Taiwan Hunters Contend With Taboos, and Trials, to Uphold Tradition

ZHUOXI, Taiwan — The smell of damp earth filled the air on a recent moonless evening as the hunter wove through the dense mountain thicket, clutching a homemade rifle and with only the narrow white beam of a headlamp to illuminate his prey.

But the hunter, Vilian Istasipal, was confident. He knew this terrain well.

A member of the Bunun, one of 16 officially recognized Indigenous groups in Taiwan, Mr. Vilian, 70, has been hunting on this land for more than 60 years.

Some of his earliest memories growing up in Zhuoxi, a town of around 6,000 people in eastern Taiwan, involved going on dayslong hunts with his father deep into the mountains where he learned skills considered essential to being a Bunun man, like how to lay a trap, shoot a flying squirrel and skin a boar.

“We kill them, but we also pay respect to their lives,” Mr. Vilian said in the courtyard of his home in Zhuoxi, also known as Takkei in the Bunun language.

formally apologized to the island’s Indigenous people for centuries of “pain and mistreatment,” the first leader to do so.

Awi Mona, a professor and expert on Indigenous law at National Dong Hwa University in the eastern city of Hualien. “What we are actually discussing is the Indigenous right to self-government on natural resources.”

Hunting has always been a central part of Taiwan’s Indigenous culture. In Taiwan’s verdant East Rift Valley, the Bunun people maintained the practice even after they were forced out of their traditional mountain homes in the 1930s by the colonial Japanese government.

Many Bunun resettled in the foothills in towns like Zhuoxi, nestled among neatly tended millet and rice fields and scattered with papaya trees and pink bougainvillea.

Then, as now, Indigenous hunting culture was circumscribed by a complex web of taboos and rituals. Traditionally, only men can hunt. Among the Bunun, flatulence and sneezing are some of the many bad omens that might lead a man to call off a hunt. Same goes if a hunter has a bad dream.

In Bunun culture, hunting female deer in the spring, when they are likely to be pregnant, is off-limits. Hunting black bears, seen as friends, is also discouraged.

Among other groups, like the Seediq and the Truku, hunting culture is similarly restricted by long-held customs, at the heart of which is a belief in the fundamental balance between man and nature.

“When I see an animal, I feel that I’m destined to meet it,” said AlangTakisvilainan, 28, a Bunun hunter. He drew a distinction with hunting in America, where the use of semiautomatic rifles effectively amounted to bullying the animals, he said.

“That humans and animals can go head-to-head in a fair fight,” he said, “I think that’s an incredible thing.”

While only Indigenous people can use guns to hunt, they are barred from killing protected species like leopard cats and Formosan black bears, and are required to use certain types of traps, knives or old-fashioned homemade rifles that can jam easily and are some times unsafe. The simple firearms are modeled after those used long ago by Indigenous hunters and must be loaded with gunpowder before each shot.

They must also apply for permits, a process which includes answering questions some hunters regard as absurd. Asking what animals a hunter plans to target, for example, is considered an insult to the Indigenous belief that the animals are gifts from ancestors.

Although enforcement of the laws has been uneven, arrests have continued over the years. So just to be safe, Bayan Tanapima, 62, said he was applying for a gun permit even though he had been hunting since he was a teenager.

“It’s very strange — we have lived for so long in the mountains so why do we have to do this?” Mr. Bayan said. “It’s like they don’t approve of the Indigenous way of living.”

Conservationists have argued that loosening such restrictions would be ruinous for the environment and wildlife, and animal-rights advocates decry what they consider cruel practices. But defenders of local hunting traditions note that Indigenous people have been caretakers of Taiwan’s environment for thousands of years and that such expertise should be respected.

Ciang Isbabanal, a police officer who works on Indigenous issues in the nearby town of Yuli, said that while hunting laws were necessary to curb extreme behavior, the cultural taboos on hunting were so deeply rooted that close outside supervision was unnecessary.

“I hope the country can respect their culture and give them space to live freely,” said Mr. Ciang, a Bunun who also hunts when off-duty. “Having too many legal constraints doesn’t work.”

