, which catered to mothers, sold itself to the owner of QVC for nearly 15 percent less than its initial public offering price.Hudsons Bay is also looking for a turnaround. The Canadian department store operator, which bought Saks in 2013, has succumbed to wider retail blues, posting an unexpected loss of 4 cents a share in the third quarter.And while acquisitions including the German department store chain Galeria fueled a 34 percent jump in sales, the increase fell short of analyst expectations. During a conference call with investors, executives at Hudsons Bay, which also owns Lord & Taylor, blamed sluggish mall traffic, as well as the abnormally warm weather across much of the eastern United States that has stalled sales of winter items.Despite Gilts misfortunes, Hudsons Bay believes that the online retailer still has cachet. Chief among Gilts attractions is its solid presence in mobile sales, an area in which the brick-and-mortar retailer has been eager to expand.Hudsons Bay intends to combine Gilt with its Saks Off Fifth line of outlet stores, according to one of the people briefed on the matter.A spokesman for Hudsons Bay Company declined to comment. Jennifer Miller, a spokeswoman for Gilt, said in an email that the company had no comment.News of the discussions was reported earlier by The Wall Street Journal.
Business
Dolores O'Riordan Mourned by Hundreds In Open Coffin Public Reposal 1/21/2018 Dolores O'Riordan was mourned by hundreds this weekend in her native Ireland during an open coffin public reposal -- where bystanders said goodbye to the Cranberries singer. Dolores' body was on display Sunday at St. Joseph's Church, where mourners flocked to pay their respects to the Irish rock star. The casket remained open, and some fans reportedly said she looked "at peace" ... according to the Irish Times. Her mother and six siblings were in attendance, and her Cranberries bandmates left a floral tribute beside her coffin which read ... "The song has ended, but the memories linger on." As we reported ... Dolores died this past week while recording in London. Her rep said she died "suddenly" and cops are treating the death as "unexplained" for now ... no further details have been released. Friends of hers told us she'd been "dreadfully depressed" as of late, and was also suffering from back pain. Dolores will be laid to rest next to her father Tuesday at Caherelly Cemetery in County Limerick, Ireland. RIP
Entertainment
Credit...Vincent Yu/Associated PressDec. 11, 2015The Alibaba Group, the Chinese Internet giant, is making an ambitious play to reshape media coverage of its home country, taking aim at what company executives call the negative portrayal of China in the Western media.As the backbone of this effort, Alibaba agreed on Friday to buy the media assets of the SCMP Group, including one of Hong Kongs most influential English language daily newspapers, The South China Morning Post. Alibaba is acquiring an award-winning newspaper that for decades has reported aggressively on subjects that Chinas state-run media outlets are forbidden to cover, like political scandals and human-rights cases.Alibaba said the deal was fueled by a desire to improve Chinas image and offer an alternative to what it calls the biased lens of Western news outlets. While Alibaba said the Chinese government had no role in its deal to buy the Hong Kong newspaper, the companys position aligns closely with that of the Communist Party, which has grown increasingly critical of the way Western news organizations cover China.This coverage, the company said, influences how investors and others outside China regard Alibaba. The company said its shares, which are listed in New York, were being affected by all the negative reports about China.Our business is so rooted in China, and touches so many aspects of the Chinese economy, that when people dont really understand China and have the wrong perception of China, they also have a lot of misconceptions about Alibaba, Joseph C. Tsai, Alibabas executive vice chairman, said in an interview.Whats good for China is also good for Alibaba, Mr. Tsai added. He echoed a phrase often attributed to the former head of General Motors: Whats good for G.M. is good for America. For Alibaba, the financial stakes are not significant. Estimated to be worth $100 million, the deal represents a relatively small amount for a company with more than $12 billion in annual revenue.The bigger risk is reputational, as Alibaba leaps into the realm of politics. In owning The South China Morning Post, Alibaba will control a news organization that operates along a border that separates two systems, one in Hong Kong with a relatively free press and another in mainland China with strict censorship controls.As speculation of a deal began in recent weeks, some critics in Hong Kong had already started to worry about whether Alibaba was seeking to tame the papers coverage in order to curry favor with the Chinese leadership.The newspaper, which is not subject to Chinas strict censorship rules, has long jumped into controversial issues on the mainland like covering the anniversary of the 1989 pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square and last years Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong. The newspaper has delved into scandals among Chinas elite, including Ling Jihua, who served as an aide to the former Chinese president Hu Jintao.Willy Lam, a political commentator and former editor at the South China Morning Post, said an Alibaba takeover would most likely exacerbate a trend at the paper toward self-censorship on sensitive political issues.Alibaba, however, said it had no intention of interfering with the day-to-day operations of the paper and would not censor articles. The company said it would ensure the papers journalistic independence and integrity.ImageCredit...Kin Cheung/Associated PressWell operate on principles, said Mr. Tsai of Alibaba. Well let the editors make their judgment on what to publish and not to publish. I cant think of anything being off-limits.But Mr. Tsai did not offer details about how Alibaba would execute its vision for more positive coverage on China without sacrificing editorial independence, two agendas that are seemingly at odds. He said that more fair and accurate articles would translate, over time, into a more positive image of the country.With a print circulation of 100,000, The South China Morning Post is relatively small. But the newspaper, which is 112 years old, has outsize influence in the West because of its proximity to China and its English language format.Since 1993, the SCMP Group has been controlled by the family of the Malaysian tycoon Robert Kuok, who has extensive business interests in China through its control of the Kerry Group. The South China Morning Post was once controlled by Rupert Murdochs News Corporation.In addition to The South China Morning Post, Alibaba is also buying the SCMP Groups other media assets, including a portfolio of fashion, travel and lifestyle publications. (Starting in February, copies of The International New York Times for Hong Kong and China will be printed by The South China Morning Post.)But the SCMP Group, like many media operations around the world, is facing financial pressure. The newspapers print circulation has dipped, and its profit growth has been lackluster.Alibaba said it planned to invest in the business, by expanding the staff and developing more digital ventures. The company is also looking to remove the websites paywall, granting free access to its content. (In 2013, another e-commerce giant, Jeffrey Bezos, the founder of Amazon, purchased The Washington Post.) Shares of Alibaba were 5.4 percent lower in trading on Wall Street Friday.Some free press advocates worry that a mainland entrepreneur could face intense pressure from the Chinese government to restrict news coverage or to follow directives of the propaganda arm of the Communist Party. In recent years, there have been growing concerns in Hong Kong that the Chinese government has asked entrepreneurs and advertisers to withdraw support of any publication that is deemed to be hostile to the Communist Party.Alibaba and Jack Ma have done a good job in maintaining good relations with the power structure and not getting involved in politics, said Orville Schell, a director at the Asia Society, referring to Alibabas executive chairman.But buying a newspaper, particularly in Hong Kong, could be hazardous, he said, adding, China is always tempted when things go wrong to take control.Alibabas move reflects a broader evolution in China, as some of the countrys biggest companies look to project a different image to the world.A number of Chinese companies have been making investments in overseas media, film studios and sports broadcasting rights. For instance, the Wanda Group, a company led by the billionaire Wang Jianlin, now controls AMC Entertainment, one of the biggest cinema chains in the United States.ImageCredit...Christophe Petit Tesson/European Pressphoto AgencyThe SCMP deal builds on the enormous ambitions of Mr. Ma, who co-founded the company in 1999 and built it into an e-commerce goliath that is now valued at more than $200 billion.In recent years, the company has expanded into finance, film, online video and social media. The company has also acquired stakes in several domestic media properties, including China Business News. Alibaba also recently completed a deal to fully acquire the online video site Youku.com. (Yahoo, the American online media company, owns a 15 percent stake in Alibaba.)Behind the scenes, Eric X. Li, the prominent Shanghai-based venture capitalist who was an early investor in Youku, helped advise Alibaba on its acquisition of SCMP Groups media assets. Mr. Li has gained notoriety in recent years as a political commentator known for aggressively critiquing American-style democracy and extolling the virtues of the Communist Party, like Chinas leadership system.Chinas re-emergence is perhaps the most consequential development for the world in the 21st century, Mr. Li said in an interview. Media coverage of China in the West has been too ideological and biased.He said Alibabas ownership would give the paper a unique and powerful vantage point to offer global readers a more pluralistic and realistic view of China.Big Chinese companies have been investing in media properties at a time when the countrys authorities have been exerting greater control over the state-run news and social networking sites, as well as blocking access to overseas sites like Google and Facebook. The websites of several major news organizations, including The New York Times, have been blocked in China, amid government criticism that the Western media portrays the country in a negative and unfair way.In an interview, Mr. Tsai, tempered his critique, saying the Western media has done some outstanding reporting in China in recent years. But he and others at Alibaba felt many outlets have placed undue emphasis on government incompetence and negative portrayals of Chinas development.He said Alibaba wanted to deepen the worlds understanding of China, by turning The South China Morning Post into a global platform for news about China.Theres very little downside. Even if we lose money, it wont be material, Mr. Tsai said. But the upside is quite interesting.
Business
Credit...Harald Tittel/Picture-Alliance, via Associated PressMarch 13, 2017BERLIN The bicentennial of the birth of Karl Marx was supposed to bring his hometown, Trier, Germany, an important exhibition about his life and an increase in tourism.But an offer from China to present the city with a nearly 20-foot-tall bronze statue of Marx, the 19th-century intellectual who was one of the writers of The Communist Manifesto, is overshadowing the festivities a year before they begin.After months of discussion and more than an hour of lively debate, the City Council in Trier, in western Germany near the border with Luxembourg, decided on Monday to accept the gift from the Chinese government, by the sculptor Wu Weishan. However, the Council left open the thorny questions of how large it would be and where in the city it would stand.Karl Marx is one of the most important citizens of this city, and we should not hide him, the mayor of Trier, Wolfram Leibe, told the public broadcaster SWR before the vote.Statues of Marx, who was born in Trier on May 5, 1818, and later lived in Berlin, London and Paris, were common throughout Eastern Europe during the Cold War, and several still survive in Germanys formerly communist eastern states, including in Berlin. But his birthplace, firmly in the former West Germany, has struggled with how best to remember its famous son.The city, which is on the banks of the Moselle River and in an important wine-producing area, has increasingly become a destination for tourists from China, but many residents are nevertheless uncomfortable with accepting a gift from the Chinese government.China is not a free country, quite the opposite, a Trier newspaper quoted Tobias Schneider of the Free Democratic Party in Trier as saying on Monday. We could draw up a long list of human rights violations. Do we want to allow such a rogue regime to set up a statue of Karl Marx in the heart of our city?The Chinese told city officials they were offering the statue to honor the bicentennial and as a symbol of the strong ties between the countries. The Chinese government agreed to cover about two-thirds of the cost of a pedestal for the statue and its installation, estimated at 105,000 euros, or about $112,000.But after word spread about the gift, many residents balked at the idea of a bronze version of the father of communism towering over the Simeonstiftplatz, the citys square, which is named for a church that once stood there. City authorities erected a wooden stand-in in the square to give residents an idea of how it might look.In the end, a majority of the Council voted to accept the statue, although perhaps a smaller version of it than was originally envisioned, with a final height to be determined later. It would be unveiled as part of the citys attempt to re-examine Marxs work and the turbulent time in which he lived, through exhibitions and intellectual discussions.This debate is less about human rights, aesthetics or location of the statue, Richard Leuckefelds of the Green Party said. It is about getting the city out of a predicament, because those responsible have failed to honor Karl Marx.
World
Saints' Alvin Kamara No, We Don't Hate Marcus Williams Yes, I Look Like Lil Uzi Vert 1/31/2018 TMZSports.com Saints' record-breaking rookie Alvin Kamara says the team is already over Marcus Williams' historic missed tackle against the Vikings ... telling TMZ Sports the team is 100% behind their guy. Kamara also admits he looks almost exactly like rap superstar Lil Uzi Vert. We got Alvin out at MinneapolisSaint Paul International Airport and asked him how the team responded to Williams after he missed Stefon Diggs with no time left on the clock, allowing the Vikings to pull off the Minnesota Miracle. "Obviously he was down on himself, but we have a supportive locker room and we all picked him up and let him know that it's not just on you." Now to the important news ... Kamara looks like Uzi, it's a thing. We asked him about it, and he addressed it, cooly and calmly just like Uzi would've. It's pretty uncanny.
Entertainment
Credit...Mahmoud Abo Eldahab/EPA, via ShutterstockNov. 4, 2018CAIRO Egypt said on Sunday that it had killed 19 militants linked to an ambush that left seven Christian pilgrims dead, as President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi scrambled to respond to a surge of Christian anger against his government.The Interior Ministry said Egyptian forces had killed the militants during a chase through a mountainous area in the desert west of the ancient monastery where gunmen opened fire on three buses filled with pilgrims on Friday.Six of the seven pilgrims killed in the attack came from the same extended family, Coptic Orthodox officials said.The announcement on Sunday was accompanied by graphic photographs of bloodied bodies lying in the sand. But it offered few details about the circumstances of the raid, including its timing or whether the government had experienced any casualties.Egypt routinely publicizes such raids, yet questions persist about why the security forces are unable to stop militant attacks. Outrage over Fridays attack the deadliest against Christians in almost a year was fanned by the fact that militants carried out a similar ambush at almost the same location in May 2017, killing 28 pilgrims.At a funeral in Minya on Saturday, hundreds of mourners jeered loudly and wagged their fingers after a Coptic bishop publicly thanked the security forces and government officials.In the attack on Friday, gunmen opened fire on three buses soon after they left the Monastery of St. Samuel, in the desert south of Cairo, killing the seven people in one bus and wounding 19 others in total, according to Coptic Church officials.The Islamic State claimed responsibility, saying on its Amaq news service that the attack had been in retaliation for the arrest of our chaste sisters. It did not elaborate.Egypts State Information Service called the attack a desperate attempt that showed the groups weakness. But it also renewed doubts about the effectiveness of Egyptian strategy against the powerful local Islamic State affiliate, which has expanded beyond its Sinai stronghold in recent years to attack Christians in churches and major cities and outside monasteries.The reality is that the Islamic State has successfully executed an attack on the same road, next to the same monastery, one year apart, said Timothy E. Kaldas, an analyst with the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy. That really calls into question the quality of government efforts to enhance security, particularly in Minya, where the Christian minority has been targeted relentlessly.In Rome, Pope Francis denounced the violence. I pray for the victims, pilgrims killed just because they were Christian, he told worshipers at St. Peters Square on Sunday.The attack coincided with the World Youth Forum, a high-profile event that Mr. Sisi hosts every year in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh, and that is an important part of his efforts to soften the image of his authoritarian rule.On Sunday morning, Mr. Sisi stressed that Egyptians should be free to worship as they please, and reiterated his commitment to fighting discrimination.Critics point out that freedom of religion remains in an uncertain state under Mr. Sisi. Construction of Christian churches is subject to onerous government restrictions. Muslim mobs have attacked Christians in Minya governorate, the site of Fridays attack and home to many of Egypts estimated 10 million Christians. The authorities have arrested some atheists and barred others from leaving the country.The Coptic Orthodox leadership, and many Christians, threw their support behind Mr. Sisi after he rode to power in a military takeover in 2013, hoping for protection against the violent attacks that occurred during the brief period of Muslim Brotherhood rule.But the steady drumbeat of Islamic State attacks against Christian targets, including suicide bombings at cathedrals in Cairo and Alexandria in 2016 and 2017, have eroded that support.Ive seen a lot of Christians from different classes become disillusioned with the government and with Sisi, said Mr. Kaldas, the analyst. Life has gotten more difficult, and security has not been delivered.Christians feel under threat from all sides. After the attack on Friday, an article posted to a Muslim Brotherhood website said that Mr. Sisi had orchestrated the events to win public sympathy a baseless claim regularly made by Brotherhood supporters after attacks on Christians.
