Elmo, Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch and Big Bird are doing their part to spread the word about Covid-19 vaccines.
In a new public service campaign, cast members of “Sesame Street” explain why adults are getting vaccinated with a simple idea: Getting vaccinated means sunnier days are ahead.
“Our children and families want us to be healthy,” Louie, Elmo’s dad, says in one video. “That’s why I and lots of other grown-ups got the Covid-19 vaccine, so we can stay healthy and get back to the moments we miss, like seeing our friends and family.”
in another video, talks about being excited for indoor play dates with friends and sharing cookies with Cookie Monster.
the Letter U croons. “The park where we play, the stoop across the way, that favorite cookie smell and Big Bird’s tree we love so well.”
The ads are part of a promotional effort to combat Covid-19 vaccine skepticism that launched in February, backed by the Ad Council, a nonprofit advertising group, and a coalition of experts known as the Covid Collaborative. Four former American presidents and their first ladies participated in a similar campaign earlier this year.
Over the course of the pandemic, “Sesame Street” has produced public health segments for children on the importance of hand washing and social distancing with Grover, mask wearing with Oscar the Grouch, and going back to school with Elmo.
SpongeBob, “Star Trek” and the Super Bowl have attracted new subscribers to ViacomCBS’s streaming platforms.
The company, led by Shari Redstone, rebranded its long-running streaming service as Paramount+ in March, while also providing it with a slew of new shows, films and sports programming. The company also added content to Pluto, its free streaming service.
The stronger commitment to digital media has created a revenue powerhouse, with streaming sales jumping 65 percent to $816 million in the first quarter, the company reported Thursday. ViacomCBS said it added 6 million new streaming subscribers to both Paramount+ and a smaller streaming service, Showtime, bringing the total to 36 million.
The company doesn’t disclose how many customers are coming to each platform, but the majority have bought Paramount+, a cheaper service at $6 a month with ads, or $10 a month without commercials. ViacomCBS plans to offer a new tier at $5 a month this June in an effort to drive more subscribers. That should help the company sell more ads, offsetting the price drop.
true profitability only after it surpassed 200 million subscribers last year.
The company said it will invest more in original series and films for Paramount+, and, in a marked switch from its previous strategy, it plans to hold back more of its own productions for the service, instead of licensing them to other streamers.
In 2019, the company sold rights to “South Park,” one of its most popular franchises, to AT&T’s HBO Max for $500 million for several years. It has also sold shows such as “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” to Amazon Prime Video and “Thirteen Reasons Why” to Netflix. Now, ViacomCBS will try to fill its content pipeline from its own studios.
jumped nearly tenfold in the past year.
Most of those gains had come as a result of a heavily leveraged trading strategy from a single investment firm called Archegos Capital Management, led by the investor Bill Hwang. At one point Mr. Hwang was responsible for $20 billion of ViacomCBS stock, or a third of all shares.
It all came tumbling down last month, when lenders demanded their money back. ViacomCBS also suffered as its share price plummeted from a high of $100 to about $38 on Thursday.
filed first-time applications for state jobless benefits, the Labor Department said Thursday, down more than 100,000 from a week earlier. In addition, 101,000 people filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federal program covering freelancers, self-employed workers and others who don’t qualify for regular benefits. Neither figure is seasonally adjusted.
Applications for unemployment benefits remain high by historical standards, but they have fallen significantly in recent weeks after progress stalled in the fall and winter. Weekly filings for state benefits, which peaked at more than six million last spring, fell below 700,000 for the first time in late March and has now been below that level for four straight weeks.
“In the last few weeks we’ve seen a pretty dramatic improvement in the claims data, and I think that does signal that there’s been an acceleration in the labor market recovery in April,” said Daniel Zhao, senior economist at the employment site ZipRecruiter.
Economists should get a clearer picture of the labor market’s progress on Friday when the Labor Department will release data on hiring and unemployment in April. The report is expected to show that employers added about one million jobs last month, up from 916,000 in March. The leisure and hospitality industry, which was hardest hit by the initial phase of the pandemic last spring, has led the way in the recovery in recent months, a trend that forecasters believe continued in April.
Many employers have said in recent weeks that they would like to hire even faster but have struggled to find enough workers. Some have blamed enhanced unemployment benefits for discouraging people from returning to work. On Tuesday, Gov. Greg Gianforte of Montana said his state would pull out of a federal program offering enhanced benefits to unemployed workers and would instead pay a $1,200 bonus to recipients when they find new jobs.
Economic research has found that unemployment benefits can reduce the intensity with which workers search for jobs. But most studies find that the impact on the overall labor market is small, especially when unemployment is high. And Mr. Zhao and other economists say there are other reasons that labor supply might be rebounding more slowly than labor demand. Many potential workers are juggling child care or other responsibilities at home; others remain cautious about the health risks of returning to in-person work.
