Mounira al-Mahdia, a celebrated 1920s diva. The houseboat of another singer, Badia Masabni, was said to be so popular among Cairo’s elite that a rumor spread at the time that governments were formed aboard.

Back then, there were at least 200 houseboats up and down the Nile. But under President Gamal Abdel Nasser, many of the structures were moved to clear the river for water sports, said Wael Wakil, 58, who was born and raised in the houseboat he still lives on.

That left about 40 boats moored where they sit now, next to Kit Kat, a neighborhood named after a local World War II-era nightclub popular among Allied soldiers.

installed a pair of German spies on one houseboat in the area — with the help, in some tellings, of a belly dancer.

largely open to the public, became crowded with private clubs and cafes.

The authorities have made clear that they want more of those: The houseboat owners say they have been told that they can pay more than $6,500 to temporarily dock elsewhere while they apply for commercial licenses to open cafes or restaurants in their former homes. But that, they argue, is hardly a fair or attractive option.

“They’re destroying the past, they’re destroying the present, and they’re destroying the future, too,” said Neama Mohsen, 50, a theater instructor who has lived on one of the houseboats for three decades. “I see this as a crime, and no one can stop it. They’re taking away our lives as if we’re criminals or terrorists.”

Today, some of the houseboats are owned by politicians and businessmen, others by bohemians, still others by middle-class Egyptians who know no other life.

Mr. Wakil said his family moved to their houseboat in 1961. He remembers growing up fishing off its deck. Whenever he dropped a toy in the Nile, he said, a passing boatman would rescue it.

Now Mr. Wakil, a retired finance manager, has packed up, and is getting ready to move to an apartment his wife owns in the desert.

“But nothing will come close to compensating for this,” he said.

From Ms. Soueif’s favorite place in the house, the dressing room where she gives her grandchildren baths, she can see a mango tree in her riverbank garden that has not fruited for four years. Suddenly, this year, it produced what promises to be a bumper crop.

But this type of mango cannot be picked before mid-July. By then, if nothing changes, she and her houseboat will be gone.

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Death in Ukraine: A Special Report

A little boy blown up by a mine at the beach. A young mother shot in the forehead. A retired teacher killed in her home. Soldiers killing and dying every day by the hundreds. Older people and young people and everyone in between.

A war can be measured by many metrics. Territory won or lost. Geopolitical influence increased or diminished. Treasure acquired or resources depleted. But for the people suffering under the shelling, who hear the whistling of incoming missiles, the crack of gunfire on the streets and the wails of loss out of shattered windows, the death toll is the most telling account of a war.

Many of the articles on this page contain graphic images that readers may find difficult to view.

In Ukraine, no one is quite sure exactly what that toll is, except that many many people have been killed.

An “endless caravan of death,” said Petro Andryushchenko, an official for the devastated city of Mariupol.

In its latest updates, the Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said 4,509 civilians had been killed in the conflict. But it is clear that many thousands more have been killed. Ukraine’s chief of police, Ihor Klymenko, said this past week that prosecutors had opened criminal proceedings “for the deaths of more than 12,000 people who were found, in particular, in mass graves.”

And in Mariupol, the Black Sea city flattened by Russian bombardment, Ukrainian officials in exile have said that examinations of mass graves using satellite imagery, witness testimony and other evidence have led them to believe that at least 22,000 were killed — and possibly thousands more.

The casualty figures exclude the thousands believed killed in territories held by Russian forces. And even where Ukraine has regained control, Mr. Klymenko said, it was premature to calculate the dead in mass graves, as more are found every week.

Credit…Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

Indeed, finding and identifying the dead is such a daunting challenge, Ukraine’s chief prosecutor said in a statement on Saturday, that it required global coordination beyond Ukraine’s national efforts. The prosecutor, Iryna Venediktova, said she had met with the International Commission on Missing Persons, based in The Hague, to develop avenues for cooperation.

International and Ukrainian authorities have little access to embattled cities to take accurate counts, and the urban targets, the constant artillery fire and the static nature of the fighting in the contested south and east only adds to the death and horror.

“People are killed indiscriminately or suddenly or without rhyme or reason,” said Richard H. Kohn, a professor emeritus of history and peace, war and defense at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He said the incessant artillery fire “kills and maims people.”

“It creates enormous psychological stress on populations,” Mr. Kohn said, “as it does on the combatants,” and “it lasts for a very long time.”

The Russians, eager to preserve an aura of competence, underreport their battlefield losses. The Ukrainians, desperate to maintain morale as the shells fall, do the same. Civilian casualties are an unknown variable, multiplied by grisly factors like collapsing buildings and the unreported victims of occupied towns.

Children are not protected from the indiscriminate violence. The United Nations’ agency for the protection of children in emergency situations has estimated that at least three children have died each day since the war started in February. That is only an estimate.

Mariupol — the city that has become symbolic of Ukraine’s resistance, Russia’s unrelenting shelling and the war’s savagery — is still burying corpses.

“In our city, there are a lot of mass graves, a lot of spontaneous graves, and some bodies are still in the street,” Mariupol’s mayor, Vadym Boichenko, said last Monday.

Credit…Evgeniy Maloletka/Associated Press

That toll has heightened dread about the losses in the 20 percent of Ukraine now under Russian occupation. Some places, like Sievierodonetsk, have been basically reduced to rubble by advancing Russian forces.

Early in the war, as Russia tried, and failed, to take the capital, Kyiv, its forces added to the death toll with shocking brutality. In Bucha, they shot civilians dead in their cars, homes and gardens, left corpses in the street and even burned them and dumped them in a parking lot. And when the Russian armored columns retreated, they left more dead in their wake.

At least 1,500 civilians were killed in the Kyiv region alone, according to Mr. Klymenko. They included two sisters in Bucha — one a retired teacher and the other disabled.

“Why would you kill a grandma?” asked Serhiy, a neighbor of the sisters.

Credit…Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times

The Ukrainian army is taking heavy losses. By the government’s own estimates, as many as 200 soldiers are dying every day. In towns and cities across the country, even those far from the front lines, military funerals take place nearly daily for Ukrainian soldiers killed in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, where the fighting is now heaviest.

The dead are often buried quickly, and in shallow graves.

“I feel numb,” said Antoniy, a morgue worker in Lviv, in western Ukraine. “Even when someone is telling me a joke that I know is funny, I can’t laugh.”

Regardless of when or how the war ends, Professor Kohn said, trauma, loss, displacement and fear all become “part of the culture of a country.”

Many of the Russians ordered by President Vladimir V. Putin to invade Ukraine under the false pretenses of liberating the country from Nazis are not coming home, either. In April, Western countries estimated that Russia had lost about 15,000 soldiers in Ukraine; on Friday, Ukraine put the estimate at 33,000.

The true toll is unknown, and will not be coming from Moscow: Its last announcement, on March 25, said that a total of 1,351 Russian soldiers had died.

Credit…Diego Ibarra Sanchez for The New York Times

In the months after the invasion began, local news websites across Russia compiled “memory pages” that listed the names of hometown soldiers who had died. Then, this month, they deleted them: A court ruled that such lists were state secrets.

“We apologize,” said the site 74.ru in Chelyabinsk in Siberia, “to the mothers and fathers, wives and children, relatives and friends of the servicemen who have died during the special military operation in Ukraine.”

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Clipper Realty Inc. Announces Fourth Quarter 2021 Results

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Clipper Realty Inc. (NYSE: CLPR) (the “Company”), a leading owner and operator of multifamily residential and commercial properties in the New York metropolitan area, today announced financial and operating results for the three months ended December 31, 2021.

Highlights for the Three Months Ended December 31, 2021

David Bistricer, Co-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, commented,

“We continue to see improvements in our operations as New York City further recovers from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are experiencing strong rental demand at all our properties and consistently increasing rental rates as New York City continues to open and employees return to offices. We remain focused on efficiently operating our portfolio, with the safety of our tenants and employees our highest priority. Our properties are 95% leased and our fourth quarter rent collection rate was over 98%. We have a strong liquidity position with $52.2 million of cash on the balance sheet, consisting of $34.5 million of unrestricted cash and $17.7 million of restricted cash, and have no debt maturities on any operating properties until 2027, providing further support in the current environment. We remain committed to executing our strategic initiatives to create long-term value.”

Financial Results

For the fourth quarter of 2021, revenues increased by $0.5 million, or 1.6%, to $30.8 million, compared to $30.3 million for the fourth quarter of 2020; the change was primarily attributable to the commencement of new leases at the Tribeca House, Aspen and Clover House properties partially offset by a decline in occupancy at the Flatbush Gardens property.

For the fourth quarter of 2021, net loss was $6.2 million, or $0.16 per share, or $3.5 million, or $0.09 per share exclusive of a non-recurring charge for a litigation settlement, compared to net loss of $3.8 million, or $0.10 per share, for the fourth quarter of 2020; the change was primarily attributable to the revenue change discussed above and lower property operating expenses (including a decrease in the provision for bad debt), substantially offset by increases in insurance expense, depreciation and amortization expense, general and administrative expense (including LTIP amortization expense) and interest expense (primarily resulting from the refinancing of the 141 Livingston Street property in February 2021). Lastly, as a result of NY court decisions made in March 2022 that established probability and ability to calculate amounts, the Company has recorded a charge of $2.7 million for the settlement of claims of tenant overcharges at the Tribeca House property.