World
Olympics|German Biathlete and Italian Bobsledder Fail Doping Testshttps://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/22/sports/olympics/german-biathlete-and-italian-bobsledder-fail-doping-tests.htmlFeb. 21, 2014KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia A German biathlete and an Italian bobsledder were kicked out of the Olympics Friday for doping, the first known violations of the Sochi Games.Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle, who has competed in five biathlon events for Germany at the Sochi Games, and William Frullani, who was scheduled to compete in the four-man bobsled event for Italy, both failed tests on samples that were taken Tuesday, officials said.Sachenbacher-Stehle was told of her positive test Thursday night, according to the German ski federation. Officials did not say what substance had been detected.She insisted in a statement issued through the German federations spokesman that she had not knowingly taken performance-enhancing drugs and that she would do everything in my power to clear up this case.I am living through my worst nightmare right now, Sachenbacher-Stehle said. I cannot explain to myself where the positive sample generated from.Sachenbacher-Stehle finished fourth in the mass start race Monday, and was a member of Germanys four-person mixed-relay team that finished fourth Wednesday. She finished outside the top 10 in three other races in Sochi all of which were held before she was tested Tuesday.The Italian Olympic Committee said Frullani had been kicked out of the Games after testing positive for a stimulant, dimethylpentylamine. The four-man bobsled competition is Saturday and Sunday.Sachenbacher-Stehle is the fourth biathlete to test positive for doping in recent weeks, the latest wave of offenses in an Olympic sport that has long been plagued with doping violations.On the eve of the Games, Irina Starykh, a top Russian biathlete stepped down from the team after she tested positive for a banned substance. At the same time, another biathlete from Russia and one from Lithuania tested positive as well.Biathlon and cross-country have been compared to cycling, another endurance sport, which for generations has been mired in similar doping problems.The International Olympic Committee, Sochi organizers and the World Anti-Doping Agency have touted new, more stringent drug-testing protocols for the Sochi Games. They said the number of tests that will be conducted here 2,453 is 14 percent more than the total tests conducted at the 2010 Vancouver Games. The tests are being handled by a Russian antidoping laboratory that has been accredited by the world agency.New rules concerning the statute of limitations now allow antidoping officials to keep blood and urine samples for 10 years, allowing for retroactive testing if new detection methods emerge.
Sports
Cycling|American Cyclist Wins Dubai Tourhttps://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/09/sports/cycling/american-cyclist-wins-dubai-tour.htmlSports BriefingFeb. 8, 2014Even a third straight stage win for Marcel Kittel of Germany was not enough to deny Taylor Phinney of the United States the overall victory in the inaugural Dubai Tour.Phinney played it safe in the sprint finish and successfully held on to the blue jersey that he got after winning the opening days individual time trial. He finished the tour 15 seconds ahead of his BMC Racing teammate Stephen Cummings. Garmin-Sharps Lasse Norman Hansen was third.
Sports
VideotranscripttranscriptWho Is the Real Melania Trump? Who Knows?Melania Trump prizes her privacy. But the first ladys absence from the public eye has led to very different narratives about who she is.Melania Trump. Is she trapped? A reluctant first lady? Or is she poised, polished and a quiet, but supportive, first lady? Who is the real Melania? Very few, at least among those who are speaking publicly, will say. Im very strong. People, they dont really know me. People think and talk about me like, Oh, Melania. Oh, poor Melania. Dont feel sorry for me. Dont feel sorry for me. I can handle everything. But as Donald Trumps presidency has progressed, the first lady has become a versatile avatar, her image split sharply down political lines. In one version of the public imagination, Melania is unhappy. She dislikes her husband and disagrees with his policies. She may even be mulling a divorce. This Melania has shown up on late-night TV and in tabloids. Youre beautiful, dutiful Melania. I cant take it anymore. Then theres the other version of Melania, painted by conservative media as confident, fashion forward, graceful and adored. I have been so impressed with, not just her quiet dignity, as you brought up, but also just this diplomatic use of fashion. This version is closer to the official portrayal of Melania. Through her spokespeople, the first lady says she is supportive of her husband and focused on raising their son, Barron. I support my husband 100 percent. But we have a 9-year-old son together, Barron. And Im raising him. She says she prefers to take a back seat to her husband, to keep his place in the limelight. Its not the first time Melanias been in the public eye. You spin, baby, you spin. Shes a former model and jewelry designer. I love when idea comes to life. And I study architecture and design and its something very creative for me. Im very passionate about what I design, and there are some beautiful pieces. When they got together in the late 1990s, the Trumps say their chemistry was instant. We were both at the same party and thats how we met. He came to me... Like her right away? I went crazy. Melania and Donald became synonymous with the New York social scene. Theyve stood did together for a number of years now. New Yorkers have come to know them as a very solid couple. And in 2005, they married. Hi, fans. Im going to Metropolitan Gala. In the following years, Melanias social media posts focused on fashion, travel, fitness and spending time with family. Now as the first lady, next to one of the most outspoken presidents in recent history, Melanias silence has taken on a life of its own. The most important thing is just to be you. Thats the end.Melania Trump prizes her privacy. But the first ladys absence from the public eye has led to very different narratives about who she is.CreditCredit...Al Drago/The New York TimesJune 6, 2018WASHINGTON After spending nearly a month out of the public eye, Melania Trump emerged from the White House on Wednesday, putting an end to at least a few of the theories some her husband has repeated to his 52 million Twitter followers that blossomed like swampland ragweed during her time in seclusion.Dressed in a trench coat and heels, the first lady accompanied President Trump to the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to attend a briefing on the coming hurricane season. Sitting nearly still, Mrs. Trump cut a totemic figure alongside Mr. Trump as they sat around a conference table at the agencys headquarters.The president, reading from a notecard, introduced our great first lady to several members of his cabinet, Vice President Mike Pence and an assembled group of reporters.She went through a little rough patch, but shes doing great, Mr. Trump said, patting his wife on the hand. The people love you. Thank you, honey.Mrs. Trump spent five days at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in May to treat what her aides called a benign kidney condition, and had not appeared in public since before entering the hospital.On Twitter Wednesday morning, Mr. Trump bitterly complained about the speculation by the public and some journalists about her absence. But in attacking what he said were several conspiracy theories the news media had generated about his wifes absence, he ended up repeating the kind of unfounded rumors about his wife that would normally attract legal action from him and his notoriously litigious family.The Fake News Media has been so unfair, and vicious, to my wife and our great first lady, Melania, wrote the president, who has long reveled in conspiracy theories. During her recovery from surgery they reported everything from near death, to facelift, to left the W.H. (and me) for N.Y. or Virginia, to abuse. All Fake, she is doing really well!By attacking journalists who have speculated or asked questions about his wife, the president put himself at odds with his own personal history of using his platform and a number of his supporters to target women and effectively amplify rumors about their health, appearance and personal relationships.On the campaign trail, he repeatedly attacked Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent, suggesting that she was not loyal to her husband, President Bill Clinton; questioning her physical stamina for the job; and suggesting that she was mentally ill. Mr. Trumps campaign also aired at least one TV ad that pointed to conspiracy theories about Mrs. Clintons health.And he later took aim at two female journalists Megyn Kelly and Mika Brzezinski describing them in pejorative terms. He said that he once saw Ms. Brzezinski at a gathering at his Florida estate bleeding badly from a face-lift and that she had a low I.Q.In Mrs. Trumps case, the White House has insisted that she is entitled to the same privacy that would shield any other patient.She surfaced for the first time on Tuesday in a closed White House event, but was spotted around the White House last week. Apparently referring to this, the president said on Twitter that reporters had seen the first lady merrily strolling in the White House over the past week, but never reported the sighting because it would hurt the sick narrative that she was living in a different part of the world, was really ill, or whatever. Fake News is really bad!But at least one reporter noted on Twitter that he had seen the first lady with her aides in the White House, and her office has said Mrs. Trump has taken several internal meetings during her recovery.With the White House declining to issue updates on the first ladys recovery, the guesswork about her whereabouts and her health expanded beyond the news media: On Tuesday, as Mrs. Trump attended the event with Gold Star families, a contingent of observers on Twitter wondered whether the sparse footage captured of the event was indeed from that day.Historians say no modern first lady has prized her privacy more than Mrs. Trump, but the timing of Mrs. Trumps departure from the public eye was abrupt and baffling: It came as she was ramping up her public appearances and in the midst of rolling out her official platform, Be Best, which will focus on childrens issues.Mrs. Trumps stay in the hospital was also shrouded in secrecy. In the hours after her procedure, aides wore scrubs around her but said the procedure had been successful and without complications.In any case, the first ladys public re-emergence is tied to one of her interests. Stephanie Grisham, her communications director, said in an email that Mrs. Trump would be attending the hurricane briefing because it is an issue that she cares very much about.Last year, the first lady and her husband traveled to Puerto Rico to visit families affected by hurricanes, serving them food and visiting relief centers.When asked about the first ladys health, Ms. Grishams response was brief.She feels great, Ms. Grisham wrote, doing well.At the FEMA briefing, Mrs. Trump did not speak publicly, but listened, smiling at her husband and nodding as he spoke. As the event drew to a close, the president referred to his wife and Mr. Pence.Speaking for Melania and Mike, Mr. Trump said, we thank you all very much.
Politics
Former Mayor Michael R. Bloombergs vision of new sporting venues across the boroughs fizzled, and New York lost its bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics. But what if the city had tried to get the Winter Olympics instead? It would probably take more hubris than even this city can muster, but the exercise provides some telling measures of scale. 1,454 ft. Tip ofEmpire State Building 3,205 ft. Profile of downhill course 750 ft. Time Warner Center 34th St. 59th St. 2 miles 101st St. More on NYTimes.com
Sports
Hank Azaria Sues Co-Op Board You're Shakin' Me Down!!! 1/29/2018 Hank Azaria's trust is suing the board of a luxury co-op where he lives, claiming they've been totally unreasonable in blocking his attempt to renovate his unit. The voice of multiple 'Simpsons' characters claims in a new lawsuit he set out to fix up his unit in the fancy building on Central Park West. He says a neighbor claimed his renovations caused water damage. Hank says he was convinced he wasn't the culprit but paid to replace the guy's floors anyway. Azaria says a few months later the same neighbor made a new round of complaints about cracks in the walls and ceilings. Hank was super suspicious because no other neighbor lodged any complaints. He says the co-op board then imposed a $20,000 electrical fee, which had never been previously discussed, and made a finding that Hank caused the neighbor's damages. Short story ... Hank says he's the victim of a shakedown.
Entertainment
Kylie Jenner Construction of Mega Mansion At Site of Baby Bump Pic 1/27/2018 Kylie Jenner's full-on baby bump pic this week wasn't taken while she was on a casual stroll on a random dirt lot ... she was out with her eyes on another lavish home. Kylie was at a construction site in Hidden Hills Wednesday, and according to building permits obtained by TMZ ... a mansion is in the offing. The building permit was issued in December, and here's what it calls for: -- 9,187 sq. ft. first floor -- 5,304 sq. ft. second floor -- 2 huge garages (1,200 sq. ft and 1,468 sq. ft) -- 1,836 sq. ft. of covered porches -- A cabana for the pool There's also an older permit for a retaining wall and one for the foundation. All in all, the permits value the job at more than $2.37 million ... but if she moves on it, Kylie's likely to drop way more loot. 1/25/18 TMZ.com We broke the story ... Kylie was with her mom and BFF this week scoping out the lot -- the first time pregnant Kylie had been spotted out in months.
Entertainment
ItinerariesCredit...Chad Bartlett for The New York TimesDec. 7, 2015The travel industrys 800-pound gorillas have been bulking up, and consumers are getting nervous.A series of mergers in recent months from Expedias acquisitions of rival online booking companies to Marriott Internationals recent takeover of Starwood Hotels and Resorts have only quickened the pace of consolidation in the industry.I believe itll reduce competition, Steve Ledewitz, an independent meeting planner, said of the Starwood-Marriott merger. He said he used to be able to drive bargains for clients by making Marriott and Starwood hotels vie for his business.Once my client picks the city they want to go to, Starwood and Marriott would compete against each other, and many of their brands do match up against each other, so there was a lot of head-to-head, he said.Others are taking a wait-and-see approach.Its definitely got some positives and negatives to it, Alex Borodkin, an SPG, or Starwood Preferred Guest, member who spends most of his time on the road as an accounting consultant, said of the acquisition. Itll open up more options for me to earn points, but I am worried about the value of my points going down.Part of the reason for the mergers is the rise of home rental sites, industry observers say. They call the Marriott-Starwood deal a prudent, perhaps necessary move in the wake of consolidation among online travel agencies, which hotels rely on for nearly 20 percent of their bookings, according to the research firm Phocuswright.The calculation here is really pretty simple, said Douglas Quinby, vice president for research at Phocuswright. When you control more supply and you have a distributor that brings you demand but needs your supply, you have a little bit more negotiating leverage.Marriotts announcement came less than two weeks after the online travel agency Expedia said it would buy HomeAway, the home-rental platform and Airbnb rival, for $3.9 billion. And that deal followed two other acquisitions by Expedia this year, of its rivals Orbitz and Travelocity.I think Marriott recognized that bigger is better in dealing with some of the emerging threats to the industry, things like greater consolidation among the online travel agencies, said David Loeb, a senior research analyst at Robert W. Baird & Company. This is one way to fight back.The hotel companies bitterly, though unsuccessfully, opposed Expedias $1.3 billion purchase of Orbitz, which gives the combined company control of roughly 75 percent of the domestic market for third-party online booking, according to Phocuswright.Expedia, which also owns sites including Hotwire and Hotels.com, now primarily competes against the Priceline Group, which owns Booking.com and has made several acquisitions of its own over the past couple of years, including OpenTable, the restaurant reservations platform, and Kayak.Buying HomeAway, the biggest company in the home-rental industry, helps Expedia catch up, said Chekitan Dev, a marketing and branding professor at Cornell Universitys School of Hotel Administration.ImageCredit...Cj Gunther/European Pressphoto AgencyIt sort of levels the playing field with them a little bit, he said, predicting that home rental eventually would be integrated in a way that makes it as easy for travelers to book as a hotel. I think, over time, its going to be just another option on Expedia.Dara Khosrowshahi, Expedias president and chief executive, said that consolidation had helped consumers. For instance, Mr. Khosrowshahi, who is also on the board of The New York Times Company, said his company had lowered or eliminated airfare booking fees on many itineraries. Consolidation on the Internet has to be a force for price reductions, he said.Corporate travel professionals expressed concern, though, that the Marriott-Starwood deal could kick off a domino effect of additional acquisitions.The perception might be theres another consolidation similar to what weve seen on the airline side, said Greeley Koch, executive director of the Association of Corporate Travel Executives. Weve seen this happen in the past.Phocuswrights Mr. Quinby agreed that additional mergers or acquisitions are more likely than not.Im quite sure weve not seen the end of consolidation on the supply side, he said. I think youre going to see other hotel chains look at consolidation as a way to compete with the combined Marriott-Starwood behemoth.Some of the objections from travelers stem from the way consolidation in the airline industry, which has left four carriers responsible for roughly 80 percent of United States air traffic, led to the erosion of mileage values and statuses.Marriott is keenly aware that the new guests it is bringing into the fold are skeptical of its intentions. In a video provided by a spokesman, Marriotts chief executive, Arne Sorenson, sought to reassure guests, especially SPG members, that they would not be lost in the shuffle.The SPG program was one of the most attractive aspects of our acquisition of Starwood, Mr. Sorenson said in the two-minute message, saying the company wanted to preserve the best aspects of both SPG and Marriott Rewards. Devaluing points or member benefits is not the way to preserve and strengthen these programs.Bjorn Hanson, divisional dean of the Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management at New York University, said hotel mergers are unlikely to create the loyalty program depreciation that elicited gripes from frequent fliers because of the way hotel loyalty programs are financed.In frequent-flier programs, airlines foot the bill for traveler benefits, giving them a financial incentive to pare down perks after consolidation. Hotels are financed and managed differently, in that Marriott and Starwood do not actually own the majority of hotels that bear their brand names. Franchisees like real estate investment trusts own the buildings and pay into a pool of funds that finances the guest loyalty program.Its much different in the hotel industry than when two airlines merge, said Dan Wasiolek, senior equity analyst for Morningstar.Loyalty program members might even be happily surprised, Mr. Hanson suggested. Theres a better than 50 percent chance that the programs will be merged with the most favorable of both available to travelers, he said.
Business
Europe|Macron Praises World War I General Who Later Collaborated With Nazishttps://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/07/world/europe/macron-petain-nazis.htmlCredit...Etienne Laurent/EPA, via ShutterstockNov. 7, 2018President Emmanuel Macron waded into controversy on Wednesday by praising a general who helped win World War I but became a top Nazi collaborator in World War II comments that triggered outrage among French Jews.Marshal Philippe Petain will be honored alongside other top military chiefs this Saturday in a ceremony at the Invalides monument, site of Napoleons tomb, to mark the centenary of the end of World War I.Touring battlefields ahead of a formal commemoration of the Nov. 11, 1918, armistice that ended the war, Mr. Macron said Petain was worthy of the honor for his leading role in the World War I victory.Marshal Petain was also a great soldier during World War I even though he made fatal choices during the Second World War, Mr. Macron said in the northern town of Charleville-Mezieres.The stop was part of a six-day tour that included Verdun, which Petain defended against a German onslaught.Petain led the French army to victory in Verdun in 1916, but gained infamy and a conviction for treason for his actions as leader of Vichy France from 1940 to 1944. He is despised for his complicity in the Holocaust.ImageCredit...Associated Press PhotoI pardon nothing, but I erase nothing of our history, Mr. Macron added.The 40-year-old French president, sliding in the polls, is gaining a reputation for making awkward or shocking statements. In September, he told an out-of-work gardener that he need only cross the street to find a job.But Wednesdays remarks struck a chord in a nation that has lived through two world wars and only in recent decades has acknowledged its collaborationist past.Former President Jacques Chirac admitted in 1995 that Petains Vichy government, which collaborated with the Nazis, was the French state. Mr. Chirac spoke at the Vel dHiv cycling stadium in Paris, known for a 1942 roundup of French Jews that saw 13,000 people deported to Nazi concentration camps, a third of them children.Frances leading Jewish organization, known by the initials C.R.I.F., issued a searing criticism of Macrons stance.I am shocked by this statement by Macron, said its president, Francis Kalifat. Petain was the person who allowed the deportation of 76,000 French Jews to death camps.Mr. Kalifat said it was an insult that a French president could honor Petain on the same level as the other generals. But he acknowledged the marshals pivotal role in the Great War that earned him the nickname Lion of Verdun.The French government spokesman, Benjamin Griveaux, insisted the issue was a false controversy. He quoted Gen. Charles de Gaulle, leader of the Free French forces in World War II and the nations universal hero, as saying of Petain in 1966 that the glory he earned in Verdun can be neither contested nor go unrecognized by the nation.
