Prince Philip, Style Icon

There is a moment in the first season of “The Crown” when the actor Matt Smith, as the perennially tetchy consort of Queen Elizabeth II, bristles at the constraints of his job. With a case of lockjaw severe enough to cause concern for his molars, Mr. Smith portrays the Duke of Edinburgh (whom the queen would not make a prince until five years after she succeeded to the throne) as an arch complainer, a man who views the 20th-century monarchy as little more than “a coat of paint” on a crumbling Empire.

Prince Philip, who died at age 99 on April 9, may have been wrapped in a cloak of dramatic hooey to become a character in the hit Netflix series. Yet the role, as written, is rooted in established fact.

Headstrong by reputation, opinionated, notoriously brusque (and often, in public, misogynistic and racist), Prince Philip was also in important ways the model of a company man. By the time he stepped down from his official royal duties in August 2017, he had spent seven decades obediently working for the Firm, a term for the royal family credited to the Queen’s father, King George VI. Fulfilling the requirements of a job for which there is no precise standard, unless you consider second fiddle a job description, the prince slogged through a staggering 22,219 solo public engagements over his long lifetime. In doing so, he navigated the most challenging of corporate dress codes for more than 65 years.

The brief was clear from the outset: The queen’s consort should be impeccable yet unassuming, irreproachable in style without drawing your eye away from the one of the richest, and certainly the most famous, woman on earth. If the clothes Queen Elizabeth II wore in public were engineered to meet programmatic requirements — bright colors and lofty hats to make this diminutive human easy to spot; symbolically freighted jewelry (the Japanese pearl choker, the Burmese ruby tiara, the Obama brooch!); symbols and metaphors embroidered onto her gowns — those of Prince Philip were tailored to keep him faultlessly inconspicuous.

As a clotheshorse, he had certain natural advantages, of course.

“He was staggeringly good-looking, tall and athletic,” said Nick Sullivan, the creative director of Esquire. “That never does any harm when it comes to wearing clothes.”

Beyond that, though, were a series of confident and knowing choices. For decades, the prince’s suits were made for him by John N. Kent, a Savile Row artisan who began his tailoring apprenticeship at 15. The prince’s shirts came from Stephens Brothers, his bespoke shoes from the century-and-a-half old boot maker John Lobb. In the neatly folded white handkerchief Prince Philip habitually squared off in his breast pocket (another was kept in his trousers) could be seen a telling contrast with the dandyish puff of silk favored by his eldest son.

Unlike other members of the royal family whose tastes run to costly baubles and fine Swiss timepieces, Prince Philip habitually wore “a plain watch with a brown leather strap,” as the Independent once reported, and a copper bracelet intended to ease arthritis. He left his large hands free of jewelry and roughly manicured.

If he looked best in sporting clothes, it was because he was a true sportsman, captain of both the cricket and hockey teams at boarding school in Scotland, a polo player well past his 40s, an active participant in international coaching competitions until late in life.

He was also the only member of the Firm’s inner circle before Meghan Markle to have been foreign-born. This, too, may have given him a style advantage since it is often true that outsiders can bring a fresh eye to staid sartorial conventions, both enlivening and improving them. (It took the Japanese to explain denim to Americans and the Neapolitans to demonstrate for the English how to perfect English style.)

Search online and you will not find an image of Prince Philip committing a style solecism. There is never a novelty tie or a funny hat. For that matter, and except on obligatory state occasions, there is little enough of the comic operetta regalia beloved of Prince Philip’s uncle, Louis Mountbatten, the First Earl Mountbatten of Burma — no braiding, no frogging, no sashes or fringed and gilded epaulets.

The paradox of Prince Philip’s life may have been that, as the husband of a queen and father of a future king, he was essential to power although insignificant to its workings. And he often jokingly disparaged himself as the “world’s most experienced plaque unveiler.” Yet it was probably in that role that he did his best work for the family business, since a glimpse of this elegant and diffident man was the closest most Britons would ever come to royalty’s attenuated realities and burnished grandeur. In that sense, Prince Philip was never “dressed,” in any conventional manner so much as he was outfitted for purpose.