For the fourth quarter of 2021, AFFO was $4.4 million, or $0.10 per share, compared to $3.0 million, or $0.07 per share, for the fourth quarter of 2020; the change was primarily attributable to the revenue change discussed above, and lower property operating expenses (including decreases in staffing, repairs and maintenance and the provision for bad debt), partially offset by increases in insurance expense, interest expense, and cash general and administrative expenses.

Balance Sheet

At December 31, 2021, notes payable (excluding unamortized loan costs) was $1,144.1 million, compared to $1,089.7 million at December 31, 2020; the increase primarily reflected the refinancing of the 141 Livingston Street property in February 2021, partially offset by scheduled principal amortization.

Dividend

The Company today declared a fourth quarter dividend of $0.095 per share, the same amount as last quarter, to shareholders of record on March 25, 2022, payable March 31, 2022.

Conference Call and Supplemental Material

The Company will host a conference call on March 15, 2022, at 5:00 PM Eastern Time to discuss the fourth quarter 2021 results and provide a business update. The conference call can be accessed by dialing (800) 346-7359 or (973) 528-0008, conference entry code 826656. A replay of the call will be available from March 15, 2022, following the call, through March 29, 2022, by dialing (800) 332-6854 or (973) 528-0005, replay conference ID 826656. Supplemental data to this press release can be found under the “Quarterly Earnings” navigation tab on the “Investors” page of our website at www.clipperrealty.com. The Company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) are filed at www.sec.gov under Clipper Realty Inc.

About Clipper Realty Inc.

Clipper Realty Inc. (NYSE: CLPR) is a self-administered and self-managed real estate company that acquires, owns, manages, operates and repositions multifamily residential and commercial properties in the New York metropolitan area, with a portfolio in Manhattan and Brooklyn. For more information on the Company, please visit www.clipperrealty.com.

Forward-Looking Statements

Various statements contained in this press release, including those that express a belief, expectation or intention, as well as those that are not statements of historical fact, are forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements may include estimates concerning capital projects and the success of specific properties. Our forward-looking statements are generally accompanied by words such as “estimate,” “project,” “predict,” “believe,” “expect,” “intend,” “anticipate,” “potential,” “plan” or other words that convey the uncertainty of future events or outcomes. The forward-looking statements in this press release speak only as of the date of this press release.

We disclaim any obligation to update these statements unless required by law, and we caution you not to rely on them unduly. We have based these forward-looking statements on our current expectations and assumptions about future events. While our management considers these expectations and assumptions to be reasonable, they are inherently subject to significant business, economic, competitive, regulatory and other risks, contingencies and uncertainties (including uncertainties regarding the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and measures intended to curb its spread, on our business, our tenants and the economy generally), most of which are difficult to predict and many of which are beyond our control and which may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to differ materially from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. For a discussion of these and other important factors that could affect our actual results, please refer to our filings with the SEC, including the “Risk Factors” section of our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2021, and other reports filed from time to time with the SEC.

_____________________________________

1 NOI and AFFO are non-GAAP financial measures. For a definition of these financial measures and a reconciliation of such measures to the most comparable GAAP measures, see “Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Measures” at the end of this release.

 
Clipper Realty Inc.
Consolidated Balance Sheets
(In thousands, except for share and per share data)
 
December 31,
2021
December 31,
2020
 
ASSETS
Investment in real estate
Land and improvements

$

540,859

 

$

540,859

 

Building and improvements

 

649,686

 

 

630,662

 

Tenant improvements

 

3,406

 

 

3,121

 

Furniture, fixtures and equipment

 

12,500

 

 

12,217

 

Real estate under development

 

97,301

 

 

36,118

 

Total investment in real estate

 

1,303,752

 

 

1,222,977

 

Accumulated depreciation

 

(158,002

)

 

(132,479

)

Investment in real estate, net

 

1,145,750

 

 

1,090,498

 

 
Cash and cash equivalents

 

34,524

 

 

72,058

 

Restricted cash

 

17,700

 

 

16,974

 

Tenant and other receivables, net of allowance for doubtful accounts

 

10,260

 

 

7,002

 

of $7,905 and $5,993, respectively
Deferred rent

 

2,656

 

 

2,454

 

Deferred costs and intangible assets, net

 

7,126

 

 

7,720

 

Prepaid expenses and other assets

 

15,641

 

 

11,160

 

TOTAL ASSETS

$

1,233,657

 

$

1,207,866

 

 
LIABILITIES AND EQUITY
Liabilities:
Notes payable, net of unamortized loan costs

$

1,131,154

 

$

1,079,458

 

of $12,898 and $10,262, respectively
Accounts payable and accrued liabilities

 

19,558

 

 

11,725

 

Security deposits

 

7,110

 

 

6,983

 

Below-market leases, net

 

53

 

 

157

 

Other liabilities

 

5,833

 

 

5,429

 

TOTAL LIABILITIES

 

1,163,708

 

 

1,103,752

 

 
Equity:
Preferred stock, $0.01 par value; 100,000 shares authorized (including 140 shares

 

 

 

 

of 12.5% Series A cumulative non-voting preferred stock),
zero shares issued and outstanding
Common stock, $0.01 par value; 500,000,000 shares authorized,

 

160

 

 

160

 

16,063,228 shares issued and outstanding
Additional paid-in-capital

 

88,089

 

 

87,347

 

Accumulated deficit

 

(61,736

)

 

(48,045

)

Total stockholders’ equity

 

26,513

 

 

39,462

 

 
Non-controlling interests

 

43,436

 

 

64,652

 

TOTAL EQUITY

 

69,949

 

 

104,114

 

 
TOTAL LIABILITIES AND EQUITY

$

1,233,657

 

$

1,207,866

 

 
 
 
Clipper Realty Inc.
Consolidated Statements of Operations
(In thousands, except per share data)
 

Three Months Ended December 31,

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

2021

 

 

 

2020

 

 

 

2021

 

 

 

2020

 

(unaudited)
REVENUES
Residential rental income

$

21,253

 

$

21,198

 

$

85,771

 

$

90,543

 

Commercial rental income

 

9,523

 

 

9,139

 

 

36,958

 

 

32,307

 

TOTAL REVENUES

 

30,776

 

 

30,337

 

 

122,729

 

 

122,850

 

 
OPERATING EXPENSES
Property operating expenses

 

6,450

 

 

8,008

 

 

28,997

 

 

29,902

 

Real estate taxes and insurance

 

7,921

 

 

7,181

 

 

30,449

 

 

28,286

 

General and administrative

 

2,791

 

 

2,404

 

 

10,570

 

 

9,728

 

Transaction pursuit costs

 

 

 

 

 

60

 

 

 

Depreciation and amortization

 

6,794

 

 

6,266

 

 

25,762

 

 

23,630

 

TOTAL OPERATING EXPENSES

 

23,956

 

 

23,859

 

 

95,838

 

 

91,546

 

 
Gain on termination of lease

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

838

 

Litigation settlement and other

 

(2,730

)

 

 

 

(2,730

)

 

 

 
INCOME FROM OPERATIONS

 

4,090

 

 

6,478

 

 

24,161

 

 

32,142

 

 
Interest expense, net

 

(10,326

)

 

(10,254

)

 

(41,284

)

 

(40,228

)

Loss on extinguishment of debt

 

 

 

 

 

(3,034

)

 

(4,228

)

Gain on involuntary conversion

 

 

 

 

 

139

 

 

85

 

 
Net loss

 

(6,236

)

 

(3,776

)

 

(20,018

)

 

(12,229

)

 
Net loss attributable to non-controlling interests

 

3,873

 

 

2,283

 

 

12,431

 

 

7,323

 

Net loss attributable to common stockholders

$

(2,363

)

$

(1,493

)

$

(7,587

)

$

(4,906

)

 
Basic and diluted net loss per share

$

(0.16

)

$

(0.10

)

$

(0.51

)

$

(0.31

)

 
Weighted average common shares / OP units
Common shares outstanding

 

16,063

 

 

17,080

 

 

16,063

 

 

17,629

 

OP units outstanding

 

26,317

 

 

26,317

 

 

26,317

 

 

26,317

 

Diluted shares outstanding

 

42,380

 

 

43,397

 

 

42,380

 

 

43,946

 

 
 
 
Clipper Realty Inc.
Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows
(In thousands)
 
Year Ended December 31,
.

