As Jerome H. Powell’s term as the chair of the Federal Reserve nears its expiration, President Biden’s decision over whether to keep him in the job has grown more complicated amid Senator Elizabeth Warren’s vocal opposition to his leadership and an ethics scandal that has engulfed his central bank.
Mr. Powell, whose four-year term as chair expires early next year, continues to have a good chance of being reappointed because he has earned respect within the White House for his aggressive use of the Fed’s tools in the wake of the pandemic recession, people familiar with the administration’s internal discussions said.
But the decision and the timing of an announcement remain subject to an unusually high level of uncertainty, even for a top economic appointment. The White House will most likely announce Mr. Biden’s choice in the coming weeks, but that, too, is tenuous.
The administration is preoccupied with other major priorities, including passing spending legislation and lifting the nation’s debt limit. But the uncertainty also reflects growing complications around Mr. Powell’s renomination. Ms. Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, has blasted his track record on big bank regulation and last week called him a “dangerous man” to lead the central bank.
Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate whether the transactions amounted to insider trading. “The responsibility to safeguard the integrity of the Federal Reserve rests squarely with him.”
Asked on Tuesday whether he had confidence in Mr. Powell, the president said he did but that he was still catching up on events.
The White House’s decision over Mr. Powell’s future is pending at a critical moment for the U.S. economy. Millions of jobs are still missing compared with before the pandemic, and inflation has jumped higher as strong demand clashes with supply chain disruptions, presenting dueling challenges for the Fed chair to navigate. The Fed’s next leader will also shape its involvement in climate finance policy, a possible central bank digital currency and the response to the central bank’s ethics dilemma.
“This is starting to feel like an incredibly consequential time for the Fed,” said Dennis Kelleher, the chief executive of Better Markets, a group that has been critical of the Fed’s deregulatory moves in recent years and has criticized it for insufficient ethical oversight.
26 transactions, albeit all in broad-based funds. He also noted that Lael Brainard, a Fed governor and a longtime favorite to replace Mr. Powell if he is not reappointed, did not report any transactions year.
“If you’re trying to go above and beyond, and be beyond reproach, not trading is the better option,” Mr. Hauser said.
bought and sold individual stocks, his 2017 disclosures showed. Ms. Brainard herself has in the past made broad-based transactions. It was the Fed’s more expansive role in 2020 that spurred the backlash.
Agencies often need a “wake-up call” to notice evolving problems with their oversight rules, said Norman Eisen, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and an ethics adviser in President Barack Obama’s White House.
“My own view is that Chair Powell is pivoting briskly to address the weaknesses in the Fed’s ethics system,” he said.
enabled big banks to become more intertwined with venture capital.
Critics say reappointing Mr. Powell amounts to retaining that more hands-off regulatory approach. And some progressive groups suggest that if Mr. Powell stays in place, Mr. Quarles will feel emboldened to stick around: He has hinted that he might stay on as a Fed governor once his leadership term ends.
That would mean four of seven Fed Board officials — a majority — would remain Republican-appointed. Two other governors — Michelle W. Bowman and Christopher J. Waller — were nominated by President Donald J. Trump.
During Mr. Powell’s Senate testimony last week, Ms. Warren said renominating him as chair meant “gambling that, for the next five years, a Republican majority at the Federal Reserve, with a Republican chair who has regularly voted to deregulate Wall Street, won’t drive this economy over a financial cliff again.”
Even without Ms. Warren’s approval, Mr. Powell would most likely draw enough support to clear the Senate Banking Committee, the first step before the full Senate could vote on his nomination, because of his continued backing from the committee’s Republicans. But having a powerful Democratic opponent whose support the administration needs on other legislative priorities is not helpful.
The Fed chair does have some powerful allies in the administration, including Ms. Yellen, the Treasury secretary. But the decision rests with Mr. Biden.
“I know he will talk to many people and consider a wide range of evidence and opinions,” Ms. Yellen said on CNBC on Tuesday.