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The Lawyer Behind the Throne at Fox

LOS ANGELES — In early 2019, as the Murdoch family completed the $71 billion sale of 21st Century Fox to Disney, executives at the movie studio learned that someone was reading all their emails.

And not just anyone: Viet Dinh, the Fox Corporation’s chief legal officer and close friend of Fox’s chief executive, Lachlan Murdoch, had brought on a team of lawyers to investigatethe potential improper use of Fox data” by top 21st Century Fox executives he suspected of leaking to Disney while the terms were still being hammered out, a Fox spokeswoman said. The studio’s president, Peter Rice, and the company’s general counsel, Gerson Zweifach, protested that they were merely conducting normal transition planning — and that Mr. Dinh was being so paranoid he might blow up the transaction.

The episode didn’t scuttle the deal. But the previously unreported conflict between the studio executives and Mr. Dinh, a sociable and relentless Republican lawyer who was the chief architect in 2001 of the antiterrorism legislation known as the Patriot Act, offers a rare glimpse into the opaque power structure of Rupert Murdoch’s world. The nonagenarian mogul exercises immense power, through News Corp and the Fox Corporation, in driving a global wave of right-wing populism. But basic elements of how his media companies run remain shrouded in mystery.

In the case of the Fox Corporation, the questions of who is in charge and what the future holds are particularly hazy. The company, minus its studio, is now a midsize TV company adrift in a landscape of giants like Disney and AT&T that control everything from cellular phone networks to streaming platforms, film and television. Fox’s profits are dominated by Fox News. Lachlan Murdoch’s more liberal brother, James, who no longer holds an operational role in the family businesses, has made clear he’d like to see a change.

complained to The Financial Times about “outlets that propagate lies to their audience.”

Last month, Lachlan Murdoch moved his family to Sydney, Australia, an unlikely base for a company whose main assets are American. The move has intensified the perception — heightened when he stood by as Fox News hosts misinformed their audience about Covid-19 last year — that Mr. Murdoch does not have a tight grip on the reins. The company takes pains to rebut that perception: The Fox spokeswoman told me that Mr. Murdoch is so committed that he has adopted a nocturnal lifestyle, working midnight to 10 a.m. Sydney time. (She also said it would be “false and malicious” to suggest that Mr. Dinh is exercising operational control over Fox’s business units.) It’s such a disorienting situation that one senior Fox employee went so far as to call me last week to ask if I knew anything about succession plans. I promised I’d tell him if I figured it out.

But Mr. Dinh, 53, was ready to step in, and indeed has been seen internally as the company’s power center since before Mr. Murdoch headed across the globe. Mr. Dinh’s ascent caps an unlikely turn in his career that began when he met Lachlan Murdoch at an Aspen Institute event in 2003. The Murdoch heir later asked him to both fill a seat on the company’s board and to be godfather to his son. (“He couldn’t find any other Catholics,” Mr. Dinh joked to The New York Observer in 2006.)

Two former Fox employees and one current and one former Fox News employee familiar with his role painted him as the omnipresent and decisive right hand of a chief executive who is not particularly hands-on. (They spoke only on the condition they not be named because Fox keeps a tight grip on its public relations.) While Mr. Dinh is not running day-to-day programming, he manages the political operation of a company that is the central pillar of Republican politics, and he’s a key voice on corporate strategy who has played a role in Fox’s drive to acquire and partner its way into the global online gambling industry.