World
on techThe underdog tactics and fighting spirit that once served tech companies well now make them look petty and mean.VideoCreditCredit...By James Kerr / Scorpion DaggerJune 22, 2020This article is part of the On Tech newsletter. You can sign up here to receive it weekdays.The American technology industry was built on the white hot rage of underdogs.When Apple was founded, it mocked IBM as a bully that made terrible computers. Pipsqueak Google made Microsoft its mortal enemy. The young Uber hated everyone, basically. Its energizing to be the scrappy upstart fighting a rich superpower or the big, bad system.The technology companies still like to believe that theyre Davids except many of them are now Goliaths. And the underdog tactics and fighting spirit that once served them well now make these companies look petty and mean.Allow me to point you in the direction of lawsuits that Amazon has repeatedly filed against employees who leave its cloud-computing business for other jobs.The most recent lawsuit said that a former marketing employee who was hired at Google possesses valuable Amazon secrets, in part because he wrote marketing speeches and made presentation slides. Look at this incredibly revealing Amazon secret, for example. (Amazon has said that its enforcing clauses in contracts that limit what its employees can do after they leave.)Google is big enough that it can presumably wait this lawsuit out. But how many other Amazon employees or potential employers are willing to risk the stress and uncertainty of possible litigation?Then theres Apple, which continues to butt heads with app makers including Spotify and most recently the email service Hey. (The Hey drama continued Monday morning.) These feuds are over money. Apple with some justification wants a share of the revenue that app companies earn when they sell to you and me in Apples App Store. The app companies want to keep all of it.Financial disagreements are common, but Apple can sound defensive and aggrieved in these cases. It created its rule book for app developers more than a decade ago, and Apple doesnt get why these companies are complaining.Apple and the app makers now live on different planets. In 2008, the year Apple started the iPhone app storefront, the company had nearly $33 billion in sales. Last year it had $260 billion. Apple mans the gate to hundreds of millions of iPhones. When youre that big, every business disagreement is lopsided. (Kara Swisher, a contributing Opinion writer for The New York Times, made a similar point in her column last week.)It seems as if everywhere you look, former tech upstarts are turning the tables on todays youngsters. Facebook made obvious copies of Snaps Bitmoji personalized cartoon characters. Facebook and Google are pitching hard their own alternatives to the suddenly popular Zoom video service. Copying smaller companies is not a great look.None of these giants is necessarily doing anything wrong or unusual when they emulate, sue or pick fights with people and companies with less power.Its cool to be a rebel with a cause. Its uncool (and unsympathetic) to be a rich and powerful giant. Tim Cook, Apples chief executive, has repeatedly said that he still views Apple as a pretty small company. (Insert my booming laughter.)Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook are Scrooge McDucks swimming in vaults of gold, but they like to act as if theyre still ragamuffins taking on The Man. Theyre not. They are The Man.Tip of the weekHow to record a call with a smartphoneBrian X. Chen, our personal tech columnist, gives us advice on using our smartphone to record a phone call and writes this issues Before we go section.Many people view recording phone calls as creepy and invasive and in certain states, it is illegal unless all parties consent to being recorded.But there are legitimate purposes, like keeping a record of important business conversations or documenting calls made to customer service representatives. I, for one, record phone interviews with important tech executives only after getting permission from everyone involved.Many iPhone apps offer the ability to record calls. Android users, unfortunately, will have a tougher time: Google added restrictions that made it difficult and impractical to record calls.Heres what you can do:On iPhones, the free app Rev Call Recorder works well. First, you place a phone call to Revs recording service. Then you start another call with someone or wait for a call to come in and merge the calls to begin recording. After you hang up, the app stores a recording of the conversation on your device. There is also an option to pay for the recording to be transcribed.(The privacy-conscious may want to avoid using the app to record and transcribe sensitive calls the company says customer files are encrypted, but employees review the recordings when transcriptions are requested.)Call recording is trickier for Androids. Googles website has instructions on how to set up the Google Voice app to let you record incoming calls, but the feature doesnt work for outgoing calls. There are third-party apps for call recording, but generally they dont work well because of limits put in place by Google. Android users are not totally out of luck: Google appears to have a call recorder for its phone app in the works.Before we go Farewell, Intel. In a virtual announcement on Monday, Apple is expected to outline its plan to replace the Intel microprocessors used in Mac computers with chips it designed itself. Starting next year, the company may ship Macs with chips based on Arm, the same semiconductor architecture used in iPhones and iPads. My colleagues explain why Apple is making this shift after 15 years of relying on Intel chips and what this means for Intel.Did Trump get pranked by teenagers? The Trump campaign was anticipating huge crowds to attend a rally in Tulsa, Okla., over the weekend, but the turnout was far from that. My colleagues investigated the possibility that TikTok users and fans of Korean pop music groups orchestrated an elaborate prank that involved inflating ticket registrations. The Trump campaign has blamed the disappointing turnout on protests and the coronavirus.Snap is sorry (sort of) about Juneteenth. In observation of Juneteenth, Snapchat on Friday released a filter inviting users to smile and break chains. Smiling in front of the camera triggered an animation of chains to break in the background. Critics immediately panned the filter, calling it tone deaf, and Snap apologized for offending people. But The Verge reported that in an internal email, the company appeared to push back on accusations of cultural insensitivity, explaining that the creation of the filter was a collaboration between black and white employees.We want to hear from you. Tell us what you think of this newsletter and what else youd like us to explore. You can reach us at ontech@nytimes.com. Get this newsletter in your inbox every weekday; please sign up here.
Tech
James Franco Shut Out of Oscars 1/23/2018 James Franco was not nominated for an Oscar, and there isn't a shadow of a doubt the reason is that 5 women have accused him of sexual misconduct. It's a stunning statement ... Franco won the Golden Globe and the Critics' Choice Awards for Best Actor. The voting was partially completed before the allegations surfaced but obviously there were enough outstanding votes afterward to make a difference. Here's what's interesting ... Kobe Bryant was nominated for Best Animated Short for "Dear Basketball." As you know, in 2003, Kobe was charged with raping a woman in Eagle, Colorado ... something he denied, claiming it was consensual. The case was dropped after the alleged victim refused to cooperate. Kobe settled a civil suit with the woman for a reported $5 million. Overlooking Franco...
Entertainment
News AnalysisCredit...Craig Ruttle/Associated PressDec. 17, 2015During his three months as a household name, Martin Shkreli has been a walking, talking (incessantly) personification of one of the pharmaceutical industrys worst nightmares the greedy drug company executive.So his arrest Thursday on securities fraud charges might bring some private cheer to pharmaceutical company executives, who blame him for setting off a public uproar over drug prices.In fact, in some ways, Mr. Shkreli, chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals, has taken the heat off other drug companies.Most drug companies do not increase prices fiftyfold overnight, as Mr. Shkreli did.But they often increase prices 10 percent or more a year, far faster than inflation. And those 10 percent increases on drugs for common diseases like diabetes, high cholesterol and cancer have a far bigger impact on health care spending than the 5,000 percent increase on Turings drug, Daraprim, which might be used by about 2,000 people a year facing possible brain damage from a parasitic infection called toxoplasmosis.Because he played the part so well of the evil Wall Street hedge fund guy, Martin really drew attention away from the more serious issues with much bigger dollar impacts, said John Rother, chief executive of the National Coalition on Health Care, a Washington organization concerned with drug prices. Its members include medical societies, insurers, consumer groups and labor unions.The arrest and indictment will buttress the efforts of more established pharmaceutical companies to distance themselves from the upstart Mr. Shkreli. They have been arguing that most companies do research to invent innovative new drugs, not merely acquire the rights to old ones and raise their prices.He is not us, Kenneth C. Frazier, chief executive of Merck and chairman of the pharmaceutical industrys main trade group, said this month at the Forbes Healthcare Summit this month. Now, pharmaceutical executives can look at the federal indictment and say that Mr. Shkreli is an aberration, a rotten apple.But his arrest is not likely to make concern about drug prices go away. First of all, Mr. Shkreli was arrested on charges of securities fraud stemming mainly from his time as a hedge fund manager, not for increasing the price of Daraprim to $750 a pill from $13.50. And his professed motivation charging high prices to get money to spend on developing new drugs is not all that different from that of other pharmaceutical companies.Just a year ago, the public outrage was over Sovaldi, a new hepatitis C drug being sold by Gilead Sciences for $1,000 a pill, or $84,000 for a course of treatment. The drug was a true innovation, curing the disease in 12 weeks with few side effects. But so many people wanted treatment that the drug racked up sales of $10.3 billion in 2014, shattering the sales record for a first-year drug and straining the budgets of state Medicaid programs, private insurers, prisons and the Veterans Health Administration.Now, Gilead has been largely shoved out of the news by Turing and other companies with similar practices, most notably Valeant Pharmaceuticals International.Unlike many other countries, the United States does not control drug prices, making the American market a big source of profits for drug makers worldwide. In the last two decades or so, price increases on existing drugs in the United States accounted for fully half the growth of the entire multinational pharmaceutical industry, said Richard Evans, an analyst at SSR Health, a stock analysis company.Old drugs for multiple sclerosis, for instance, have gone up in price to more than $60,000 a year from about $10,000 a year in the late 1990s.ImageCredit...Lucas Jackson/ReutersThere have been concerns for decades about the prices of particular drugs, such as early treatments for H.I.V. But concern has really come to the fore in the last few years with the rise of so-called specialty drugs, which are for less common diseases and can cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.One reason is that doctors have started to pay attention to drug costs. They say their staffs have to spend countless hours trying to arrange reimbursement or financial assistance so patients can afford drugs.In 2012, doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center wrote an Op-Ed piece in The New York Times about their decision to not use a new cancer drug because it was twice as expensive but no more effective than an existing one. The next year, more than 100 influential cancer specialists wrote an article in a medical journal protesting the prices for drugs such as Gleevec, the Novartis leukemia drug that had tripled in price since its introduction in 2001.Nowadays, new cancer drugs typically cost over $10,000 a month, and the price is rising.With new drugs for rare diseases selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, it occurred to some entrepreneurs to search for neglected old drugs for rare diseases and reprice them. This struck many people as more repugnant than charging high prices for an innovative new drug because there was no research involved.Mr. Shkreli was not the first to do this. In 2008, Congress held hearings about this practice, focusing for instance on Ovation Pharmaceuticals, which acquired a drug to treat a breathing problem in newborns and raised the price to $1,500 per unit from about $100. There was also Questcor Pharmaceuticals, which spent $100,000 to acquire a decades-old drug for infantile spasms and raise its price from about $40 a vial to over $23,000, with the biggest jump occurring overnight in 2007. Valeant has done this type of thing for several drugs.Still, Mr. Shkreli captured attention in a way few others have. Part of this was timing. His action was seized on by Hillary Clinton, who was about to make drug pricing a campaign issue in the presidential race. But it was also Mr. Shkrelis hedge fund background, and his willingness to keep himself in the news with various outrageous statements and actions, some having to do with music and women, not drugs.Instead of a nameless company, there is a sardonically smiling face to attach to all of these issues, said Dr. Aaron Kesselheim, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Womens Hospital who has studied drug pricing issues.Mr. Shkreli has said in his defense that while Turing did not develop Daraprim, it will use the money from the price increase to develop new drugs for serious diseases. He has said that even with the increase, Daraprim will account for a negligible portion of health care spending. He has also said that for many patients, such as those on Medicaid, the price is far less than $750 a pill. And he has said that Turing offers financial assistance and even free drugs to make sure no one goes without Daraprim.If you can afford our drugs with insurance, great, he said in a Twitter post on Wednesday, one of his last before being arrested. If you cant, you can have it for free. Our system works.That is not too different from the arguments made by the pharmaceutical industry that disowns him. The industry cites the high cost of developing drugs as a reason that high prices are justified. It says that drugs account for only about 10 percent of overall health care spending and the list prices that make headlines are not what people actually pay, given discounting. And it talks about various patient assistance programs.Mr. Shkreli has spurred or added momentum to various congressional investigations into drug prices. But some, like one by the Senate Special Committee on Aging, are focused on Turing and Valeant, not on prices of new drugs or the steady price increases of nearly new drugs.Some of the companies that have been the focus of our investigation look more like hedge funds than they do traditional pharmaceutical companies, the committees chairwoman, Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, said at a hearing on Dec. 9.That is music to the ears of the more conventional, research-oriented drug companies.
Business
Disney Star Adam Hicks Arrested for Armed Robbery 1/25/2018 Disney star Adam Hicks has been arrested for armed robbery ... TMZ has learned. Hicks, who has starred in "Zeke and Luther," "Pair of Kings" and "Lemonade Mouth" allegedly committed 4 or 5 armed robberies ... this according to law enforcement sources. Our sources say 25-year-old Hicks and his girlfriend would go up to people walking in the San Fernando Valley area, stick a gun in their face and demand money, cellphones and other items. We're told 2 of the victims are elderly women in their 70's. SWAT went to a home Wednesday afternoon where Hicks was staying and arrested him for armed robbery. We've learned Hicks has 2 prior arrests on his record, both last year in Los Angeles. In July, he was busted for firing a gun, and in September for a battery. The D.A. rejected both cases for insufficient evidence.
Entertainment
Christopher McDonald Charged with DUI 1/24/2018 "Happy Gilmore" star Christopher McDonald has been charged with DUI ... TMZ has learned. The San Bernardino County D.A.'s Office tells TMZ it charged the actor with 2 misdemeanors -- driving under the influence of alcohol and driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher. OCTOBER 2017 TMZ.com We broke the story ... Christopher was busted back in October and allegedly tried playing the celebrity card after driving his Porsche off the highway. Hours before his arrest ... the "Thelma & Louise" star was seen chugging beer during Oktoberfest in Lake Arrowhead, CA. Christopher's arraignment is scheduled for April.