“I fully complied with Treasury Department conflicts rules by not meeting with PwC representatives” during a two-year “cooling off” period that restricts government officials from meeting with their former employers, Mr. Harter said. Although he was involved in the construction of the offshore tax break and met with corporate lobbyists, Mr. Harter said he did not recall meeting with Ms. Olson or other PwC officials on the topic.
Ms. Olson referred questions to PwC.
An Inside Track
The 2017 tax overhaul included a provision that let some people take a 20 percent tax deduction on certain types of business income. But the law — known as Section 199A — largely excluded an undefined category of “brokerage services.” In 2018, lobbyists for several industries, including real estate and insurance, visited the Treasury to try to persuade officials that the broker prohibition should not apply to them.
On Aug. 1, records show, Ms. Ellis met with her former PwC colleague, Mr. Feuerstein, and three other lobbyists for his client, the National Association of Realtors. They wanted real estate brokers to qualify for the 20 percent deduction.
The meeting took place before the first draft of the proposed rules was even made public, which meant that, right off the bat, Ms. Ellis’s former PwC colleague and his client had an inside track.
When the Treasury published its first version of the proposed rules a week later, real estate brokers were eligible. The National Association of Realtors took credit for the victory on its website. (The final rules applied only to brokers of stocks and other securities.)
Ms. Ellis’s meeting with Mr. Feuerstein appeared to violate a federal ethics rule that restricts government officials from meeting with their former private sector colleagues, said Don Fox, the acting director of the Office of Government Ethics during the Obama administration and, before that, a lawyer in Republican and Democratic administrations.
Mr. Fox described the meeting as improper. “It certainly is going to call into question how that regulation was drafted,” he said. “There’s no way to undo the taint that is now going to be attached to that.”
None of those transactions took place between late March and May 1, a Fed official said, which would have curbed Mr. Kaplan’s ability to use information about the coming rescue programs to earn a profit.
But the trades drew attention for other reasons. Mr. Conti-Brown pointed out that Mr. Kaplan was buying and selling oil company shares just as the Fed was debating what role it should play in regulating climate-related finance. And everything the Fed did in 2020 — like slashing rates to near zero and buying trillions in government-backed debt — affected the stock market, sending equity prices higher.
“It’s really bad for the Fed, people are going to seize on it to say that the Fed is self-dealing,” said Sam Bell, a founder of Employ America, a group focused on economic policy. “Here’s a guy who influences monetary policy, and he’s making money for himself in the stock market.”
Mr. Perli noted that Mr. Kaplan’s financial activity included trading in a corporate bond exchange-traded fund, which is effectively a bundle of company debt that trades like a stock. The Fed bought shares in that type of fund last year.
Other key policymakers, including the New York Fed president, John C. Williams, reported much less financial activity in 2020, based on disclosures published or provided by their reserve banks. Mr. Williams told reporters on a call on Wednesday that he thought transparency measures around trading activity were critical.
“If you’re asking should those policies be reviewed or changed, I think that’s a broader question that I don’t have a particular answer for right now,” Mr. Williams said.
Washington-based board officials reported some financial activity, but it was more limited. Jerome H. Powell, the Fed chair, reported 41 recorded transactions made by him or on his or his family’s behalf in 2019, and 26 in 2020, but those were typically in index funds and other relatively broad investment strategies. Randal K. Quarles, the Fed’s vice chair for supervision, recorded purchases and sales of Union Pacific stock from 2019 in his 2020 disclosure. Those stocks were assets of Mr. Quarles’s wife and he had no involvement in the transactions, a Fed spokesman said.
HANOVER, N.H. — Sirey Zhang, a first-year student at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine, was on spring break in March when he received an email from administrators accusing him of cheating.
Dartmouth had reviewed Mr. Zhang’s online activity on Canvas, its learning management system, during three remote exams, the email said. The data indicated that he had looked up course material related to one question during each test, honor code violations that could lead to expulsion, the email said.
Mr. Zhang, 22, said he had not cheated. But when the school’s student affairs office suggested he would have a better outcome if he expressed remorse and pleaded guilty, he said he felt he had little choice but to agree. Now he faces suspension and a misconduct mark on his academic record that could derail his dream of becoming a pediatrician.