In a recent interview with the legal writer David Lat — headlined “Is Viet Dinh the Most Powerful Lawyer in America?” — Mr. Dinh called suggestions in this column and in The Financial Times that he’s more than a humble in-house counsel “flat-out false.”

once told VietLife magazine that he worked jobs including “cleaning toilets, busing tables, pumping gas, picking berries, fixing cars” to help his family make ends meet. He attended Harvard and Harvard Law School. As a student, he wrote a powerful Times Op-Ed about Vietnamese refugees — including his sister and nephew — stranded in Hong Kong. The piece helped win them refugee status, and eventually allowed them to immigrate to the United States.

Mr. Dinh arrived with the conservative politics of many refugees from Communism, and followed a pipeline from a Supreme Court clerkship with Sandra Day O’Connor to a role in the congressional investigations of Bill Clinton in the 1990s.

He was assistant attorney general for legal policy on 9/11, and he was “the fifth likeliest person” to wind up quarterbacking what would become the Patriot Act, said his old friend and colleague Paul Clement, who currently represents Fox in defamation lawsuits brought by two election technology companies. Mr. Dinh “led the effort to pull it all together, package it, present it to the Hill and get it passed,” said a former Bush White House homeland security adviser, Ken Wainstein. The package of legislation transformed the American security state, vastly expanding domestic surveillance and law enforcement powers. It allowed the F.B.I. to conduct secret and intrusive investigations of people and groups swept in by an expanded definition of terrorism.

Mr. Dinh was often mentioned at the time as a brilliant young lawyer who could easily wind up the first Asian-American on the Supreme Court. He was also notably image-conscious, and “worked the media like crazy,” recalled Jill Abramson, a former Times Washington bureau chief and later executive editor. He’s also a master Washington networker whose relationships cross party lines. His best college friend is a Democratic former U.S. attorney, Preet Bharara. Through the pandemic, Mr. Dinh left chipper comments on other lawyers’ job announcements on LinkedIn.

hiring a top Republican opposition researcher, Raj Shah, to monitor online criticism of the company and develop strategies for countering it.

Now, Mr. Dinh finds himself in the strange position of many of Rupert Murdoch’s top lieutenants: He is paid like a chief executive, and fills much of the larger strategic role that comes with that job. He also has the sort of leverage you need in a family business, a personal relationship with Lachlan Murdoch that allowed him to take on Mr. Rice, who is himself the son of a close Rupert Murdoch ally. But Mr. Dinh is still working for a business dominated by the need to follow Mr. Trump and Fox’s audience wherever they lead, lest they be overtaken by networks further to the right, like Newsmax. And the family ultimately retains control.

And Mr. Dinh’s own agenda can be hard to divine. In the interview with Mr. Lat, he largely repeated Fox News talking points about the quality and fairness of the network’s coverage. He did also express pride at Fox’s fleeting willingness to cross the president last fall, even though the network subsequently fired the political analysts who most angered Mr. Trump.

“There is no better historical record of Fox News’s excellent journalism than to see how the former president tweeted against Fox,” Mr. Dinh said.

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N.Y. Seeks Trump Insider’s Records, in Apparent Bid to Gain Cooperation

State prosecutors in Manhattan investigating former President Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization have subpoenaed the personal bank records of the company’s chief financial officer and are questioning gifts he and his family received from Mr. Trump, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

In recent weeks, the prosecutors have trained their focus on the executive, Allen H. Weisselberg, in what appears to be a determined effort to gain his cooperation. Mr. Weisselberg, who has not been accused of wrongdoing, has overseen the Trump Organization’s finances for decades and may hold the key to any possible criminal case in New York against the former president and his family business.

Prosecutors working for the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., are examining, among other things, whether Mr. Trump and the company falsely manipulated property values to obtain loans and tax benefits.

It is unclear whether Mr. Weisselberg would cooperate with the investigation and neither his lawyer, Mary E. Mulligan, nor Mr. Vance’s office would comment. But if a review of his personal finances were to uncover possible wrongdoing, prosecutors could then use that information to press Mr. Weisselberg to guide them through the inner workings of the company. The 73-year-old accountant began his career working for Mr. Trump’s father.

ruling from the United States Supreme Court.

he was not seeking re-election.