 

2021

 

 

2020

 

 
CASH FLOWS FROM OPERATING ACTIVITIES
Net loss

$

(20,018

)

$

(12,229

)

 
Adjustments to reconcile net loss to net cash provided by operating activities:
Depreciation

 

25,536

 

 

23,148

 

Amortization of deferred financing costs

 

1,247

 

 

1,212

 

Amortization of deferred costs and intangible assets

 

707

 

 

963

 

Amortization of above- and below-market leases

 

(104

)

 

(390

)

Loss on extinguishment of debt

 

3,034

 

 

4,228

 

Gain on involuntary conversion

 

(139

)

 

(85

)

Gain on termination of lease

 

 

 

(838

)

Deferred rent

 

(202

)

 

(1,180

)

Stock-based compensation

 

2,611

 

 

1,805

 

Bad debt expense

 

1,850

 

 

2,543

 

Transaction pursuit costs

 

60

 

 

 

Changes in operating assets and liabilities:
Tenant and other receivables

 

(5,108

)

 

(5,358

)

Prepaid expenses, other assets and deferred costs

 

(2,639

)

 

3,228

 

Accounts payable and accrued liabilities

 

3,456

 

 

(1,602

)

Security deposits

 

127

 

 

(587

)

Other liabilities

 

404

 

 

1,132

 

Net cash provided by operating activities

 

10,822

 

 

15,990

 

 
CASH FLOWS FROM INVESTING ACTIVITIES
Additions to land, buildings and improvements

 

(35,531

)

 

(31,811

)

Insurance proceeds from involuntary conversion

 

150

 

 

111

 

Sale and purchase of interest rate caps, net

 

 

 

(14

)

Acquisition deposit

 

(2,015

)

 

 

Cash paid in connection with acquisition of real estate

 

(40,548

)

 

 

Net cash used in investing activities

 

(77,944

)

 

(31,714

)

 
CASH FLOWS FROM FINANCING ACTIVITIES
Repurchase of common stock

 

 

 

(10,002

)

Payments of mortgage notes

 

(97,432

)

 

(249,630

)

Proceeds from mortgage notes

 

151,764

 

 

329,919

 

Dividends and distributions

 

(16,758

)

 

(17,243

)

Loan issuance and extinguishment costs

 

(7,260

)

 

(5,220

)

Net cash provided by financing activities

 

30,314

 

 

47,824

 

 
Net (decrease) increase in cash and cash equivalents and restricted cash

 

(36,808

)

 

32,100

 

Cash and cash equivalents and restricted cash – beginning of period

 

89,032

 

 

56,932

 

Cash and cash equivalents and restricted cash – end of period

$

52,224

 

$

89,032

 

 
Cash and cash equivalents and restricted cash – beginning of period:
Cash and cash equivalents

$

72,058

 

$

42,500

 

Restricted cash

 

16,974

 

 

14,432

 

Total cash and cash equivalents and restricted cash – beginning of period

$

89,032

 

$

56,932

 

 
Cash and cash equivalents and restricted cash – end of period:
Cash and cash equivalents

$

34,524

 

$

72,058

 

Restricted cash

 

17,700

 

 

16,974

 

Total cash and cash equivalents and restricted cash – end of period

$

52,224

 

$

89,032

 

 
Supplemental cash flow information:
Cash paid for interest, net of capitalized interest of $1,740 and $1,456 in 2021 and 2020, respectively

$

40,227

 

$

39,592

 

Non-cash interest capitalized to real estate under development

 

343

 

 

1,060

 

Additions to investment in real estate included in accounts payable and accrued liabilities

 

8,566

 

 

4,189

 

 
 

Non-GAAP Financial Measures

We disclose and discuss funds from operations (“FFO”), adjusted funds from operations (“AFFO”), adjusted earnings before interest, income taxes, depreciation and amortization (“Adjusted EBITDA”) and net operating income (“NOI”), all of which meet the definition of “non-GAAP financial measures” set forth in Item 10(e) of Regulation S-K promulgated by the SEC.

While management and the investment community in general believe that presentation of these measures provides useful information to investors, neither FFO, AFFO, Adjusted EBITDA, nor NOI should be considered as an alternative to net income (loss) or income from operations as an indication of our performance. We believe that to understand our performance further, FFO, AFFO, Adjusted EBITDA, and NOI should be compared with our reported net income (loss) or income from operations and considered in addition to cash flows computed in accordance with GAAP, as presented in our consolidated financial statements.

Funds From Operations and Adjusted Funds From Operations

FFO is defined by the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts (“NAREIT”) as net income (computed in accordance with GAAP), excluding gains (or losses) from sales of property and impairment adjustments, plus depreciation and amortization, and after adjustments for unconsolidated partnerships and joint ventures. Our calculation of FFO is consistent with FFO as defined by NAREIT.

AFFO is defined by us as FFO excluding amortization of identifiable intangibles incurred in property acquisitions, straight-line rent adjustments to revenue from long-term leases, amortization costs incurred in originating debt, interest rate cap mark-to-market adjustments, amortization of non-cash equity compensation, acquisition and other costs, transaction pursuit costs, loss on modification/extinguishment of debt, gain on involuntary conversion, gain on termination of lease and non-recurring litigation-related expenses, less recurring capital spending.

Historical cost accounting for real estate assets implicitly assumes that the value of real estate assets diminishes predictably over time. In fact, real estate values have historically risen or fallen with market conditions. FFO is intended to be a standard supplemental measure of operating performance that excludes historical cost depreciation and valuation adjustments from net income. We consider FFO useful in evaluating potential property acquisitions and measuring operating performance. We further consider AFFO useful in determining funds available for payment of distributions. Neither FFO nor AFFO represent net income or cash flows from operations computed in accordance with GAAP. You should not consider FFO and AFFO to be alternatives to net income (loss) as reliable measures of our operating performance; nor should you consider FFO and AFFO to be alternatives to cash flows from operating, investing or financing activities (computed in accordance with GAAP) as measures of liquidity.

Neither FFO nor AFFO measure whether cash flow is sufficient to fund all of our cash needs, including loan principal amortization, capital improvements and distributions to stockholders. FFO and AFFO do not represent cash flows from operating, investing or financing activities computed in accordance with GAAP. Further, FFO and AFFO as disclosed by other REITs might not be comparable to our calculations of FFO and AFFO.

The following table sets forth a reconciliation of FFO and AFFO for the periods presented to net loss, computed in accordance with GAAP (amounts in thousands):

 
 
Three Months Ended December 31, Year Ended December 31,

 

2021

 

 

2020

 

 

2021

 

 

2020

 

FFO
Net loss

$

(6,236

)

$

(3,776

)

$

(20,018

)

$

(12,229

)

Real estate depreciation and amortization

 

6,794

 

 

6,266

 

 

25,762

 

 

23,630

 

FFO

$

558

 

$

2,490

 

$

5,744

 

$

11,401

 

 
 
AFFO
FFO

$

558

 

$

2,490

 

$

5,744

 

$

11,401

 

Amortization of real estate tax intangible

 

120

 

 

121

 

 

481

 

 

481

 

Amortization of above- and below-market leases

 

(8

)

 

(32

)

 

(104

)

 

(390

)

Straight-line rent adjustments

 

(77

)

 

(494

)

 

(202

)

 

(1,180

)

Amortization of debt origination costs

 

313

 

 

302

 

 

1,247

 

 

1,212

 

Amortization of LTIP awards

 

665

 

 

556

 

 

2,611

 

 

1,805

 

Transaction pursuit costs

 

 

 

 

 

60

 

 

 

Loss on extinguishment of debt

 

 

 

 

 

3,034

 

 

4,228

 

Gain on involuntary conversion

 

 

 

 

 

(139

)

 

(85

)

Gain on termination of lease

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(838

)

Litigation settlement and other

 

2,730

 

 

 

 

2,730

 

 

 

Non-recurring litigation-related expenses

 

100

 

 

114

 

 

299

 

 

724

 

Recurring capital spending

 

(46

)

 

(72

)

 

(205

)

 

(514

)

AFFO

$

4,355

 

$

2,985

 

$

15,556

 

$

16,844

 

AFFO Per Share/Unit

$

0.10

 

$

0.07

 

$

0.37

 

$

0.38

 

 
 

Adjusted Earnings Before Interest, Income Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization

We believe that Adjusted EBITDA is a useful measure of our operating performance. We define Adjusted EBITDA as net income (loss) before allocation to non-controlling interests, plus real estate depreciation and amortization, amortization of identifiable intangibles, straight-line rent adjustments to revenue from long-term leases, amortization of non-cash equity compensation, interest expense (net), acquisition and other costs, transaction pursuit costs, loss on modification/extinguishment of debt and non-recurring litigation-related expenses, less gain on involuntary conversion and gain on termination of lease.

We believe that this measure provides an operating perspective not immediately apparent from GAAP income from operations or net income (loss). We consider Adjusted EBITDA to be a meaningful financial measure of our core operating performance.

However, Adjusted EBITDA should only be used as an alternative measure of our financial performance. Further, other REITs may use different methodologies for calculating Adjusted EBITDA, and accordingly, our Adjusted EBITDA may not be comparable to that of other REITs.

