BEIRUT, Lebanon — In less than nine months, an assassin on a motorbike fatally shot an Al Qaeda commander given refuge in Tehran, Iran’s chief nuclear scientist was machine-gunned on a country road, and two separate, mysterious explosions rocked a key Iranian nuclear facility in the desert, striking the heart of the country’s efforts to enrich uranium.
The steady drumbeat of attacks, which intelligence officials said were carried out by Israel, highlighted the seeming ease with which Israeli intelligence was able to reach deep inside Iran’s borders and repeatedly strike its most heavily guarded targets, often with the help of turncoat Iranians.
The attacks, the latest wave in more than two decades of sabotage and assassinations, have exposed embarrassing security lapses and left Iran’s leaders looking over their shoulders as they pursue negotiations with the Biden administration aimed at restoring the 2015 nuclear agreement.
The recriminations have been caustic.
The head of Parliament’s strategic center said Iran had turned into a “haven for spies.” The former commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps called for an overhaul of the country’s security and intelligence apparatus. Lawmakers have demanded the resignation of top security and intelligence officials.
explosion at the Natanz nuclear enrichment plant last month. But it was unclear who he was, whether he had acted alone and if that was even his real name. In any case, he had fled the country before the blast, Iran’s Intelligence Ministry said.
killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the leader of the Quds Force, in January of last year. Israel assassinated Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Iran’s chief nuclear scientist and a brigadier general in the Revolutionary Guards, in November.
Even if General Hejazi died of natural causes, the cumulative loss of three top generals was a significant blow.
The attacks represent an uptick in a long-running campaign by the intelligence services of Israel and the United States to subvert what they consider to be Iran’s threatening activities.
Chief among them are a nuclear program that Iran insists is peaceful, Iran’s investment in proxy militias across the Arab world, and its development of precision-guided missiles for Hezbollah, the militant movement in Lebanon.
daring nighttime raid to steal a half-ton of secret archives of Iran’s nuclear program from a warehouse in Tehran.
Israel has also reached around the world, tracking down equipment in other countries that is bound for Iran to destroy it, conceal transponders in its packaging or install explosive devices to be detonated after the gear has been installed inside of Iran, according to a former high-ranking American intelligence official.
an explosion in the Natanz nuclear plant in July. The explosives had been sealed inside a heavy desk that had been placed in the plant months earlier, Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani, the former chief of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, said.
The explosion ripped through a factory producing a new generation of centrifuges, setting back Iran’s nuclear enrichment program by months, officials said.
more recent explosion at Natanz this month except that it destroyed the plant’s independent power system, which in turn destroyed thousands of centrifuges.
It would have been difficult for Israel to carry out these operations without inside help from Iranians, and that may be what rankles Iran most.
But the infiltrations have also sullied the reputation of the intelligence wing of the Revolutionary Guards, which is responsible for guarding nuclear sites and scientists.
A former Guards commander demanded a “cleansing” of the intelligence service, and Iran’s vice president, Eshaq Jahangiri, said that the unit responsible for security at Natanz should be “be held accountable for its failures.”
The deputy head of Parliament, Amir-Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi, told the Iranian news media on Monday that it was no longer enough to blame Israel and the United States for such attacks; Iran needed to clean its own house.
As a publication affiliated with the Guards, Mashregh News, put it last week: “Why does the security of the nuclear facility act so irresponsibly that it gets hit twice from the same hole?”
But the Revolutionary Guards answer only to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and so far there has been no sign of a top-down reshuffling.
After each attack, Iran has struggled to respond, sometimes claiming to have identified those responsible only after they had left the country or saying that they remained at large. Iranian officials also insist that they have foiled other attacks.
were arrested last month in Ethiopia for plotting to attack Israeli, American and Emirati targets.
But any overt retaliation risks an overwhelming Israeli response.
“They are not in a hurry to start a war,” said Talal Atrissi, a political science professor at the Lebanese University in Beirut. “Retaliation means war.”
Conversely, the timing of Israel’s latest attack on Natanz suggested that Israel sought if not to derail the talks, to at least weaken Iran’s bargaining power. Israel opposed the 2015 nuclear agreement and opposes its resurrection.
the covert, regionwide shadow war between Israel and Iran has intensified with Israeli airstrikes on Iranian-backed militias in Syria and tit for tat attacks on ships.
But as Iran faces a struggling economy, rampant Covid-19 infections and other problems of poor governance, the pressure is on to reach a new agreement soon to remove economic sanctions, said Ms. Vakil of Chatham House.
“These low-level, gray zone attacks reveal that the Islamic Republic urgently needs to get the J.C.P.O.A. back into a box” to free up resources to address its other problems, she said, referring to the nuclear deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Washington, and Hwaida Saad from Beirut, Lebanon.
Iran has started enriching its uranium supply to 60 percent purity — the closest the country has ever come to the level needed for a weapon — in response to the sabotage of an Iranian nuclear site last weekend linked to Israel.
The move by Iran, reported Friday on state media, made good on threats Iranian officials had announced after the sabotage, which have cast a new cloud over talks to save the 2015 deal limiting Iran’s nuclear abilities in exchange for sanctions relief.
President Hassan Rouhani of Iran has gone further, boasting as those talks resumed in Vienna that his scientists could easily enrich uranium to 90 percent purity — weapons-grade fuel — although he insisted, as Iranian leaders have repeatedly, that Iran “is never seeking to make an atomic bomb.”
So what is the significance of uranium’s purity, which is at the heart of the accord that negotiators are trying to rescue? And why is Iran making these claims? Some basic questions and answers:
What is the goal of uranium enrichment?