Seven Springs estate in Westchester County. In addition to possible tax- and bank-related fraud, the prosecutors are examining the Trump Organization’s statements to insurance companies about the value of various assets.

Prosecutors have subpoenaed records from a firm hired by Deutsche Bank, one of the former president’s main lenders, to assess the value of three Trump hotels with Deutsche Bank loans, people with knowledge of the matter said. The firm reviewed the operations of restaurants, bars and gift shops at the hotels, one of the people said.

Last year, the prosecutors subpoenaed Deutsche Bank itself and Mr. Trump’s other main lender, Ladder Capital, which sold its Trump Organization loans years ago. Both banks are cooperating with the prosecutors.

It is unclear whether the prosecutors will ultimately file any charges. But if a case were built against the Trump Organization based on the loan documents, the company’s lawyers could argue that Deutsche Bank and Ladder Capital are sophisticated financial institutions that conducted their own analysis of Mr. Trump’s properties without relying on the company’s internal assessments. The lawyers could also emphasize that providing different valuations for a property depending on the situation — for example, on a loan application or in appealing local property taxes — is common and appropriate in New York’s real estate industry, in part because there are varying methods for calculating property values.

Outside accountants also vet the information provided to local tax authorities, potentially reducing the likelihood of fraud. Mr. Trump has argued that his tax returns “were done by among the biggest and most prestigious law and accounting firms in the U.S.”

In addition to the fraud investigation, Mr. Vance’s office continues to focus on its original target: the Trump Organization’s role in paying hush money during the 2016 presidential campaign to two women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, paid $130,000 to buy the silence of one of the women, Stephanie Clifford, the pornographic film actress who performed as Stormy Daniels. The Trump Organization later reimbursed Mr. Cohen, and Mr. Vance’s office has scrutinized whether the company properly accounted for the $130,000 payment.

Mr. Cohen, who in 2018 pleaded guilty to federal campaign finance charges for his role in the hush-money scheme, has long implicated Mr. Weisselberg, alleging that he helped devise a strategy to mask the reimbursements. The federal prosecutors who charged Mr. Cohen did not accuse Mr. Weisselberg of wrongdoing.

Mr. Cohen is now cooperating with Mr. Vance’s investigation and has met with prosecutors several times, including to review some of Mr. Trump’s financial documents. Lanny Davis, a lawyer for Mr. Cohen, declined to comment.

The prosecutors have also questioned Mr. Weisselberg’s former daughter-in-law, Jennifer Weisselberg, she has said. Ms. Weisselberg has been enmeshed in a bitter divorce with Mr. Weisselberg’s son, Barry, who manages the Trump Wollman Rink in Central Park.

Ms. Weisselberg said in an interview that prosecutors have asked her about a number of gifts that Mr. Trump and his company gave the Weisselberg family over the years. These include an apartment on Central Park South for Ms. Weisselberg and her former husband, cars leased for several family members and private school tuition.

The scrutiny of the gifts appears to be part of an effort to paint a picture of Mr. Weisselberg’s financial life, as is common when prosecutors seek cooperation from a potential witness. It is unclear whether prosecutors suspect any wrongdoing related to the gifts.

James B. Stewart and Steve Eder contributed reporting. Susan C. Beachy contributed research.

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Paul Laubin, 88, Dies; Master of Making Oboes the Old-Fashioned Way

Paul Laubin, a revered oboe maker who was one of the few remaining woodwind artisans to build their instruments by hand — he made so few a year that customers might have had to wait a decade to play one — died on March 1 at his workshop in Peekskill, N.Y. He was 88.

His wife, Meredith Laubin, said that Mr. Laubin collapsed at his workshop during the day and that the police found his body that night. He lived in Mahopac, N.Y.