Back in the forest on a recent night, Mr. Vilian, the 70-year-old hunter, strode up the mountain to where he knew there’d be trees heavy with just-ripened olives — a favorite snack of deer and boars.

Mr. Vilian found a small boar writhing in a trap. According to tribal customs, it was too young to be killed just yet.

After wrapping it in his shirt, he headed home to a late-night feast of braised bamboo shoots and deer meat soup.

But before they could dig in, the ancestors needed to be thanked. Mr. Vilian, his son, Qaivang, and Mr. Bayan, his cousin, dipped their fingers in a bowl of rice wine. They sprinkled a few drops on the boar — now flailing in a rusty cage. The boar was later given to a relative to raise for several years.

“Today we are very happy,” the men chanted in the Bunun language. “To our ancestors and mountain gods, we thank you for giving us this food.”

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A Pandemic Opportunity: Geffen Hall’s Overhaul Accelerates

The coronavirus pandemic has dealt a devastating blow to performing arts institutions nationwide, closing their theaters and robbing them of ticket revenue. But for the New York Philharmonic and Lincoln Center, it has also offered a silver lining: the opportunity to accelerate the long-delayed renovation of David Geffen Hall.

With concerts in the hall canceled since March 2020, construction began in earnest over the past few months. Work is expected to continue for the next year and a half, with a reopening planned for fall 2022, the orchestra and center announced on Monday.

That is a year and a half ahead of schedule, though it comes with the trade-off that the Philharmonic will not be at Geffen for the wave of triumphant cultural homecomings expected around the country this fall, assuming the pandemic ebbs.

The orchestra will nevertheless still spend much of its coming season at Lincoln Center, with the majority of its performances at Alice Tully Hall or the Rose Theater. Though it plans to announce its full program in early June, Deborah Borda, the Philharmonic’s chief executive, said in a video interview with other orchestra and center leaders that she anticipated smaller-scale and intermissionless concerts, at least at first.

that jump-started the project in 2015.

“Through 2020, quite rightly, people’s minds were elsewhere, and we had lots of other challenges as organizations,” Timms said. “But once we got to the end of the year, the opportunity became clear: Could we do this sooner? That became a period in which a lot of people stepped up to support the project, because they saw it as a recovery story, a way to invest in the economic and human recovery of the city.”

The old plan had called for progression in stages to limit disruption to the Philharmonic, which would never have lost a full season in the hall. Katherine Farley, the chairwoman of Lincoln Center’s board, said the new timeline would not diminish the scope of the renovation, which aims to render the lackluster hall more aesthetically and acoustically appealing. Seating will wrap around the stage, which will be pulled forward 25 feet to what is currently Row J, bringing a greater sense of intimacy to what can feel like a cavernous shoe box. The new space will have about 2,200 seats, down from 2,738.

in a rented pickup truck for pop-up performances, and has said it will be back on the road this spring. Its NYPhil+ subscription streaming service was unveiled in February, featuring archival concerts and some fresh content. On April 14 and 15, a contingent of players will appear in front of small audiences at the Shed, 30 blocks south of Lincoln Center, with the conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen. (Jaap van Zweden, the Philharmonic’s music director, was not available because of commitments overseas, though he was in New York recently to tape two programs for NYPhil+.)

But its losses have been crushing. The orchestra has projected that the cancellation of its 2020-21 season resulted in $21 million in lost ticket revenue, on top of $10 million lost in the final months of its season last spring. (Some of that has been mitigated by emergency fund-raising.) Even when live performances resume, despite Borda’s rosy predictions, the box office may not bounce back immediately.

The need for savings that will extend beyond the pandemic was reflected in a new four-year contract agreed to by the orchestra and its musicians in December, which includes a 25 percent cut to the players’ base pay through August 2023. Pay will then gradually increase until the contract ends in September 2024, though at that point the musicians will still be paid less than they were before the pandemic.

plotted a return to its old home, Carnegie Hall; that plan fizzled, further damaging relations between the orchestra and Lincoln Center, its landlord, which also uses the hall for its own musical presentations and for corporate rentals. Concluding in 2012, a $1.2 billion redevelopment of the center left improvements all over — but the costly hall overhaul was not included.

restarted the project with the donation that gave the hall his name. Construction was supposed to start in 2019, but stalled well before that amid logistical problems and management turnover at both the Philharmonic and Lincoln Center. That plan had called for finishing the hall in time for the 2021-22 season. It was a schedule that the orchestra and center came to doubt was viable, but had they been able to stick to it, the renovated hall would have been ready to open just as the city hopes to emerge from the long pandemic closure.