Entertainment
TrilobitesCredit...NASAJune 23, 2017It was night, but people could see, almost as if it was day. There were no streetlamps, no flood lights, no candles, sun or moon. But they could read documents, make out pebbles on the ground and spot details of landscapes hundreds of yards away. Distant mountains were illuminated. Some called it the nocturnal sun.Reports of observations like these, dating to ancient Rome, have long perplexed scientists and onlookers. Scientists in Canada may have an answer.In a study published this week in Geophysical Research Letters, Gordon Shepherd and his colleague Young-Min Cho, atmospheric scientists at York University, explain how waves in Earths atmosphere may have made these ancient bright nights possible.A bright night starts with a dull light called airglow, which is found more than 60 miles above the earths surface. Normally, Earths atmosphere is made up mainly of nitrogen and oxygen, in their molecular forms. That just means that rather than a single atom of oxygen, for example, two of them are stuck together. But up in those heights, ultraviolet light from the sun separates the atoms in these molecules. At night, when the sun is gone, they come back together, releasing energy as they reunite. This energy is visible as light, and the presence of oxygen, which they focused on in the study, can make it appear green. Scientific instruments are sensitive enough to detect it, but not human eyes until a bright night, when an unexpected alignment of waves in our upper atmosphere amplify that once invisible airglow, making it much brighter.These waves, called zonal waves, are influenced by severe weather on Earths surface and travel around the upper atmosphere. Dr. Shepherd and Dr. Cho zeroed in on four kinds of zonal waves using images taken from a satellite deployed in the 1990s to measure airglow and other features of the atmosphere.Usually, the waves peak in different places along their journeys around Earth. But every once in awhile, the waves end up in the same spot, said Dr. Shepherd. Just imagine waves in the ocean piling up together. That makes a bigger wave. And when they superimpose like that, the intensity of the airglow increases so much, its possible for the naked eye to see it, and may explain those nocturnal suns of the past.Once superimposed, the waves will stay that way for a while because they move so slowly, said Dr. Shepherd, so bright nights will last two to four nights. And, according to his analysis of the satellite images, one bright night can shine over areas as big as Europe.In historical reports, people did not really mention what was going on in the sky, said Dr. Shepherd. They were just aware that suddenly they could see things in their environment.With so much light polluting our nights now, it is nearly impossible to make out a bright night when it occurs in most places, let alone find a photograph of one. When many of the observations took place, cameras werent yet invented. And a photograph from Earth of the bright sky at night wouldnt be that impressive, said Dr. Shepherd. Its something to experience firsthand.And to do that requires patience, luck and a very special place. The weather patterns that produce the waves leading to bright nights tend to favor middle latitudes. If you pick one location, like New York City, it would only happen about once a year, said Dr. Shepherd. And even then, youd need a clear night and no light pollution.We have animal species that are disappearing. We have glaciers that are disappearing. And bright nights too are disappearing, because there are so many city lights everywhere, said Dr. Shepherd. There are going to be fewer and fewer places where people can see them, and if they did, theyd have to wait a long time.
science
The agency, whose oversight of opioid safety has largely eluded scrutiny, did not improve flawed programs designed to reduce addiction and overdoses, documents show.Credit...J. Scott Applewhite/Associated PressPublished Dec. 30, 2019Updated Dec. 31, 2019WASHINGTON Newly unearthed documents show that the Food and Drug Administration failed to use its policing powers to make sure a program to curb improper prescribing of opioids was effective, researchers say. The lax oversight, they point out, occurred as the epidemic was growing and tens of thousands of people were dying from overdoses each year.In 2011, the F.D.A. began asking the makers of OxyContin and other addictive long-acting opioids to pay for safety training for more than half the physicians prescribing the drugs, and to track the effectiveness of the training and other measures in reducing addiction, overdoses and deaths.But the F.D.A. was never able to determine whether the program worked, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found in a new review, because the manufacturers did not gather the right kind of data. Although the agencys approval of OxyContin in 1995 has long come under fire, its efforts to ensure the safe use of opioids since then have not been scrutinized nearly as much. The documents show that even when deficiencies in these efforts became obvious through the F.D.A.s own review process, the agency never insisted on improvements to the program, called a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy, or R.E.M.S. The new research was published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine.Whats surprising here is the design of the program was deficient from the start, said Caleb Alexander, the senior author of the study, who serves as a paid expert witness in litigation against opioid manufacturers and distributors. Its unclear why the F.D.A. didnt insist upon a more scientifically rigorous evaluation of this safety program.Dr. Andrew Kolodny, the co-director of opioid policy research at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis, said the safety program was a missed opportunity. He is a leader of a group of physicians who had encouraged the F.D.A. to adopt stronger controls, and a frequent critic of the governments response to the epidemic.Dr. Kolodny, who was not involved in the study, called the program a really good example of the way F.D.A. has failed to regulate opioid manufacturers. If F.D.A. had really been doing its job properly, I dont believe wed have an opioid crisis today.In 2007, Congress gave the agency the authority to require drug manufacturers to train physicians to safely prescribe certain dangerous drugs, and to monitor the companies performance. The bill, lawmakers said, was influenced by agency lapses in oversight of drugs like Vioxx, a popular painkiller withdrawn from the market in 2004 after it was found to pose a substantial heart risk. The main goals of the 2011 program for long-lasting opioids were to train more than half of an estimated 320,000 doctors who prescribed the drugs on how to do so safely, and to inform patients about the significant risks of taking the drugs. But the Hopkins researchers, who relied on thousands of pages of internal F.D.A. documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, found the agency repeatedly could not determine whether the companies safety strategies were working because of poor study designs, which the agency itself had approved.In a statement, Jeremy Kahn, a spokesman for the Food and Drug Administration, disputed the authors contention that the agency had abandoned efforts to evaluate the success of its program, pointing to a number of steps it had taken in the last three years to study the effects of education on prescribing patterns. We understand and acknowledge that there is still much work to do to bring down opioid abuse, Mr. Kahn said in the statement.About 60 drugs or classes of drugs are subject to such risk-management programs, including the narcolepsy drug sodium oxybate, the antipsychotic drug olanzapine and the acne drug isotretinoin, which used to be branded as Accutane and can cause severe birth defects. ImageCredit...Don Emmert/Agence France-Presse Getty ImagesBut more than a decade after Congress authorized such safety programs, there is sparse evidence of their effectiveness. And the F.D.A. has come under fire not only for putting pharmaceutical companies in charge of monitoring their own safety practices, but for not doing enough to ensure the quality of the prescriber training it requires the companies to pay for.There were early warning signs that the safety program for long-acting opioids had weaknesses. In 2010, an F.D.A. advisory committee of experts in the treatment of pain voted 25-10 against the proposed program design. Committee members suggested that the agency require training for prescribers, and that it redesign curriculums to lessen industry influence. The F.D.A. moved forward anyway.A 2013 report by the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services found that only 14 percent of the safety programs reviewed by the F.D.A. met their goals. And another inspector general report last year noted that the agency did not have the authority to take enforcement actions against companies that dont provide it with enough information to assess their safety programs a common problem, it found. If F.D.A. does not have comprehensive data to monitor the performance of the program, the report said, it cannot ensure that the public is provided maximum protection from a drugs known or potential risks.In the case of long-acting opioids, the F.D.A. wanted 60 percent of prescribers to take the classes developed as part of the program. But only about 27 percent did so within the specified time frame, 2012 to 2016. Surveys conducted by manufacturers found modestly greater knowledge of safe prescribing practices among doctors who took the classes than among those who did not. But opioid prescribing was dropping overall at that point, and the surveys were not designed in a way that could determine whether doctors who took the classes prescribed less as a result.Perhaps most important, the researchers found that manufacturers didnt do a good job of assessing whether the safety program led to fewer overdoses and deaths. Instead they relied on broad national data that made no distinction between patients of doctors who had taken the safety classes and those who had not a problem the F.D.A. pointed out repeatedly, in the third, fourth and fifth years of the program.ImageCredit...Samantha Sais for The New York TimesLast year, the same Hopkins researchers found failings in a similar safety program the F.D.A. established in 2011 to curb inappropriate use of a small class of fast-acting fentanyl drugs meant only for cancer patients. The program required doctors who prescribed those drugs to take classes and sign forms saying they understood the dangers of prescribing to patients who did not have cancer, but many continued prescribing the drugs much more widely.The researchers also found that the F.D.A. did nothing to sharpen the safety program for the drugs, known as transmucosal immediate release fentanyls, even though it was aware of the broader prescribing. Top executives of one manufacturer, Insys Therapeutics, were criminally convicted in May of bribing doctors to prescribe and give sham educational talks about its drug Subsys, and of misleading insurers about patients need for the drug.Extended-release, long-acting opioids are a much larger drug class, used by many more people. In addition to OxyContin, they include methadone and the extended-release versions of hydrocodone, hydromorphone and morphine, as well as fentanyl patches and buprenorphine, which, like methadone, is not only for pain but to treat withdrawal in people addicted to opioids. These drugs are prescribed for pain severe enough to require daily, around the clock, long term opioid treatment. But they have often been diverted for illicit use, with many people crushing and snorting or injecting them for a particularly potent, dangerous high.Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, a vice dean at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and one of the papers authors, said it was extraordinarily important for the F.D.A. to not only ensure safe prescribing programs are effective, but to keep the public informed if they are not. Dr. Sharfstein was the principal deputy commissioner of the F.D.A. from March 2009 to January 2011, and said that while he was not deeply involved in developing the safety. program for long-acting opioids, I wish I had focused on it more. In 2017, the F.D.A. began requiring safety programs for all opioid painkillers not just the long-acting formulations and updated its blueprint for the programs prescriber training. But Dr. Kolodny said the revised blueprint still implies that long-acting opioids are safe and effective for chronic pain, contradicting a growing body of research. Prescription painkillers were the main cause of overdose deaths in the United States until heroin, and then fentanyl, surpassed them over the last decade. The national opioid prescribing rate started rising steadily in 2006 and peaked in 2012, at 81.3 prescriptions per 100 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By 2017, the prescribing rate had fallen to the lowest it had been in more than a decade, at 58.7 prescriptions per 100 people.But prescribing rates remain high in certain regions, and even as deaths from prescription opioids have dropped, deaths from illicitly manufactured fentanyl have continued to rise.[Like the Science Times page on Facebook. | Sign up for the Science Times newsletter.]
Health
Leader of Proud Boys, a Far-Right Group, Is Arrested as D.C. Braces for ProtestsAbout 340 National Guard troops are expected to deploy in support of local law enforcement before demonstrations against the election results.Credit...Anna Moneymaker for The New York TimesPublished Jan. 4, 2021Updated Jan. 6, 2021WASHINGTON The leader of the Proud Boys, a far-right group that has vocally supported President Trumps efforts to overturn the election results, was arrested on Monday in Washington as Mayor Muriel Bowser requested support from the Army National Guard before expected protests of the November vote in the nations capital.Enrique Tarrio, the chairman of the Proud Boys, was arrested by the Metropolitan Police on suspicion of burning a Black Lives Matter banner that was torn from a historic Black church in Washington during protests last month that led to several violent clashes, including stabbings, around the city.A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police Department confirmed that Mr. Tarrio, 36, had been arrested on charges of destruction of property stemming from an episode in downtown Washington in mid-December. Upon his arrest, he was found to have two high-capacity firearm magazines and charged accordingly with possession.The protests by the Proud Boys and other groups are expected to occur on Tuesday and Wednesday in support of Mr. Trump and his false claims that he was re-elected.In anticipation, officials announced that about 340 Army National Guard troops about 15 percent of the 2,700 District of Columbia National Guard force are expected to deploy on Tuesday and remain for two days in support of local law enforcement. Their mission is to help control traffic and to protect the streets and public transit stops, officials said.The number ordered to duty is far less than the 5,000 Guard troops who deployed to Washington in June, at the height of the protests over the police killing of George Floyd. During those protests, Mr. Trump walked across Lafayette Square for a photo op after the authorities used tear gas and rubber bullets against mostly peaceful protesters.Unlike other National Guard units, the D.C. Guard reports not to a governor but to the Army secretary, who in turn reports to the defense secretary and the president.Customs and Border Protection is also placing agents on standby in Washington to guard federal property during the anticipated protests, according to Stephanie Malin, a spokeswoman for the agency.The District of Columbia National Guard is in a support role to the Metropolitan Police Department, which will enable them to provide a safe environment for our fellow citizens to exercise their First Amendment right to demonstrate, Maj. Gen. William J. Walker, the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, said in a prepared statement.In June, Mr. Trump raised the option of deploying active-duty troops onto the streets and ran into resistance from both his defense secretary at the time, Mark T. Esper, and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The president eventually backed down.Some Pentagon officials acknowledged that they were worried about a possible repeat: that Mr. Trump could seek to use civil unrest, especially if it turned violent, to use active-duty troops to restore order, which could play into his battle in Congress and in the courts to overturn the election outcome.The deep concerns among national security experts about the apolitical military being ordered into a partisan dispute was underscored on Sunday, when The Washington Post published an extraordinary opinion article by all 10 living former secretaries of defense. The former Pentagon chiefs, both Republicans and Democrats, warned that the military should not be dragged into any election disputes.The letter signing was organized by former Vice President Dick Cheney, according to people close to the signatories. In a clear rebuke to Mr. Trump, who is expected to address a rally of supporters on Wednesday, the men wrote, The time for questioning the results has passed; the time for the formal counting of the Electoral College votes, as prescribed in the Constitution and statute, has arrived.The protests on Wednesday will present a particular challenge to the acting secretary of defense, Christopher C. Miller, a former counterterrorism official who replaced Mr. Esper at the end of last year. In recent weeks, Mr. Miller has demonstrated awkward political instincts; on Sunday, he announced a confusing reversal of strategy on confronting threats that Iran might attack American troops or diplomats in the Persian Gulf.Since the protests in June, some of the countrys senior military leaders have talked among themselves about what to do if Mr. Trump again tries to invoke the Insurrection Act to deploy active-duty troops into the streets, Pentagon officials confirmed. The Insurrection Act, a 200-year-old law, enables a president to send active-duty troops to quell disturbances over the objections of governors.In the months since June, General Milley and the militarys top leadership have sought to build firewalls to slow any immediate rationale to invoke the act.In the protests last year, General Milley rushed to summon enough National Guard troops from other states to reinforce the 1,200 D.C. Guard troops who had already been called up. In the end, more than 5,000 National Guard troops from 12 states and the District of Columbia, many with experience in dealing with civil disturbances, arrived in time to prevent the president invoking the act.Troops from the 82nd Airborne, based in Fort Bragg, N.C., still headed to Washington but were deployed to Fort Belvoir, in suburban Virginia, as a backup force and never entered the capital.To avoid that kind of last-minute scramble in the future, the Pentagon streamlined the process for activating National Guard troops from other states in support of the D.C. Guard. A senior military official said on Monday that there were no indications that the 82nd Airborne was on any kind of alert status for possible duty in Washington.Several Pentagon officials have said that Mr. Trump risked resignations among many of his senior generals if he ordered active-duty troops into the streets at the time of the election.Pentagon officials have been keeping track of nightly episodes of civil unrest across the country, in order for Defense Department officials to be able to counter any narrative that might come from the White House that such occurrences could not be handled by local law enforcement.The protests in Washington scheduled for Wednesday by Mr. Trumps supporters might attract counterprotests by opposing groups. Pentagon officials worry that any violent clashes could give the president an opportunity to try to order troops to the streets.The letter from the former defense secretaries cited General Milley, who said in October that there is no role for the U.S. military in determining the outcome of a U.S. election. The general has said this repeatedly in recent months to Congress and to Pentagon and White House officials, Defense Department officials said.The former defense secretaries also addressed the continuing fight between Mr. Miller and President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. over complaints that the Biden transition team had not been given proper access at the Defense Department. Mr. Miller and his subordinates, the defense secretaries wrote, must refrain from any political actions that undermine the results of the election or hinder the success of the new team. The Pentagon has released several statements listing the support given to the Biden transition team.Zolan Kanno-Youngs contributed reporting.