“I think we will see labor supply improve pretty dramatically in the coming months as the pandemic abates,” Mr. Zhao said.
The Bank of England unveiled a much brighter outlook for the British economy on Thursday, saying it would return to its prepandemic levels at the end of this year as lockdowns ended, consumers spent billions of pounds in extra savings and the vaccine rollout reduced public health worries.
The central bank, in its quarterly monetary report, raised its growth forecasts and slashed its predictions for unemployment. The British economy is now projected to grow 7.25 percent this year, compared to a forecast of 5 percent growth three months ago. This would be the fastest pace of expansion for the economy since official records began in 1949, pulling Britain out of its worst recession in three centuries.
The higher forecast comes after the government has announced tens of billions of pounds in additional spending to see workers and businesses through the summer, and outlined its plan to end lockdown restrictions by late June.
Britain’s economic output“recovers strongly over the course of 2021, albeit only back to pre-Covid levels,” Andrew Bailey, the governor of the Bank of England, said in a news conference on Thursday.
“Of course, there remains uncertainty around how the pandemic might evolve and so there are risks around this projection, including from renewed waves of infections in the U.K. and other countries,” he said.
He added that there was also an “enormous amount of uncertainty” about how the pandemic might permanently change people’s working and living patterns, and the effect that will have on the shape of the economy.
Even though inflation is expected to rise above the central bank’s 2 percent target, policymakers voted unanimously to keep the benchmark interest rate at 0.1 percent. It cut rates to that level in March 2020 at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
The central bank also said it would slow the pace of its £875 billion government bond-buying program, which was projected to run through 2021, so that it does not finish the program before the end of the year.If the central bank had continued at its current pace, the buying program would have ended several months early. Instead of buying £4.4 billion government bonds a week, the central bank will buy £3.4 billion. The program helps keep government borrowing costs low and supports the economy by encouraging investors to buy other assets.
The minutes of the central bank’s policy meeting showed that officials don’t intent to tighten monetary policy until “there is clear evidence that significant progress” is made on the economic recovery and inflation is sustainably at the bank’s target.
The Bank of England now forecasts unemployment to peak at 5.5 percent later this year, because of the extension of the government’s furlough program. In February, the central bank predicted the unemployment rate would rise as high as 7.75 percent.
The easing of pandemic restrictions will also increase consumer spending. The central bank added that it now expected people to spend about 10 percent of the excess savings they built up in lockdown based on new survey evidence. The previous estimate was just 5 percent.
But these extra savings are “not evenly distributed,” Mr. Bailey said. And they are concentrated among people who are older and already wealthier.
Gary Gensler, the newly installed chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, is testifying on Thursday, at noon Eastern time, before the House Financial Services Committee. He will address the meme-stock volatility in January that led to trading restrictions and prompted an outcry about Wall Street’s relationship with retail investors.
“I think these events are part of a larger story about the intersection of finance and technology,” Mr. Gensler will say in his prepared remarks, highlighting seven factors at play that also hint at his regulatory priorities in the months ahead:
Gamification. Fun features combined with predictive analytics on trading apps increase engagement. Watching a movie based on a streaming app recommendation, “we might lose a couple of hours,” Mr. Gensler said. “Following the wrong prompt on a trading app, however, could have a substantial effect on a saver’s financial position.” He suggested it may be time for new rules to address the practice.
Payment for order flow. Many retail brokers don’t charge fees for trades, earning money instead by directing customer orders to wholesalers to execute. More trades generate more payments, which raises questions about conflicts of interest, consumer protection and data aggregation, Mr. Gensler said.
Market structure. A few wholesalers account for a growing share of retail stock trading volume, with Citadel Securities particularly dominant. This concentration can “lead to fragility, deter healthy competition and limit innovation,” Mr. Gensler said.
Short-selling transparency. He wants to increase “transparency in the stock loan market.”
Social media. Investors exchanging views online is fine, but Mr. Gensler worries bad actors take advantage of legitimate debates. In particular, this risks sending false signals to algorithms that some investors use to gauge the “relationships between words and prices.”
Plumbing. When brokers restricted customer trading in meme stocks, they blamed clearinghouses and two-day settlement times. Mr. Gensler said same-day settlement is technologically possible and has asked for a draft proposal on speeding up settlement.
Systemic risks. The S.E.C. will issue a report over the summer, the chair said, examining what happened in detail during the meme-stock frenzy and considering “whether expanded enforcement mechanisms are necessary.”
A spike in sales to Chinese customers helped Volkswagen rebound strongly from the disruption caused by the pandemic, the carmaker said Thursday, underlining China’s importance to the German economy.