Borda was hired in 2017 in large part to put the renovation back on track; in her previous job leading the Los Angeles Philharmonic, she had brought the construction of Walt Disney Concert Hall over the finish line. In New York, she pushed for a scheme less flashy and more achievable than some of the proposed options — one less likely to overrun its budget and designed to unfold in phases, limiting the stretches the Philharmonic would be exiled.

To be away from the hall for multiple years was assumed to pose an existential threat to its audience’s loyalty. Ironically, if Geffen reopens as now scheduled, the orchestra will have been out of its home for nearly two and a half seasons straight — exactly the situation that was so feared by its management.

As for David Geffen, who expressed frustration at some of the earlier setbacks in the years since his gift, Farley said in the interview that she had just spoken to him earlier that day.

“He’s a guy who’s big on efficiency,” she said, “and loves the idea we’re building it in one shot.”

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Netanyahu Corruption Trial Opens in Israel

JERUSALEM — It was a split-screen spectacle that encapsulated the confounding condition of Israel and its democracy.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared in a Jerusalem court on Monday for the opening of the key, evidentiary phase of his corruption trial. Simultaneously, just two miles across town, representatives of his party were entreating the country’s president to task him with forming Israel’s next government.

For many here, the extraordinary convergence of events was an illustration of a political and constitutional malaise afflicting the nation that gets worse from year to year.

After four inconclusive elections in two years, Mr. Netanyahu, Israel’s longest serving prime minister, who is charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust, and who denies wrongdoing, remains the most polarizing figure on the political stage. But he is also the leader of Israel’s largest party, which took the most seats in national elections last month.

a viable parliamentary majority, Israel appears stuck, unable to fully condone him or to remove him from the scene.

Now, experts said, the country’s democratic system is in the dock.

“Netanyahu and his supporters are not claiming his innocence but are attacking the very legitimacy of the trial and of the judicial system,” said Shlomo Avineri, professor emeritus of political science at Hebrew University.

“It is the right of the prime minister to come to court and plead not guilty,” he said. “But his defense is an attack on the legitimacy of the constitutional order.”

Israel was nearing an unprecedented constitutional crisis, he said, its depth underlined by the symbolism of the two processes unfolding in parallel.

The law gives President Reuven Rivlin a lot of leeway in whom he nominates to form a government. Mr. Rivlin, an old rival of Mr. Netanyahu, said he would act as all former presidents did and task whomever had the best chance of forming a government that would gain the confidence of the new Parliament.

The divisions were playing out noisily on Monday in the street outside the Jerusalem District Court, where dozens of protesters for and against Mr. Netanyahu had gathered at opposite sides of the courthouse.

Anti-corruption protesters held up placards listing the charges against the prime minister and chanted through megaphones. On a small stage, lawmakers from his conservative Likud party claimed that the legal process was being used to unseat Mr. Netanyahu after his opponents failed to do so through the ballot box.

“In the justice system, our choice of ballots is being assassinated,” declared Galit Distel Etebaryan, a newly elected Likud lawmaker.

The drama of the State of Israel v. Benjamin Netanyahu revolves around three cases in which Mr. Netanyahu stands accused of trading official favors in exchange for gifts from wealthy tycoons. The gifts ranged from deliveries of expensive cigars and Champagne to the less tangible one of flattering coverage in leading news outlets.

The first case being tried, known as Case 4000, is the weightiest and the only one in which he has been charged with bribery.