The following table sets forth a reconciliation of Adjusted EBITDA for the periods presented to net loss, computed in accordance with GAAP (amounts in thousands):

 
 
Three Months Ended December 31, Year Ended December 31,

 

2021

 

 

2020

 

 

2021

 

 

2020

 

Adjusted EBITDA
Net loss

$

(6,236

)

$

(3,776

)

$

(20,018

)

$

(12,229

)

Real estate depreciation and amortization

 

6,794

 

 

6,266

 

 

25,762

 

 

23,630

 

Amortization of real estate tax intangible

 

120

 

 

121

 

 

481

 

 

481

 

Amortization of above- and below-market leases

 

(8

)

 

(32

)

 

(104

)

 

(390

)

Straight-line rent adjustments

 

(77

)

 

(494

)

 

(202

)

 

(1,180

)

Amortization of LTIP awards

 

665

 

 

556

 

 

2,611

 

 

1,805

 

Interest expense, net

 

10,326

 

 

10,254

 

 

41,284

 

 

40,228

 

Transaction pursuit costs

 

 

 

 

 

60

 

 

 

Loss on extinguishment of debt

 

 

 

 

 

3,034

 

 

4,228

 

Gain on involuntary conversion

 

 

 

 

 

(139

)

 

(85

)

Gain on termination of lease

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(838

)

Litigation settlement and other

 

2,730

 

 

 

 

2,730

 

 

 

Non-recurring litigation-related expenses

 

100

 

 

114

 

 

299

 

 

724

 

Adjusted EBITDA

$

14,414

 

$

13,009

 

$

55,798

 

$

56,374

 

 
 

Net Operating Income

We believe that NOI is a useful measure of our operating performance. We define NOI as income from operations plus real estate depreciation and amortization, general and administrative expenses, acquisition and other costs, transaction pursuit costs, amortization of identifiable intangibles and straight-line rent adjustments to revenue from long-term leases, less gain on termination of lease. We believe that this measure is widely recognized and provides an operating perspective not immediately apparent from GAAP income from operations or net income (loss). We use NOI to evaluate our performance because NOI allows us to evaluate the operating performance of our company by measuring the core operations of property performance and capturing trends in rental housing and property operating expenses. NOI is also a widely used metric in valuation of properties.

However, NOI should only be used as an alternative measure of our financial performance. Further, other REITs may use different methodologies for calculating NOI, and accordingly, our NOI may not be comparable to that of other REITs.

The following table sets forth a reconciliation of NOI for the periods presented to income from operations, computed in accordance with GAAP (amounts in thousands):

 
 
Three Months Ended December 31, Year Ended December 31,

 

2021

 

 

2020

 

 

2021

 

 

2020

 

NOI
Income from operations

$

4,090

 

$

6,478

 

$

24,161

 

$

32,142

 

Real estate depreciation and amortization

 

6,794

 

 

6,266

 

 

25,762

 

 

23,630

 

General and administrative expenses

 

2,791

 

 

2,404

 

 

10,570

 

 

9,728

 

Transaction pursuit costs

 

 

 

 

 

60

 

 

 

Amortization of real estate tax intangible

 

120

 

 

121

 

 

481

 

 

481

 

Amortization of above- and below-market leases

 

(8

)

 

(32

)

 

(104

)

 

(390

)

Straight-line rent adjustments

 

(77

)

 

(494

)

 

(202

)

 

(1,180

)

Gain on termination of lease

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(838

)

Litigation settlement and other

 

2,730

 

 

 

 

2,730

 

 

 

NOI

$

16,440

 

$

14,743

 

$

63,458

 

$

63,573

 

 
 

 

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Tencent hands shareholders $16.4 bln windfall in the form of JD.com stake

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  • Move comes as Beijing cracks down on technology firms
  • JD.com shares plunge as much as 11.2%, Tencent up 4%
  • Tencent has no plans to sell stakes in other firms-source

BEIJING/HONG KONG, Dec 23 (Reuters) – Chinese gaming and social media company Tencent (0700.HK) will pay out a $16.4 billion dividend by distributing most of its JD.com (9618.HK) stake, weakening its ties to the e-commerce firm and raising questions about its plans for other holdings.

The move comes as Beijing leads a broad regulatory crackdown on technology firms, taking aim at their overseas growth ambitions and domestic concentration of market power.

Tencent said on Thursday it will transfer HK$127.69 billion ($16.37 billion) worth of its JD.com stake to shareholders, slashing its holding in China’s second-biggest e-commerce company to 2.3% from around 17% now and losing its spot as JD.com’s biggest shareholder to Walmart (WMT.N).

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The owner of WeChat, which first invested in JD.com in 2014, said it was the right time for the divestment, given the e-commerce firm had reached a stage where it can self-finance its growth.

Chinese regulators have this year blocked Tencent’s proposed $5.3 billion merger of the country’s top two videogame streaming sites, ordered it to end exclusive music copyright agreements and found WeChat illegally transferred user data.

The company is one of a handful of technology giants that dominate China’s internet space and which have historically prevented rivals’ links and services from being shared on their platforms.

“This seems to be a continuation of the concept of bringing down the walled gardens and increasing competition among the tech giants by weakening partnerships, exclusivity and other arrangements which weaken competitive pressures,” Mio Kato, a LightStream Research analyst who publishes on Smartkarma said of the JD.com stake transfer.

“It could have implications for things like the payments market where Tencent’s relationships with Pinduoduo and JD have helped it maintain some competitiveness with Alipay,” he said.

JD.com shares plunged 11.2% at one point in Hong Kong trade on Thursday, the biggest daily percentage decline since its debut in the city in June 2020, before closing with a 7.0.% decline. Shares of Tencent, Asia’s most valuable listed company, rose 4.2%.

Shares of Tencent and JD on Dec 23

The companies said they would continue to have a business relationship, including an ongoing strategic partnership agreement, though Tencent Executive Director and President Martin Lau will step down from JD.com’s board immediately.

Eligible Tencent shareholders will be entitled to one share of JD.com for every 21 shares they hold.

A Tencent logo is seen in Beijing, China September 4, 2020. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

PORTFOLIO DIVESTMENTS?

The JD.com stake is part of Tencent’s portfolio of listed investments valued at $185 billion as of Sept. 30, including stakes in e-commerce company Pinduoduo (PDD.O), food delivery firm Meituan (3690.HK), video platform Kuaishou (1024.HK), automaker Tesla (TSLA.O) and streaming service Spotify (SPOT.N).

Alex Au, managing director at Hong Kong-based hedge fund manager Alphalex Capital Management, said the JD.com sale made both business and political sense.

“There might be other divestments on their way as Tencent heeds the antitrust call while shareholders ask to own those interests in minority stakes themselves,” he said.

A person with knowledge of the matter told Reuters Tencent has no plans to exit its other investments. When asked about Pinduoduo and Meituan, the person said they are not as well-developed as JD.com.

The Chinese internet giant has also invested in overseas companies such as Tesla (TSLA.O), Netamble, Snapchat, Spotify (SPOT.N) and Sea (SE.N). “Going abroad is one of Tencent’s most important strategies in the future,” a CITIC Securities research note said on Thursday. “The possibility of selling overseas high-quality technology and internet assets is small.”

Tencent chose to distribute the JD shares as a dividend rather than sell them on the market in an attempt to avoid a steep fall in JD.com’s share price as well as a high tax bill, the person added.

Kenny Ng, an analyst at Everbright Sun Hung Kai, said the decision was “definitely negative” for JD.com.

“Although Tencent’s reduction of JD’s holdings may not have much impact on JD’s actual business, when the shares are transferred from Tencent to Tencent’s shareholders, the chances of Tencent’s shareholders selling JD’s shares as dividends will increase,” he said.

Technology investor Prosus (PRX.AS), which is Tencent’s largest shareholder with a 29% stake and is controlled by Naspers of South Africa, will receive the biggest portion of JD.com shares.

Walmart owns a 9.3% stake in JD.com, according to the Chinese company. Payments processor Alipay is part of Tencent rival Alibaba Group .

($1 = 7.7996 Hong Kong dollars)

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Reporting by Sophie Yu in Beijing and Scott Murdoch in Hong Kong; Additional reporting by Xie Yu, Selena Li, Donny Kwok and Eduardo Baptista in Hong Kong and Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Writing by Jamie Freed; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Muralikumar Anantharaman

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Sardinian Village Tries to Save an Ancient Tree Scorched by Fire

To the people of Cuglieri, a small hilltop village on the Italian island of Sardinia, the tree was simply “the Patriarch.”

Over the course of its long life — estimates of its age range from 1,800 to 2,000 years old — the olive tree became a behemoth, with a trunk 11 feet, or 3.4 meters, wide, and an integral part of an ancient landscape in western Sardinia. But after a large area of vegetation and numerous farms and villages in the region were devastated by one of the biggest wildfires in decades, time finally caught up with the Patriarch.

The ancient olive tree was engulfed in flames, and its giant trunk burned for almost two days.

In a fire that reached Cuglieri in late July, the agricultural community of about 2,600 residents lost 90 percent of its olive trees, the main source of income for most. More than 1,000 people were evacuated from the town, which is tucked between a mountain covered in cork and oak trees and the Mediterranean Sea.

Now local residents and the authorities are pinning their hopes for the survival of their ancient olive tree on Gianluigi Bacchetta, a professor at the University of Cagliari and the director of its botanical gardens, who is trying to bring the Patriarch back to life.

“The Patriarch is our identity,” said Maria Franca Curcu, who is responsible for cultural and social policies for the municipality of Cuglieri, her voice breaking. “If we can save him, we can give a message of hope to all the people who have lost everything in the fire.”

When Professor Bacchetta first visited the ancient olive tree in July, soil temperatures had reached 176 degrees Fahrenheit, or 80 degrees Celsius, because of the fire.

“We needed to create an intensive care unit for the tree,” he said in a telephone interview. “It really is a living being that underwent serious trauma,” Professor Bacchetta said. “We are going to do our best and hope that it wakes up from its coma.”

The professor and his team first watered the soil to cool it down and then protected the trunk with jute tarps and the soil with straw. A nearby village gave a water tank for the tree, and a local plumber built an irrigation system that allows the soil to retain crucial humidity.

A local construction company donated equipment and worked for free to build a structure to shade the trunk from the scorching sun, replicating the role of leaves — now gone. Every 10 days, the tree is irrigated with organic fertilizers in the hope of encouraging the tree’s peripheral roots to grow.