Sales in the first three months of 2021 rose 13 percent compared to a year earlier, to 62.4 billion euros, or $75 billion, while profit rose nearly sevenfold to 3.4 billion euros, the company said. Vehicle sales in China, which is Volkswagen’s largest market, rose more than 60 percent.
The recovery in sales bodes well for the German economy. Vehicles are the country’s biggest export product. But Volkswagen also illustrates Germany’s dependence on China when tensions between Beijing and the European Union are rising because of the Chinese government’s treatment of minority groups and its crackdown on dissent in Hong Kong.
As is typical for Volkswagen, the company’s Audi and Porsche divisions generated most of the profit. The luxury vehicles have a higher profit margin than the more affordable cars that account for most of Volkswagen’s volume.
Volkswagen said it was able to manage the shortage of semiconductors that has afflicted all carmakers in recent months, but warned that the chip famine could become more acute in months to come.
Volkswagen sold 60,000 battery-powered vehicles out of a total of 2.4 million during the quarter. That may be a disappointment to the company, which has staked its future on a new line of electric cars, the first of which went on sale late in 2020.
Stocks on Wall Street were flat on Thursday, while European shares were mixed, as investors digested an assortment of corporate earnings reports.
The S&P 500 was little changed in early trading. The benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 index was 0.3 percent lower and the FTSE 100 in Britain was 0.2 percent higher.
In the United States, the Labor Department revealed its weekly tally for new state claims for unemployment insurance on Thursday, which showed the number is continuing to decline. About 505,000 people filed first-time applications, down more than 100,000 from a week earlier.
Oil futures fell after recent gains, with West Texas Intermediate, the American benchmark, down 0.6 percent to $65.25 a barrel. Yields on 10-year Treasury notes were unchanged.
The Biden administration’s surprise announcement that it would support efforts to waive intellectual property protections for coronavirus vaccines caused share prices for some pharmaceutical companies to tumble.
Pfizer fell 3.6 percent in early trading Thursday. BioNTech, the German firm that developed a vaccine with Pfizer, was also lower.
Shares of Moderna fell nearly 10 percent, while Novavax, the Maryland-based drug maker which is expected to seek U.S. approval for its vaccine soon, dropped more than 6 percent on Thursday.
The British pound rose 0.2 percent against the U.S. dollar as the Bank of England announced it would hold interest rates at 0.1 percent but would slow down the pace of its bond-buying program for the rest of the year. Policymakers also increased their forecasts for the British economy.
Consider it a small victory.
Eurostar, the sleek and speedy high-speed train service that ties London, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and other cities, will increase as of May 27 its timetable to two trains per day on its once heavily-traveled Paris-London route, up from just one round-trip train per day imposed during the pandemic.
The slightly increased service comes as governments in Europe plan to slowly lift longstanding national restrictions on travel designed to combat the spread of the virus. From a peak of running more than 60 trains a day, Eurostar cut service during the pandemic to one daily round-trip between London and Paris, and one on its London-Brussels and Amsterdam routes.
The Brussels/Amsterdam route will remain the same with one train in each direction per day, a spokesman said, adding that Eurostar will adapt its timetable should demand increase, which still depends on travel restrictions across its routes.
Eurostar’s future has been thrown into turmoil as pandemic measures led last year to a 95 percent slump in ridership, creating a cash crunch and pushing the iconic company to the brink of bankruptcy.
While some airlines and other tourist-related businesses in Europe have been able to rely on government support during the crisis, Eurostar, an independent train operator, isn’t eligible for direct state aid.
Last month, the company, which is now owned by a consortium that includes the French and Belgium national railways, reportedly secured a deal with its lenders to refinance a debt pile worth £400 million ($553 million). The British government, which in 2015 sold its stake in the rail company, last month declined to back a broader financial rescue package.
A spokesman for Eurostar said it had no new details on a financial rescue, but said that “conversations are still progressing.” The spokesman added that it is “too early to predict a recovery to prepandemic levels, this would be very much dependent on the easing of international travel restrictions which are yet to be confirmed.”
Eurostar trains will continue to maintain some vacant seats onboard to allow for social distancing. The company said it is advising riders to check with their embassies before traveling, and to consult the company’s website for the latest information.
Tim Lorentz, a special-education teacher in Spokane, Wash., loves both cars and boats. He has raced cars and has owned a variety of muscle and exotic vehicles.
“Car guys always want to own or drive a unique car that no one else owns,” Mr. Lorentz said. “I created an eight-passenger convertible. Why not a boat mounted over a convertible? I have never seen another one like it.”