According to the indictment, Mr. Netanyahu used his power as prime minister and communications minister at the time to aid Shaul Elovitch, a media tycoon and friend, in a business merger that profited Mr. Elovitch to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. In return, Walla, a leading Hebrew news site owned by Mr. Elovitch’s telecommunications company, provided the Netanyahu family with favorable coverage, particularly around election time.

The long-anticipated court session opened Monday with a lengthy speech by the chief prosecutor, Liat Ben-Ari. Mr. Netanyahu, who was required to be present, sat at the back of the courtroom.

Describing the case as “significant and grave,” Ms. Ben-Ari said that according to the indictment, Mr. Netanyahu, listed as “Defendant No. 1,” had “made improper use of the great governmental power entrusted to him,” to demand favors from the owners of media outlets to advance his personal affairs, including “his desire to be re-elected.”

Mr. Netanyahu left the court before the first witness, Ilan Yeshua, the former chief executive of Walla, took the stand. With more than 330 witnesses expected to appear, the trial could go on for years.

Mr. Yeshua described how he would receive instructions from go-betweens to post or highlight positive stories about Mr. Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, as well as items that cast his political rivals in a negative light.

He said he relayed the requests to the newsroom and described his daily and hourly struggles with editors as a “nightmare.”

While many Israelis viewed the trial as a triumph for the rule of law, critics said it was a distortion of justice, arguing that all politicians seek positive media coverage.

“Even if, after several years and tens of millions of shekels, the trial ends, as it should, with an acquittal for all parties, the country will bear the costs of this politicization of criminal law for many years to come,” Avi Bell, a professor of law and a senior fellow at the Kohelet Policy Forum, a conservative leaning, Jerusalem-based think tank, said in a statement

The parallel political process underway at Mr. Rivlin’s official residence did little to dispel the sense that Israel remained trapped in a loop of political uncertainty and instability.

One after the other, delegations of the 13 parties elected to the Knesset came Monday to announce which candidate they endorsed to form the next government.

Mr. Netanyahu, whose Likud party won 30 seats in the 120-seat Parliament, was assured of 52 recommendations from his right-wing and ultra-Orthodox allies, well short of a majority of 61 but still more than any one of his opponents would likely muster.

The remaining 90 parliamentary seats are split between a dozen other parties. Yair Lapid’s centrist Yesh Atid party came in second, with 17 seats. All the others resulted in wins of single digits.

The political stalemate has been compounded by Mr. Netanyahu’s refusal to step aside while on trial and by the incoherence of the anti-Netanyahu camp, made up of parties with clashing agendas. Some have ruled out sitting in a government with others.

Many analysts believe the deadlock will lead to a fifth election, though some small parties that now hold a lot of power would risk elimination in any speedy return to the ballot box.

The sheer number of parties is a sign that “Israeli cohesion is unraveling,” said Yedidia Stern, president of the Jewish People Policy Institute in Jerusalem.

“Israeli society is very fragmented,” he said. “The lack of cohesiveness in Israeli society will not disappear just because an election goes this way or that.”

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Biden’s Judge Push

President Biden last week named 11 people he plans to nominate to serve on federal courts, more than any recent president this early in his term. Nine are women, three are Black women and one would become the country’s first Muslim federal judge.

I spoke to Carl Hulse, The Times’s chief Washington correspondent and the author of a book about Trump-era fights over the judiciary, about why Biden is rushing to shape the courts and how judges became so central to American politics. Our conversation has been condensed.

Ian: Donald Trump’s judicial appointments were a big part of his presidency, and now Biden seems to be making filling vacancies a priority. Why have the courts become so important?

Carl: Because the courts are deciding our political fights now. Climate change, voting rights, immigration, redistricting: Because the legislative branch is so stuck, the courts are getting to be the arbiters. They’ve been amplified as a political issue because of their increased importance in deciding big, cutting-edge issues.

put 220-some judges on there — many of them very conservative, most of them white males and some of them with very little legal experience — the Biden folks concluded they needed to get different kinds of people on the courts.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, in Chicago, has a totally white lineup of judges. So Biden picked Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, who is a Black woman and a former federal public defender. Public defenders see the federal courts from another side — from the perspective of the defendant. That’s a big change. I think Biden wanted to make a statement about the kinds of judges he wants: people with different life and legal experiences.