Uranium contains a rare radioactive isotope, called U-235, that can be used to power nuclear reactors at low enrichment levels and to fuel nuclear bombs at much higher levels. The goal of uranium enrichment is to raise the percentage levels of U-235, which is often done through the use of centrifuges — machines that spin a form of unrefined uranium at high speeds.
becomes far easier and requires fewer centrifuges as it moves into the higher purities. In other words, getting to 90 percent purity is much easier starting from 20 percent, and easier still starting from 60 percent.
How much enriched uranium does Iran now possess?
According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear-monitoring arm of the United Nations, Iran as of February had amassed 2,967.8 kilograms of uranium — roughly 14 times the limit under the nuclear accord and theoretically enough to power about three atomic bombs if refined to weapons grade. The stockpile includes 17.6 kilograms enriched to 20 percent — also forbidden under the accord until the year 2030.
Did the sabotage last weekend set back Iran’s ability to enrich uranium?
Almost certainly yes. While Iranian officials have given conflicting accounts of the extent of centrifuge damage at Natanz, the sabotaged enrichment complex, at least one has said that several thousand of the machines were destroyed.But Iran also possesses a second known enrichment site, an underground facility called Fordow, that houses roughly 1,000 centrifuges, and some were deployed early this year to enrich uranium to 20 percent.
Mehrzad Boroujerdi, an Iran expert who is a professor and director of the School of Public and International Affairs at Virginia Tech. “It is getting punched left and right, without the ability to do damage to the other side.”
With the 60 percent enrichment, Mr. Boroujerdi said, Iran’s leaders “are trying to resort to any aces they may have.”
Elliott may start a fight at GlaxoSmithKline. The big activist hedge fund has taken a multibillion-pound stake in the British medical and consumer products giant, DealBook has learned. The Financial Times, which first reported the news, said it came as other investors expressed worries that the company was underperforming, particularly in its drug pipeline.
Jeff Bezos lays out his legacy
Amazon published its founder’s latest letter to shareholders yesterday. It is likely the last such letter written by Jeff Bezos as C.E.O., since he plans to step down later this year and become executive chairman. In the letter, Mr. Bezos, the richest man in the world, laid out his view of Amazon’s impact during his 27-year tenure.
Mr. Bezos calculated the value he thinks Amazon creates for society. The total came to $301 billion last year, he said, with more than half going to customers (via time savings and the cost improvements of cloud computing), followed by employees (via compensation), third-party sellers (via profits from selling on Amazon) and finally shareholders (via the company’s net income). “Draw the box big around all of society, and you’ll find that invention is the root of all real value creation,” Mr. Bezos wrote. “And value created is best thought of as a metric for innovation.”
But “money doesn’t tell the whole story,” he wrote, and there is naturally a lot left out of such an expansive equation. If anything, using net income to measure Amazon’s value to shareholders understates its impact, since the company’s market cap grew by more than $700 billion last year. Elsewhere in the letter, Mr. Bezos noted that Amazon’s market value has grown by $1.6 trillion since its founding, which suggests that shareholders (Mr. Bezos among them) might rank higher — if not highest — in the accounting of who benefits most from Amazon’s operations.
Mr. Bezos said that Amazon’s goal is to become “Earth’s Best Employer and Earth’s Safest Place to Work.” He disputed the characterization of Amazon warehouse employees as “being treated as robots” (the jobs have been criticized over workplace safety measures during the pandemic, algorithmic management and productivity quotas), and highlighted Amazon’s $15 minimum hourly wage, which one study suggested led to increased wages at other businesses nearby.
Mr. Bezos also addressed the recent union election at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Ala., which Amazon won by a wide margin. “Does your Chair take comfort in the outcome of the recent union vote in Bessemer? No, he doesn’t,” Mr. Bezos wrote, adding that Amazon needs to “do a better job for our employees.”
The letter ended on a philosophical note. “We all know that distinctiveness — originality — is valuable,” Mr. Bezos wrote. “We are all taught to ‘be yourself.’ What I’m really asking you to do is to embrace and be realistic about how much energy it takes to maintain that distinctiveness. The world wants you to be typical — in a thousand ways, it pulls at you. Don’t let it happen.”
“This is the healthiest we have seen the consumer emerge from a crisis in recent history.”
— Jane Fraser, the C.E.O. of Citigroup, reporting a tripling of profit in its latest quarter.
David Einhorn has thoughts
Greenlight Capital’s quarterly report is out and the hedge fund’s founder, David Einhorn, has a lot to say.
He blames Chamath and Elon for the GameStop frenzy. “The real jet fuel on the GME squeeze came from Chamath Palihapitiya and Elon Musk, whose appearances on TV and Twitter, respectively, at a critical moment further destabilized the situation,” Mr. Einhorn wrote.
He questioned Mr. Palihapitiya’s intentions in joining the trading craze. “Mr. Palihapitiya controls SoFi, which competes with Robinhood, and left us with the impression that by destabilizing GME he could harm a competitor.” (Mr. Palihapitiya’s SPAC announced a deal to acquire SoFi in January, which Mr. Palihapitiya disclosed in his tweets about Robinhood.)
He’s not a fan of payment for order flow, which is how Robinhood makes money on free trading. It’s “just disguised commission,” Mr. Einhorn said.
Coinbase, a company that allows people and companies to buy and sell various digital currencies, begins publicly trading on Wednesday, after its shares received a reference price of $250 each on Tuesday evening.
Coinbase, which makes money through transaction fees, estimated it took in $1.8 billion in revenue in the first three months of the year as crypto prices have soared. On Wednesday, the fervor continued: Dogecoin, a cryptocurrency which started as a joke, jumped to a new high (albeit just 14 cents), and Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency, climbed above $64,000 to its own record high.