“If the peripheral roots restart and manage to transfer materials to the stump,” Professor Bacchetta said, “we can hope for shoots to come out in September or October.”

The professor did not stop with the Patriarch. He visited all of the centuries-old olive groves in the area, advising farmers on how to save fire-damaged plants. His team and local authorities are planning a crowdfunding effort to buy equipment to restore the olive groves and their fields.

Giorgio Zampa, the owner of an olive farm that once belonged to his great-grandfather, lost all of his 500 oldest olive trees, planted over 350 years ago.

“Mr. Bacchetta unfortunately can’t do much for me,” Mr. Zampa said, “but I believe that the work on the Patriarch will psychologically help the entire community.”

Ten of his 14 Sardinian donkeys and almost all of his cattle from an ancient, endangered breed also died in the wildfire as they sought shelter in a nearby forest, which began burning shortly after. Mr. Zampa said he would focus his business on the remaining younger olive trees and start planting new ones.

“The village’s economy got burned to a cinder like the olive groves,” he said. “The fire damaged the landscape, the economy and our incomes in an incalculable way, like nothing we had seen before.”

Wildfires are not new to the Cuglieri area. They are a relatively common summer phenomenon on the arid island of Sardinia, but generally are not as apocalyptic as this season’s. The extraordinarily high flames, propelled by strong winds from the south, reached the village’s homes and burned to ashes everything standing in between, including the cemetery’s ossuary.

In the last big fire, in 1994, the Patriarch was spared, though the flames burned some century-old trees nearby.

“In Cuglieri, we have always felt that there is something sacred about it, and that protected it from the fire,” said Piera Perria, a retired local anthropologist who first contacted Professor Bacchetta to assess the Patriarch. “None of us could imagine that it could not make it this time.”

Giuseppe Mariano Delogu, a retired high-ranking official with Sardinia’s forestry corps, said that in the past 40 years, wildfires followed the same roads on the hill and the mountain near Cuglieri, but the flames never reached the olive groves.

Although civil protection and the response to fires in the area have improved over the years, bureaucratic hurdles aimed at protecting Mediterranean scrubland mean that inflammable vegetation is often not cleared, creating fire hazards, experts say. High temperatures this summer, partly because of hot winds blowing in from Africa, have intensified the risks of wildfires breaking out.

“The only way to extinguish such fires is to prevent them,” Mr. Delogu said. “Technology simply fails when the fire is so strong and so vast, regardless of how many firefighters you have, they will always struggle.”

Mr. Delogu was still hopeful for the Patriarch, though.

“They are incredible trees,” he said. “I am optimistic.”

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Fight Over a Gentle Stream Distills Israel’s Political Divide

KIBBUTZ NIR DAVID, Israel — A whimsical chain of inflatable rafts tethered together by a flimsy rope floated along the Asi, a gentle stream that runs for a mile through a sunbaked plain in northern Israel.

The boats were packed with residents of the area, their children and day trippers from farther afield, but this was no picnic, even though it was a holiday. The goal of this unarmed armada was nothing less than reclaiming the small river.

“This is a strategic takeover!” the leader of the ragtag crew, Nati Vaknin, shouted through a bullhorn as he waded ahead of the group.

The flotilla’s destination was a forbidden paradise: an exquisite, aquamarine stretch of the stream that runs through, and that has effectively been monopolized by, Kibbutz Nir David, a communal farm founded by early Zionist pioneers, Ashkenazi Jews from Europe who historically formed the core of the Israeli elite.

Free the Asi campaign, a group fighting for public access to a cherished beauty spot and against perceived privilege. On the other is a kibbutz eager to maintain its hard-earned assets and tranquil lifestyle. The dispute has landed in court, awaiting resolution; in late May, the state of Israel weighed in, backing the public’s right to access the stream through the kibbutz.

But underlying the battle are much greater tensions that extend across Israel.

The Asi dispute pits advantaged scions of the country’s socialist founders against a younger generation from a traditionally marginalized group. And it has resonated across Israel as a distillation of the identity politics and divisions that deepened under the long prime ministership of Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israel’s fourth in two years, 93.5 percent of the vote in Beit Shean, with a population of about 18,000, went to right-wing or religious parties mostly aligned with Mr. Netanyahu, then the prime minister. Three miles away in Nir David, a community of about 650 people, over 90 percent of the votes went to centrist or left-wing parties that belong to the new governing coalition that ousted him.

Free the Asi campaign has attracted a variety of supporters, including left-wing social justice advocates and environmentalists. But left-wing political parties have mostly stayed mum to avoid alienating the kibbutz movement, their traditional base of support.

Some on the right have enthusiastically taken up the cause, like Yair Netanyahu, the former prime minister’s elder son, who has called to liberate the Asi on Twitter. It was a lawmaker from Shas, the ultra-Orthodox, Mizrahi party, who brought the court case against the kibbutz.

“It’s worth it for them to fan the ethnic narrative,” said Lavi Meiri, the kibbutz’s chief administrator. “It gets them votes.”

Nir David denies any discrimination, asserting that 40 percent of its population is now Mizrahi.

To end the standoff, Nir David has backed developing a new leisure area outside the kibbutz or extending the Asi’s flow toward Beit Shean. But the Free the Asi leaders said that could set a precedent for the privatization of natural resources.

Perah Hadad, 36, a campaign leader from Beit Shean, said the relationship with Nir David had always been one of “us on the outside and them inside.”

Ms. Hadad, a political science student, argues that part of the kibbutz could be opened to the public with fixed hours and prohibitions on barbecues and loud music.

“After all,” she said, “there are not that many streams like this in Israel.”

The flotilla led by Mr. Vaknin took place on Mimouna, a North African Jewish holiday marking the end of Passover.

Mr. Vaknin, 30, an information systems analyst, had organized a noisy and festive demonstration that began outside the kibbutz gate, complete with a D.J. and piles of mufletot, Mimouna pancakes dripping with honey.

“Open your gates and open your hearts!” Mr. Vaknin shouted, inviting kibbutz residents to join the party.

An eclectic mix of about two dozen people turned up to protest.

While the kibbutz offers the most practical entry into the Asi, it is possible to reach the water where the stream meets the irrigation channel. But that way involves several hazards, including clambering down a steep incline off a busy road and the possibility that sharp rocks in this untamed part of the stream would tear a raft.

Despite those obstacles, the protesters moved from the kibbutz down the road to launch their flotilla from that unblocked spot and later disembarked near the kibbutz cemetery. Children swam and chased ducks as grim-faced security guards looked on, filming on their cellphones.

The wet interlopers then sauntered off into the heart of the kibbutz. Nobody stopped them, and they posed for victory photos on the manicured bank of the Asi.

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Live Updates: Summit Over, Putin and Biden Cite Gains, but Tensions Are Clear

military threats to human rights concerns. Some were longstanding, others of newer vintage.

During the Cold War, the prospect of nuclear annihilation led to historic treaties and a framework that kept the world from blowing itself up. At this meeting, for the first time, cyberweapons — with their own huge potential to wreak havoc — were at the center of the agenda.

But Mr. Putin’s comments to the media suggested the two leaders did not find much common ground.

In addition to his denials that Russia had played a destabilizing role in cyberspace, he also took a hard line on human rights in Russia.

He said Mr. Biden had raised the issue, but struck the same defiant tone on the matter in his news conference as he has in the past. The United States, Mr. Putin said, supports opposition groups in Russia to weaken the country, since it sees Russia as an adversary.

“If Russia is the enemy, then what organizations will America support in Russia?” Mr. Putin asked. “I think that it’s not those who strengthen the Russian Federation, but those that contain it — which is the publicly announced goal of the United States.”

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transcript

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Biden Raises Human Rights and Cybersecurity With Putin

Mr. Biden discussing his meeting with Mr. Putin.

I told President Putin my agenda is not against Russia or anyone else. It’s for the American people, fighting Covid-19, rebuilding our economy, re-establishing relationships around the world with our allies and friends and protecting the American people. That’s my responsibility as president. I also told him that no president of the United States could keep faith with the American people if they did not speak out to defend our democratic values, to stand up for the universal and fundamental freedoms that all men and women have in our view. That’s just part of the DNA of our country. So human rights is going to always be on the table, I told him. It’s not about just going after Russia when they violate human rights. It’s about who we are. This is about practical, straightforward, no-nonsense decisions that we have to make or not make. We’ll find out within the next six months to a year, whether or not we actually have a strategic dialogue that matters. We’ll find out whether we work to deal with everything from release of people in Russian prisons or not. We’ll find out whether we have a cybersecurity arrangement that begins to bring some order because, look, the countries that most are likely to be damaged — the failure to do that — are the major countries.

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Mr. Biden discussing his meeting with Mr. Putin.CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Biden said on Wednesday that “I did what I came to do” in his first summit meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

Speaking after the summit in Geneva, Mr. Biden said the two leaders had identified areas of mutual interest and cooperation. But he said he had also voiced American objections to Russia’s behavior on human rights, and warned that there would be consequences to cyberattacks on the United States.

Any American president representing the country’s democratic values, Mr. Biden said, would be obliged to raise issues of human rights and freedoms. And so he said had discussed with Mr. Putin his concerns over the imprisonment of the Russian opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny and warned there would be “devastating” consequences if Mr. Navalny were to die in prison.