There are currently 68 vacancies, with another 26 scheduled to open this year. Does that limit how transformative Biden can be?

The transformation is going to be in the types of judges. Biden is going to have a hard time matching Trump’s numbers, which were over four years. And that was a concerted campaign by Mitch McConnell, to the exclusion of many other things.

a bigger point of emphasis because of Trump. Democrats watched what Senator McConnell did so successfully, and they are eager to replicate that from the other end of the ideological spectrum. Trump’s going to have people on the bench for 30 years, maybe 40. There’s still a few Reagan judges out there.

Trump appointed three justices to the Supreme Court. Many Democrats hope that Stephen Breyer, who is 82 and one of the court’s three remaining liberals, will retire soon. Does that seem like Biden’s best hope to fill a seat?

We’ll see what happens. A lot of Democrats don’t want to get caught in this Ruth Bader Ginsburg situation again. And Justice Breyer is an extremely smart guy, and also a political guy. He knows what’s going on here.

The Virus

Suzanne Nossel argues in Foreign Policy.

  • “A lot of them wanted to blow up Washington. That’s why they thought they were elected,” John Boehner, a Republican who served as House speaker, writes in Politico Magazine about the right’s paranoid turn. (Warning: Profanity abounds.)

  • Morning Reads

    A New SoHo: It was a haven for artists. Now it’s full of luxury storefronts. What’s next? Maybe affordable housing.

    Lives Lived: Winfred Rembert survived a near-lynching in rural Georgia in 1967. He learned to carve figures into leather while in prison, and later became a renowned artist whose work told the story of the Jim Crow South. He died at 75.

    writes in The Times.

    The pandemic has left many reeling from a loss of health, of income, of loved ones or of a normal way of life. Though circumstances vary, the mood is often similar.

    “When people are under a long period of chronic, unpredictable stress, they develop behavioral anhedonia” — a reduced ability to take pleasure in activities — Margaret Wehrenberg, an expert on anxiety, said. “And so they get lethargic, and they show a lack of interest — and obviously that plays a huge role in productivity.”

    How are people trying to cope? Some are meditating, turning to alcohol or edibles, going for walks or re-engaging with a spiritual practice. Others are finding pockets of joy where they can — sending postcards, exchanging gifts with neighbors or adopting pets. And some have embraced the notion that it’s all right not to be productive during a period of major global upheaval.

    “You’re supposed to be inventing something or coming up with the next big business idea,” one person told The Times last year. “I’m trying to be more OK with just being.”

    is miso.

    What to Watch

    The Korean star Yuh-Jung Youn has had a thriving career for five decades. Now, at 73, she’s up for an Oscar for her role in “Minari.” She spoke with The Times about her career.

    Close Read

    Explore the hidden details of this stunning 17th-century portrait of the emperor who built the Taj Mahal.

    Late Night

    Daniel Kaluuya, star of “Get Out” and “Judas and the Black Messiah,” hosted “Saturday Night Live” this past weekend. Here’s a recap.

    Now Time to Play

    play online.

    And Friday’s Bee Plus answer: CHINA, CHIA, ECHINACEA

    Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Gas that comes down as rain on Jupiter (four letters).

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    Forgotten Copy of Super Mario Bros. Sets Record at Auction

    Super Mario Bros., an iconic, fan-favorite video game that has since spawned multiple variations, was first produced in 1986.

    It features two brothers, Mario and Luigi, who live in the Mushroom Kingdom and are charged with rescuing Princess Toadstool, who has been kidnapped by Bowser, the king of the Koopa. Complete with a recognizable theme song, Mario has remained a popular character among fans for decades.

    According to the narrative from the original instruction booklet, the kingdom of the peaceful Mushroom People had been invaded by the Koopa, a tribe of turtles who turned the “quiet, peace-loving” Mushroom People into stones, bricks and plants. The only person who can reverse the magic spell is Princess Toadstool, the daughter of the Mushroom King.

    In the game, players guide Mario on a quest to free the princess and save the kingdom of the Mushroom People. He navigates eight levels filled with giant mushrooms, menacing turtles and other strange obstacles.

