Those hopes were dashed. Sensing imminent failure, Goldman began selling Archegos’s assets the next morning, followed by Morgan Stanley, to recoup their money. Other banks soon followed.

As ViacomCBS shares flooded onto the market that Friday because of the banks’ enormous sales, Mr. Hwang’s wealth plummeted. Credit Suisse, which had acted too slowly to stanch the damage, announced the possibility of significant losses; Nomura announced as much as $2 billion in losses. Goldman finished unwinding its position but did not record a loss, a person familiar with the matter said. ViacomCBS shares are down more than 50 percent since hitting their peak on March 22.

Mr. Hwang has laid low, issuing only a short statement calling this a “challenging time” for Archegos.

Kitty Bennett contributed research.

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Banks Face Billions in Losses as a Bet on ViacomCBS and Other Stocks Goes Awry

Mr. Hwang had worked under the billionaire hedge fund titan Julian Robertson at Tiger Management, making him one of the firm’s famous alumni, or “cubs,” when he started his own fund, Tiger Asia. But in 2012, he faced an insider-trading investigation; securities regulators said Tiger Asia had used confidential information to bet against the shares of Chinese stocks, and had manipulated other shares.

Mr. Hwang entered a guilty plea to wire fraud on behalf of Tiger Asia and paid millions of dollars in fines while also accepting a five-year ban on managing public money as a result of the settlement with the S.E.C. He reorganized the firm as a family office, meaning it was no longer managing outside money, and renamed it Archegos Capital Management; archegos is a Greek word meaning leader or founding father, and is used in the Bible to refer to Jesus.

“It’s not all about money, but it’s about long term,” Mr. Hwang said in a 2018 video in which he discussed his faith and work. “God certainly has a long-term view.”

According to four people familiar with the matter, Mr. Hwang had recently built large holdings in a small number of stocks, including ViacomCBS and Discovery, which also operates the cable channels TLC and the Food Network, and the Chinese companies RLX Technology and GSX Techedu. Those bets unraveled spectacularly in just a few days last week.

Last Monday, shares of RLX Technology, an e-cigarette company, tumbled sharply after Chinese regulators presented potential new regulations on the industry. RLX securities listed in the United States, called American depositary receipts, tumbled 48 percent. The next day, GSX Techedu, a tutoring company that has been a target of short sellers in recent years who claimed the firm’s sales numbers were overstated, fell 12.4 percent.

On Wednesday, ViacomCBS sold a batch of shares on the open market to raise money to finance its new streaming businesses, exacerbating Mr. Hwang’s situation. His firm began fielding queries from worried banks. Lenders at Goldman Sachs urged Archegos to pare its exposure, said two people familiar with those conversations. But Archegos pushed back, saying the battered stocks would recover, one of the people said.

By Friday morning, when Archegos was unable to post additional “margin,” Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse, two of Archegos’s main lenders, had declared the fund to be in default, four people briefed on the matter said. Their action paved the way for Goldman Sachs and others to do the same. Soon, huge blocks of stocks were on offer.

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Bretton Sciaroni, Influential American in Cambodia, Dies at 69

Bretton G. Sciaroni, an American lawyer who became a powerful business broker and an adviser to the government in Cambodia after being fired as a White House official when he became embroiled in the Iran-contra scandal, died on March 12 at his home in the nation’s capital, Phnom Penh. He was 69.

He had been ill for some time, friends said, but no autopsy was performed to determine the cause of death. Two fancy pens were placed in his pocket when he was buried, an honor generally reserved for senior officials.

In more than three decades in Cambodia, Mr. Sciaroni became an influential and well-connected figure in legal and business circles as well as providing the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen with legal opinions that included a justification of the prime minister’s seizure of full power in a violent 1997 coup.

That analysis and the controversy that followed it harked back to a legal opinion Mr. Sciaroni had drawn up as a 35-year-old lawyer in Washington justifying a behind-the-scenes deal in which profits from arms sales to Iran were to be used to fund the Nicaraguan rebels known as the contras, despite a law severely limiting such assistance.

Sciaroni & Associates, which facilitates and provides advice on government contracts and investment projects.

He became influential in the business world and served as chairman of the International Business Chamber of Cambodia, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce and co-chairman of Cambodia’s Working Group on Law, Tax and Governance.

He was later formally named a legal adviser to the Cambodian government, an appointment made by royal decree that carried the rank of minister.

He angered many in Cambodia when he drew up a government “white paper” that justified a coup in 1997 by Mr. Hun Sen, arguing that his seizure of full leadership from his co-prime minister, Norodom Ranariddh, had in fact been carried out to prevent a coup.

Mr. Sciaroni was born in Los Angeles in September 1951, the son of a doctor, and grew up in Fresno, Calif.

He received a master’s degree in international affairs from Georgetown University in Washington and a law degree from the University of California, Los Angeles. He then worked for conservative policy associations before joining the Reagan administration, where he worked on arms control and commerce before moving to the Intelligence Oversight Board.

In Cambodia, according to a friend, he lived by an unchanging routine: arriving at and leaving his office early, then visiting a fixed circuit of bars, where he regularly tipped the waitresses two dollars each, a considerable sum for working Cambodians.