And so the LaBoata was born. Mr. Lorentz, now 65, built it in 2009 using a white 1993 LeBaron a used 17-foot boat he got for $100, Mercedes Lilienthal reports for The New York Times.
The LaBoata was “instant fun,” he said, until he received a letter from the Washington Department of Motor Vehicles canceling his registration and title. The authorities had noticed his converted convertible, and they weren’t amused. He removed the boat shell, drove the car to the D.M.V. and had it reinspected, reinstated and relicensed. He went home and popped the boat back on, and he has had no issues since.
Mr. Lorentz is part of a community that builds cars out of scrap. Kelvin Odartei Cruickshank, who is 19 and lives in Accra, Ghana’s capital city, built, from scratch, a two-person car that looks like a ramshackle DeLorean. It took three years to complete. Mr. Cruickshank used about $200 of scrap metal and parts not normally used in cars because of financial constraints.
Fox News, the cable news giant controlled by Rupert Murdoch, kept its parent company flush in the first three months of the year, notching a slight gain in profit and sales despite a drop in viewers. Altogether, Fox Corporation beat Wall Street expectations with a sevenfold increase in profit to $567 million and a 6.5 percent drop in revenue to $3.2 billion compared with the same period a year prior. But revenue at most of its businesses dropped as fewer viewers tuned into the company’s cable channels and the Fox broadcast network, in part because Fox did not host the Super Bowl this year. Total advertising sales fell 24 percent to $1.2 billion.
Uber said its business was recovering from the slowdown caused by the pandemic, although it continued to lose money. The company said on Wednesday that revenue was $2.9 billion in the first three months of the year, down 11 percent from the same period a year ago. Excluding money earmarked for a settlement with drivers in Britain, Uber’s revenue was $3.5 billion, an 8 percent increase from the previous year that outpaced Wall Street expectations of $3.28 billion.
The New York Times Company recorded its smallest gain in new subscribers in a year and a half. The Times reported a total of 7.8 million subscribers across both print and digital platforms, with 6.9 million coming for online news or its Cooking and Games apps. The company added 301,000 digital customers for the first three months of the year, the lowest increase since the third quarter of 2019. The company reported adjusted operating profit of $68 million, a 54 percent jump from last year, as it generated more dollars from each subscriber, partly because of the expiration of promotional rates as the new year rolled over. Total revenue rose modestly, about 6.6 percent, to $473 million.
Fox News, the cable news giant controlled by Rupert Murdoch, kept its parent company flush in the first three months of the year, notching a slight gain in profit and sales despite a drop in viewers.
Altogether, Fox Corporation beat Wall Street expectations with a sevenfold increase in profit to $567 million and a 6.5 percent drop in revenue to $3.2 billion compared with the same period a year prior. A change in how the company valued some of its assets was a key reason for the profit surge. Investors were looking for a $332 million profit and $3.1 billion in sales.
But revenue at most of its businesses dropped as fewer viewers tuned into the company’s cable channels and the Fox broadcast network, in part because Fox did not host the Super Bowl this year. Total advertising sales fell 24 percent to $1.2 billion, with the cable segment, primarily Fox News, seeing ad revenue drop 7 percent to $283 million.
The decrease in advertising mirrors the performance at other media conglomerates and spotlights a significant shift in the advertising market. Ad revenue jumped at Facebook, Google and even smaller digital publishers in the first quarter as advertisers were more willing to spend their budget on digital platforms, often at the expense of television.
overrated” and downplayed the severity of the brewing pandemic.
In a statement announcing the acquisition, Lachlan Murdoch, chief executive of Fox Corporation and the son of Rupert Murdoch, welcomed Mr. Travis. “Clay and his team have quickly made OutKick a content powerhouse with a very large, loyal and engaged audience.”
Despite the drop in viewers at Fox News, the network benefited from contractually triggered rate increases that cable operators pay to carry the channel. Licensing fees rose 6 percent to $1.07 billion. Advertising fell despite charging higher ad rates.
The younger Mr. Murdoch claimed victory for Fox News in a call with investors after the earnings report.
“Fox News reclaimed its leadership position as America’s No. 1 cable news network and the most-watched cable network in prime time,” he said before taking a moment to take a jab at rivals.
“MSNBC lost more than one-third of its audience and CNN lost over half,” he said. “Over half.”
Lawmakers lashed out at the Facebook Oversight Board’s ruling on Wednesday to uphold the social network’s ban on former President Donald J. Trump, at least for now.
Driving the discontent was that the Oversight Board, a quasi-court that confers over some of Facebook’s content decisions, did not make a black-and-white decision about the case. Mr. Trump had been blocked from the social network in January after his comments online and elsewhere incited the storming of the Capitol building.