Shares in blockchain-linked companies also rose in premarket trading. Riot Blockchain shares rose nearly 5 percent. Shares in Bit Digital, a Chinese bitcoin mining company, rose nearly 25 percent in premarket trading in the United States.
Global stocks crept higher on Wednesday as company earnings started to pour in. The S&P 500 was set to open 0.1 percent higher, futures indicated, after reaching a record high on Tuesday.
Shares in JPMorgan Chase dipped 0.4 percent in premarket trading after the bank reported its best first quarter on record, but said demand for loans was “challenged.” Shares in Goldman Sachs rose 0.3 percent in premarket trading after reporting investment banking revenue that beat analyst expectations.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index was 0.2 percent higher. One of the biggest gainers on the index was SAP, the German software company. Its shares rose 4 percent after the company said revenue from its cloud business was growing and upgraded its forecast for full year earnings.
Shares in easyJet, the low-cost airline, rose 3.6 percent after it said it expected to increase flights from May and reported earnings for the six months through March that were better than analysts expected.
Shares in Tesco, the large British grocer, fell as much as 4.4 percent after the company reported a 20 percent decline in pretax profit because of the extra cost of operating stores and warehouses safely during the pandemic. The grocer also said it expected sales to decline as pandemic restrictions ease, but that this would improve profit margins.
Elsewhere in markets
Shares in Discovery, the American media company, fell in premarket trading as Credit Suisse continued to sell stocks tied to Archegos Capital Management, Bloomberg reported.
Yields on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes rose 2 basis points, or 0.02 percentage points, to 1.63 percent.
Oil prices climbed higher. Futures for West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. crude benchmark, rose 1.6 percent to $61.10 a barrel.
Coinbase, the cryptocurrency exchange, is set to begin trading on the Nasdaq on Wednesday — and probably at a much higher valuation than the $65 billion preliminary estimate set last night. Here’s what you need to know about crypto’s move into the mainstream.
Why Coinbase matters
The company is the first major crypto business to trade publicly in the U.S. Its size means that its stock is likely to be held by mainstream index funds, giving average investors (indirect) exposure to the world of crypto. “Hopefully Coinbase going public and having its direct listing is going to be viewed as kind of a landmark moment for the crypto space,” Brian Armstrong, Coinbase’s chief executive, told Andrew in a CNBC interview.
It will instantly become a financial giant on Wall Street.
Even at $65 billion, Coinbase’s market value will exceed that of the stock exchanges its shares will trade on: Nasdaq’s market cap is $26 billion, while ICE, the parent company of the N.Y.S.E., is valued at $67 billion. And by the way, Goldman Sachs’s market value is $111 billion.
Coinbase is profitable, taking in $322 million last year — and an estimated $800 million in the first quarter this year alone. It also made significantly more revenue from trades (0.6 percent) than did the Nasdaq (0.009 percent) and ICE (0.011 percent).
But there are also giant risks.
Coinbase benefited hugely from a run-up in cryptocurrencies’ prices in recent months, and the company warned in its prospectus that its business was “substantially dependent on the prices of crypto assets and volume of transactions conducted on our platform.”
Skeptics think competition will eventually bring Coinbase’s fat margins down, though Mr. Armstrong asserted that he didn’t seen any sign of that happening yet. “Longer term, yes, I do think there could be fee compression, just like in every other asset class,” he told CNBC.
Digital currency, once mocked as a tool for criminals and reckless speculators, is sliding into the mainstream. On Wednesday, Coinbase, a start-up that allows people to buy and sell cryptocurrencies, goes public on Nasdaq, marking the biggest step yet toward wider acceptance.
From Crypto Art to Trading Cards, Investment Manias Abound
Each market frenzy seems crazier than the last. But all have the same roots.
Why an Animated Flying Cat With a Pop-Tart Body Sold for Almost $600,000
A fast-growing market for digital art, ephemera and media is marrying the world’s taste for collectibles with cutting-edge technology.
Coinbase Users Say Crypto Start-Up Ignored Their Pleas for Help
As Coinbase prepares to be the first major cryptocurrency company to go public, it is struggling with basic customer service, users said.
Cryptocurrency Start-Up Underpaid Women and Black Employees, Data Shows
An analysis of internal pay data at the San Francisco company Coinbase shows disparities that were much larger than those in the tech industry.
Toshiba announced on Wednesday the resignation of its top executive, Nobuaki Kurumatani, a move that comes as the Japanese conglomerate faces a potential buyout and a shareholder-initiated investigation into its management practices.
The board appointed Satoshi Tsunakawa — the current chairman and previous president — to replace Mr. Kurumatani, the company said in a brief statement. It did not explain the reason for the change.
Toshiba, once among the crown jewels of Japanese industry, a maker of products ranging from personal printers to railroad locomotives, has struggled in recent years, overshadowed by the legacy of a major accounting scandal and itsacquisition of the American nuclear power company Westinghouse, which declared bankruptcy in 2017.
Seeking to rebuild, Toshiba looked for a new leader from outside its own ranks, and in 2018 it appointed Mr. Kurumatani, an executive with CVC Capital Partners, a private equity company based in Europe, as chief executive. It was an unusual decision for a company that had long been headed by company insiders. Last year, he was appointed president, solidifying his control over the firm.
During a news conference Wednesday, board member Osamu Nagayama deflected questions about the resignation, saying that Mr. Kurumatani, 63, had been considering the move for months and had come to the decision with his family. Unusually, Mr. Kurumatani did not make an appearance, but in a letter that was read aloud to reporters, he said he had chosen to resign after “achieving my mission to rebuild the company.”