In the world of oboes, his partisans believe, there are Mr. Laubin’s oboes and then there is everything else.

He was in his early 20s when he began making oboes with his father, Alfred, who founded A. Laubin Inc. and built his first oboe in 1931. Paul took over the business when his father died in 1976. His son, Alex, began working alongside him in 2003.

Sherry Sylar, the associate principal oboist of the New York Philharmonic. “It’s a resonance that doesn’t happen with any other oboe. It rings inside your body. You get addicted to making that kind of a sound and nothing else will do.”

In a dusty workshop near the Hudson River, lined with machines built as long ago as 1881, Mr. Laubin crafted his oboes and English horns with almost religious precision. He wore an apron and puffed a cob pipe as he drilled and lathed the grenadilla and rosewood used to make his instruments. (The pipe doubled as a testing device: Mr. Laubin would blow smoke through the instrument’s joints to detect air leaks.)

His father taught him techniques that date back centuries. As the decades passed and instrument makers embraced computerized design and factory automation, Paul Laubin resisted change. As far as he was concerned, if it took 10 years to build a good oboe, so be it.

“What’s the rush?” he said in an interview with The New York Times in 1991. “I don’t want anything going out of here with my name that I haven’t made and checked and played myself.”

told News 12 Westchester in 2012.

When a Laubin oboe was finally completed, its unveiling was cause for celebration. One customer arrived at the Peekskill workshop with a bottle of champagne, and as he played his first few notes, Mr. Laubin raised a toast.

told The Times in 1989. “I would have to think twice about starting it today.”

The company’s fate is now undetermined. Alex Laubin served as office manager and helped with some aspects of production but did not learn the full process. He often urged his father to modernize their operation — to little avail.

“No one sits down anymore and files out keys,” Meredith Laubin said. “No one turns out one oboe joint at a time. This is all automated now, like how robots make cars. But Paul wasn’t endorsing any of these things. To him, there was no cheating the family recipe.”

Mr. Laubin knew, however, that the old ways would come to an end. He was finding it harder to ignore the realities of being an Old World artisan in the modern era.

“Paul got to have one part of his dream, which was to be able to work with his son,” Ms. Laubin said. “But the other part of his dream, knowing that his work would continue on in the way he did things, he knew that wasn’t going to happen.”

Still, he hewed to tradition to the end. On his work table the day he died lay the beginnings of Laubin oboe No. 2,600.

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After 80 Years, Still Smiling on the Job

Fred Marcus, who was a longtime wedding photographer in New York, often said: “When the wedding is over the photographs will last forever. So will the relationships we made at that event.”

Decades later both statements still ring true.

In January, the Fred Marcus Studio celebrated 80 years in business. The studio, which has always specialized in weddings, is one of the few multigenerational owned and run photography business still thriving in New York.

After more than seven decades on West 72nd Street, the company moved to its current 58th Street location in Columbus Circle in 2019. In doing so, they packed up thousands of photographs, volumes of digital archives and stirred memories created over the years.

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Styles and Modern Love), Twitter (Styles, Fashion and Weddings) and Instagram.

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Fukushima Photos: 10 Years Later

Ten years after a devastating earthquake and tsunami led to a nuclear meltdown in northern Japan, residents are readjusting to places that feel familiar and hostile at once.


FUKUSHIMA, Japan — After an earthquake and tsunami pummeled a nuclear plant about 12 miles from their home, Tomoko Kobayashi and her husband joined the evacuation and left their Dalmatian behind, expecting they would return home in a few days.

It ended up being five years. Even now — a decade after those deadly natural disasters on March 11, 2011, set off a catastrophic nuclear meltdown — the Japanese government has not fully reopened villages and towns within the original 12-mile evacuation zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. And even if it did, many former residents have no plans to return.

Some of those who did return figured that coming home was worth the residual radiation risk. Others, like Ms. Kobayashi, 68, had businesses to restart.