While the Oversight Board said on Wednesday that Facebook was justified in suspending Mr. Trump at the time because of the risk of further violence, it also said the company needed to revisit its action. The board said Facebook’s move was “a vague, standardless penalty” without defined limits, which needed to be reviewed again for a final decision on Mr. Trump’s account in six months.
That angered both Republicans and Democrats. Republican lawmakers have pointed to Mr. Trump’s ouster by Facebook, Twitter and others as evidence of an alleged anti-conservative campaign by tech companies, calling the decisions a dangerous precedent for censorship of political figures.
Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, tweeted that the board’s decision on Wednesday was “disgraceful” and warned it could have dangerous ripple effects.
“For every liberal celebrating Trump’s social media ban, if the Big Tech oligarchs can muzzle the former President, what’s to stop them from silencing you?” Mr. Cruz said in his tweet.
Senator Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, said in a statement that the move showed that “it’s clear that Mark Zuckerberg views himself as the arbiter of free speech.” Republican members of the House judiciary committee tweeted that the decision was “pathetic,” and Jim Jordan of Ohio, the ranking member, tweeted about Facebook: “Break them up.”
Democrats, also dissatisfied with the murky decision, took aim at how Facebook can be used to spread lies. Frank Pallone, the chairman of the House energy and commerce committee, tweeted: “Donald Trump has played a big role in helping Facebook spread disinformation, but whether he’s on the platform or not, Facebook and other social media platforms with the same business model will find ways to highlight divisive content to drive advertising revenues.”
Representative Ken Buck, Republican of Colorado and the ranking member of the House antitrust subcommittee, accused the Oversight Board of political bias.
“Facebook made an arbitrary decision based on its political preferences, and the Oversight Board, organized and funded by Facebook, reaffirmed its decision,” he said.
But scholars who support free speech welcomed the decision. They have warned that as social media companies become more active in determining what stays online and what doesn’t, that could potentially lead to a slippery slope where tech giants have too much sway over digital speech.
“The Facebook Oversight Board has said what many critics noted — the ban of former President Trump, while perhaps justified, was worrisome in its open-endedness and lack of process,” said Gautam Hans, a law professor at Vanderbilt University. “To the degree that the decision draws attention to how ad hoc, manipulable, and arbitrary Facebook’s own content policies get enforced, I welcome it.”
No doubt, President Biden has lowered the temperature of the nation after four years under Donald J. Trump, a tumultuous period capped by the worst pandemic in a century. He may have also lowered interest in the news. For the first quarter, The New York Times Company recorded its smallest gain in new subscribers in a year and a half.
The Times reported a total of 7.8 million subscribers across both print and digital platforms, with 6.9 million coming for online news or its Cooking and Games apps. The company added 301,000 digital customers for the first three months of the year, the lowest increase since the third quarter of 2019.
The Times is still on a path toward its goal of reaching 10 million subscribers by 2025, and it has improved its profit margins as its digital business — which costs less than print — continues to rise.
The company reported adjusted operating profit of $68 million, a 54 percent jump from last year, as it generated more dollars from each subscriber, partly because of the expiration of promotional rates as the new year rolled over. Total revenue rose modestly, about 6.6 percent, to $473 million. Online subscriptions and digital advertising together rose 32 percent, to $239 million, and the print business continued its steady decline.
newly formed union of tech and digital employees. In an email sent to the staff April 22, Ms. Levien effectively declined, saying employees should hold a formal vote. Union representatives replied that they had already voted when a majority of tech employees signed union cards.
The company’s cash pile remains high, at more than $890 million, and its free cash flow — a measure of a company’s financial heft — has risen steadily over the last three years. In 2020, it averaged about $65 million in free cash flow each quarter, according to data compiled by S&P Capital IQ.
The Times has also increased dividend payouts to shareholders every few years. It now pays 7 cents a share each quarter, which costs about $46.8 million a year, payments that benefit the Ochs-Sulzberger family that controls The Times.
SAN FRANCISCO — A Facebook-appointed panel of journalists, activists and lawyers ruled on Wednesday to uphold the social network’s ban of former President Donald J. Trump, ending any immediate return by Mr. Trump to mainstream social media and renewing a debate about tech power over online speech.
Facebook’s Oversight Board, which acts as a quasi-court to deliberate the company’s content decisions, said the social network was right to bar Mr. Trump after he used the site to foment an insurrection in Washington in January. The panel said the ongoing risk of violence “justified” the suspension.
But the board also said that Facebook’s penalty of an indefinite suspension was “not appropriate,” and that the company should apply a “defined penalty.” The board gave Facebook six months to make its final decision on Mr. Trump’s account status.
“Our sole job is to hold this extremely powerful organization, Facebook, to be held accountable,” Michael McConnell, co-chair of the Oversight Board, said on a call with reporters. The decision “did not meet these standards,” he said.