“What has happened to me in the last month, despite not cheating, has resulted in one of the most terrifying, isolating experiences of my life,” said Mr. Zhang, who has filed an appeal.
Dartmouth recently accused of cheating on remote tests while in-person exams were shut down because of the coronavirus. The allegations have prompted an on-campus protest, letters of concern to school administrators from more than two dozen faculty members and complaints of unfair treatment from the student government, turning the pastoral Ivy League campus into a national battleground over escalating school surveillance during the pandemic.
insecure, unfair and inaccurate.
cease using the exam-monitoring tools.
“These kinds of technical solutions to academic misconduct seem like a magic bullet,” said Shaanan Cohney, a cybersecurity lecturer at the University of Melbourne who researches remote learning software. But “universities which lack some of the structure or the expertise to understand these issues on a deeper level end up running into really significant trouble.”
At Dartmouth, the use of Canvas in the cheating investigation was unusual because the software was not designed as a forensic tool. Instead, professors post assignments on it and students submit their homework through it.
That has raised questions about Dartmouth’s methodology. While some students may have cheated, technology experts said, it would be difficult for a disciplinary committee to distinguish cheating from noncheating based on the data snapshots that Dartmouth provided to accused students. And in an analysis of the Canvas software code, The Times found instances in which the system automatically generated activity data even when no one was using a device.
“If other schools follow the precedent that Dartmouth is setting here, any student can be accused based on the flimsiest technical evidence,” said Cooper Quintin, senior staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights organization, who analyzed Dartmouth’s methodology.
Seven of the 17 accused students have had their cases dismissed. In at least one of those cases, administrators said, “automated Canvas processes are likely to have created the data that was seen rather than deliberate activity by the user,” according to a school email that students made public.
The 10 others have been expelled, suspended or received course failures and unprofessional-conduct marks on their records that could curtail their medical careers. Nine pleaded guilty, including Mr. Zhang, according to school documents; some havefiled appeals.
Dr. Compton acknowledged that the investigation had caused distress on campus. But he said Geisel, founded in 1797 and one of the nation’s oldest medical schools, was obligated to hold its students accountable.
“We take academic integrity very seriously,” he said. “We wouldn’t want people to be able to be eligible for a medical license without really having the appropriate training.”
Instructure, the company that owns Canvas, did not return requests for comment.
A Hunt Begins
In January, a faculty member reported possible cheating during remote exams, Dr. Compton said. Geisel opened an investigation.
To hinder online cheating, Geisel requires students to turn on ExamSoft — a separate tool that prevents them from looking up study materials during tests — on the laptop or tablet on which they take exams. The school also requires students to keep a backup device nearby. The faculty member’s report made administrators concerned that some students may have used their backup device to look at course material on Canvas while taking tests on their primary device.
administrators held a virtual forum and were barraged with questions about the investigation. The conduct review committee then issued decisions in 10 of the cases, telling several students that they would be expelled, suspending others and requiring some to retake courses or repeat a year of school at a cost of nearly $70,000.
Many on campus were outraged. On April 21, dozens of students in white lab coats gathered in the rain in front of Dr. Compton’s office to protest. Some held signs that said “BELIEVE YOUR STUDENTS” and “DUE PROCESS FOR ALL” in indigo letters, which dissolved in the rain into blue splotches.
Several students said they were now so afraid of being unfairly targeted in a data-mining dragnet that they had pushed the medical school to offer in-person exams with human proctors. Others said they had advised prospective medical students against coming to Dartmouth.
“Some students have built their whole lives around medical school and now they’re being thrown out like they’re worthless,” said Meredith Ryan, a fourth-year medical student not connected to the investigation.
That same day, more than two dozen members of Dartmouth’s faculty wrote a letter to Dr. Compton saying that the cheating inquiry had created “deep mistrust” on campus and that the school should “make amends with the students falsely accused.”
In an email to students and faculty a week later, Dr. Compton apologized that Geisel’s handling of the cases had “added to the already high levels of stress and alienation” of the pandemic and said the school was working to improve its procedures.
The medical school has already made one change that could reduce the risk of false cheating allegations. For remote exams, new guidelines said, students are now “expected to log out of Canvas on all devices prior to testing.”