He called himself a devout Roman Catholic but said his regular bedside reading was not the Bible but “A Confederacy of Dunces,” a picaresque novel by John Kennedy Toole, which he opened at random before falling asleep.

He is survived by his wife, Bui Thi Hoa My; their daughter, Patricia; and two brothers.

“Brett was terrific, personally and professionally,” recalled Luke Hunt, a Phnom Penh-based foreign correspondent and columnist for The Diplomat, an online current affairs magazine. “He ranked among the handful of foreigners who genuinely knew Cambodia and the powers that made it work.”

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Israel Reveals Newly Discovered Fragments of Dead Sea Scrolls

JERUSALEM — Israeli researchers unveiled on Tuesday dozens of newly discovered Dead Sea Scroll fragments containing biblical texts dating back nearly 2,000 years, adding to the body of artifacts that have shed light on the history of Judaism, early Christian life and ancient humankind.

The parchment fragments, ranging from just a few millimeters to a thumbnail in size, are the first in about 60 years to have been unearthed in archaeological excavations in the Judean Desert. They were found as part of a four-year Israeli national project to prevent further looting of antiquities from the remote caves and crevices of the desert east and southeast of Jerusalem, which straddles the boundary of Israel and the occupied West Bank.

The project turned up many other rare and historic finds, including a large woven basket with a lid that has been dated to approximately 10,500 years ago and may be the oldest such intact basket in the world. The archaeologists also found a 6,000-year-old, partially mummified skeleton of a child buried in the fetal position and wrapped in a cloth.

fragments of the scrolls.

academic debate around the world.

The arid conditions of the Judean Desert provided a unique environment for the natural preservation of artifacts and organic materials that would ordinarily not have withstood the test of time.

The latest fragments come from a scroll that was first discovered in the so-called Horror Cave, south of Ein Gedi in Israeli territory. Written in Greek by two scribes, it dates from the period of the Bar Kokhba revolt, almost 1,900 years ago, when Jewish rebels fled with their families and hid from the Romans in the caves.

The Romans discovered and besieged the refugees in the Horror Cave until they starved to death there. The first archaeologists to arrive in the last century found their skulls and bones placed in baskets in the cavern.

The new fragments contain verses from Zechariah 8:16-17, including part of the name of God written in ancient Hebrew, and verses from Nahum 1:5-6, both from the biblical Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets.

Experts managed to reconstruct 11 lines of text from Zechariah, including the verses, “These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to one another, render true and perfect justice in your gates. And do not contrive evil against one another, and do not love perjury, because all those are things that I hate — declares the Lord.”

Oren Ableman, a member of the Antiquities Authority team who conserved and studied the new fragments, described the artifacts as “another small piece of the puzzle of the past.”

Speaking in the laboratories of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem where the fragments were displayed for reporters on Tuesday morning, he said the concept of equal justice for all was laid out in these verses that “are read by people and are meaningful to people to this very day.”

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Hope as a Public Health Tool

The early coronavirus mistakes were mostly mistakes of excessive optimism. Many scientists, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, did not immediately grasp the threat. Neither did we in the media. President Donald Trump made the extreme version of this mistake, with a series of false statements minimizing the problem. Some politicians continue to show undue optimism, ending mask mandates and allowing full restaurants.

But overoptimism isn’t the only type of error in public health. Pessimism can also do damage. And at our current stage in the pandemic — as the United States finishes its first year of life dominated by Covid-19 — pessimism has become as much of a problem as optimism.

Thousands of schools remain closed, to children’s detriment, even though epidemiologists say that many can safely open. Irrationally negative talk about the vaccines has fed hesitation about getting them. The widespread notion that normal life won’t return anytime this year — if ever — has caused some people to give up on social distancing and mask wearing. They seem to be saying: What’s the point?

Difficult truths can sometimes be a vital public-health tool. But so can optimism. Optimism can help people to get through tough times and make sacrifices, in the belief that better days are ahead.

In a White House address last night, President Biden tried to balance realism and hope. He began with a somber recitation of Covid’s costs, including job loss, loneliness, canceled gatherings, missed time in school and, most of all, death. At one point, he reached into his jacket pocket and removed a card — which he always carries, he said — with the current American death toll printed on it. The past year, he said, had been one “filled with the loss of life and the loss of living for all of us.”

Yet when it came time for Biden to tell Americans what he wanted them to do — to wear masks, maintain social distancing and get vaccinated — he did not use darkness as motivation. He used July 4.

“If we do all this, if we do our part, if we do this together, by July the 4th, there’s a good chance you, your families and friends, will be able to get together in your backyard or in your neighborhood and have a cookout or a barbecue and celebrate Independence Day,” he said, standing alone at a podium in the White House’s East Room. “Finding light in the darkness is a very American thing to do.”

The speech included plenty of caveats, about virus variants, uncertainty and more. Biden’s political strategy on the virus is clearly to underpromise so he can overdeliver. But that’s part of what made the July 4 vision memorable. Even Biden, with all of his caution, seems to grasp the power of hopefulness at this moment.