Politics
For some professional women, the struggles of Ms. Warrens campaign feel like a reckoning with their standing in the world.Credit...Ruth Fremson/The New York TimesFeb. 28, 2020[Elizabeth Warren has dropped out of the 2020 democratic presidential race.]LAS VEGAS Emily Ciarella, 10, walked toward the stage with her mother. She looked at Senator Elizabeth Warren and asked a simple question:Why do you think it is important for a woman to run for president?The audience let out a collective aw. Ms. Warren smiled broadly and turned the personal question universal.Do we really believe theres value in every person? she replied, looking at Emily, then at the audience of about 200 people, gathered in a high school auditorium in a suburban neighborhood north of Las Vegas, who did not seem particularly captivated by Ms. Warrens answer.American voters, Ms. Warren continued, had backed firsts in the past there was a Catholic man in the 1960s and an African-American man in 2008, she said, leading to her conclusion: Lets do this one more time.The fifth graders question summed up what have been some of the most challenging issues for Ms. Warren in this campaign: How should she talk about gender? What lesson is she trying to offer young girls? And does her current standing say anything about that of women more broadly in 2020?Of course, not all Democratic women are fans of Ms. Warren, a one-time leading candidate who has polled just slightly higher among women than she has among men, and who has not finished above third in the early states Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.But in dozens of interviews with Democrats over the past several months, at events for Ms. Warren, debate watch parties and polling places, many professional, college-educated women say they have been enraged by the obsession with electability in the 2020 race. These are women who see themselves in Ms. Warren and argue that simply by asking whether a woman can be elected, pundits and voters who fancy themselves as such, are creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.For mothers, this moment includes the difficulty of speaking about gender to school-age girls who do not care about the finer points of policy details, but are happy to declare, I want a woman president.Ms. Warren, a Massachusetts senator, seems particularly aware of the girls young enough to be developing their understandings of persistence. Though she has mostly shelved her hourslong selfie lines in the past several weeks, Ms. Warren now welcomes children backstage before her events. There, she routinely offers her pinkie to dozens of girls. (A ritual that reinforces the idea that running for president is something girls do.)But for an adult audience, Ms. Warren is more circumspect.I get asked this question over and over, about, you know, do you think you face sexism in running for president? Ms. Warren told reporters the night she finished fourth in the Nevada caucuses. And, you know, there are only two answers and theyre both bad. The first one is, Uh, yeah, in which case everybody says, Oh, whiner.The second is to say, Oh, no, in which case, at least every other woman looks at you and thinks, What planet is she living on?Some women, especially those who relate to her personal and professional trajectories, look at Ms. Warren now with a mix of disbelief and disappointment that they describe as nearly debilitating.I really fear this is history repeating itself, Gwen Mesco, a former lawyer and current comedy writer in Los Angeles, said earlier this month before Ms. Warrens series of losses in early states. Hope almost feels quaint now.Women in this general demographic are loyal Democrats who have spent years in professional settings where they believed they had a fair shot, but eventually experienced a double standard of some kind whether it was a negative comment about their child care responsibilities or an admonition to be less forceful.ImageCredit...Ruth Fremson/The New York TimesThe Jane Club, an all-womens co-working space in the center of Los Angeles, is a prime place to encounter this mind-set.Since opening in 2017, it has presented itself as a kind of quietly revolutionary space that reimagines the way women balance work, family and inspiration. The space is one of several women-focused businesses like The Wing and The Riveter that opened around the country in the Trump era, embracing messages of empowerment to help sell co-working memberships. At the Jane Club, women pay about $250 to $500 a month to gain access to the club, which includes a child care center, meditation space and shelves lined with books on feminism.The Jane Club sponsors an occasional book club. The night the Iowa caucus results were supposed to come in, a group of about a dozen women in their 30s and 40s gathered to discuss Good and Mad, a book examining womens anger by the journalist Rebecca Traister. They went over the recent events covered in the book Hillary Clintons loss, the gains from the #MeToo movement and the 2018 midterm elections. When they floated back to the current state of political affairs, they mostly sounded pessimistic.Before the conversation began, June Diane Raphael, an actress and one of the founders of the Jane Club, was pouring herself a glass of wine in the kitchen.Im feeling really anxious, the same kind of anxiety as I had in 2016, she said. Weve been in mourning all that time and now were starting over again. I might feel different if it were Warren doing well maybe then Id be more hopeful.Like most of the other women in the group, Ms. Raphael had participated in the Womens March in 2017 and donated to women running for Congress in 2018. She had felt her enthusiasm flag more recently. She was still angry, but she was also weary.We cant let the world get away with defeating us into exhaustion, she said.At the end of the December Democratic debate in Los Angeles, the moderators asked each of the candidates to either offer a gift or ask for forgiveness. All the men spoke of their gifts. Both Ms. Warren and Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota the only other woman onstage chose the other option.I will ask for forgiveness, Ms. Warren began. I know that sometimes I get really worked up. And sometimes I get a little hot. I dont really mean to, she said, adding that she was motivated by the pain she often heard from voters.After the debate ended, Lorena Gonzalez, a California Assembly member, circulated in the media spin room, speaking to reporters as part of her job as a prominent surrogate for Ms. Warren.Isnt it amazing that women feel they have to do that, Ms. Gonzalez said. Weve been made to feel that a little anger isnt acceptable, that we have to tone it down or somehow take a breather.Ms. Warrens approach obviously doesnt resonate for all women, even progressives who want a woman to win the White House.You know, sometimes you need to listen as much as you speak, and I just dont know if shes doing that, said Marlena Brown, a 56-year-old Las Vegas hotel housekeeper who saw Ms. Warren speak at the Culinary Union hall in December. But, you know, as a woman, its hard. I do believe a woman needs to be elected, but its tough to balance everything we want.Meredith Sanderson, a 21-year-old materials engineering major at the University of California, Los Angeles, cast her ballot for Ms. Warren this week precisely because of her approach to women.I like the way she talks about womens issues, the way she actively brings up discrimination she faced as a pregnant teacher, said Ms. Sanderson, who added that she has been surprised to see how much Ms. Warren has struggled in early contests. Shelly Ciarella, 41, remembers the morning after Donald Trump defeated Mrs. Clinton in 2016, a then 7-year-old Emily woke up with a different question: How could a bully beat a woman?Ms. Ciarella thought about it for a long time, wondering how she could keep her daughter optimistic and interested in politics. As it turned out, it did not take much effort, but Ms. Ciarella urged her to read about each of the Democratic candidates. When Ms. Warrens Las Vegas town hall event was announced, Ms. Ciarella knew she would bring Emily. Most of all, Ms. Ciarella said, she wanted her daughter to know that were still swinging at the ball.After years of working in the banking industry, Ms. Ciarella left the corporate world to raise children as her husband pursues his military career as a fighter pilot.I dont think women get the respect they deserve, whether its working or taking care of a household, Ms. Ciarella said after Ms. Warrens event, about a week before the Nevada caucuses. At the time, she said she did not know which candidate she would choose.ImageCredit...Ruth Fremson/The New York TimesBy the time she showed up at her local caucus site a week later, after a debate in which Ms. Warren lambasted many of her rivals, including former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, there was no doubt: Ms. Ciarella wanted Ms. Warren to win.A big component was the debate seeing her take down Bloomberg with how he has treated women in the past, it felt really great to see, she said, describing the evening as a kind of catharsis.I dont know any woman who has worked in a professional world who hasnt been told, Now you dont want to come across too strong or too mean, she said. When a woman gets more fierce, she gets called mean.When Ms. Ciarella showed up at her caucus site in Las Vegas, with Emily in tow, she said it felt like she was voting for both of them. Still, Ms. Warren did not receive enough votes to win a single delegate in the precinct.
Politics
The Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, with 57 members and $100 billion in committed capital, is challenging the current regime, as it looks to focus on infrastructure and speed up project approval. It is taking aim at a long entrenched system, which developed out of the Bretton Woods conference at the end of World War II. Related Article The World Bank The organization aims to fight poverty and improve living standards by funding development projects in areas like education, infrastructure, agriculture and health. It has faced criticism, though, for moving too slowly to approve projects. 134 borrowers: Countries with an active project Biggest borrowers in darker blue In billions of dollars, as of June 30, 2015 Biggest borrowers 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Brazil Mexico Indonesia China India $15.4 $14.7 $14.3 $13.0 $12.5 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. Turkey Colombia Poland Argentina Ukraine $12.1 $8.5 $7.1 $5.8 $4.6 Exposures of the banks International Bank for Reconstruction and Development 134 borrowers: Countries with an active project Biggest borrowers in darker blue Biggest borrowers In billions of dollars, as of June 30, 2015 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. Brazil Mexico Indonesia China India Turkey Colombia Poland Argentina Ukraine $15.4 $14.7 $14.3 $13.0 $12.5 $12.1 $8.5 $7.1 $5.8 $4.6 Exposures of the banks International Bank for Reconstruction and Development Membership: 188 countries Total commitments: $60 billion as of June 30, 2015 The International Monetary Fund A lender of last resort, the fund works to maintain the stability of the global monetary system, directly lending money to countries in financial trouble. But big developing economies have been frustrated that they dont get a bigger say in the funds operations. 78 borrowers: In billions of dollars, as of Dec. 2, 2015 Biggest borrowers 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Portugal Greece Ukraine Ireland Pakistan $11.9 $10.0 $5.7 $2.8 $2.4 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. Jordan Tunisia Iraq Ivory Coast Cyprus $1.0 $0.7 $0.7 $0.5 $0.5 Total outstanding purchases and loans 78 borrowers: Biggest borrowers In billions of dollars, as of Dec. 2, 2015 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. Portugal Greece Ukraine Ireland Pakistan Jordan Tunisia Iraq Ivory Coast Cyprus $11.9 $10.0 $5.7 $2.8 $2.4 $1.0 $0.7 $0.7 $0.5 $0.5 Total outstanding purchases and loans Membership: 188 countries Current lending arrangements: $163 billion, of which $137 billion had not been drawn(as of March 2015) The Asian Development Bank Taking a similar tack to the World Bank, the organization builds schools, health clinics, power plants, bridges and other projects across the Asia and Pacific region. It has taken criticism for its bureaucracy, including a board that is too involved in daily management. 40 borrowers: In billions of dollars, as of Dec. 31, 2014 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. India Pakistan China Vietnam Indonesia $3.5 $3.0 $2.8 $2.4 $1.8 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. Philippines Bangladesh Sri Lanka Laos Uzbekistan $1.6 $1.5 $0.9 $0.7 $0.7 2014 approved loans, grants and technical assistance 40 borrowers: Biggest recent borrowers In billions of dollars, as of Dec. 31, 2014 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. India Pakistan China Vietnam Indonesia Philippines Bangladesh Sri Lanka Laos Uzbekistan $3.5 $3.0 $2.8 $2.4 $1.8 $1.6 $1.5 $0.9 $0.7 $0.7 2014 approved loans, grants and technical assistance Headquarters: Manila, the Philippines Financing in 2014: $23 billion The World According to China June 1, 2017 Chinas Global Ambitions, Cash and Strings Attached Jan. 19, 2018 The country has invested billions in Ecuador and elsewhere, using its economic clout to win diplomatic allies and secure natural resources around the world. China Falters, and the Global Economy Is Forced to Adapt Jan. 19, 2018 Chinese Cash Floods U.S. Real Estate Market Jan. 19, 2018 China Creates a World Bank of Its Own, and the U.S. Balks Jan. 19, 2018 China Creates a World Bank of Its Own, and the U.S. Balks Jan. 19, 2018
Business
DealBook|JPMorgan to Pay $307 Million for Steering Clients to Own Fundshttps://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/19/business/dealbook/jpmorgan-to-pay-307-million-for-steering-clients-to-own-funds.htmlDec. 18, 2015Credit...Mark Lennihan/Associated PressJPMorgan Chase has agreed to pay $307 million to settle accusations that it improperly steered clients to the companys in-house mutual funds and hedge funds.From 2008 to 2015, brokers and financial advisers in several divisions of JPMorgan gave preference to investment products created by the banks asset management division when deciding where to put client money, regulators said on Friday.In some cases, regulators said, the clients were put into products with higher fees, which earned JPMorgan more money, even when the same JPMorgan product was available for a lower fee.The undisclosed conflicts were pervasive, the head of enforcement at the Securities and Exchange Commission, Andrew J. Ceresney, said in a conference call.The settlement is a black mark for JPMorgans asset management division, a business that the company has been aggressively expanding and that has been seen as particularly promising in the new regulatory environment. The bank admitted wrongdoing in the settlement.We have always strived for full transparency in client communications, and in the last two years have further enhanced our disclosures in support of that goal, said Darin Oduyoye, a spokesman for JPMorgans asset management division.The disclosure weaknesses cited in the settlements were not intentional and we regret them, he said. We remain confident in our investment process and are proud of the way we manage money.JPMorgan will pay $267 million to the S.E.C. and an additional $40 million to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.The S.E.C. said that JPMorgan made $127 million in ill-gotten gains from its preference for in-house funds. The money from the settlement will not go to JPMorgans clients, though Mr. Ceresney said there was significant harm to clients here.Several JPMorgan brokers told The New York Times in 2012 and 2013 that they were encouraged by their superiors to put their clients into proprietary funds even when lower-cost or better-performing funds were available.One broker, Johnny Burris, said this month that after he complained about the practices he faced retaliation from JPMorgan employees. JPMorgan denied that its employees retaliated against Mr. Burris.Jordan A. Thomas, a lawyer at Labaton Sucharow representing whistle-blowers, said on Friday that one of his clients a former JPMorgan employee had assisted the S.E.C. in developing the case announced Friday.The agency said that starting in 2007, JPMorgan developed basic investment portfolios, in a program known as the Chase Strategic Portfolio, that automatically invested a significant portion of any money in proprietary JPMorgan mutual funds.The company developed a similar program for wealthier clients in JPMorgans private bank, known as the JPMorgan Investment Portfolio, which funneled money into the banks own hedge funds. JPMorgan also gave a preference to outside hedge fund managers who were willing to pay placement fees or retrocessions to JPMorgan.If a manager declined to pay retrocessions, an alternative manager with a similar investment strategy that would pay retrocessions was typically sought, the S.E.C. order released on Friday said.Banks are generally allowed to show a preference for their own investment products as long as they disclose that to clients.JPMorgan will not have to stop giving preferential treatment to its own funds as part of the settlement, but it will have to send new disclosures to all clients.
Business
The tech giant, which is preparing for a mega I.P.O., has transformed personal finance in China. Regulators have taken notice.Credit...Agence France-Presse Getty ImagesPublished Oct. 26, 2020Updated Jan. 20, 2021As Jack Ma of Alibaba helped turn China into the worlds biggest e-commerce market over the past two decades, he was also vowing to pull off a more audacious transformation.If the banks dont change, well change the banks, he said in 2008, decrying how hard it was for small businesses in China to borrow from government-run lenders.The financial industry needs disrupters, he told Peoples Daily, the official Communist Party newspaper, a few years later. His goal, he said, was to make banks and other state-owned enterprises feel unwell.The scope of Mr. Mas success is becoming clearer. The vehicle for his financial-technology ambitions, an Alibaba spinoff called Ant Group, is preparing for the largest initial public offering on record. Ant is set to raise $34 billion by selling its shares to the public in Hong Kong and Shanghai, according to stock exchange documents released on Monday. After the listing, Ant would be worth around $310 billion, much more than many global banks.The company is going public not as a scrappy upstart, but as a leviathan deeply dependent on the good will of the government Mr. Ma once relished prodding.More than 730 million people use Ants Alipay app every month to pay for lunch, invest their savings and shop on credit. Yet Alipays size and importance have made it an inevitable target for Chinas regulators, which have already brought its business to heel in certain areas.These days, Ant talks mostly about creating partnerships with big banks, not disrupting or supplanting them. Several government-owned funds and institutions are Ant shareholders and stand to profit handsomely from the public offering.The question now is how much higher Ant can fly without provoking the Chinese authorities into clipping its wings further.Excitable investors see Ant as a buzzy internet innovator. The risk is that it becomes more like a heavily regulated financial digital utility, said Fraser Howie, the co-author of Red Capitalism: The Fragile Financial Foundation of Chinas Extraordinary Rise.Utility stocks, as far as I remember, were not the ones to be seen as the most exciting, Mr. Howie said.Ant declined to comment, citing the quiet period demanded by regulators before its share sale.The company has played give-and-take with Beijing for years. As smartphone payments became ubiquitous in China, Ant found itself managing huge piles of money in Alipay users virtual wallets. The central bank made it park those funds in special accounts where they would earn minimal interest.After people piled into an easy-to-use investment fund inside Alipay, the government forced the fund to shed risk and lower returns. Regulators curbed a plan to use Alipay data as the basis for a credit-scoring system akin to Americans FICO scores.Chinas Supreme Court this summer capped interest rates for consumer loans, though it was unclear how the ceiling would apply to Ant. The central bank is preparing a new virtual currency that could compete against Alipay and another digital wallet, the messaging app WeChat, as an everyday payment tool.Ant has learned ways of keeping the authorities on its side. Mr. Ma once boasted at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, about never taking money from the Chinese government. Today, funds associated with Chinas social security system, its sovereign wealth fund, a state-owned life insurance company and the national postal carrier hold stakes in Ant. The I.P.O. is likely to increase the value of their holdings considerably.Thats how the state gets its payoff, Mr. Howie said. With Ant, he said, the line between state-owned enterprise and private enterprise is highly, highly blurred.China, in less than two generations, went from having a state-planned financial system to being at the global vanguard of internet finance, with trillions of dollars in transactions being made on mobile devices each year. Alipay had a lot to do with it.Alibaba created the service in the early 2000s to hold payments for online purchases in escrow. Its broader usefulness quickly became clear in a country that mostly missed out on the credit card era. Features were added and users piled in. It became impossible for regulators and banks not to see the app as a threat.ImageCredit...Alex Plavevski/EPA, via ShutterstockA big test came when Ant began making an offer to Alipay users: Park your money in a section of the app called Yuebao, which means leftover treasure, and we will pay you more than the low rates fixed by the government at banks.People could invest as much or as little as they wanted, making them feel like they were putting their pocket change to use. Yuebao was a hit, becoming one of the worlds largest money market funds.The banks were terrified. One commentator for a state broadcaster called the fund a vampire and a parasite.Still, all the main regulators remained unanimous in saying that this was a positive thing for the Chinese financial system, said Martin Chorzempa, a research fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington.If you cant actually reform the banks, Mr. Chorzempa said, you can inject more competition.But then came worries about shadowy, unregulated corners of finance and the dangers they posed to the wider economy. Today, Chinese regulators are tightening supervision of financial holding companies, Ant included. Beijing has kept close watch on the financial instruments that small lenders create out of their consumer loans and sell to investors. Such securities help Ant fund some of its lending. But they also amplify the blowup if too many of those loans arent repaid.Those kinds of derivative products are something the government is really concerned about, said Tian X. Hou, founder of the research firm TH Data Capital. Given Ants size, she said, the government should be concerned.The broader worry for China is about growing levels of household debt. Beijing wants to cultivate a consumer economy, but excessive borrowing could eventually weigh on peoples spending power. The names of two of Alipays popular credit functions, Huabei and Jiebei, are jaunty invitations to spend and borrow.Huang Ling, 22, started using Huabei when she was in high school. At the time, she didnt qualify for a credit card. With Huabeis help, she bought a drone, a scooter, a laptop and more.The credit line made her feel rich. It also made her realize that if she actually wanted to be rich, she had to get busy.Living beyond my means forced me to work harder, Ms. Huang said.First, she opened a clothing shop in her hometown, Nanchang, in southeastern China. Then she started an advertising company in the inland metropolis of Chongqing. When the business needed cash, she borrowed from Jiebei.Online shopping became a way to soothe daily anxieties, and Ms. Huang sometimes racked up thousands of dollars in Huabei bills, which only made her even more anxious. When the pandemic slammed her business, she started falling behind on her payments. That cast her into a deep depression.Finally, early this month, with her parents help, she paid off her debts and closed her Huabei and Jiebei accounts. She felt elated, she said.Chinas recent troubles with freewheeling online loan platforms have put the government under pressure to protect ordinary borrowers.Ant is helped by the fact that its business lines up with many of the Chinese leaderships priorities: encouraging entrepreneurship and financial inclusion, and expanding the middle class. This year, the company helped the eastern city of Hangzhou, where it is based, set up an early version of the governments app-based system for dictating coronavirus quarantines.Such coziness is bound to raise hackles overseas. In Washington, Chinese tech companies that are seen as close to the government are radioactive.In January 2017, Eric Jing, then Ants chief executive, said the company aimed to be serving two billion users worldwide within a decade. Shortly after, Ant announced that it was acquiring the money transfer company MoneyGram to increase its U.S. footprint. By the following January, the deal was dead, thwarted by data security concerns.More recently, top officials in the Trump administration have discussed whether to place Ant Group on the so-called entity list, which prohibits foreign companies from purchasing American products. Officials from the State Department have suggested that an interagency committee, which also includes officials from the departments of defense, commerce and energy, review Ant for the potential entity listing, according to three people familiar with the matter.Ant does not talk much anymore about expanding in the United States.Ana Swanson contributed reporting.