Mr. Zhang, the first-year student, said the investigation had shaken his faith in an institution he loves. He had decided to become a doctor, he said, to address disparities in health care access after he won a fellowship as a Dartmouth undergraduate to study medicine in Tanzania.
Mr. Zhang said he felt compelled to speak publicly to help reform a process he found traumatizing.
“I’m terrified,” he said. “But if me speaking up means that there’s at least one student in the future who doesn’t have to feel the way that I did, then it’s all worthwhile.”
The next major flash point over coronavirus response has already provoked cries of tyranny and discrimination in Britain, protests in Denmark, digital disinformation in the United States and geopolitical skirmishing within the European Union.
The subject of debate: vaccine passports — government-issued cards or smartphone badges stating that the bearer has been inoculated against the coronavirus.
The idea is to allow families to reunite, economies to restart and hundreds of millions of people who have received a shot to return to a degree of normalcy, all without spreading the virus. Some versions of the documentation might permit bearers to travel internationally. Others would allow entry to vaccinated-only spaces like gyms, concert venues and restaurants.
While such passports are still hypothetical in most places, Israel became the first to roll out its own last week, capitalizing on its high vaccination rate. Several European countries are considering following. President Biden has asked federal agencies to explore options. And some airlines and tourism-reliant industries and destinations expect to require them.
wrote in Scientific American. But with vaccines distributed unequally by race, class and nationality, “it is not obvious that they are ethical.”
Still, there are clear upsides: grandparents reuniting with out-of-town grandchildren; sports, concerts and other events partly but safely returning; resumption of international travel and some tourism; businesses reopened without putting workers at undue risk.
All of that is why, Drs. Hassoun and Herlitz wrote, vaccine documents “may be inevitable.”
Widening Society’s Divides
Some countries require proof of vaccination — for example, against yellow fever — to enter. So do schools and day-care facilities in many American states.
higher rates. In Western countries, those communities tend to be white and well-off.
This evokes an uncomfortable image: professional-class white people disproportionately allowed into shops, baseball games and restaurants, with people of color and members of the working classes disproportionately kept out. If workplaces require proof of vaccination, it could tilt employment as well.
“If vaccines become a passport to doing different things, we’re going to see the communities that have been already hardest hit by Covid being left behind,” said Nicole A. Errett, a University of Washington public health expert.
said that they hope to set a policy this summer for accepting vaccine passports.
urging governments to wait for international standards on the passports before opening up travel, lest uneven standards lead to unsafe practices or geopolitical gamesmanship.
“A challenge since the beginning has been getting countries to do what’s best for the world instead of what’s best for people inside of their borders,” Dr. Errett said.
Witness the maneuvering within the European Union, whose 27 countries share long borders but have starkly different economic needs and vaccination rates.
Southern European states like Spain and Greece, which rely on tourism, are pushing for the bloc to adopt the documents. German and French officials have expressed reservations, at least for now. Their countries have lower vaccination rates, meaning that travel restrictions would put their residents at a relative disadvantage.
A Struggle Over Mandates
When Britain’s foreign secretary speculated recently that proof of vaccination might be required for pubs and stores, a lawmaker in his own party, Mark Harper, retorted, “I don’t think you want to require people to have to have a particular medical procedure before they can go about their day-to-day life.”
California’s vaccine struggle, over whether to tighten school requirements after measles and whooping cough outbreaks highlighted the state’s low immunization rates, offers a worrying preview.
one-third of Americans, in one poll, predominantly Republicans — are merely hesitant. The push to achieve herd immunity will depend on that third.
A Muddled Mission
One problem: There is no agreement on the primary purpose of a vaccine passport program.
Governments typically talk about them as a way to open up economies. Individuals, as a way to re-enter normal life. Public health experts, as a way to reduce transmissions.
Those goals align, but imperfectly. At some point, the authorities have to prioritize.
Dr. Errett ticked through implementation questions, broadly unknown, that could force an answer. Would you need two doses to get the document or just one? Do Russian- or Chinese-made vaccines qualify? What are the rules for religious or medical opt-outs? Are some activities restricted to card-carriers until herd immunity, just until infections fall below a certain line — or forever?