The announcement on Wednesday followed months of unrest at Toshiba as disgruntled shareholders agitated for reforms aimed at improving the company’s performance and increasing its value.
Toshiba investors tried to shake up the company’s management at the annual general meeting last summer. But Mr. Kurumatani was re-elected — albeit with less than 60 percent of the vote — following a showdown that angered some key shareholders and raised questions about whether the company had inappropriately interfered in the decision.
Effissimo Capital Management, a Singapore-based hedge fund that holds about 10 percent of the company and had led the campaign to unseat its management team, subsequently called for an investigation into the outcome. Other shareholders agreed, voting, over management’s objections, to begin an independent inquiryin March.
Earlier this month, Toshiba announced that it had received a buyout offer from CVC Capital Partners for a reported $20 billion, a substantial premium on the company’s share price. The offer has raised questions of conflict of interest, as Mr. Kurumatani had previously served as president of CVC’s Japan office.
In recent years, Japanese companies have increasingly been the focus of activist investors from abroad, who believe that sclerotic management and opaque governance practices have prevented many of Japan’s blue chip firms from achieving their full value.
Hisako Ueno contributed reporting.
Dozens of companies are suddenly paying more attention to individual investors.
Small investors who buy single stocks have not been a major force in financial markets for the better part of half a century. They were growing in influence before the pandemic, partly because of the popularity of free trading apps such as Robinhood.
But with millions of Americans stuck at home during the pandemic, the trading trend escalated, Matt Phillips reports for The New York Times.
“Retail trading now accounts for almost as much volume as mutual funds and hedge funds combined,” Amelia Garnett, an executive at Goldman Sachs’s Global Markets Division, said on a recent podcast produced by the firm. “So, the retail impact is really meaningful right now.”
Tesla has long eschewed traditional communications with Wall Street. Ark Investment Management — the high-flying, tech-focused exchange-traded fund company run by the investor Cathie Wood — and Palantir Technologies, are also trying to reach small investors directly.
Before Lemonade, a company that sells insurance to consumers online, went public in July, it went on a traditional tour of Wall Street, meeting big investors and talking up its prospects. However, the company has since discovered that more than half of its shares are held by small investors, excluding insiders who own the stock, said Daniel Schreiber, its chief executive.
That has prompted a strategy adjustment. In addition to spending time communicating with analysts whose “buy” or “sell” ratings on the stock can move its price, Mr. Schreiber said, he has made a point of doing interviews on podcasts, websites and YouTube programs popular with retail investors.
“I think that they are, today, far more influential on, and command far more following in terms of stock buying or selling power than the mighty Goldman Sachs does,” Mr. Schreiber said. “And we’ve seen that in our own stock.”
The first woman to lead CBS News, Susan Zirinsky, is expected to announce that she is stepping down from the presidency of the network’s news division, possibly as soon as this week, a person with knowledge of the plan said on Tuesday. Ms. Zirinsky is expected to sign a production deal with the network’s parent company, ViacomCBS, to work on broadcast, cable and streaming programs, according to the person with knowledge of the details of her departure. Ms. Zirinsky, 69, was appointed in January 2019.
Epic Games, the video game developer that produced the hit game Fortnite, said Tuesday that it had raised $1 billion in funding, valuing the company at $28.7 billion. Sony, the creator of the PlayStation game console, invested $200 million, Epic said, and Appaloosa Management, Baillie Gifford and Fidelity Management were also among the investors. Epic’s most recent funding round came last summer, when it raised $1.78 billion to value the company at $17.3 billion. Sony invested $250 million at the time.
Two months after the storm crippled large swaths of Texas, insurers are sketching out a legal strategy to pin the costs on utilities and power companies that they say failed to adequately prepare for bitterly cold weather.
At stake could be more than $10 billion in insured losses for insurers and their business partners, as well as almost-certain premium increases for property owners if the insurers have to pay for the damage themselves, Mary Williams Walsh reports for The New York Times.
The insurers say the power companies and utilities failed to prepare for a major winter storm, even though past cold snaps and climate-change data had made the danger clear.
In 1989 and 2011, wintry weather caused so much damage that state and federal regulators spent months investigating the causes and issued detailed recommendations for hardening the electrical system against storms. “It doesn’t look like anybody did anything,” said Lawrence T. Bowman, a lawyer in Dallas who represents insurers in liability disputes.
But decades of deregulation have made the state’s power grid a dizzying web of companies that could make determining fault tricky. Insurers will also have to show that the damage was the result of “gross negligence.” And there are dozens of small companies in the supply chain — some of which have gone bankrupt since the storm — that interact with one another in myriad ways.
BRUSSELS — First it was AstraZeneca. Now Johnson & Johnson.
Last week, British regulators and the European Union’s medical agency said they had established a possible link between AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine and very rare, though sometimes fatal, blood clots.
On Tuesday, Johnson & Johnson said it would pause the rollout of its vaccine in Europe and the United States over similar concerns, further compounding the continent’s one-step-forward-two-steps-back efforts to quickly get people immunized against the coronavirus.
European officials had been confident that they had secured enough alternative vaccine doses to take up the slack of the AstraZeneca problems and achieve their goal of fully inoculating 70 percent of the European Union’s adult population — about 255 million people — by the end of the summer.
On Tuesday, European officials did not immediately say whether they believed the milestone would also survive the Johnson & Johnson suspension. But the European commissioner for health, Stella Kyriakides, wrote on Twitter that “Today’s developments with the J&J vaccine in the US are under close monitoring” by the bloc’s medicines regulator.
months of short supplies and logistical problems.