“We had reasons to come back and the means to do so,” said Ms. Kobayashi, who manages a guesthouse. “It made sense — to an extent.”

one million tons of contaminated water into the sea has riled local fishermen, and cases against the government and the plant operator are winding through the country’s highest courts. The issue of nuclear power remains highly fraught.

And for miles around the plant, there are physical reminders of an accident that forced the exodus of about 164,000 people.

crashed ashore, flooding his auto body shop in the industrial city of Koriyama.

It can feel that way in the town of Namie, where bags of radioactive waste have piled up.

new schools, roads, public housing and other infrastructure in an effort to lure former residents back.

Some residents in their 60s and beyond see the appeal. It can be hard for them to imagine living anywhere else.

“They want to be in their hometown,” said Tsunao Kato, 71, who reopened his third-generation barbershop even before its running water had been restored. “They want to die here.”

One upside is that the threat of lingering radiation feels less immediate than that of the coronavirus, said Mr. Kato, whose shop is in the city of Minami Soma. In that sense, living amid the reminders of nuclear disaster — in towns where streetlights illuminate empty intersections — is a welcome sort of social distancing.

At a Futaba nursery school, umbrellas have sat untouched for a decade, protecting no one from the rain.

Nearby, a collapsed house is still waiting for a demolition crew.

Mr. Kato said that while he was happy to be back, he struggled to balance a desire to stay with the knowledge that living somewhere else would probably be safer.

“Logic and emotion can’t mesh,” he said, “like oil and water.”

Like Mr. Kato, Ms. Kobayashi had been running a family business, in her case a guesthouse, when the magnitude-9 earthquake struck. The guesthouse in Minami Soma has been in her family for generations, and she took it over in 2001 when her mother retired.

The guesthouse sustained significant water damage from the tsunami. But Ms. Kobayashi’s family restored and reopened it. (Their Dalmatian, who survived the nuclear accident, died just before the renovation was completed.)

They did not expect a surge of tourists, she said, but hoped to serve people who wanted to return to the area and had nowhere to stay.

“There’s no town left,” she said. “If you come back, you have to rebuild.”

Hikari Hida reported from Tokyo, and Mike Ives from Hong Kong.

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What Is ‘The Firm’? The Royal Family Institution, Explained

When Prince Harry’s wife, Meghan, referred to the British royal family as “the Firm” in their dramatic interview with Oprah Winfrey on Sunday, she evoked an institution that is as much a business as a fairy tale. It is now a business in crisis, after the couple leveled charges of racism and cruelty against members of the family.

Buckingham Palace responded on Tuesday that “the whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan.” The allegations of racism, the palace statement said, were “concerning,” and “while some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately.”

Harry and Meghan’s story, of course, is a heartbreaking personal drama — of fathers and sons, brothers and wives, falling out over slights, real or imagined. But it is also a workplace story — the struggles of a glamorous, independent outsider joining an established, hidebound and sometimes baffling family firm.

The term is often linked to Queen Elizabeth’s husband, Prince Philip, who popularized its use. But it dates further back, to the queen’s father, King George VI, who was once reported to have declared, “We’re not a family. We’re a firm.”

won a judgment against The Mail on Sunday for illegally publishing a private letter that she had sent her estranged father, Thomas Markle.

The couple’s interview claimed a prominent media casualty on Tuesday when Piers Morgan, the co-host of “Good Morning Britain” on ITV news, abruptly resigned. Mr. Morgan, a strident critic of the couple, said he “didn’t believe a word” of the interview, even Meghan’s confession to having had suicidal thoughts — which prompted more than 41,000 complaints to Britain’s communications regulator.

“The monarchy can’t survive without the media, but how do you manage that media?” said Edward Owens, a historian and the author of “The Family Firm. Monarchy, Mass Media and the British Public, 1932-53.”