Twitter and YouTube had also cut off Mr. Trump in January after the insurrection at the Capitol building, saying the risk of harm and the potential for violence that he created was too great.
But while Mr. Trump’s Facebook account remains suspended for now, it does not mean that he will not be able to return to the social network at all once the company reviews its action. On Tuesday, Mr. Trump had unveiled a new site, “From the desk of Donald J. Trump,” to communicate with his supporters. It looked much like a Twitter feed, complete with posts written by Mr. Trump that could be shared on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Mr. Trump’s continuing suspension from Facebook gave conservatives, who have long accused the social media companies of suppressing right-wing voices, new fuel against the platforms. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, has testified in Congress several times in recent years about whether the social network has shown bias against conservative political views. He has denied it.
In a tweet, the Republican members of the House judiciary committee said of the board’s decision, “Pathetic.”
Mr. Zuckerberg has said that he does not wish his company to be “the arbiter of truth” in social discourse, Facebook has become increasingly active about the kinds of content it allows. To prevent the spread of misinformation, the company has cracked down on QAnon conspiracy theory groups, election falsehoods and anti-vaccination content in recent months, before culminating in the blocking of Mr. Trump in January.
“This case has dramatic implications for the future of speech online because the public and other platforms are looking at how the oversight board will handle what is a difficult controversy that will arise again around the world,” said Nate Persily, a professor at Stanford University’s law school.
He added, “President Trump has pushed the envelope about what is permissible speech on these platforms and he has set the outer limits such that if you are unwilling to go after him, you are allowing a large amount of incitement and hate speech and disinformation online that others are going to propagate.”
In a statement, Facebook said it was “pleased” that the board recognized that its barring of Mr. Trump in January was justified. The company added that it would consider the ruling and “determine an action that is clear and proportionate.”
Mr. Trump’s case is the most prominent that the Facebook Oversight Board, which was conceived in 2018, has handled. The board, which is made up of 20 journalists, activists and former politicians, reviews and adjudicates the company’s most contested content moderation decisions. Mr. Zuckerberg has repeatedly referred to it as the “Facebook Supreme Court.”
But while the panel is positioned as independent, it was founded and funded by Facebook and has no legal or enforcement authority. Critics have been skeptical of the board’s autonomy and have said it gives Facebook the ability to punt on difficult decisions.
revoke Section 230, a legal shield that protects companies like Facebook from liability for what users post.
privately with Mr. Trump.
The politeness ended on Jan. 6. Hours before his supporters stormed the Capitol, Mr. Trump used Facebook and other social media to try to cast doubt on the results of the presidential election, which he had lost to Joseph R. Biden Jr. Mr. Trump wrote on Facebook, “Our Country has had enough, they won’t take it anymore!”
Less than 24 hours later, Mr. Trump was barred from the platform indefinitely. While his Facebook page has remained up, it has been dormant. His last Facebook post, on Jan. 6, read, “I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence!”
Cecilia Kang contributed reporting from Washington.
Amazon had a record-breaking year in Europe in 2020, as the online giant took in revenue of 44 billion euros while people were shopping from home during the pandemic. But the company ended up paying no corporate tax to Luxembourg, where the company has its European headquarters.
The company’s European retail division reported a loss of €1.2 billion ($1.4 billion) to Luxembourg authorities, according to a recent financial filing, making it exempt from corporate taxes. The loss, which was due in part to discounts, advertising and the cost of hiring new employees, also meant the company received €56 million in tax credits that it could use to offset future tax bills when it makes a profit, according to the filing, released in March.
Amazon was in compliance with Luxembourg’s regulations,and it pays taxes to other European countries on profits it makes on its retail operations and other parts of the business, like its fulfillment centers and its cloud computing services.
But the filing is likely to provide fresh ammunition for European policymakers who have long tried to force American tech giants to pay more taxes. And the Biden administration is pushing for changes in global tax policy as part of an effort to raise taxes on large corporations, which have long used complicated maneuvers to avoid or reduce their tax obligations, including by shifting profits to lower-tax countries, like Luxembourg, Ireland, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.
first three months of this year, the entire company’s profitsoared to $8.1 billion, an increase of 220 percent from the same period last year. Amazon’s first-quarter filings, released last week, also showed that it made $108.5 billion in sales, up 44 percent, as more customers made purchases online because of the pandemic.
The company’s filing with Luxembourg was reported earlier by The Guardian.
A spokesman for Amazon, Conor Sweeney, said the company paid all taxes required in every country in which it operated.
“Corporate tax is based on profits, not revenues, and our profits have remained low given our heavy investments and the fact that retail is a highly competitive, low-margin business,” he said.