There is mounting evidence that the concerns are eroding Europeans’ willingness to get the AstraZeneca vaccine in particular, and threatening to elevate already high levels of vaccine hesitancy generally.
YouGov poll published last month, 61 percent of the French, 55 percent of Germans and 52 percent of Spaniards consider the AstraZeneca vaccine “unsafe.” That is in stark contrast to the findings of a similar poll from February, when more people in those countries, with the exception of France, believed that the shot was more safe than unsafe.
Regulators have asked vaccine recipients and doctors to be on the lookout for certain symptoms, including severe and persistent headaches and tiny blood spots under the skin. Doctors’ groups have circulated guidance about how to treat the disorder.
In Poland, where the vaccination campaign relies to a large extent on AstraZeneca and where its use has not been restricted, a recent poll showed that given a choice, fewer than 5 percent of Poles would choose the AstraZeneca shot.
Almost everywhere across the European Union, it seems, many are eager for alternatives, as the new types of vaccines that include the Moderna and Pfizer, which utilize science known as “mRNA,” have not been associated with similar side effects.
Data from the 27 E.U. member states by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control shows that over all, 80 percent of vaccine doses distributed to the bloc have already been administered. That share drops to 65 percent for AstraZeneca, however, suggesting that many of its doses are sitting unused.
Yet it is hard to predict how serious a blow the latest twist in the AstraZeneca saga — and the new Johnson & Johnson concerns — will be to E.U. vaccination efforts, as officials in Brussels have made big if belated efforts to turbocharge the second-quarter supply of doses.
The European Union is poised to receive at least 300 million doses of various vaccines, three times what it got in the first quarter. Two hundred million are slated to come from Pfizer/BioNTech. Moderna is expected to deliver 35 million doses. Another 55 million doses are due of the Johnson & Johnson jab, and 70 million from AstraZeneca.
In the rosiest scenario, the European Union could get up to 360 million doses by June.
On Thursday, after Spain’s government changed the age threshold for the AstraZeneca shot, two-thirds of people called up for vaccination in Madrid did not show up, Antonio Zapatero, the regional health minister, told a news conference on Friday.
He attributed the no-show by 18,200 people to “confusion” generated by Spain’s central government, which said on Wednesday that the AstraZeneca vaccine should be given only to people over 60. Before this change, Mr. Zapatero said, the rate of abstention was 2 percent.
In Belgium, where the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine has also been limited, the authorities said they did not expect major delays in the overall rollout, but they are still concerned about the confusion that the rare blood clotting issue is causing.
Yves Van Laethem, a top epidemiologist who is the country’s Covid task force spokesman, said he expected a two-week delay that would mostly affect younger age groups in late summer. He said the E.U. regulator guidance had only partly helped in clarifying the situation.
The European Medicines Agency’s opinion “wasn’t very clear, and it is also part of the problem,” Dr. Van Laethem said in an interview. “When you say, ‘We don’t apply limitations, but we just say there are serious side effects,’ there is part science and part diplomacy in that.”
He said the limited effect that the new AstraZeneca issues would have on Belgian’s rollout was in large part because the country had ordered big shares of other vaccines.
Although all E.U. countries have been offered a chunk of each vaccine approved in the bloc so far — AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer — many opted to forgo parts of their share of more expensive or cumbersome vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna early on, instead favoring the AstraZeneca jab.
“In Britain or Eastern Europe, a big part of the campaigns are based on AstraZeneca,” Dr. Van Laethem said.
Wealthier bloc members like Denmark, France, Germany and the Netherlands can better compensate for the loss of confidence in AstraZeneca, because they acquired extra doses of other vaccines — especially Pfizer — through a secondary market after poorer E.U. nations gave theirs up.
Those countries — including Bulgaria, Croatia, Latvia and Slovakia — are likely to be less able to quickly offer alternatives.
Dr. Van Laethem, the Belgian immunologist, said that the national and European authorities needed to better communicate the costs and benefits of taking the AstraZeneca dose versus and the other authorized vaccines.
Experts worry that even limited concerns over one vaccine’s unlikely side effects can affect people’s overall willingness to be immunized.
“The main thing is to make people understand that the problem is the virus,” he said. “We have to vaccinate people — the risk linked to the virus is higher than those rare side effects.”
Raphael Minder contributed reporting from Madrid and Constant Méheut from Paris.
Anyone who joined a video call during the pandemic probably has a global volunteer organization called the Internet Engineering Task Force to thank for making the technology work.
The group, which helped create the technical foundations of the internet, designed the language that allows most video to run smoothly online. It made it possible for someone with a Gmail account to communicate with a friend who uses Yahoo, and for shoppers to safely enter their credit card information on e-commerce sites.
Now the organization is tackling an even thornier issue: getting rid of computer engineering terms that evoke racist history, like “master” and “slave” and “whitelist” and “blacklist.”
But what started as an earnest proposal has stalled as members of the task force have debated the history of slavery and the prevalence of racism in tech. Some companies and tech organizations have forged ahead anyway, raising the possibility that important technical terms will have different meanings to different people — a troubling proposition for an engineering world that needs broad agreement so technologies work together.
Black Lives Matter protests, engineers at social media platforms, coding groups and international standards bodies re-examined their code and asked themselves: Was it racist? Some of their databases were called “masters” and were surrounded by “slaves,” which received information from the masters and answered queries on their behalf, preventing them from being overwhelmed. Others used “whitelists” and “blacklists” to filter content.
statement about the draft from Ms. Knodel and Mr. ten Oever. “Exclusionary language is harmful,” it said.