Harry and Meghan, Mr. Owens said, are the latest in a long line of royals whose personal anguish has been portrayed as the cost of doing their royal duty. That sacrifice, he said, was an unavoidable part of what George VI meant by being part of the Firm. And it served as a justification to the public for the perks of the job.

“The Firm suggests that these bonds of family are an afterthought,” Mr. Owens said. “It is duty and the business of the royal family that comes first.”

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Elaine Chao’s Mix of Work and Family Drew Early Ethics Scrutiny

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.”

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The World Needs Syringes. He Jumped In to Make 5,900 Per Minute.

BALLABGARH, India — In late November, an urgent email popped up in the inbox of Hindustan Syringes & Medical Devices, one of the world’s largest syringe makers.

It was from UNICEF, the United Nations agency for children, and it was desperately seeking syringes. Not just any would do. These syringes must be smaller than usual. They had to break if used a second time, to prevent spreading disease through accidental recycling.

Most important, UNICEF needed them in vast quantities. Now.

“I thought, ‘No issues,’” said Rajiv Nath, the company’s managing director, who has sunk millions of dollars into preparing his syringe factories for the vaccination onslaught. “We could deliver it possibly faster than anybody else.”

As countries jostle to secure enough vaccine doses to put an end to the Covid-19 outbreak, a second scramble is unfolding for syringes. Vaccines aren’t all that useful if health care professionals lack a way to inject them into people.

will spend $1.2 billion over four years to expand capacity in part to deal with pandemics.

The United States is the world’s largest syringe supplier by sales, according to Fitch Solutions, a research firm. The United States and China are neck and neck in exports, with combined annual shipments worth $1.7 billion. While India is a small player globally, with only $32 million in exports in 2019, Mr. Nath of Hindustan Syringes sees a big opportunity.

Each of his syringes sells for only three cents, but his total investment is considerable. He invested nearly $15 million to mass-produce specialty syringes, equal to roughly one-sixth of his annual sales, before purchase orders were even in sight. In May, he ordered new molds from suppliers in Italy, Germany and Japan to make a variety of barrels and plungers for his syringes.

cleared Pfizer’s vaccine for emergency use, Robert Matthews, a UNICEF contract manager in Copenhagen, and his team needed to find a manufacturer that could produce millions of syringes.

“We went, ‘Oh, dear!’” said Mr. Matthews, as they looked for a syringe that would meet W.H.O. specifications and was compact for shipping. Hindustan Syringes’ product, he said, was the first.

The company is set to begin shipping 3.2 million of those syringes soon, UNICEF said, provided they clear another quality check.

Mr. Nath has sold 15 million syringes to the Japanese government, he said, and over 400 million to India for its Covid-19 inoculation drive, one of the largest in the world. More are in line, including UNICEF, for which he has offered to produce about 240 million more, and Brazil, he said.

Marc Koska, a British inventor of safety injections, and its ability to produce all of the components in-house. Hindustan Syringes makes its needles from stainless steel strips imported from Japan. The strips are curled into cylinders and welded at the seam, then stretched and cut into fine capillary tubes, which machines glue to plastic hubs. To make the jabs less painful, they are dipped in a silicone solution.

The syringe business is a “bloodsucker,” Mr. Nath said, where upfront costs are astronomical and profits marginal. If demand for his syringes drop by even half in the next few years, he will lose almost all of the $15 million he invested.

It’s clearly a frugal operation. The blue carpet in Mr. Nath’s office looks just as old as his desk or the glass chandelier by the stairs, fixtures his father put in place in 1984, before he handed over the company to Mr. Nath and his family.

A family business is exactly how he likes it. No shareholders, no interference, no worries. In 1995, when Mr. Nath needed money to increase production and buy lots of new machines, he sought private capital for the first time. Had that been the case today, he said, he wouldn’t be able to follow his gut and produce his syringes at this enormous scale.

“You have a good night’s sleep,” Mr. Nath said. “It’s better to be a big fish in a small pond.”

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