“We need to be cognizant of the costs and benefits,” she said, and not just to adjust as we go, but for “the precedent we’re setting.”
“We pandemic people,” she said, “have been saying it since the beginning: We don’t expect this to be the last pandemic that we see.”
Matina Stevis-Gridneff contributed reporting from Brussels.
Volkswagen said on Friday that it would seek financial compensation from its former chief executive and the former head of the Audi division, accusing them of failing to act after learning that diesel vehicles sold in the United States were fitted with illegal emissions-cheating software.
The decision by the German carmaker’s supervisory board marks a turnabout. Volkswagen had been reluctant to publicly accuse former top managers of complicity in the emissions fraud, which has cost Volkswagen tens of billions of euros in fines, settlements and legal fees.
At the same time, the supervisory board said it found “no breaches of duty” by other executives who were members of Volkswagen’s management board in September 2015, when the scandal came to light.
That group includes Herbert Diess, now the chief executive of Volkswagen, who had joined the company two months earlier from BMW. Hans Dieter Pötsch, now chairman of the supervisory board, was chief financial officer and a member of the Volkswagen management board at the time, a position he had held for more than a decade.
Martin Winterkorn, the former chief executive, failed “to comprehensively and promptly clarify the circumstances behind the use of unlawful software functions” after learning about the misconduct in July 2015.
Mr. Winterkorn, who resigned shortly after the emissions fraud became public, also failed to ensure that questions by U.S. authorities “were answered truthfully, completely and without delay,” the supervisory board said. Shareholders suffered damages as a result, the board said, although it did not say how much money the company will try to recover.
Mr. Winterkorn’s lawyers said in a statement Friday that he denied the accusations and had done everything possible “to avoid or minimize damage” to Volkswagen.
The Volkswagen board said it also concluded that Rupert Stadler, former chief executive of the Audi luxury car division, was negligent because he failed to investigate the use of illegal software in diesel vehicles sold in the European Union.
Mr. Winterkorn and Mr. Stadler face criminal charges in Germany that revolve around the same circumstances. Mr. Winterkorn’s trial was scheduled to begin in April, but judges in the case postponed it this week until September, citing the pandemic.
Mr. Stadler has been on trial in Munich since last year on charges that, even after the wrongdoing came to light, he allowed Audi to continue selling cars that were programmed to recognize when an official emissions test was underway and dial up emissions controls to make the car appear compliant. The cars were not capable of consistently meeting pollution standards.
Mr. Stadler’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In the past, Mr. Stadler has denied wrongdoing.
Charlie Oppler, the president of the National Association of Realtors, issued a statement on Jan. 6., condemning the assault on the Capitol, but no formal actions have been taken against brokers involved in the siege. Responding to a query about the trade association’s position, Wesley Shaw, a spokesman for the association, wrote that the organization was closely following the legal proceedings connected to the breach and was “committed to taking any action that is deemed appropriate and in the best interest of our association,” but deferred membership qualification decisions to the group’s local associations.
With 1.4 million members, the association is the country’s largest trade organization, representing about half of all licensed real estate agents in the United States. Far from avoiding politics, the organization’s Realtor Political Action Committee is the largest PAC operated on behalf of a trade association in the United States, Mr. Shaw said, giving close to $4 million annually to political candidates on both sides of the aisle who support real estate interests. The association encourages members to get involved in their communities, and to speak out on issues related to housing and property rights. But some may have become too outspoken.
In a year of political and social unrest, the association has been grappling with a wave of social media discourse that became so inflammatory it drove the association to update its code of ethics last November, banning all discriminatory behavior by its members.
After George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police last May and the protests that followed, Realtor associations around the country were flooded with complaints about agents posting racist and sexist messages on their social media sites.
Calling out this activity last June, Jennifer Pino, then president of the Atlanta Realtors Association, wrote to the national association: “We cannot continue to allow the Realtor brand to be damaged by these hateful few. This must be stopped.”