Tech
Enzo Amore Suspended By WWE After Rape Allegation 1/22/2018 The Phoenix Police Dept. has opened up an investigation into allegations made by a woman who claims she was raped by WWE superstar Enzo Amore back in October. The WWE has also suspended him indefinitely. The woman went public with her story on social media Monday -- claiming Enzo (real name Eric Arndt) along with 2 friends got her "f*cked up" in a hotel room on Oct. 19 to the point where she passed out. The woman claims Enzo then restrained her and, "it happened." The Phoenix PD says officers responded to a local hospital on Oct. 23 for a call about a woman who claims she was sexually assaulted. Investigators were assigned to the case. The investigation is still open. As for the WWE, the organization has suspended Enzo ... saying, "WWE has zero tolerance for matters involving sexual harassment or sexual assault." "Until this matter is resolved, Eric Arndt has been suspended." [h/t ProWrestlingSheet, which first reported the story]
Entertainment
Media|Disney Eyes Fusion Exit as Venture Struggleshttps://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/23/business/media/disney-eyes-fusion-exit-as-venture-flounders.htmlDec. 22, 2015The Walt Disney Company is in talks with the Spanish-language broadcaster Univision to sell its stake in Fusion, the joint venture started by the two companies two years ago, a person with knowledge of the discussions said Tuesday.Fusion is an English-language digital news service and cable channel that is aimed at millennial audiences. Its chief executive is Isaac Lee, who also oversees digital and multicultural functions at Univision.Terms of Disneys exit, including the timing, the price and whether other partners were involved, were not clear.Over the years Fusion has struggled to define its identity and deliver large audiences. The cable channel has faced challenges attracting viewers in an era when TV networks face sharp ratings declines, particularly among younger viewers. The website, which originally was aimed at young Latinos who spoke English but shifted to target young viewers of all ethnicities, has had a hard time standing out against digital media rivals like BuzzFeed and Vice.A spokesman for Disney declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Univision could not be reached for comment. News of the talks was first reported by The Financial Times. During Fusions first full year of operations in 2014, the group reported losses of $35 million. The company has 250 to 300 employees and offices in Miami, New York, Washington, D.C., Boulder, Colo., and Oakland, Calif. Fusion has projected that its television network would be profitable in 2016, and that its digital operations would be ahead of business plans.There have been some culture clashes. Disney, for instance, put Fusion on notice that it would not appreciate coverage that might hurt it with consumers after Fusion published several stories based on documents that hackers stole from Sony, according to a news report.Two years after Fusion started its cable network the distribution reached nearly 40 million households, according to a note to staff sent by Mr. Lee in October."So while we are still building awareness, we are reaching our target audience and growing at a faster pace than many of our competitors," he said."The development comes as Univisions public offering has been delayed after fears about the future of the television business set off a plunge in the share prices for major media companies.Igniting much of that industrywide concern was Disney, which in August reduced growth expectations for its cable network division, which contributes about half of its annual operating income and is anchored by the cable sports network ESPN. Factors slowing growth at ESPN include subscriber erosion combined with a weak ad market and the inflation of sports rights.
Business
Sports BriefingFeb. 22, 2014For the third straight round, Graeme McDowell pulled off an escape, reaching the quarterfinals of the Match Play Championship in Marana, Ariz. He won the last two holes against Hunter Mahan to force overtime, made a 20-foot par putt on the 20th hole to stay in the match and won with a birdie on the 21st. Jordan Spieth beat Matt Kuchar, Ernie Els ousted Jason Dufner, Victor Dubuisson beat Bubba Watson, and Rickie Fowler won on the last hole with Sergio Garca. Louis Oosthuizen and Jason Day won, too.
Sports
DealBook|Seeking to Reduce Debt, Glencore May Pursue I.P.O. of Agricultural Businesshttps://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/11/business/dealbook/seeking-to-reduce-debt-glencore-may-pursue-ipo-of-agricultural-business.htmlDec. 10, 2015LONDON The Swiss mining company Glencore said on Thursday that it was considering selling a minority stake in its agriculture business or potentially seek an initial public offering of that business as it pursues additional asset sales to further reduce its debt.Glencores stock has been under pressure in recent months as analysts and investors have expressed concern about the companys heavy debt and weakness in commodities pricing.On Thursday, Glencore said that it was targeting as much as $3 billion to $4 billion in assets sales to further reduce debt.The company had already undertaken $1.1 billion in asset sales since it announced in September that it planned to sell up to $2 billion in assets.Glencore, which also is pursuing cost cuts, said on Thursday that it would seek to further reduce its debt to $18 billion to $19 billion by the end of 2016. The company, which went public in 2011, had $29.6 billion in debt as of June 30.Were going there and hopefully lower, Ivan Glasenberg, the Glencore chief executive, said on a conference call with analysts. We dont want to be in that situation again. We are definitely going to deleverage this balance sheet.Shares of Glencore rose as much as 14 percent in London on Thursday morning following the announcement, but pared back some of those gains in afternoon trading.Based in Baar, Switzerland, Glencore buys and sells commodities, like coal and cooper, as part of its trading arm and mines those commodities as well.The company is seeking a minority investor in its agriculture operation, but could potentially pursue an I.P.O. of the business, Steven F. Kalmin, the Glencore chief financial officer, said on Thursday.The company has received interest in the business from a broad spectrum of interested parties and expects to have an announcement in the first half of 2016, Mr. Kalmin said.What we look for on the bidding process, which is taking place at the middle of this month, were going to ask for indicative bids for minority stakes, Mr. Glasenberg said. We dont have an intention to sell the total business.If we get a big number, and if someone throws a number that creates more value that we believe is worthy to us, of course, were traders, we will take the best price available, he added.As part of its efforts to reduce debt, Glencore also eliminated its dividend and sold $2.5 billion in shares in September.
Business
VideotranscripttranscriptBaffled by Bitcoin? How Cryptocurrency WorksFrom Bitcoin to Litecoin to Ethereum, we explain how cryptocurrency transactions work.Theres Bitcoin. Theres Litecoin. Theres Ethereum. So just what is cryptocurrency, and how does it work? Essentially, its digital money thats bought and sold online. Theres no bills or coins. Its not based on another asset like gold. And it doesnt go through traditional financial institutions like banks. Instead, these currencies operate in a completely decentralized system that uses so-called blockchain technology to track transactions. To see how this works, lets look at how youd buy something with cryptocurrency. Say that Alice wants to buy a bike from Dan using Bitcoin, her cryptocurrency of choice. Alice begins by logging into her Bitcoin wallet with a private key, a unique combination of letters and numbers. With a traditional financial transaction, the exchanges get sent to banks on each side who record the money being subtracted from one account and added to another. But remember, in this scenario, there are no banks or middlemen. Instead, Alices transaction is shared with everyone in the Bitcoin network. These networked computers add Alices transaction to a shared list of recent transactions, known as a block. Every 10 minutes, the newest block of transactions is added on, or chained, to all the previous blocks. Thats how you get a blockchain. To ensure that each block of transactions on the chain is verified, a subset of Bitcoins network joins a race to solve a difficult math puzzle. And if they solve it first, their record of the block of transactions becomes the official record. Theyre rewarded with Bitcoins of their own, and the network gets a new block on the chain. This entire process is known as mining. But instead of chipping away at rock, youre solving complex puzzles. The fact that many computers are competing to verify a block ensures that no single computer can monopolize the Bitcoin market. To ensure the competition stays fair and evenly timed, the puzzle becomes harder when more computers join in. The Bitcoin protocol says mining will continue until there are 21 million Bitcoins in existence. Thats set to happen around 2140 if Bitcoin lasts that long.From Bitcoin to Litecoin to Ethereum, we explain how cryptocurrency transactions work.June 13, 2018SAN FRANCISCO A concentrated campaign of price manipulation may have accounted for at least half of the increase in the price of Bitcoin and other big cryptocurrencies last year, according to a paper released on Wednesday by an academic with a history of spotting fraud in financial markets.The paper by John Griffin, a finance professor at the University of Texas, and Amin Shams, a graduate student, is likely to stoke a debate about how much of Bitcoins skyrocketing gain last year was caused by the covert actions of a few big players, rather than real demand from investors.Many industry players expressed concern at the time that the prices were being pushed up at least partly by activity at Bitfinex, one of the largest and least regulated exchanges in the industry. The exchange, which is registered in the Caribbean with offices in Asia, was subpoenaed by American regulators shortly after articles about the concerns appeared in The New York Times and other publications.Mr. Griffin looked at the flow of digital tokens going in and out of Bitfinex and identified several distinct patterns that suggest that someone or some people at the exchange successfully worked to push up prices when they sagged at other exchanges. To do that, the person or people used a secondary virtual currency, known as Tether, which was created and sold by the owners of Bitfinex, to buy up those other cryptocurrencies.There were obviously tremendous price increases last year, and this paper indicates that manipulation played a large part in those price increases, Mr. Griffin said.[Steve Bannon has a good stake in Bitcoin and floated the idea of creating a deplorables coin.]Bitfinex executives have denied in the past that the exchange was involved in any manipulation. The company said on Wednesday that it had never engaged in any sort of market or price manipulation. Tether issuances cannot be used to prop up the price of Bitcoin or any other coin/token on Bitfinex, Jan Ludovicus van der Velde, Bitfinexs chief executive, said in a statement.The new paper helped push down the already sinking price of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies on Wednesday. The price of Bitcoin fell as much as 5 percent after the report was published, approaching its lowest point of the year. Bitcoin is now down more than 65 percent from the highs it hit late last year.The authors of the new 66-page paper do not have emails or documents that prove that Bitfinex knew about or was responsible for price manipulation. The researchers relied on the millions of transaction records that are captured on the public ledgers of all virtual currency transactions, known as the blockchain, to spot patterns. This method is not conclusive, but it has helped government authorities and academics spot suspicious activity in the past.In particular, Mr. Griffin and Mr. Shams examined the flow of Tether, a token that is supposed to be tied to the value of the dollar and that is issued exclusively by Bitfinex in large batches. They found that half of the increase in Bitcoins price in 2017 could be traced to the hours immediately after Tether flowed to a handful of other exchanges, generally when the price was declining.Other large virtual currencies that can be purchased with Tether, such as Ether and Zcash, rose even more quickly than Bitcoin in those periods. The prices rose much more quickly on exchanges that accepted Tether than they did on those that did not, and the pattern ceased when Bitfinex stopped issuing new Tether this year, the authors found.Sarah Meiklejohn, a professor at the University College London who pioneered this sort of pattern spotting, said the analysis in the new paper seems sound after reviewing it this week.Philip Gradwell, the chief economist at Chainalysis, a firm that analyses blockchain data, also said the study seems credible. He cautioned that a full understanding of the patterns would require more analysis.Mr. Griffin previously wrote research pointing to fraudulent behavior in several other financial markets. He drew attention for a 2016 paper that suggested that a popular financial contract tied to the volatility in financial markets, known as the VIX, was being manipulated. A whistle-blower later came forward to confirm those suspicions, and now several active lawsuits are focused on the allegations.Beyond his work at the University of Texas, Mr. Griffin has a consulting firm that works on financial fraud cases, including some in the virtual currency industry.The relationship between Tether and the price of Bitcoin has been flagged for months within the community, said Christian Catalini, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who specializes in blockchain research. It is great to see academic work trying to causally assess if market manipulation is taking place.The new paper is not the first academic work to identify manipulation in the virtual currency markets. A paper published last year by a team of Israeli and American researchers said much of Bitcoins big price increase in 2013 was caused by a campaign of price manipulation at what was then the biggest exchange, Mt. Gox.