A month later, two alternative proposals emerged. One came from Keith Moore, an I.E.T.F. contributor who initially backed Ms. Knodel’s draft before creating his own. His cautioned that fighting over language could bottleneck the group’s work and argued for minimizing disruption.
The other came from Bron Gondwana, the chief executive of the email company Fastmail, who said he had been motivated by the acid debate on the mailing list.
“I could see that there was no way we would reach a happy consensus,” he said. “So I tried to thread the needle.”
Mr. Gondwana suggested that the group should follow the tech industry’s example and avoid terms that would distract from technical advances.
Last month, the task force said it would create a new group to consider the three drafts and decide how to proceed, and members involved in the discussion appeared to favor Mr. Gondwana’s approach. Lars Eggert, the organization’s chair and the technical director for networking at the company NetApp, said he hoped guidance on terminology would be issued by the end of the year.
MySQL, a type of database software, chose “source” and “replica” as replacements for “master” and “slave.” GitHub, the code repository owned by Microsoft, opted for “main” instead of “master.”
terms after Regynald Augustin, an engineer at the company, came across the word “slave” in Twitter’s code and advocated change.
But while the industry abandons objectionable terms, there is no consensus about which new words to use. Without guidance from the Internet Engineering Task Force or another standards body, engineers decide on their own. The World Wide Web Consortium, which sets guidelines for the web, updated its style guide last summer to “strongly encourage” members to avoid terms like “master” and “slave,” and the IEEE, an organization that sets standards for chips and other computing hardware, is weighing a similar change.
Other tech workers are trying to solve the problem by forming a clearinghouse for ideas about changing language. That effort, the Inclusive Naming Initiative, aims to provide guidance to standards bodies and companies that want to change their terminology but don’t know where to begin. The group got together while working on an open-source software project, Kubernetes, which like the I.E.T.F. accepts contributions from volunteers. Like many others in tech, it began the debate over terminology last summer.
“We saw this blank space,” said Priyanka Sharma, the general manager of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, a nonprofit that manages Kubernetes. Ms. Sharma worked with several other Kubernetes contributors, including Stephen Augustus and Celeste Horgan, to create a rubric that suggests alternative words and guides people through the process of making changes without causing systems to break. Several major tech companies, including IBM and Cisco, have signed on to follow the guidance.
email to task force participants, while a third remained up.
“We build consensus the hard way, so to speak, but in the end the consensus is usually stronger because people feel their opinions were reflected,” Mr. Eggert said. “I wish we could be faster, but on topics like this one that are controversial, it’s better to be slower.”
French curators had worked for a decade to prepare a major exhibition marking the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci. When it opened, though, the most talked-about painting they had planned to show — “Salvator Mundi,” the most expensive work ever sold at auction — was nowhere to be seen.
Plucked from shabby obscurity at a New Orleans estate sale, the painting had been sold in 2017 as a rediscovered “lost” Leonardo and fetched more than $450 million from an anonymous bidder who kept it hidden from view.The chance to see it at the Louvre museum’s anniversary show two years later had created a sensation in the international art world, and its absence whipped up a storm of new questions.
Had the Louvre concluded that the painting was not actually the work of Leonardo, as a vocal handful of scholars had insisted? Had the buyer — reported to be Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, though he had never acknowledged it — declined to include it in the show for fear of public scrutiny? The tantalizing notion that the brash Saudi prince might have gambled a fortune on a fraud had already inspired a cottage industry of books, documentaries, art world gossip columns, and even a proposed Broadway musical.
None of that was true.
In fact, the crown prince had secretly shipped the “Salvator Mundi” to the Louvre more than a year earlier, in 2018, according to several French officials and a confidential French report on its authenticity that was obtained by The New York Times. The report also states that the painting belongs to the Saudi Culture Ministry — something the Saudis have never acknowledged.
a 2011 Leonardo exhibition at the National Gallery in London that included the “Salvator Mundi.”
If the only painting were displayed, he explained, “people could decide for themselves by experiencing the picture.”
Believed to have been painted around 1500, “Salvator Mundi” was one of two similar works listed in an inventory of the collection of King Charles I of England after his execution in 1649. But the historical record of its ownership ends in the late 18th century.
the anonymous buyer was a surrogate for the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.
Now the controversy has made headlines again with the release of a new French documentary this past week claiming that the Louvre had concluded that Leonardo had “merely contributed” to the “Salvator Mundi.” Set to air on French television on Tuesday, the documentary features two disguised figures, identified as French government officials, asserting that Crown Prince Mohammed would not loan the painting to the anniversary exhibition because the Louvre refused to attribute the work fully to Leonardo.
by Alison Cole of The Art Newspaper. Scanned copies of the confidential report became prized possessions among prominent Leonardo experts across the world, and The New York Times obtained multiple copies.
Experts at the Center for Research and Restoration of the Museums of France, an independent culture ministry institute, used fluorescent X-rays, infrared scans and digital cameras aimed through high-powered microscopes to match signature details of the materials and artistic techniques in the “Salvator Mundi” with the Louvre’s other Leonardo masterpieces.
The thin plank of wood on which the “Salvator Mundi” was painted was the same type of walnut from Lombardy that Leonardo used in other works. The artist had mixed fine powdered glass in the paint, as Leonardo did in his later years.
Traces of hidden painting under the visible layers, details in the locks of Christ’s hair, and the shade of bright vermilion used in the shadows all pointed to the hand of Leonardo, the report concluded.
“All these arguments tend to favor the idea of an entirely ‘autographed’ work,” Vincent Delieuvin, one of two curators of the anniversary exhibition, wrote in a lengthy essay describing the examination, noting that the painting had been “unfortunately damaged by bad conservation” and by “old, unquestionably too brutal restorations.”