Mr. Biden also brought up the detentions of two American citizens in Russia, Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed, he said.

On the issue of cybersecurity, Mr. Biden said he had argued that certain parts of the infrastructure need to be off limits to cyberattacks. He said he had provided Mr. Putin with a list of critical areas, like energy, that must be spared. Mr. Biden also said the two leaders had agreed to enlist experts in both countries to discuss what should remain off limits and to follow up on specific cases.

“We need to have some basic rules of the road,” Mr. Biden told reporters after the summit.

And if Russia continues to violate what he called the basic norms of responsible behavior, he said, “We will respond.”

Mr. Biden made clear that, during his discussions with Mr. Putin, there were no threats, no talk of military intervention and no mention of what specific retaliation the United States would take in such cases. But Mr. Biden said that the United States was fully capable of responding with its own cyberattacks — “and he knows it.”

Mr. Biden said “there’s much more work to do,” but declared over the course of his weeklong European trip, he had shown that “the United States is back.”

He also said Russia stood to lose internationally if it continued to meddle in elections. “It diminishes the standing of a nation,”Mr. Biden said.

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Mr. Putin told reporters Wednesday that there had been “no hostility” in his first meeting with Mr. Biden.CreditCredit…Pool photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko

President Vladimir V. Putin on Wednesday repeated well-worn denials of Russian mischief and tropes about American failings, as he spoke to the press after his first summit with President Biden.

But between those familiar lines, he left the door open to deeper engagement with Washington than the Kremlin had been willing to entertain in recent years. On issues like cybersecurity, nuclear weapons, diplomatic spats and even prisoner exchanges, Mr. Putin said he was ready for talks with the United States, and he voiced unusual optimism about the possibility of achieving results.

“We must agree on rules of behavior in all the spheres that we mentioned today: That’s strategic stability, that’s cybersecurity, that’s resolving questions connected to regional conflicts,” Mr. Putin said at a nearly hourlong news conference after the summit. “I think that we can find agreement on all this — at least I got that sense given the results of our meeting with President Biden.”

Mr. Putin’s focus on “rules of behavior” sounded a lot like the “guardrails” that American officials have said they hope to agree on with Russia in order to stabilize the relationship. “Strategic stability” is the term both sides use to refer to nuclear weapons and related issues.

To be sure, there is no guarantee that the United States and Russia will make progress on those fundamental issues, and American officials fear Russian offers of talks could be efforts to tie key questions up in committees rather than set clear red lines. But in recent years, substantive dialogue between the two countries has been rare, making Wednesday’s promises of new consultations significant.

But Mr. Putin fell back on familiar Kremlin talking points to bat away criticisms, pointing to supposed human rights violations in the United States and denying Russian complicity in cyberattacks. He also refused to budge in response to questions over his repression of dissent inside Russia and the imprisonment of the opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny. As he has said in the past, he repeated that the Kremlin does not see domestic politics as up for negotiation or discussion.

“If you ignore the tiresome whataboutism, there were some real outcomes,” said Samuel Charap, a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation in Arlington, Va. “Russia is not in the habit of confessing its sins and seeking forgiveness. Particularly under Putin.”

The main outcomes to Mr. Charap were the agreement on U.S.-Russian dialogue on strategic stability and cybersecurity, as well as the agreement for American and Russian ambassadors to return to their posts in Moscow and Washington. Mr. Putin also said there was “potential for compromise” on the issue of several Americans imprisoned in Russia and Russians imprisoned in the United States.

To tout his renewed willingness to talk — while acknowledging the uncertainty ahead — Mr. Putin quoted from Russian literature.

“Leo Tolstoy once said: ‘There is no happiness in life — there are only glimmers of it,’” Mr. Putin said. “I think that in this situation, there can’t be any kind of family trust. But I think we’ve seen some glimmers.”

Mr. Biden and the first lady earlier this month.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

After President Biden met his Russian counterpart on Wednesday, the two men did not face the news media at a joint news conference.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia spoke first, followed by Mr. Biden, in separate news conferences, a move intended by the White House to deny the Russian leader an international platform like the one he received during a 2018 summit in Helsinki with President Donald J. Trump.

“We expect this meeting to be candid and straightforward, and a solo press conference is the appropriate format to clearly communicate with the free press the topics that were raised in the meeting,” a U.S. official said in a statement sent to reporters this weekend, “both in terms of areas where we may agree and in areas where we have significant concerns.”

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On Wednesday, President Biden met with the president of Russia, Vladimir V. Putin, in Geneva. The two global leaders are meeting as tensions between Washington and Moscow have escalated over the last year.CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Top aides to Mr. Biden said that during negotiations over the meetings the Russian government was eager to have Mr. Putin join Mr. Biden in a news conference. But Biden administration officials said that they were mindful of how Mr. Putin seemed to get the better of Mr. Trump in Helsinki.

At that news conference, Mr. Trump publicly accepted Mr. Putin’s assurances that his government did not interfere with the 2016 election, taking the Russian president’s word rather than the assessments of his own intelligence officials.

The spectacle in 2018 drew sharp condemnations from across the political spectrum for providing an opportunity for Mr. Putin to spread falsehoods. Senator John McCain at the time called it “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”

Mr. Putin’s limousine arriving at the Villa La Grange on Wednesday.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Piggybacking on the attention to Russia with the Biden-Putin meeting on Wednesday, the European Union issued a long and pessimistic report on the state of relations between Brussels and Moscow.

“There is not much hope for better relations between the European Union and Russia anytime soon,” said Josep Borrell Fontelles, the E.U.’s foreign policy chief, introducing the report. It was prepared in advance of a summit meeting of European leaders next week at which the bloc’s future policy toward Russia will be on the agenda.

That discussion has been delayed several times by other pressing issues, including the pandemic.

“Under present circumstances, a renewed partnership between the E.U. and Russia, allowing for closer cooperation, seems a distant prospect,” Mr. Borrell said in a statement, introducing the 14-page report prepared by the European Commission.

The report urges the 27-member bloc to simultaneously “push back” against Russian misbehavior and violations of international law; “constrain” Russia’s efforts to destabilize Europe and undermine its interests, especially in the Western Balkans and neighboring post-Soviet states; and “engage” with Russia on common issues like health and climate, “based on a strong common understanding of Russia’s aims and an approach of principled pragmatism.”

The ambition, Mr. Borrell said, is to move gradually “into a more predictable and stable relationship,” a similar goal to that expressed by the Biden administration.

Mr. Borrell had an embarrassing visit to Moscow in February as he began to prepare the report. He stood by without reacting in a joint news conference as his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, called the European Union an “unreliable partner.”

As they were meeting, Moscow announced that diplomats from Germany, Poland and Sweden had been expelled for purportedly participating in “illegal protests” to support the jailed opposition politician Aleksei A. Navalny, a fact Mr. Borrell discovered only later through social media.

He defended the trip, telling the European Parliament that he “wanted to test whether the Russian authorities are interested in a serious attempt to reverse the deterioration of our relations and seize the opportunity to have a more constructive dialogue. The answer has been clear: No, they are not.”

Relations have worsened since then with overt Russian support for a crackdown against democracy and protests in Belarus.

Soldiers working with artillery at a base in Khlibodarivka, Ukraine, in April.
Credit…Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times

Even before the summit between the United States and Russia got underway on Wednesday, Ukrainian officials played down the prospect for a breakthrough on one of the thornier issues on the agenda: ending the war in eastern Ukraine, the only active conflict in Europe today.

Ukraine said it would not accept any arrangements made in Geneva between President Biden and President Vladimir V. Putin on the war, which has been simmering for seven years between Russian-backed separatists and the Ukrainian Army, officials said.

Before the summit’s start, Dmitri S. Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesman, said that Ukraine’s entry into NATO would represent a “red line” for Russia that Mr. Putin was prepared to make plain on Wednesday. Mr. Biden said this week that Ukraine could join NATO if “they meet the criteria.”

The Ukrainian government has in recent years dug in its heels on a policy of rejecting any negotiation without a seat at the table after worry that Washington and Moscow would cut a deal in back-room talks. The approach has remained in place with the Biden administration.

“It is not possible to decide for Ukraine,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Monday. “So there will be no concrete result” in negotiations in Geneva, he said.

Ukraine’s foreign minister drove the point home again on Tuesday.

“We have made it very clear to our partners that no agreement on Ukraine reached without Ukraine will be recognized by us,” Dmytro Kuleba, the foreign minister, told journalists. Ukraine, he said, “will not accept any scenarios where they will try to force us to do something.”

Ukraine will have a chance for talks with the United States. Mr. Biden has invited Mr. Zelensky to a meeting in the White House in July, when a recent Russian troop buildup along the Ukrainian border is sure to be on the agenda.

Russia massed more than 100,000 troops along the Ukrainian border this spring. Despite an announcement in Moscow of a drawdown, both Ukrainian and Western governments say that only a few thousand soldiers have departed, leaving a lingering risk of a military escalation over the summer.

With Donald J. Trump in Osaka, Japan, in 2019.

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

With Barack Obama in New York in 2015.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

With George W. Bush in Washington in 2005.

Credit…Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

With Bill Clinton in Moscow in 2000.