Tech
News AnalysisMaking his debut onstage, he was greeted by forceful challenges from Elizabeth Warren and the rest of the Democratic field.Credit...Calla Kessler/The New York TimesPublished Feb. 20, 2020Updated Feb. 21, 2020Michael R. Bloomberg bobbed behind his lectern, as if the motion might deliver him somewhere more comfortable. He blinked, then blinked some more. He appeared unsteady for all the preparation his billions might buy him on questions of race and gender that could not have come as a surprise.Pressed about allegations of a hostile workplace at his company, Mr. Bloomberg wandered into a legalistic defense of nondisclosure agreements, adding that perhaps women didnt like a joke I told. Questioned on his longstanding support for stop-and-frisk policing, a signature policy of his mayoralty in New York, he professed himself embarrassed before suggesting others onstage also had plenty to apologize for.Remember, he said in one exchange, explaining why he had not yet released full tax documents. I only entered into this race 10 weeks ago.That much was clear.Until Wednesday, as Mr. Bloomberg spent heavily and campaigned atypically, bypassing the early-voting states to focus on delegate-rich contests in March and beyond, his candidacy had existed almost in parentheses: Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. was the early front-runner. (But Mr. Bloomberg wanted his voters.) Senator Bernie Sanders won New Hampshire. (But would Mr. Bloombergs fortune bury him by the spring?)Onstage at last, beside his competitors for the first time, the partition fell away unlocking months of pent-up, fieldwide frustration with how the primary has proceeded. Though Mr. Bloomberg took the earliest and perhaps fiercest fire, his meek rebuttals seemed to inspire a wider reckoning among his peers, who slashed and bickered with an eagerness the race had not seen before. It signaled both the urgent electoral hour and, at times, a genuine and visceral distaste for Mr. Bloombergs attempt in recent weeks to bend the race to his whims.Often, Mr. Bloomberg seemed resigned to standing with a half-smirk, less poker face than momentary capitulation, listening as one rival after another took a turn.He didnt get a whole lot done, Mr. Biden said of Mr. Bloombergs time as mayor, a statement the billionaire did not bother jumping in to contest.I dont think you look at Donald Trump and say, We need someone richer in the White House, Senator Amy Klobuchar reasoned, an argument Mr. Bloomberg chose not to grapple with much.Id like to talk about who were running against, Senator Elizabeth Warren teased, a billionaire who calls women fat broads and horse-faced lesbians. And no, Im not talking about Donald Trump.At one point, a moderator, Lester Holt, had to beckon Mr. Bloomberg to defend himself, observing that there was a lot for you to respond to.Um, Mr. Bloomberg began. He said he was the best candidate to defeat President Trump and the leader with the experience to succeed if he did.Im a mayor, he said, or was a mayor. It had been a while.Ms. Warren, seeking to boost her chances after setbacks in the first two states, appeared particularly emboldened, tweaking Ms. Klobuchar on health care policy, Mr. Sanders for the vitriol among some of his supporters and, most gleefully, Mr. Bloomberg.After a halting, if careful, answer from Mr. Bloomberg about the nondisclosure agreements during which the former mayor recited various feats of gender parity in his business and government life Ms. Warren challenged him to release women from the agreements if they wished to speak publicly about how they were treated in his employ.I hope you heard what his defense was, Ms. Warren said, before paraphrasing liberally. Ive been nice to some women. That just doesnt cut it.For much of the night, Mr. Bloomberg, who had not debated since his third and final mayoral election in 2009, looked both rusty and familiar. He was every bit the political patrician New Yorkers remember, referring to his fellow hopefuls as my associates, calling the debate a panel and joking that TurboTax would not suffice for the thousands of pages of financial documents he has yet to release.He did appear to grow more confident later in the night, speaking forcefully on environmental issues and landing a well-practiced zinger or two.What a wonderful country we have, he said in one answer, needling Mr. Sanders for his considerable (if much smaller) net worth. The best known socialist in the country happens to be a millionaire with three houses. What did I miss here?ImageCredit...Calla Kessler/The New York TimesMr. Bloombergs very presence onstage was a testament to the unsettled primary that coaxed him into running in the first place a heady turn in a race that has been defined, in part, by progressive contempt for the billionaire class.The inability of any candidate to unite the partys disparate factions so far has provided Mr. Bloomberg with an opening, albeit a complicated one, particularly after the disappointing early-state returns for Mr. Biden, whose stumbles on the campaign trail last year helped persuade Mr. Bloomberg to reconsider a decision to stay away.The result, with voting already underway, is a field whose front-runner, Mr. Sanders, and his would-be spoiler, Mr. Bloomberg, have both spent much of their adult lives resisting a full embrace of the party they now hope to lead.We could wake up two weeks from today, the day after Super Tuesday, and the only candidates left standing will be Bernie Sanders and Mike Bloomberg, the two most polarizing figures on this stage, Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., warned, adding, Lets put forward somebody whos actually a Democrat.For Mr. Bloomberg, an uninspiring debate debut risked underwhelming Democrats whose chief exposure to him in recent months has been through an inescapable ad campaign.But it is not clear how, or even if, his performance might affect his prospects. Mr. Bloomberg is offering audiences an unsentimental bargain, in some ways, pitched less at the heart than the gut. These are extraordinary times, the argument goes, requiring extraordinary interventions up to and including an ultrarich, party-switching Manhattanite hard-wired to replace another.Voters do not need to fall in love, Mr. Bloombergs allies say. They need only to fall on the right side of the question underpinning his campaign: Can anyone else really be trusted to take down the president? And if not, then why not default to the man with the biggest budget for political weaponry?Mike Will Get It Done, read the signs at his events. The means are generally left unsaid.On Wednesday, Mr. Bloomberg moved to project this brand of lets-get-realism after Mr. Sanders spoke about workers feeling like cogs in a machine.I cant think of a way that would make it easier for Donald Trump to get re-elected than listening to this conversation, Mr. Bloomberg said. This is ridiculous. Were not going to throw out capitalism. We tried that, other countries tried that. It was called communism and it just didnt work.Mr. Bloombergs instincts, if unchecked, do not lend themselves easily to a live television event. He is an undersize septuagenarian with a New England accent and a New Yorkers impatience. He has been known to sigh audibly or look skyward when annoyed by questions. He can cling to statistics as a kind of rhetorical security blanket, firing off numbers where concision would do. If advisers had urged Mr. Bloomberg to curb these tics, it did not show onstage in Las Vegas.ImageCredit...Erin Schaff/The New York TimesFor progressives like Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren, Mr. Bloomberg is a gift-wrapped contrast, a flesh-and-blood billionaire elbowing into the process on cue. Mr. Biden, straining to revive his campaign after bleak finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, has also highlighted Mr. Bloombergs trail of troubling comments about redlining and stop-and-frisk, suggesting that black voters putting their trust in the former New York mayor are doomed to be disappointed.It was a violation of every right people have, Mr. Biden said Wednesday night of the aggressive policing tactic.While Mr. Bloomberg has at times proved an irresistible target, Mr. Sanders has appeared to absorb fewer attacks from his rivals than a nominal front-runner might typically expect. More moderate candidates like Mr. Biden and Mr. Buttigieg have pressed Mr. Sanders on the cost of his plans. Ms. Warren has said he has a lot of questions to answer about the venom among some supporters.But it has often been Mr. Bloomberg coming in for the most persistent flogging of late.Both the Sanders and Bloomberg campaigns see value in framing the primary as a two-man race, and even before Wednesday night, the week had produced several punchy skirmishes.Hours before the debate, a Sanders spokeswoman claimed on CNN without evidence that Mr. Bloomberg had suffered heart attacks in the past as she tried to deflect questions about Mr. Sanderss medical records after his recent heart attack. (The spokeswoman, Briahna Joy Gray, later said she misspoke.)Well, we both have two stents, Mr. Sanders said Wednesday night, suggesting a kind of camaraderie-in-health.Other subjects encouraged clearer distinction.Mr. Bloomberg declared himself the only candidate there who had started a business. (Is that fair? he asked, hearing no objection. OK.)And during closing remarks, after Ms. Klobuchar had pointed viewers to her website, Mr. Bloomberg noted one clear measure on which he stands alone.You can join me at MikeBloomberg.com, too, if you want, he said. But Im not asking for any money.
Politics
Politics|Haley Blames Watchdog Groups for U.S. Withdrawal From U.N. Rights Councilhttps://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/20/us/politics/haley-un-human-rights-council.htmlCredit...Toya Sarno Jordan/ReutersJune 20, 2018WASHINGTON The Trump administration rebuked human rights watchdog organizations on Wednesday, blaming them in part for its decision this week to withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council.In a scathing letter, Nikki R. Haley, the American ambassador to the United Nations, criticized the organizations for opposing her failed push last month for a General Assembly vote on changes to the council, the worlds most important human rights body.You put yourself on the side of Russia and China, and opposite the United States, on a key human rights issue, she wrote to 18 organizations that criticized her attempt. You should know that your efforts to block negotiations and thwart reform were a contributing factor in the U.S. decision to withdraw from the council.The United States withdrew from the council on Tuesday to protest its frequent criticism of Israels treatment of Palestinians. The United States now joins Iran, North Korea and Eritrea as the only countries that refuse to participate in the councils meetings and deliberations.It was the first time a member has voluntarily left the council.Several recipients of Ms. Haleys broadside said that her proposed changes could have led to amendments from Russia, China and other nations to weaken the council.Human Rights Watch was among the nongovernmental organizations that opposed Ms. Haleys push for a General Assembly vote. The risk was that it would have opened a Pandoras box of even worse problems, Louis Charbonneau, the groups United Nations director, said in an interview.The idea that human rights groups were trying to undermine genuine attempts to reform the council, or that we were working with countries like Russia, is outrageous and ridiculous, Mr. Charbonneau said.Western governments largely agreed with the watchdog groups view on the issue, derailing the American overhaul effort.To this date, we have received not one written edit from a single member state, Ms. Haley wrote in the letter on Wednesday.State Department officials said Ms. Haleys rebuke grew out of intense frustration that the groups banded together to oppose her efforts without talking to her first. She was also frustrated that a year of work and consultations had so far yielded few results, they said.In a speech on Tuesday, Ms. Haley said she would continue to work to overhaul the council.But without the United States, changes are far harder to achieve, according to the rights organizations that said the Trump administration has a poor track record for such negotiations.
Politics
Nick Saban Does Electric Slide To Win Over HS Recruit 1/28/2018 Nick Saban will do what it takes to get a top recruit to come play football at Alabama ... even if it means putting on his dancing shoes. The Crimson Tide head coach went out Saturday night to pay a visit to Eddie Smith -- a three-star high school cornerback out of Slidell, Louisiana. What might've started out as a convo about committing to 'Bama eventually turned into a boogie fest. Waiting for your permission to load the Facebook Video. Saban was recorded doing the Electric Slide in the family's living room. He also apparently got in on a little number called the Wobble -- with which he seemed a bit less familiar. Waiting for your permission to load the Facebook Video. No word on where Smith's leaning at this point -- but ya gotta like his chances after this. You know your potential future coach is dedicated when he gets down with your fam.
Entertainment
Grammys After the Show It's the After-Party ... Chappelle, Rita & More 1/29/2018 The Grammy Awards after-parties had some good variety -- huge comedians, famous ball players and, of course, musicians. Dave Chappelle, Sarah Silverman and Trevor Noah were arguably the funniest people at Universal Music Group's after-party. Calvin Harris hit up Diplo's shindig ... and he's rocking a more scruffy look these days. Dollar Shave Club, anyone? Yankees star Aaron Judge looked pretty dapper in his all-black tuxedo. Migos, Lil Dicky, Eve and Sam Smith were also out and about enjoying the night's festivities. Rita Ora was on the scene in a different outfit from her super leggy one earlier -- but still plenty revealing.
Entertainment
Economy|U.S. Wholesale Inventories Shrink, Hinting at More Anemic Growthhttps://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/10/business/us-wholesale-inventories-shrink-hinting-at-more-anemic-growth.htmlDec. 9, 2015WASHINGTON United States wholesale inventories fell in October as businesses stepped up efforts to reduce stockpiles of unsold merchandise, suggesting that inventories would again be a drag on growth in the fourth quarter.The Commerce Department said on Wednesday that wholesale inventories slipped 0.1 percent as stocks of durable and nondurable goods fell. September inventories were revised downward to show them increasing only 0.2 percent instead of rising 0.5 percent as previously reported.Inventories help drive changes in gross domestic product. The component of wholesale inventories that goes into the calculation of G.D.P., wholesale stocks excluding autos, also dipped 0.1 percent.A record back-to-back increase in inventories in the first two quarters of this year left warehouses bulging with unsold merchandise and businesses with little appetite to restock. Inventories subtracted 0.56 of a percentage point from G.D.P. growth in the third quarter. That restricted growth to an annualized rate of 2.1 percent.The drop in wholesale inventories in October prompted economists to trim their fourth-quarter growth estimates by as much as two-tenths of a percentage point, to a 1.7 percent rate.We think that the drag from inventories in the fourth quarter will be more severe than we had previously believed, said Daniel Silver, an economist at J.P. Morgan in New York.Given downward revisions to September data, economists said they expected the third-quarter G.D.P. estimate to fall to a 1.9 percent pace when the government publishes its second revision later this month.Data last week showed that manufacturing inventories fell for a fourth straight month in October. Retail inventory data on Friday could shed more light on the magnitude of the anticipated inventory drag in the final three months of the year.Sales at wholesalers were unchanged in October after increasing 0.5 percent in September. Sales have been soft since last August, in part because of the negative impact of lower oil prices.At Octobers sales pace, it would take 1.31 months to clear shelves, unchanged from September. This is a relatively high number and suggests that businesses are unlikely to speed up their pace of inventory accumulation anytime soon.
Business
Credit...Jake Dockins for The New York TimesPeople are getting defrauded as they turn to Squares Cash App and PayPals Venmo to do more online banking in the pandemic.Charee Mobley, a middle school teacher in Fort Worth, Texas, was a fraud victim recently on Cash App.Credit...Jake Dockins for The New York TimesOct. 11, 2020Charee Mobley, who teaches middle school in Fort Worth, Texas, had just $166 to get herself and her 17-year-old daughter through the last two weeks of August.But that money disappeared when Ms. Mobley, 37, ran into an issue with Squares Cash App, an instant payments app that she was using in the coronavirus pandemic to pay her bills and do her banking.After seeing an errant online shopping charge on her Cash App, Ms. Mobley called what she thought was a help line for it. But the line had been set up by someone who asked her to download some software, which then took control of the app and drained her account.I didnt have gas money and I couldnt pay my daughters senior dues, Ms. Mobley said. We basically just had to stick it out until I got paid the following week.In the pandemic, people have flocked to instant payment apps like Cash App, PayPals Venmo and Zelle as they have wanted to avoid retail bank branches and online commerce has become more ingrained. To encourage that shift, the payment apps have added services like debit cards and routing numbers so that they work more like traditional banks.But many people are unaware of how vulnerable they can be to losses when they use these services in place of banks. Payment apps have long had fraud rates that are three to four times higher than traditional payment methods such as credit and debit cards, according to data from the security firms Sift and Chargeback Gurus.ImageCredit...Melissa Golden for The New York TimesThe fraud appears to have surged in recent months as more people use the apps. At Venmo, daily users have grown by 26 percent since last year, while the number of customer reviews mentioning the words fraud or scam has risen nearly four times as fast, according to a New York Times analysis of data from Apptopia, a firm that tracks mobile services.Driving the surge is the apps ease of use. People need just an email address to create a Cash App account and a phone number to make a Venmo account. That simplicity has made it seamless for thieves to set up accounts and to send requests for money to other users, something that was not possible with traditional bank payments.The apps instantaneous transactions compared to the two or three days needed for a standard bank transfer have also meant that Venmo and Cash App have less time to detect whether a transaction is fraudulent.Fast payments equals fast fraud, said Frank McKenna, the chief fraud strategist for the security firm PointPredictive. The apps, which are sometimes known as peer-to-peer payments services, are super convenient for customers but that also makes them ripe targets, he said.Square, PayPal and Zelle do not disclose the rate of fraud on their apps. PayPal takes steps to limit potential fraudulent activity and mitigate any customer impact, a spokeswoman said, but she did not address whether it had seen more cases of fraud.Zelle, which was founded by a coalition of banks, appears to have experienced less fraud because it has more robust authentication for new users and more legal protections in case of loss, security experts said.Protecting consumers from abusive scams and fraud is a top priority for Zelle, said Meghan Fintland, a spokeswoman for Early Warning, the company that runs the app. Of all the payment apps, fraud issues have been particularly acute for Squares Cash App. As the number of people using the app daily has grown 59 percent over the last year, the number of reviews about it that mention the words fraud or scam has risen 165 percent, according to Apptopia.The Better Business Bureau also said it had received more than twice as many complaints about Cash App as Venmo over the past year. That is significant given that Venmo has twice as many users as Cash App, according to Apptopia.Lena Anderson, a spokeswoman for Square, said the company was aware that there has been a recent rise in scammers trying to take advantage of customers using financial products, including Cash App. Weve taken a number of proactive steps and made it our top priority.Square, which is led by Jack Dorsey, who is also chief executive of Twitter, introduced Cash App in 2013. While the San Francisco company was founded as a payments platform for small businesses, Cash App has become its largest source of revenue. In the second quarter, the app generated $1.2 billion of Squares $1.9 billion in revenue.But Cash App has been more vulnerable to fraud partly because of how it handles customers, security experts said. Square has until recently offered only email support for the app, not a phone number for its customers to call. That led some customers to fall for fake help line numbers, like the kind that Ms. Mobley confronted. Venmo, in contrast, has a chat line on its app that customers can use for a quick response.Ms. Anderson said Square began rolling out a phone line for certain customers on Oct. 6. It plans to make the phone line available to all customers over time.Cash App also appears to be more prone to fraud because of how Square has built the business, industry analysts said.In 2017, Square began a marketing campaign called Cash App Fridays, which gives money to Twitter users who post their so-called $Cashtag or username. The campaign, security experts said, provided fraudsters with a phone book of potential victims.It also led to copycat campaigns, where people claim to work for Cash App and say they will give away a large sum of money if users first send in a smaller sum. One Twitter account, @CashappG, has been online since 2019 with the tagline: Hi welcome to Cash App give away! Send money and we will send you double back!It gives scammers a ripe opportunity, said Satnam Narang, a researcher at the security firm Tenable who has written about the fraud on Cash App.Emily Bradford, an unemployed 21-year-old in Washington, said she lost $75 last month after getting a message through Twitter offering her $3,000 through Cash App if she paid an initial clearance payment. When she sent the money, the person who messaged her disappeared. She reached out to Cash Apps support email, but hasnt heard back, she said.I figured since they were dealing with money, especially others money, theyd have a very good security system and customer service, she said of Square.Ms. Anderson, the Square spokeswoman, said the company had recently added warnings about copycats on its messages about Cash App Fridays.In 2018, Square also introduced the ability for people to transact in Bitcoin on Cash App. That has made it easier to move illicit gains off the app because Bitcoin can be sent to anonymous addresses that are much harder to trace or reverse than traditional financial transactions. Venmo and Zelle dont offer Bitcoin.Cash Apps popularity for fraudulent schemes is evident from conversations and listings on dark net forums and markets, where criminals gather to do business. In August, Cash App was mentioned 10,577 times on dark net forums, up 450 percent from a year earlier, according to an analysis by the security firm Sixgill. Listings for Venmo and Zelle rose around 50 percent on the dark net in the same period.ImageCredit...Melissa Golden for The New York TimesAshley Tolley, 31, a mother of three in Travelers Rest, S.C., recently experienced the criminal activity on Cash App firsthand.In August, she said, she received requests on the app from addresses that appeared to be legitimate, but with a letter or two changed. While some of the transactions were rejected by Square, one went ahead without her approval. The thief took $560, which was a month of child support payments from the father of her two youngest children, from her account.Square told Ms. Tolley that she could ask the fraudster to send the money back to her. But the person had already deleted their Cash App account.Im the sole provider in my household, she said. For that to be gone I broke down, I was in tears.