Jean-Luc Martinez, the Louvre president, was even more definitive. “The results of the historical and scientific study presented in this publication allow us to confirm the attribution of the work to Leonardo da Vinci,” he wrote in the preface. (His current term is set to end this month, and President Emmanuel Macron of France is overdue to announce whether he will extend Mr. Martinez’s tenure or appoint a new leader.)
The Louvre was so eager to include the “Salvator Mundi” in its anniversary exhibition that the curators planned to use an image of the painting for the front of its catalog, officials said.
But the Saudis’ insistence that the “Salvator Mundi” also be twinned with the “Mona Lisa” was asking too much, the French officials said.
Extraordinary security measures surrounding the “Mona Lisa” make the painting exceptionally difficult to move from its place on a special partition in the center of the Salle des États, a vast upstairs gallery. Placing a painting next to it would be impossible, the French officials argued.
Franck Riester, the French culture minister at the time, tried for weeks to mediate, proposing that as a compromise the “Salvator Mundi” could move close to the “Mona Lisa” after a period in the anniversary show, the French officials said. .
And even after the exhibition opened without the “Salvator Mundi,” in October 2019, French officials kept trying.
Prince Bader bin Farhan al-Saud, an old friend of Crown Prince Mohammed who had acted as his surrogate bidder for the “Salvator Mundi,” had later been named Saudi Arabia’s minister of culture. When he happened to visit to Paris, the French culture minister and Louvre president led him on a private tour of the museum and exhibition to try to persuade him to lend the painting, the French officials said.
A spokesman for the Saudi Embassy in Washington declined to comment.
A planned section of the catalog detailing the authentication was removed before publication, and the museum ordered that all copies of the report be locked away in storage.
Sophie Grange, a Louvre spokeswoman, said museum officials would be forbidden to discuss any such document because French rules prohibited disclosing any evaluation or authentication of works not shown in the museum.
Corinne Hershkovitch, a leading French art lawyer, said these “long-held traditions” had been “formalized by law in 2013, in a decree establishing the status of heritage conservators.”
But with the French refusing to talk about the painting and the Saudis refusing to show it, the proliferating questions about the painting have taken a toll, said Robert Simon, a New York art dealer involved in the rediscovery of the “Salvator Mundi.”
“It is soiled in a way,” he said, “because of all this unwarranted speculation.”
Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II and the longest-serving consort in British history, was born into Greek royalty in the 1920s, served on a battleship in World War II, toured the world on royal missions for decades and sought for most of his life to defend the interests of Britain’s monarchy.
His life spanned almost a century of upheaval and change for Britain: As a child, he lived with a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, and he died nearly 100 years old, survived by eight great grandchildren who will grow up in an era of smartphones and the internet.
Philip came to England after his father, Prince Andrew of Greece, was banished by a revolutionary Greek junta. He was educated at the Cheam School, an institution bent on toughening privileged children, and then went to Gordonstoun School in Scotland, which promoted a regimen of grueling work, cold showers and hard beds.
He met Princess Elizabeth when she was about 13 or 14. She was instantly smitten, telling her father, King George VI, that she could love no other man but him. They married on Nov. 20, 1947, when he was 26 and she was 21.
warning about greenhouse gases and lending his time to causes like protecting endangered wildlife.
But he grew to hate the relentless tabloid coverage of palace affairs. The public often perceived him as a remote if occasionally loose-lipped figure who made remarks that were called oblivious, insensitive or worse.
He was pained by the headlines that followed the tumultuous marriage and divorce of his eldest son, Prince Charles, and Lady Diana Spencer. He became known as a stern and even imperious figure in the royal family who belittled Charles, and he and the family were castigated by the public for their response to the death of Diana.
Philip died as Buckingham Palace was embroiled in turmoil over Oprah Winfrey’s televised interview last month with his grandson Prince Harry and Harry’s wife, Meghan.
Here is his life in pictures:
Philip on his ninth birthday, in Greek dress.
Philip, second from left, at the MacJannet American School in St. Cloud, France.
Philip and Elizabeth, then a princess, after their wedding ceremony on Nov. 20, 1947.
The couple in the grounds of Broadlands in Hampshire, where they spent their honeymoon, in 1947.
Elizabeth and Philip with their children, Prince Charles and Princess Anne, at Clarence House, in 1951.
The queen and prince in Boston in 1975.
Philip flying a Blackburn military transport plane a few minutes before a fire extinguisher burst in 1956. He landed the plane 10 minutes later.
Throwing a javelin during a visit to the Outward Bound Sea School, in Wales, in 1949.
Feeding a colony of penguins during a visit to the Antarctic.
Philip, an avid horseman and polo player, taking part in a bicycle polo game at Windsor.
Philip at a group therapy session at the National Addiction and Research Institute in London, in 1969.
A photo of the royal family in July 1969 shows Philip and the queen with their children: Charles, 21; Anne,18; Prince Andrew, 9; and Prince Edward, 5.
Philip in 1980 driving a team of horses through a water obstacle in the World Carriage Driving Championships at Windsor Great Park.
Speaking in 1986 at a banquet held by the Japanese Equestrian Federation in Tokyo, as the chairman of the International Equestrian Federation.
Philip and the queen ride in an open carriage down the course at the Royal Ascot in 1986. He regularly accompanied Elizabeth on royal visits and often stood in for her.
Philip and Elizabeth looking at tributes that had been left outside Buckingham Palace in memory of Princess Diana, who was killed in a car crash on Aug. 31, 1997.
Philip visiting the Richmond Adult Community College in June 2015 in London.
Elizabeth and Philip in Westminster, during the state opening of Parliament in 2012.