250 million in unpaid taxes from 2006 through 2014 from Amazon. Amazon and Luxembourg appealed that order, and a judgment in Europe’s second-highest court is expected next week.
Margaret Hodge, a British lawmaker, said Amazon had deliberately created financial structures to avoid tax. “It’s obscene that they feel that they can make money around the world and that they don’t have an obligation to contribute to what I call the common pot for the common good,” she said.
Matthew Gardner, a senior fellow at the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a left-leaning research group in Washington, said Amazon’s Luxembourg filing showed why there was such urgency, not only in the European Union but also in the United States, to require a global minimum tax.
“This is a stark reminder of the high financial stakes of inaction,” he said.
“None of this concerns me at all,” said Yehuda Leib Schreiber, 33, a full-time Torah scholar and a father of seven. “It’s all dictated from above.”
The only proper response, he said, was “to repent.”
Beitar Illit’s victims included a father of 11, Rabbi Shimon Matlon, Elazar Goldberg, 37, Shmuel Zvi Klagsbald, 43, and a teenager, Shmuel Eliahu Cohen, 16. The names of the four flashed on an electronic advertising board at the entrance to the settlement.
Inside, the prevailing mood was one of collective mourning and quiet introspection. Residents said the tragedy was a divine message that called for soul-searching and self-improvement. Even when such messages were hard for mortals to understand, they said, who were they to ask questions?
“We believe the 45 were chosen by God to atone for the sins of this entire generation,” said Chavi Zaltsman, 25, a mother of two from the Hasidic Karlin sect. The sins could include idle gossip or disputes or hatred, she said, adding, “We need to love each other more, even if people are different.”
Some took comfort in the national day of mourning that the government had called on Sunday, though the more extreme ultra-Orthodox groups that do not recognize the state had no interest in state decrees.
“God came and took this boy and that man,” said Asher Suissa, 44, a caterer and friend of Rabbi Matlon’s. But he added that people were also involved, without apportioning blame.
JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s biggest bank, plans to open all its U.S. offices on May 17 for employees who wish to return voluntarily. That will be followed by a compulsory return in July, when workers will rotate in and out of the office in accordance with safety measures that will limit each office’s capacity. Bank of America has not yet announced to employees when a fuller return to the office is expected.
Twitter plans to acquire the subscription service Scroll, the social media company announced on Tuesday, as it expands its plans for subscription offerings. The two companies declined to disclose the deal terms.
Scroll charges its users a fee to block advertising on participating news websites, then distributes a cut of its earnings to its partner publishers, which include USA Today, Vox and The Atlantic. Publishers can earn up to 50 percent more from the service than they do from advertising, Scroll contends. Twitter plans to integrate the service into its platform, and use its technology to build other subscription services.
“People come to Twitter every day to discover and read about what’s happening,” Mike Park, Twitter’s vice president for product, said in a blog post announcing the deal. “If Twitter is where so much of this conversation lives, it should be easier and simpler to read the content that drives it.”
In recent months, Twitter has begun to add paid subscriptions, and announced plans to introduce other subscriber features in the future.
In January, Twitter acquired Revue, a newsletter provider, and said it would take a 5 percent cut of subscription revenue. In February, the company revealed plans to introduce “Super Follows,” a feature that would allow Twitter users to place some of their content behind a pay wall. And this week, Twitter said it planned to add a ticketing feature to its audio chat, Spaces, so that hosts can charge listeners for entry into their discussions.
Twitter plans to supplement its advertising revenue with revenue from subscriptions, and has raced to add content like newsletters and audio chats that it thinks audiences will pay for. Its acquisition of Scroll will add journalism to that list.
“For every other platform, journalism is dispensable. If journalism were to disappear tomorrow their business would carry on much as before,” Tony Haile, Scroll’s chief executive, wrote in a blog post. “Twitter is the only large platform whose success is deeply intertwined with a sustainable journalism ecosystem.”
The chief executive of Epic Games offered a granular explanation of the popular game Fortnite to paint an expansive portrait of his company’s world on the first day of what is expected to be a three-week trial, pitting Epic against Apple in a fight over Apple’s App Store fees and other rules that could reshape the $100 billion app economy.
Fortnite, Tim Sweeney said, “is a phenomenon that transcends gaming,” Erin Griffith reports for The New York Times.
“Our aim of Fortnite is to build something like a metaverse from science fiction,” he said.
Metaverse? A court reporter needed clarification. It’s a virtual world for socializing and entertainment, Mr. Sweeney said.
In a mostly empty courtroom in Oakland, Katherine Forrest of the law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore opened Epic’s case by previewing a series of emails between Apple’s top executives. The emails were evidence, Ms. Forrest argued, that the tech giant purposely created a “walled garden” that locks consumers and developers inside. That forces them to use Apple’s payment system, she said.