Tech
Health|C.D.C. Offers Guidelines for Delaying Pregnancy After Zika Exposurehttps://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/26/health/zika-virus-pregnancy-cdc-waiting-period.htmlCredit...Victor J. Blue for The New York TimesMarch 25, 2016Federal health authorities said for the first time on Friday how long couples who have been exposed to the Zika virus should wait before trying to get pregnant.The officials, at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that they had decided to recommend a waiting period based on the latest information about the science of the virus. The Zika virus has been linked to a surge of birth defects in Brazil, and to cases of Guillain-Barr syndrome, in which a persons immune system attacks part of the nervous system, leading to some paralysis.Women who have had symptoms of the virus or tested positive for it should wait at least eight weeks after their symptoms first appeared before trying to get pregnant, the agency said. Officials recommended that men who had symptoms should wait six months before having unprotected sex. The virus has been known to live longer in semen. Symptoms can include rashes and sore joints.Were learning more every day, and evidence of a link between Zika and a spectrum of birth outcomes is becoming stronger and stronger, said Dr. Denise J. Jamieson, one of the leaders of the pregnancy and birth defects team, which is part of the C.D.C.s Zika virus response team.She added, Weve become more concerned about the period around the time of conception. For people who either have the Zika disease or who travel to an area with active Zika transmission, we are now recommending they wait a period of time before trying to get pregnant.For people who have traveled to Zika-infected areas, but had no active signs of the disease, the C.D.C. recommended a shorter waiting period eight weeks for men and women before trying to get pregnant in order to minimize risk.Dr. Jamieson said the C.D.C. based the waiting times on the longest known risk period and allowed three times the longest period, out of an abundance of caution.The situation is trickiest for men and women who live in areas where Zika is circulating. C.D.C. officials recommended that doctors talk with their patients about the risks of the virus, but stopped short of recommending that women delay pregnancy. (Several countries outside the United States, including Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia and Jamaica, have in recent months at least suggested that women postpone getting pregnant for indefinite or varying periods of time. El Salvador has recommended that women wait until 2018.)These are very complex, deeply personal decisions, the C.D.C. said in a news statement.For men with pregnant partners who travel to a Zika-infected area, the recommendation remains the same: Use condoms for the duration of the pregnancy. Condoms should be used for vaginal, anal and oral sex.The agency said the waiting periods for men also applied to how to avoid sexual transmission of the Zika virus to their partners after they had traveled to Zika-infected areas, a phenomenon that is more common than scientists once thought. Men with symptoms should consider using condoms or not having sex for at least six months. For men without symptoms, the period was eight weeks.The agency also estimated that about 138,000 women in Puerto Rico are not using birth control that is effective, and may be at risk of unintended pregnancy.
Health
They falsely claimed President Trump had no role in spurring the assault on the Capitol. They resorted to false equivalencies. Some even questioned whether the mob was an anti-Trump false flag.Credit...Kenny Holston for The New York TimesJan. 7, 2021This was one mob they found a way to excuse.Even as scores of President Trumps usually unfailing loyalists condemned him for moving too slowly to call off the swarm of demonstrators that stormed and ransacked the Capitol, many of his most vocal and visible allies in Congress, the media and conservative politics still could not bring themselves to fault him for the surreal and frightening attack carried out by people he had just urged to fight like hell.They downplayed the violence as acts of desperation by people who felt lied to by the news media and ignored by their elected representatives. They deflected with false equivalencies about the Democratic Partys embrace of the Black Lives Matter movement.Some even tried to dispute the fact that Trump supporters were actually the perpetrators, suggesting that far-left activists had infiltrated the crowd and posed as fans of the president.These were not isolated or trivial assertions from little-known people on the fringes of Mr. Trumps movement. Rather, they came from some of his highest-profile allies who helped enable his rise in the Republican Party and have aided him in his unrelenting assault on anyone who questions his actions.To any insincere, fake DC patriots used as PLANTS you will be found out, wrote Sarah Palin, the Republican Partys vice-presidential nominee in 2008, who demanded that the media look into the allegiances of the people who smashed their way into the Capitol.Responses like these full of misdirection, denial and specious comparisons sounded almost like typical fare coming from stalwart defenders of a president who considers admitting fault to be a sign of weakness. That they persisted in the face of such an extraordinary and unsettling strike on the seat of American government is a sign of how premature it may be to conclude that Mr. Trumps iron grip on his followers is loosening, though some prominent Republicans are distancing themselves.Mr. Trumps behavior drew strong rebukes from allies like Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Tom Cotton of Arkansas. A handful of lawmakers decided that in light of the days terrorizing events, they could no longer back the presidents spurious claims that the election was stolen and vote against certifying the results. But at the same time, 139 House Republicans almost two-thirds of the caucus still voted to reject the certification.Ms. Palins surfacing amid the fury was a reminder that no matter how many Republican officials speak out against Mr. Trumps reckless and dangerous insinuations, the party has often looked the other way as grass-roots activists and far-right leaders used militant language and imagery to rally their followers. An early figure in the Tea Party movement, Ms. Palin often summoned Revolutionary War metaphors and other phrases in her speeches and social media posts that led critics to accuse her of glorifying violence, like Dont retreat, reload.And she was hardly alone among fellow Tea Party leaders like former Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, who once urged people who opposed the Affordable Care Act to find members of Congress, look at the whites of their eyes and say, Dont take away my health care.That was 2009, and Mrs. Bachmann was giving an interview to Sean Hannity of Fox News. More than a decade later, just after a pro-Trump mob breached the security perimeter at the Capitol on Wednesday, Mr. Hannity was hosting his afternoon radio program. He spent no time reflecting on Mr. Trumps role in inciting the riot, which some conservative Trump allies including some of Mr. Hannitys colleagues at Fox News were already calling a dangerous, needlessly provoked insurrection.Mr. Hannity made a few brief, largely perfunctory comments against the violence before spending several minutes unloading on Democrats in Congress, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and the mainstream media for refusing to acknowledge that Trump supporters had legitimate reasons to doubt the outcome of the election.People feel like their voices arent being heard, and theyre angry, Mr. Hannity said, reminding his millions of listeners of the hundreds and hundreds of people who claimed to have witnessed fraud or irregularities in the November election and what he called four years of utter, breathtaking hypocrisy of the presidents critics.ImageCredit...Doug Mills/The New York TimesThen the host took a call from an empathetic pro-Trump activist and regular guest, Rose Tennent, who was standing outside the Capitol as the situation escalated. At some point, people break, Ms. Tennent said, offering not a single harsh word about the violent protesters who had overtaken the Capitol Police.This is the hill they want to die on. This is a battle that is just as important to them as the Revolutionary War was, she said, adding that these lawless demonstrators werent entirely to blame for their actions. If you ask me, the Democrats and the media are responsible for this.Many Trump sympathizers tried to shift the focus away from the mob scene in Washington and revive months-old stories about the fires and looting that accompanied some protests over police brutality following the killing of George Floyd in May. Those chaotic scenes became a central piece of the Republican Partys messaging to portray the Democrats and Mr. Biden as weak on public safety and captive to far-left extremists.One of Mr. Trumps campaign slogans was Jobs Not Mobs. And all summer, a constant theme of the commentary from the right about the social unrest was that political violence was almost exclusively a left-wing problem even as Mr. Trump defended people like Kyle Rittenhouse, a teenager accused of fatally shooting two people who were protesting the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black resident of Kenosha, Wis.On the floor of the House late Wednesday evening, Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida blamed saboteurs masquerading as Trump supporters for the violence and said, Im sure glad that at least for one day I didnt hear my Democrat colleagues calling to defund the police. That earned him a round of spirited applause from his fellow Republicans.The Fox News host Laura Ingraham urged people not to rush to judgment about the demonstrators as a whole a kind of generosity she and many other conservatives rarely displayed when describing the millions of Americans who protested peacefully last summer. Ms. Ingraham described speaking to pro-Trump demonstrators on Wednesday who are extremely upset that they are being lumped in with individuals who would break windows.She also strained to draw a parallel to the protests outside the White House in late May, when someone started a fire in the basement of St. Johns Church that caused minor damage, saying, That was terrifying. It wasnt all roses and sunshine and peaceful.Elsewhere in pro-Trump media, the idea that anti-Trump infiltrators were actually responsible for the attack that left four people dead not the president who teased that the days events will be wild! or the marauders inside the Capitol waving flags and wearing hats emblazoned with his name was widespread.Mark Levin, whose radio program reaches 11 million people each week, told his listeners that while he thought the rioters were idiots who had hurt the Trump movement, there was a possibility that they werent really Trump supporters.We need to know exactly who these people are who did this, Mr. Levin said. Some people are saying its a false flag movement and sending me pictures of antifa, he added, referring to a loosely organized far-left movement that Mr. Trump has often blamed when demonstrations supportive of him turn violent.Referring to the presidents opponents, he added: Theyre the ones who pull down monuments. Theyre the ones who burn down stuff. Were not them. Were us.ImageCredit...Erin Schaff/The New York TimesErick Erickson, a conservative commentator who has vacillated between defending and attacking the president, expressed disbelief at the idea that Trump supporters were being framed. Literally just had a lady email me angrily that Im blaming the Presidents protesters for storming the Capitol when it is actually Antifa pretending to be the Presidents supporters, he wrote on Twitter.The indifferent attitude and finger-pointing that some of Mr. Trumps staunchest allies expressed about the siege echoed what demonstrators on the Capitol grounds were saying in their own defense.Newsmax, a pro-Trump television channel that became a favorite of the president for amplifying his false claims of election fraud, aired segments live from the National Mall and allowed some of the people there to justify their actions as Trump supporters who werent getting the answers they wanted about the outcome of the election.This is our house, a Trump supporter identified as Tina Forte told Newsmax.The animus that Mr. Trumps followers have directed toward anyone perceived as disloyal has hit a boiling point in recent days. Videos of a woman accosting Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, a Trump critic, in an airport and passengers shouting traitor at him on a commercial flight circulated on social media and in right-wing newsletters as the presidents fans started arriving in Washington for his Stop the Steal rally on Wednesday.Absent the kind of repudiation that Mr. Trump appears incapable of delivering, a good number of the presidents followers seem likely to continue to reward aggressive and over-the-line conduct and even expect it well after he leaves the White House.All week, Mr. Trump attacked and threatened lawmakers who dared not to indulge his fantasies of being robbed of victory in an elaborate conspiracy. If they do the wrong thing, he said at his rally outside the White House just before crowds set out down Pennsylvania Avenue and marched toward the Capitol, we should never, ever forget.Hes not going away, said Frank Luntz, a Republican strategist who has been critical of Mr. Trump. Mr. Luntz said he believes Mr. Trump has given every indication that he intends to remain active in Republican primaries.Hes going to make the next four years a nightmare for the G.O.P., Mr. Luntz said.
Politics
Politics|Southwest Border Arrests Rise for Third Month in a Rowhttps://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/06/us/politics/southwest-border-arrests-rise-trump-.htmlCredit...Adrees Latif/ReutersJune 6, 2018WASHINGTON Federal agents arrested nearly 52,000 people at the Southwest border in May, according to data released on Wednesday by the Department of Homeland Security, as the number of migrants trying to enter the United States continued to rise.The arrests in May the third month in a row of increases follow the Trump administrations tough stance against illegal immigration, including sending thousands of National Guard troops to the border and a zero tolerance policy that seeks to prosecute people who illegally enter the country. The new policy has resulted in hundreds of children being separated from their parents.The new arrest data suggests such measures have not deterred migrants, many of whom undertake the long trek from Central America to escape violent gangs and drug cartels.The Trump administration has used monthly apprehension figures as a barometer for how well its get-tough policies have fared in stopping illegal immigration.But on Wednesday a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security played down the significance of the monthly figures.No one expects to reverse years of political inaction overnight or in a month, the spokesman, Tyler Q. Houlton, said in a statement. It is also clear change will take more than administration action alone.He urged Congress to end legal loopholes that have left us with policies that serve as tremendous magnets for illegal immigration.Data from Customs and Border Protection, which oversees the United States Border Patrol, shows that agents arrested 51,912 people on the Southwest border last month, up slightly from in April.Most significant, the number of children showing up alone at the border also increased to 7,235 from 5,317 in April, the data shows. The number of families apprehended at the border decreased slightly.So far this fiscal year, United States border agents have arrested nearly 340,000 people.The number stands in stark contrast to the historically low apprehension rate during Mr. Trumps first year in office, when illegal border crossings dropped to a 40-year low.The increase in border crossings has caused tension between the White House and the Department of Homeland Security. Some White House officials have said the department is not doing enough to reduce the number of illegal crossings. An official at the agency cited limited resources and legal restrictions that have prevented some measures to stop the migrants.The Department of Homeland Security has begun referring more people caught at the border to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has increased the number of immigration judges and set a goal of 100 percent prosecutions.Still, many experts doubt that the Trump administration will be able to achieve that number because of a backlog in immigration courts and a lack of detention space.The May arrest data was released shortly after President Trump heaped praise on Kirstjen Nielsen, the homeland security secretary, during a briefing on the approaching hurricane season at the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Washington. Mr. Trump gave Ms. Nielsen credit for improvements on the border and for beginning construction on a replacement border wall in the San Diego area.You are doing great, Mr. Trump said.Last month, Ms. Nielsen told colleagues that she was close to resigning after Mr. Trump berated her in front of the entire cabinet for what he called her failure to adequately secure the nations borders.
Politics
The InterpreterCredit...Fernando Maia/EPA, via ShutterstockNov. 1, 2018For anyone curious about the future of democracy, two developments out of Brazil and Germany pose something of a mystery.The election of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil looks too similar to the wave of right-wing, anti-establishment populism sweeping Europe and the United States to be dismissed as coincidence. Mr. Bolsonaro, known for praising his countrys former military dictatorship and insulting minorities and women, has championed anger at Brazils establishment by promising strong-fisted rule.Underscoring the sense of a global shift, within hours of Mr. Bolsonaros victory, Angela Merkel, Germanys longtime chancellor and pillar of European stability, announced she would not seek re-election.Yet there is no obvious link between Mr. Bolsonaros rise and that of Western populists. Figures like Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary and German populist parties rose by railing against the European Union and immigration, neither of them issues in Brazil. Mr. Bolsonaro rode a backlash against corruption and crime epidemics that are distinctly Latin American.Maybe Brazils election, along with the rest of the populist trend, represents something more disruptive than a single wave with a single point of origin. Research suggests it exemplifies weaknesses and tensions inherent to liberal democracy itself and that, in times of stress, can pull it apart.When that happens, voters tend to reject that system in all but name and follow their most basic human instincts toward older styles of government: majoritarian, strong-fisted, us-versus-them rule.Its a pattern that might feel shocking or new in the West, but is all too familiar in Latin America, which has experienced several populist surges like the one that elevated Mr. Bolsonaro.Most attempts at democracy end in a return to authoritarian rule, Jay Ulfelder, a political scientist, wrote in 2012 as elected populists in Venezuela, Ecuador and Nicaragua rolled back rights in ways that look familiar today.At the time, most experts blamed issues specific to that region and that moment. But Mr. Ulfelder countered, I think we get a lot farther if we think of these regimes as the end state toward which most attempts at democracy will slide.When Democracy Doesnt Work as ImaginedThere is a gap between how liberal democracy, which protects individual rights and rule of law, is sold and how it works.It is often portrayed as rule by the people. But, in practice, elections and public sentiment are meant to be only part of a system governed by institutions and norms that protect the common good.That gap is often where the problems begin.When institutions fall short, as they did in Brazil, voters can grow skeptical of the entire idea of accruing power to bureaucrats and elites who failed in ways that highlight the gap.So voters move to replace institutions with a style of government that feels more like democracy as theyd thought it would be: direct rule by the people.That often means electing leaders like Mr. Bolsonaro, who promise to dismantle the establishment and rule through personal authority.In practice, such leaders tend to consolidate power for themselves, as Silvio Berlusconi did after riding to power in Italy on a wave of outrage against corruption. He seized control of state bureaucracies, stalling their once-promising progress, and replaced the old system of patronage with a new one loyal to him.Defying Popular WillSometimes an anti-establishment backlash comes when there really is a deep rot in the system, as in Brazil or Italy. But it can also come when governments do things that are simply unpopular.ImageCredit...Markus Schreiber/Associated PressThis has driven much of the instability in Europe, where leaders see eurozone and immigration reforms as essential to Europes long-term survival.But those measures are unpopular with voters, bringing a spark of realization that the system is engineered to, at times, ignore what they want.No one wants to believe their leaders are defying their wishes because a functioning democracy requires checks on public demand. It is easier to see those leaders as serving some other, unseen constituency.This creates an opening for a canny outsider to rise to power by scapegoating foreign or moneyed interests the liberal philanthropis