After 12 months of a pandemic, it’s hard to inspire people to action with only grim warnings of all that could still go wrong. People need to know the full picture, both bad and good. They need a source of motivation beyond fear.

all adult Americans eligible to receive a Covid vaccine by May 1.

  • He announced several new actions to speed up vaccinations, including the use of dentists, veterinarians, medical students and others to give the shots.

  • He condemned hate crimes against Asian-Americans, who he said have been “attacked, harassed, blamed and scapegoated” during the pandemic. “It’s wrong, it’s un-American, and it must stop.”

  • Go deeper: On his Times Opinion podcast, Ezra Klein talks with Dr. Ashish Jha of Brown University about the tensions between pandemic optimism and pessimism. Ezra suggests that some politicians, especially in liberal parts of the country, are undermining their own pandemic response by being so negative: “They’re not giving people a way out of this they can hold on to.”

    In response to Monday’s newsletter about the mystery of the relatively low Covid death tolls in Africa and Asia, several researchers wrote to me to add a potential explanation that had not been on my list: obesity.

    Countries with higher obesity rates have suffered more Covid deaths on average, as you can see in this chart that my colleague Lalena Fisher and I put together:

    Dr. David L. Katz told me, and oxygen deprivation has been a common Covid symptom. A paper by Dr. Jennifer Lighter of New York University and other researchers found that obesity increased the risk of hospitalization among Covid patients.

    It’s a particularly intriguing possibility because it could help explain why Africa and Asia have suffered fewer deaths than not only high-income countries but also Latin American countries. Latin Americans, like Europeans and U.S. residents, are heavier on average than Africans or Asians.

    an evangelical phenomenon.

    Modern Love: A woman takes a vow of celibacy.

    From Opinion: American pop culture used to celebrate the natural world. Taylor Swift is reviving the tradition.

    Lives Lived: Lou Ottens and his team at Philips, the Dutch electronics company, introduced the cassette tape in 1963 as a way to play music in a portable fashion. The invention revolutionized the music business. He died at 94.

    The four-part series “The Test Kitchen” — a production of the popular Gimlet Media podcast “Reply All” — was supposed to tell the story about workplace racism at the food magazine Bon Appétit.

    Halfway through the series, it was overshadowed by a story about Gimlet’s own culture. Former Gimlet employees accused the show of hypocrisy, saying its host, Sruthi Pinnamaneni, and her editor, P.J. Vogt, contributed to the kinds of workplace conditions that they aimed to expose.

    wrote on Twitter about a “toxic dynamic” at the company. Both Pinnamaneni and Vogt, along with some other Gimlet executives, had been critical of unionization efforts at Gimlet. Among other things, the union sought to address accusations of racial inequity at the company, Katherine Rosman and Reggie Ugwu write in The Times. (Gimlet executives declined to comment for the Times article.)

    Gimlet’s story isn’t unique, Nicholas Quah writes in Vulture. “There were very few Black employees at the company,” Quah writes, “and the ones who were there had the kind of experiences that made them feel their perspectives were trivialized.”

    Pinnamaneni and Vogt went on leave and Gimlet canceled “Test Kitchen.”

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    Hershel Shanks, Whose Magazine Uncovered Ancient Israel, Dies at 90

    Mr. Shanks died on Feb. 5 at his home in Washington. He was 90.

    His daughter Elizabeth Alexander, a professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia, said the cause was complications of Covid-19.

    Mr. Shanks made it clear that he was an amateur, albeit an impassioned one. Having gone to a Sunday school at his synagogue, he read Hebrew but could not translate it.

    “As the reader may have noticed, I have not spoken of my biblical training,” he wrote in a jaunty 2010 memoir, “Freeing the Dead Sea Scrolls: And Other Adventures of an Archaeology Outsider,” “because I had none.”

    But for many years he belonged to a group of Jewish friends in Washington who met periodically to talk about the Bible. Although he grew up in a home where, as he wrote, “there was something treyf (unkosher)” about the New Testament, he took a course in the Christian Bible that led to a meeting with William F. Albright, a towering figure in archaeology who had authenticated the Dead Sea Scrolls after they were found by a young shepherd.

    “Paradoxically,” Mr. Shanks wrote, “I came to the Hebrew Bible through the New Testament.”

    At the start of that transformative year in Israel, Mr. Shanks wrote 300 pages of a novel about Saul, the first king of Israel, which he eventually abandoned as “no good.” Then he got to know Israel’s rock star of an archaeologist, Yigael Yadin, through a fortuitous find by his daughter Elizabeth, then 6, at Tel Hazor in the Upper Galilee.

    The Shanks family was visiting the Hazor mound, the site of what in the ninth century B.C. was the largest fortified city in the ancient kingdom of Israel, and searching for sherds, or ceramic fragments, when Elizabeth stumbled upon a small piece of a clay handle less than an inch and a half long with an image etched into the clay. Mr. Yadin, who led the landmark Hazor expedition in the mid-1950s, identified the image as a Syro-Hittite deity from the Late Bronze Age in a pose known as the “smiting god.”

    He urged Mr. Shanks to write an article about the handle for an Israeli journal, which he did with Mr. Yadin’s help. And so a new career was born.

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