Once Apple lured users and developers into its walled garden, “the garden gate was closed, the lock turned,” Ms. Forrest said. She compared Apple’s fees on in-app purchases for subscription services to a car dealership that takes a commission on gas sales.
Apple’s lawyers described, in their opening statement, a thriving market for app distribution that includes gaming consoles, desktop computer gaming and the mobile web. Karen Dunn of Paul, Weiss argued that the 30 percent commission was in line with industry standards and that Epic’s requests, if granted, would make iPhones less secure, while unlawfully forcing Apple to do business with a competitor.
Ms. Dunn added that Epic’s case was a self-serving way to avoid paying fees it owed Apple and was on shaky legal footing.
Futures for the S&P 500 were lower Tuesday, while European shares were mainly higher. Travel and hospitality-related companies, bolstered by the news about the European Union laying out its plans for welcoming back visitors, were gaining.
The Stoxx Europe 600 gained 0.3 percent, and the FTSE 100 in Britain was 0.8 percent higher. The Dax, in Germany, lost 0.2 percent.
Oil prices rose as Saudi Aramco joined other oil companies in reporting strong profits for the last quarter. Brent crude gained 1.9 percent, to $68.82 a barrel. It has not closed above $70 barrel since late 2018. West Texas Intermediate gained 1.7 percent, to $65.60 a barrel.
A chip-maker’s troubles
Infineon, a big producer of semiconductors in Germany, reported “booming” demand for chips as it posted strong quarterly results. But the company warned of continuing supply chain problems and its shares fell.
“Demand greatly exceeds supply for the majority of applications,” said the chief executive, Reinhard Ploss, in a statement. Even though its plants are running at “full speed,” he continued, the company still faced supply chain bottlenecks. “We are doing everything we can to provide our customers with the best possible support in this situation.”
Saudi Aramco earnings
The world’s largest oil producer, Saudi Aramco, reported a 30 percent rise in net income in the first quarter compared with the same period a year ago.
The company is joining other energy producers that reported strong earnings this quarter as oil prices continued their recovery from last year’s collapse.
“The momentum provided by the global economic recovery has strengthened energy markets,” Aramco’s chief executive, Amin H. Nasser, said in a statement. “Given the positive signs for energy demand in 2021, there are more reasons to be optimistic that better days are coming.”
On Tuesday, Pfizer announced that its Covid vaccine brought in $3.5 billion in revenue in the first three months of this year, nearly a quarter of its total revenue. The vaccine was, far and away, Pfizer’s biggest source of revenue, report Rebecca Robbins and Peter S. Goodman of The New York Times.
The company did not disclose the profits it derived from the vaccine, but it reiterated its previous prediction that its profit margins on the vaccine would be in the high 20 percent range. That would translate into roughly $900 million in pretax vaccine profits in the first quarter.
Pfizer has been widely credited with developing an unproven technology that has saved an untold number of lives.
But the company’s vaccine is disproportionately reaching the world’s rich — an outcome, so far at least, at odds with its chief executive’s pledge to ensure that poorer countries “have the same access as the rest of the world” to a vaccine that is highly effective at preventing Covid-19.
As of mid-April, wealthy countries had secured more than 87 percent of the more than 700 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines dispensed worldwide, while poor countries had received only 0.2 percent, according to the World Health Organization. In wealthy countries, roughly one in four people has received a vaccine. In poor countries, the figure is one in 500.
Eleven Madison Park, the Manhattan restaurant that has been called the best in the world, will serve an all-plant-based menu when it reopens after more than a year of being closed because of the pandemic.
Eleven Madison Park’s multicourse menu will keep its prepandemic price of $335, including tip, Brett Anderson and Jenny Gross report for The New York Times.
Daniel Humm, Eleven Madison Park’s chef, said the decision is the result of a yearslong re-evaluation about where his career was headed, which reached its breaking point during the pandemic.
“It became very clear to me that our idea of what luxury is had to change,” Mr. Humm said. “We couldn’t go back to doing what we did before.”
While the restaurant’s ingredient costs will go down, labor costs will go up as Mr. Humm and his chefs work to make vegan food live up to Eleven Madison Park’s reputation. “It’s a labor intensive and time consuming process,” he said.
It marks a striking departure for one of the most lavishly praised American restaurants of the past 20 years. Though Mr. Humm still offers plenty of red meat at his London restaurant, Davies and Brook at Claridge’s hotel, the move at Eleven Madison Park — which has four stars from The New York Times and three from Michelin — suggests how different fine dining may look as restaurants reopen and reimagine themselves.