“Realtors were being outwardly discriminatory on social media while supposedly adhering to Fair Housing rules,” said Ms. Pino, 49, managing broker at Sotheby’s International Realty’s Buckhead office. “If you were holding an open house, and you had expressed genuine hate for a protected class on social media, how could you possibly treat those people fairly?”
Over the next several months, the association held numerous internal meetings and online forums seeking input to amend the code. In October, Matt Difanis, an Illinois broker who was then chairman of the organization’s professional standards committee, released a video on YouTube where he shared examples from what he called “the mountain of hate speech” posted by agents. The sampling included messages like “I think Black people bring out the worst in us,” and “homosexuals and lesbians are murderers, according to the scripture.”
Malaysia’s former prime minister Najib Razak is appealing last year’s conviction on charges of stealing hundreds of millions of dollars. And he is fighting similar charges in four more trials. But there is one violationhe freely admits: breaking a coronavirus rulein a restaurant.
“I confess,” he wrote on his Facebook page on Friday. “I accept both criticism and insight.”
Mr. Najib’s infraction occurred when he went to eat at the Chee Meng Chicken Rice Shop in Kuala Lumpur but did not register with a phone app, as required, on arrival. He called it an “accidental mistake.”
A video widely shared on social media showed him and his entourage casually strolling into the restaurant.
He encouraged the authorities to issue the appropriate fine of about $365, and said he would take advantage of an “early-bird” specialoffered by the government. If he pays the fine within seven days, he noted, he would get a 50 percent discount.
1Malyasia Development Berhad or 1MDB, Mr. Najib ruling coalition lost its grip on power in the 2018 elections for the first time since independence in 1957. He was ousted as prime minister but re-elected to Parliament by his district.
He has been accused of siphoning off at least $4.5 billion from the fund, which he created and oversaw. Much of the money is said to have ended up in his personal back account and in the possession of family members.
In July, he was found guilty on seven corruption counts and sentenced to up to 12 years in prison. He was also fined nearly $50 million.
In October, one of his trials recessed for two weeks because Mr. Najib was required to go into quarantine after traveling to the state of Sabah, a coronavirus hot spot at the time. He faces more than two dozen corruption charges in that trial.
Mr. Najib, who is attempting to restore his reputation, appeared to be usingthe incident at the chicken rice shop as a way of highlighting the special treatment received by other high-ranking officials who have violated coronavirus regulations without penalties.
“No double standard in my case,” he said. “Other people, other parties, ministers I don’t know.”
European health agencies this week faced, with millions of lives in the balance, a staggeringly high-stakes incarnation of what ethicists call the trolley problem.
Imagine standing at a railway switch. If you do nothing, a trolley barreling down the track will hit three people in its path. If you pull the lever, the trolley will divert to an alternate track with one person. Which option is morally preferable: deliberately killing one person or passively allowing three to die?
In Europe’s version, German regulators identified seven cases of a rare cerebral blood clot, three of them fatal, out of 1.6 million who had received the AstraZeneca vaccine. Regulators had no proof they were linked, only a statistical anomaly. Still, continuing vaccinations might make them responsible for putting a handful of people in harm’s way — like pulling the lever on the trolley tracks.
Instead, the German authorities withdrew approval for the vaccine starting Monday. Neighboring countries followed, waiting for the European Union drug regulator to deem the vaccine safe, which it did on Thursday.
a third viral wave claiming thousands of lives per day in Europe, even a brief pause seemed all but certain to imperil many more lives than the unproven, very rare side effect.
Still, medical ethics can be tricky. Experts tend to view Europe’s decision as either an understandable, if risky, cost-benefit calculation or, as the Oxford University ethicist Jeff McMahan put it, “a disastrous mistake.”
Dr. McMahan, who studies life-or-death dilemmas, said that the extra Covid deaths likely to occur would “be by omission, or by not doing anything, rather than by causing. But you have to ask, does that make any difference in this context?”
But Ruth Faden, a Johns Hopkins University bioethicist and vaccine policy expert, called the pause “an extremely tough call.”