Philip, as colonel in chief of the Royal Canadian Regiment, inspecting members of a battalion at Queen’s Park.
Attending a garden party at Buckingham Palace in 2017.
Feeding an elephant named Donna after opening the new Centre for Elephant Care in Whipsnade, north of London, in 2017.
Philip and Elizabeth walking in Romsey, in southern England, in 2007.
Philip at a garden party held at Buckingham Palace in June 2014, when he was 93.
LONDON — For months, European countries have seesawed between craving and rebuffing AstraZeneca’s vaccine, with the shot’s fortunes rising and falling on spats over supply and on questions over the efficacy of the vaccine itself.
But few concerns have proved as disruptive to the rollout of the world’s workhorse vaccine in Europe as reports of very rare blood clots in some recipients. Many countries responded by halting the shot’s use, only to start giving it again after an all-clear from regulators at the European Medicines Agency, and then stopped inoculations a second time in certain age groups after doctors became more concerned about the clots.
On Tuesday, those concerns were reinforced yet again when a top vaccines official at the European Medicines Agency said that the vaccine was linked to extremely rare, though sometimes fatal, blood clots in a small number of recipients. It was the first indication from an international regulatory body that the clots may be a real, if very unusual, side effect of the shot.
Regulators now appear to be considering issuing their first formal warnings about the potential side effects — not only in continental Europe, which has long been wary of the shot for political and scientific reasons, but also in Britain, the birthplace of the AstraZeneca vaccine and long its biggest champion, where new data have sown concerns as well.
speedy inoculation program,have also insisted that the vaccine’s benefits far outweighed the risks. They and the company cited a lack of evidence in Britain that the clotting events were any more common than would be expected among people who had never been given AstraZeneca’s vaccine.
But the evidence changed last week when Britain reported 30 cases of the rare blood clots, 25 more than previously. This week, a prominent scientific adviser to the British government said there was “increasing evidence” of the clots being associated with the vaccine.
regulators reported 30 cases of the rare blood clots combined with low platelets among 18 million people given the AstraZeneca vaccine. That translated to roughly one case in 600,000 recipients of the vaccine.
European countries’ divergent approaches to the vaccine stem from a number of factors, including the supply of vaccines and severity of the pandemic. Marco Cavaleri, the official at the European Medicines Agency who spoke about the link between the vaccine and blood clots, said on Tuesday that those factors would likely continue to dictate how countries used the shot.
Beyond those factors, countries also took very different approaches to managing risk, scientists said. Countries that have continued using the shot were more focused on securing the overall health of their citizens. Others were more preoccupied with minimizing the risk to any single person.
“The attitude here is more, ‘Get me out of the pandemic,’” said Penny Ward, a visiting professor in pharmaceutical medicine at King’s College London, referring to the British approach. In continental Europe, she said, “There seems to be a much higher emphasis on individual safety in the population.”
Adriano Mannino, a philosopher at the University of Munich and director of the Solon Center for Policy Innovation in Germany, said that the collective benefits of the vaccine dominated thinking in Britain, while Germans were more concerned with the risk of an injection going wrong in individual cases. That reflected, partly, Germany’s history with the Nazis, who conducted lethal experiments on people.
“In many areas where law has to regulate ethically delicate and potentially dangerous things,” he said, “the German state has tended to go for tough restrictions.”
Nevertheless, Germans over 60 — the age group still being given AstraZeneca’s vaccine — flooded hotlines to book appointments and stood in line for hours in recent days as eligibility restrictions for their age group were relaxed.
In the northeastern city of Wismar, several hundred people waited for up to five hours on Tuesday in a driving wind and mix of rain and snow to receive the shot.
“I wish there had been better weather,” Kerstin Weiss, the head of the district authority in the northeastern region, told public broadcaster NDR. “But honestly, this is a sign that people are willing to be vaccinated with AstraZeneca.”
Benjamin Mueller reported from London and Melissa Eddy from Berlin. Monika Pronczuk and Emma Bubola contributed reporting.
“Many people in the states would be surprised to hear that broadband for rural areas no longer counts,” said Anita Dunn, a senior adviser to Mr. Biden in the White House. “We think that the people in Jackson, Miss., might be surprised to hear that fixing that water system doesn’t count as infrastructure. We think the people of Texas might disagree with the idea that the electric grid isn’t infrastructure that needs to be built with resilience for the 21st century.”
White House officials said that much of Mr. Biden’s plan reflected the reality that infrastructure had taken on a broader meaning as the nature of work changes, focusing less on factories and shipping goods and more on creating and selling services.
Other economists back the idea that the definition has changed.
Dan Sichel, an economics professor at Wellesley College and a former Federal Reserve research official, said it could be helpful to think of what comprises infrastructure as a series of concentric circles: a basic inner band made up of roads and bridges, a larger social ring of schools and hospitals, then a digital layer including things like cloud computing. There could also be an intangible layer, like open-source software or weather data.
“It is definitely an amorphous concept,” he said, but basically “we mean key economic assets that support and enable economic activity.”
The economy has evolved since the 1950s: Manufacturers used to employ about a third of the work force but now count for just 8.5 percent of jobs in the United States. Because the economy has changed, it is important that our definitions are updated, Mr. Sichel said.
The debate over the meaning of infrastructure is not new. In the days of the New Deal-era Tennessee Valley Authority, academics and policymakers sparred over whether universal access to electricity was necessary public infrastructure, said Shane M. Greenstein, an economist at Harvard Business School whose recent research focuses on broadband.
“Washington has an attention span of several weeks, and this debate is a century old,” he said. These days, he added, it is about digital access instead of clean water and power.