Credit…Dirck Halstead/Liaison
President Donald J. Trump with President Vladimir V. Putin during a joint news conference in Helsinki in 2018.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

If President Biden wanted an example of a summit that did not go according to plan, he needed only to look back to 2018.

That year, President Donald J. Trump flew to Helsinki to meet President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, the first face-to-face meeting between the two and a highly anticipated moment given the then-ongoing investigations of Russian interference and cooperation with Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

It might have been a chance for Mr. Trump to push back against those accusations by offering a forceful denunciation of Russia’s actions in private, and again during a joint news conference by the two men.

Instead, standing on the stage by Mr. Putin’s side, Mr. Trump dismissed the conclusions by U.S. intelligence agencies about Russian meddling and said, in essence, that he believed Mr. Putin more than he did the C.I.A. and other key advisers

“They said they think it’s Russia,” Mr. Trump said. “I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia.” He added that he didn’t see any reason Russia would have been responsible for hacks during the 2016 election. “President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”

It was the kind of jaw-dropping assertion that U.S. administrations usually strive to avoid in the middle of highly scripted presidential summits. Critics lashed out at Mr. Trump for undermining his own government and for giving aid and comfort to an adversary. Even Republican allies of the president issued harsh denunciations.

“It is the most serious mistake of his presidency and must be corrected — immediately,” said Newt Gingrich, the former Republican House speaker and a staunch supporter of Mr. Trump.

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A Look Back at Trump’s 2019 Meeting With Putin

Former President Donald J. Trump met with Vladimir V. Putin in June of 2019, where he warned the Russian president not to interfere with the U.S. election.

“You don’t have a problem with Russia, we have — you don’t have a problem. Thank you very much, everybody, it’s a great honor to be with President Putin, his representative, my representative. We have many things to discuss, including trade and including some disarmament and some little protectionism, perhaps, in a very positive way. And we’re going to discuss a lot of different things. We’ve had great meetings we have a very, very good relationship.” Reporter: “Mr. President, will you tell Russia not to meddle in the 2020 election?” [reporters shouting questions] Reporter: “What about the Ukrainian —” “Don’t, don’t meddle in the election.”

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Former President Donald J. Trump met with Vladimir V. Putin in June of 2019, where he warned the Russian president not to interfere with the U.S. election.

There was nothing about the one day Helsinki summit that was normal. Mr. Putin and Mr. Trump were so chummy that the Russian president gave Mr. Trump a soccer ball to take home as a gift. Mr. Trump thanked him and bounced the ball to Melania Trump, the first lady, in the front row, saying he would take it home to give it to his son, Barron.

(Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary at the time, later issued a statement saying that the ball — like all gifts — had been examined to make sure it had not been bugged with listening devices.)

In a statement issued as Mr. Biden headed to Europe last week, Mr. Trump once again called his meeting with Mr. Putin “great and very productive” and he defended supporting the Russian president over his intelligence aides.

“As to who do I trust, they asked, Russia or our ‘Intelligence’ from the Obama era,” he said in a statement. “The answer, after all that has been found out and written, should be obvious. Our government has rarely had such lowlifes as these working for it.”

The former president also took a cheap shot at his successor in the statement, warning him not to “fall asleep during the meeting.”

One thing was certain — Mr. Biden did not follow through on Mr. Trump’s request that when Mr. Biden met with Mr. Putin “please give him my warmest regards!”

Health workers waiting for Covid patients on Monday at a hospital complex in Moscow.
Credit…Maxim Shipenkov/EPA, via Shutterstock

In the United States, fireworks lit up the night sky in New York City on Tuesday, a celebration meant to demonstrate the end of coronavirus restrictions. California, the most populous state, has fully opened its economy. And President Biden said there would be a gathering at the White House on July 4, marking what America hopes will be freedom from the pandemic.

Yet this week the country’s death toll passed 600,000 — a staggering loss of life.

In Russia, officials frequently say that the country has handled the coronavirus crisis better than the West and that there have been no large-scale lockdowns since last summer.

But in the week that President Vladimir V. Putin met with Mr. Biden for a one-day summit, Russia has been gripped by a vicious new wave of Covid-19. Hours before the start of the summit on Wednesday, the city of Moscow announced that it would be mandating coronavirus vaccinations for workers in service and other industries.

“We simply must do all we can to carry out mass vaccination in the shortest possible time period and stop this terrible disease,” Sergey S. Sobyanin, the mayor of Moscow, said in a blog post. “We must stop the dying of thousands of people.”

It was a reversal from prior comments from Mr. Putin, who said on May 26 that “mandatory vaccination would be impractical and should not be done.”

Mr. Putin said on Saturday that 18 million people had been inoculated in the country — less than 13 percent of the population, even though Russia’s Sputnik V shots have been widely available for months.

The country’s official death toll is nearly 125,000, according to Our World in Data, and experts have said that such figures probably vastly underestimate the true tally.

While the robust United States vaccination campaign has sped the nation’s recovery, the virus has repeatedly confounded expectations. The inoculation campaign has also slowed in recent weeks.

Unlike many of the issues raised at Wednesday’s summit, and despite the scientific achievement that safe and effective vaccines represent, the virus follows its own logic — mutating and evolving — and continues to pose new and unexpected challenges for both leaders and the world at large.

Displaced Syrian men at a refugee camp in Idlib last year.
Credit…Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

The conflict in Syria — which has now raged for 10 years and counting — was on the meeting agenda for President Biden and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia as they met on Wednesday.

Since the start of the war, Russia has supported President Bashar al-Assad and his forces, and in 2015 it launched a military intervention with ground forces in the country to prop up the then-flailing government. In the years since, government forces have regained control of much of the country, with the support of Russia and Iran, as Mr. al-Assad’s forced tamped down dissent and carried out brutal attacks against Syrian civilians.

The United States also became deeply involved in the conflict, backing Kurdish forces in the country’s north and conducting airstrikes in the fight against the Islamic State. It has maintained a limited military presence there. Both the United States and Russian forces have found themselves on opposite sides of the multifaceted conflict on numerous occasions.

After years of failed attempts at peace in Syria as the humanitarian toll has continued to mount, Lina Khatib, the director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Chatham House, a British think tank, said the moment could be ripe for the two major powers to chart a path forward.

She said that “despite taking opposing sides in the Syrian conflict, there is potential for a US-Russian compromise,” and that the summit could be the best place to begin that process.

“The Biden administration must not waste the opportunity that the U.S.-Russian summit presents on Syria,” Ms. Khatib wrote in a recent piece before the meeting in Geneva. “While the focus of various U.S. government departments working on Syria is on the delivery of cross-border aid, fighting the Islamic State and planning an eventual exit for U.S. troops, all these problems are products of the ongoing conflict, and solving them requires a comprehensive strategy to end it.”

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Russian and American Media Scuffle Before Diplomacy Meeting

A chaotic scrum between American and Russian reporters erupted on Wednesday before closed-door meetings between President Biden and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

[reporters arguing] “Let me get up there —” “We’re with them, we’re part of the U.S. —” “I’m not in charge of your press.” “I need to get up with that camera, though, guys, I’m in sound. I need to get up —” [reporters arguing] “One, two, three. One, two, three.” “He’s setting the camera. He’s setting the camera.” “OK, so audio doesn’t go in yet?” “Not yet.” “Let’s go. Let’s go.” “Don’t touch me. Don’t touch me. Stop pushing. Don’t push me.” “Guys, there’s a cord here. There’s a cord here.”

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A chaotic scrum between American and Russian reporters erupted on Wednesday before closed-door meetings between President Biden and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

American and Russian reporters engaged in a shoving match on Wednesday outside the villa where President Biden and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia were meeting, stranding much of the press outside when the two leaders began talking.

The chaotic scrum erupted moments after Mr. Biden and Mr. Putin shook hands and waved to reporters before closed-door meetings with a handful of aides.

President Guy Parmelin of Switzerland had just welcomed the leaders “in accordance with its tradition of good offices” to “promote dialogue and mutual understanding.”

But shortly after the two leaders entered the villa, reporters from both countries rushed the side door, where they were stopped by Russian and American security and government officials from both countries. There was screaming and pushing as both sides tried to surge in, with officials yelling for order.

White House officials succeeded in getting nine members of their 13-member press pool into the library where Mr. Biden and Mr. Putin were seated against a backdrop of floor-to-ceiling books, along with each of their top diplomats and translators. The two leaders had already begun to make very brief remarks before reporters were able to get in the room.

Inside, more scuffling erupted — apparently amusing to the two leaders — as Russian officials told photographers that they could not take pictures and one American reporter was shoved to the ground. The two leaders waited, at moments smiling uncomfortably, for several minutes before reporters were pushed back out of the room as the summit meeting began.

“It’s always better to meet face to face,” Mr. Biden said to Mr. Putin as the commotion continued.

Chaotic scenes are not uncommon when reporters from multiple countries angle for the best spot to view a world leader, often in cramped spaces and with government security and handlers pushing them to leave quickly.

But even by those standards the scene outside the villa in this usually bucolic venue was particularly disruptive. Russian journalists quickly accused the Americans for trying to get more people into the room than had been agreed to, but it appeared that the Russians had many more people than the 15 for each side that had been negotiated in advance.

“The Americans didn’t go through their door, caused a stampede,” one Russian reporter posted on Telegram.

In fact, reporters from both countries had been told to try to go through a single door, and officials for both countries at times were stopping all of the reporters from entering, telling them to move back and blocking the door.