“If the only thing that mattered was deploying the vaccine in such a way as to reduce severe disease and death as quickly as possible, then you just go ahead,” Dr. Faden said. But it isn’t. While countries that continued vaccinations “probably made the right call,” she said, Germany and others faced real considerations around public trust and ethical duty.
principle calls for pausing any policy that might bring unforeseen harms in order to study those harms before proceeding. Imposing blind risk, however small, on unknowing citizens would be wrong.
But Dr. Persad said that he had “never really been able to make sense of how you would apply that principle in a pandemic.”
For one, even if vaccinations did carry some risk or uncertainty, the risk and uncertainty introduced by withholding them, therefore allowing cases to spread, was surely higher. It was not as if infections paused for bureaucratic process.
For another, vaccinations are voluntary.
“This is not a case where you’re imposing risk on unconsenting people,” Dr. Persad said, and therefore violating the precautionary principle. “You’re allowing people to consensually protect themselves from a big risk by taking a very small one.”
struck by lightning could be considered impermissible under that oath.
“But when the alternative to doing a small amount of harm is allowing a vast amount of harm, then the ‘do no harm’ slogan is a poor guide to policy,” said Dr. McMahan, the Oxford ethicist.
And while “first, do no harm” can feel like an iron law of medical ethics, it is in fact primarily a professional code of conduct. For centuries, it has reflected an inborn human bias that sees affirmatively causing harm as categorically different than passively allowing it.
already high in Europe, especially toward the AstraZeneca shot, on which Europe has built its plans. The proportion of people willing to get the shot has, in some polls, dropped significantly below the 70 percent needed to achieve herd immunity.
“High-profile, vivid events that are really scary have a way of controlling the public imagination,” Dr. Faden said.
Johnson & Johnson with a lower efficacy rate than two-shot variants, health officials hailed its simpler distribution as a breakthrough in the push for herd immunity. Americans have largely gone along.
“We don’t always see it,” Dr. Persad said of these ethical trade-offs, “but it actually comes up all the time.”
Foremost, the company Mr. Chao ran until 2018 and which is now run by Ms. Chao’s sister, Angela, has received hundreds of millions of dollars in loan commitments from a bank run by the Chinese government to build new dry-bulk freight ships at Chinese government-owned shipyards. In January 2017, Angela Chao became a director of Bank of China, one of the country’s top four lenders.
The planning for the trip to China included discussions of a meeting with Mr. Chao and a “former high-level Chinese official” who had been one of his school classmates and now lived in Shanghai, the inspector general’s report said. The report does not name the former government official, but Jiang Zemin, the former Chinese president, attended the same university as Mr. Chao in the late 1940s in Shanghai. That school — Shanghai Jiao Tong University — was on the planned itinerary.
Mr. Chao regularly met Mr. Jiang on his trips to China. During Mr. Jiang’s tenure at the head of the ruling Communist Party from 1989 to 2002, the two met at least six times, The Times reported in 2019. Notably, Mr. Jiang received Mr. Chao and his wife at a villa inside the Communist Party’s Beijing leadership compound in late August 1989, near the site of the bloody Tiananmen Square crackdown that had taken place less than three months earlier.
Ms. Chao’s trip was ultimately canceled only a few weeks before it was scheduled to take place — and after airline tickets had been purchased — when State Department officials raised their own ethics concerns.
Four days before Mr. Rosen took part in the discussion on ethical issues, Ms. Chao was present with her father and sister at New York’s Harvard Club for the signing of a contract with a Japanese shipbuilder to deliver two freighters to Foremost, according to a report by a Chinese news media company.
In 2018, staff members from Ms. Chao’s office helped edit chapters from a biography of Mr. Chao, even though one “staffer acknowledged the publication did not have any D.O.T.-specific nexus,” the inspector general’s report said. After helping edit the book, Ms. Chao’s staff then built a marketing strategy targeting journalists to “build Dr. Chao’s profile,” and other organizations such as Columbia University and the shipping industry publication Lloyd’s List to promote her family.
Steven G. Bradbury, who was the Transportation Department’s general counsel at the time, told investigators that he was “aware of the topic,” related the family book that agency staff members had worked on, “but it would not be appropriate for the secretary to direct subordinates to work on these publications.”