When American officials tried to get White House reporters inside, the Russian security blocked several of them.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia arriving in Geneva on Wednesday.
Credit…Pool photo by Alessandro Della Valle

Wednesday’s Geneva summit got off to an auspicious start: President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia landed on time.

His plane landed at about 12:30 p.m., an hour before he was set to meet President Biden, who had arrived in Geneva the previous evening. Mr. Putin is known for making world leaders wait — sometimes hours — for his arrival, one way to telegraph confidence and leave an adversary on edge.

But this time Mr. Putin did not resort to scheduling brinkmanship.

The summit’s start was laced with delicate choreography: Mr. Putin arrived first, straight from the airport, and was greeted on the red carpet in front of a lakeside villa by President Guy Parmelin of Switzerland. About 15 minutes later, Mr. Biden arrived in his motorcade, shook hands with Mr. Parmelin and waved to reporters.

The Swiss president welcomed the two leaders, wishing them “fruitful dialogue in the interest of your two countries and the whole world.” He then stepped aside, allowing Mr. Biden and Mr. Putin to approach each other, smiling, and shake hands.

Russian officials on Wednesday sought to put a positive last-minute spin on the meeting.

“This is an extremely important day,” a deputy foreign minister, Sergey Ryabkov, told the RIA Novosti state news agency hours before the summit’s start. “The Russian side in preparing for the summit has done the utmost for it to turn out positive and have results that will allow the further deterioration of the bilateral relationship to be halted, and to begin moving upwards.”

Even before Mr. Putin landed, members of his delegation had arrived at the lakeside villa where the meeting is being held. They included Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov, who joined Mr. Putin in a small-group session with Mr. Biden and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken at the start of the summit; and Valery V. Gerasimov, Russia’s most senior military officer.

Police officers from across Switzerland — the words “police,” “Polizei” and “polizia” on their uniforms reflecting the country’s multilingual cantons — cordoned off much of the center of Geneva on Wednesday.

The city’s normally bustling lakefront was off limits, and the park where President Biden and Mr. Putin were meeting was protected by razor wire and at least one armored personnel carrier.

Inside the leafy Parc la Grange, overlooking Lake Geneva, the police directed journalists to two separate press centers — one for those covering Mr. Putin, one for those covering Mr. Biden. As the reporters waited for the leaders to arrive, a Russian radio reporter went on air and intoned that Lake Geneva had become “a lake of hope.”

Villa La Grange in Geneva.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

A storied villa on the shores of Lake Geneva is sometimes described as having “a certain sense of mystery about it,” but there was little mystery this week about why the mansion and the park surrounding it were closed off.

Visitors were coming.

The Villa la Grange, an 18th-century manor house at the center of Parc la Grange, was the site of the meeting on Wednesday between President Biden and President Vladimir V. Putin.

Set in one of Geneva’s largest and most popular parks, the site is known not just for its lush gardens, but also for its role as a setting for important moments in the struggle between war and peace.

In 1825, the villa’s library — home to over 15,000 works and the only room to retain the villa’s original decorative features — hosted dignitaries of a European gathering that aimed to help Greeks fighting for independence.

Designed by the architect Jean-Louis Bovet and completed in 1773, the villa was owned by the Lullin family and primarily used as a summer residence before it was bought by a merchant, François Favre, in 1800.

It cemented its place in history in 1864, when it was the site of a closing gala for officials who signed the original 1864 Geneva Convention, presided over by Henri Dunant, a founder of the International Red Cross. An attempt to ameliorate the ravages of war on both soldiers and civilians, it set minimum protections for people who are victims of armed conflict.

After World War II, a new draft of the conventions was signed in an attempt to address gaps in international humanitarian law that the conflict had exposed.

In 1969, Pope Paul VI, who traveled to the park to celebrate Mass for a congregation of tens of thousands, pointed to the villa’s history as he spoke about the risk of nuclear conflagration.

He spoke about the opposing forces of love and hate and called for “generous peacemakers.”

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Germany to Ban Most Travel from U.K. Over Covid Variant Concerns

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Germany is banning most travel from Britain starting on Sunday amid concerns about the spread of a coronavirus variant first discovered in India, the German authorities said on Friday.

German citizens and residents of Germany will still be allowed to enter the country from Britain but will be required to self-isolate for two weeks upon arrival, Germany’s public health institution said as it classified Britain as an area of concern because of the variant.

The move came just days after Britain reopened its museums and cinemas and resumed allowing indoor service in pubs and restaurants. Many people in Britain have been looking forward to traveling abroad in the coming months, and Spain is set to welcome visitors arriving from Britain without a coronavirus test starting on Monday.

serve as an early warning for other European countries that have relaxed restrictions. This month, the World Health Organization declared the mutation a “variant of concern,” and although scientists’ knowledge about it remains limited, it is believed to be more transmissible than the virus’s initial form.

dozen or so other countries that Germany considers areas of concern because of variants. As of Thursday, Britain had 3,424 cases of the variant first discovered in India, according to government data, up from 1,313 cases the previous week.

Dozens of nations, including European countries and the United States, suspended travel from Britain or imposed strict restrictions earlier in the pandemic amid concerns about the spread of a variant first detected in England.

Britain’s Office for National Statistics said on Friday that the percentage of people testing positive for the coronavirus in England had showed “early signs of a potential increase” in the week ending May 15, although it said rates remained low compared with earlier this year. At its peak in late December, Britain recorded more than active 81,000 cases, compared with about 2,000 this month.

The country’s inoculation campaign is continuing apace, with an increased focus on second doses in an effort to thwart the sort of spikes that led to restrictions imposed earlier this year.

said on Saturday that people over 32 could now book an appointment.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to proceed with a plan to lift all restrictions by June 21, although scientists have warned that the spread of the B.1.617 variant could delay such plans. Most cases of the variant have been found in northwestern England, with some in London.

In Germany, the restrictions on travel from Britain come as outdoor service resumed on Friday in cafes, restaurants and beer gardens after months of closure. Chancellor Angela Merkel urged people to “treat these opportunities very responsibly.”

“The virus,” she said, “has not disappeared.”

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1921: An Adopted Son of the Creator of ‘Peter Pan’ Drowns in a Bathing Pool

(By Special Leased Wire.) LONDON, Friday. — There is something of the wistful pathos of his own imaginings in the tragedy which has darkened the home of Sir James Barrie.

Michael Llewellyn Davies and Rupert Buxton, the younger son of the late Sir Thomas V. Buxton, were drowned near the Sanford bathing pool at Oxford yesterday. The two undergraduates were almost inseparable. Davies was twenty years of age, Buxton twenty-two.

It has been related how Sir James Barrie, seeing the Davies children in Kensington Gardens many years ago, stopped to play with them. When both their father and mother (who was the sister of Gerald du Maurier) died still young, Sir James adopted the children.

From his association with them sprang some of his most beautiful fantasies. Typically, however, of his shyness and reserved nature was the fact that not even his friends were able to say to-day how many of the children Sir James adopted.

“He is so retiring that he hardly ever spoke about it,” said one of his friends to-day. “I always had understood that he adopted two children, not four. The elder, who, of course, is believed to be the original Peter Pan, was killed in the war. Now comes the death of the other. It is terrible.”

Birth of Peter Pan

Sir James has told how Peter Pan was created as the result of the fairy tales he told those children and how it was built up as they clamored for more. The “original” Peter Pan’s name was George, a lieutenant in the Rifle Brigade, who was killed in action in March, 1915. He was, perhaps, the only boy for whom a special performance of a London production has been given in his own home.

When “Peter Pan” was produced in London, the “original” was sick in bed at home. “If the boy cannot come to the play, we will take the play to the boy,” said the late Charles Frohman, in observing Sir James’ distress. And they did.

Now both boys, who are most closely associated with the fashioning of Peter Pan, are dead. One of Sir James’ friends to-day recalled the words of Peter himself. “To die would be an awfully big adventure.”

“Nobody can say what it will mean for Sir James,” declared an actress who is closely associated with the dramatist and his plays. “I knew all the adopted family — five altogether — all boys. The lad who just met such a tragic death was very brilliant. I do not know if it will interfere with the play we are now rehearsing under Sir James’ supervision.”

— The New York Herald Tribune, European Edition, May 21, 1921.

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Dropping masks means trusting people in the U.S. about their vaccination status. That’s tough.

Teamwork became a motif of the pandemic’s early days. Holed up inside their homes last spring, crafty Americans sewed masks, neighbors planted yard signs supporting health care workers, and politicians spoke in lofty language about working together to “flatten the curve.”

Then came a partisan division over masks, screaming crowds outside state capitols, death threats against local and state health officials. On the other side of the debate, some people who supported Covid-19 restrictions embraced the job of mask policing.

It quickly became apparent that, even in a crisis, Americans struggled to come together.

So it is no surprise that the latest honor code — the federal government’s guidance encouraging vaccinated Americans to take off their masks — was greeted with skepticism in parts of the country that have not already done so.

“It’s a very complicated symphony right now,” said Dr. Howard Markel, a medical historian at the University of Michigan who is an expert on pandemics. “There’s been such an erosion of trust — distrust for government, distrust for the virus, distrust for this party or that party. So when you tell the public what to do, there are people who say, ‘How can I trust the guy without the mask?’”

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