    “You are Mario! It’s up to you to save the Mushroom People from the black magic of the Koopa!” the original instructions tell players.

    Since Super Mario Bros. debuted, the brothers have been featured in numerous games, saving new lands and rescuing more princesses, including Super Mario Sunshine, Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Odyssey. The most recent, Super Mario 3D World, was released in February for the Nintendo Switch system.

    Mario’s presence expands beyond the video game world, too.

    In March, Super Nintendo World opened at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka. Visitors can walk through the familiar green pipe at the park’s entrance, explore Princess Peach’s castle and eat burgers inside a giant mushroom, all with the Mario theme song playing in the background.

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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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    Bloomberg Employees Get Access to Hospital’s Vaccine Slots

    NYU Langone Health, a major New York hospital system, has set aside Covid-19 vaccination shots for employees of Bloomberg L.P., the financial data and media company owned by the billionaire Michael R. Bloomberg.

    Bloomberg employees were told of the arrangement in an internal memo on Feb. 16. On Tuesday, as New York adults ages 30 and older became eligible for vaccination, Bloomberg’s head of human resources, Ken Cooper, sent a second email to the staff on the matter under the subject line “*URGENT* Covid-19 vaccines in New York.”

    “NYU Langone has informed us that they are able to provide, in limited quantities each week, vaccines for Bloomberg employees who meet the eligibility requirements,” Mr. Cooper wrote in the email, which was obtained by The New York Times.

    The email on Tuesday informed staff members that registration instructions would be sent to them after they submitted a ticket on the company’s financial terminal system. The memo added that only Bloomberg employees were eligible under the plan, not their dependents.

    more than $3 billion to his alma mater, Johns Hopkins University.

    His philanthropic arm has made at least two gifts to New York University. The university’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service announced on March 2 that it would receive a $25 million donation from Bloomberg Philanthropies. The gift was made for a fellowship in the names of Mr. Bloomberg’s daughter Georgina and his mother, Charlotte. In 2017, Mr. Bloomberg’s philanthropic arm gave nearly $6 million to establish an environmental law center at the New York University School of Law.

    NYU Langone Health has “formal corporate partnerships with organizations, school districts and municipalities for whom we serve as a preferred provider and offer corporate wellness programs in addition to facilitated access to our services,” a spokeswoman for the hospital system said in a statement. “As part of this partnership, we have helped to secure vaccines for Bloomberg employees who are our patients and in accordance with New York State guidelines.”

    “Philanthropy is not tied to NYU Langone’s vaccine programs,” the spokeswoman added. Of Mr. Bloomberg’s March 2 donation, she said: “It is important to note that the gift made was to N.Y.U.’s Wagner Graduate School. It wasn’t made to NYU Langone Health or N.Y.U. Grossman School of Medicine. It was completely separate from our institution.”

    eligible for the vaccine on Tuesday, creating a rush to book appointments.

    Mr. Bloomberg has told his employees that he expects them to return to the office once they are vaccinated. “As vaccines become available, we expect people to take advantage of the safety they provide and return to the office,” he wrote in a memo on Feb. 2, which was reported by Business Insider. “Any questions? I’m at my desk.”

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    Glynn S. Lunney Dies at 84; Oversaw NASA Flights From Mission Control

    Glynn S. Lunney, the NASA flight director who played a major role in America’s space program and was hailed for his leadership in the rescue of three Apollo 13 astronauts when their spacecraft was rocked by an explosion en route to the moon in 1973, died on March 19 at his home in Clear Lake, Texas. He was 84.

    The cause was stomach cancer, his son Shawn said.

    Mr. Lunney (rhymes with “sunny”), who joined NASA at its inception in 1958 and became its chief flight director in 1968, worked out of mission control in Houston in developing the elaborate procedures for the flight of Apollo 11, sending Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on their pioneering journey to the moon in July 1969.

    He managed the July 1975 mission in which an Apollo spacecraft with three astronauts docked with a two-man Russian Soyuz spaceship. Each vehicle carried equipment that would facilitate another linkup someday if an international rescue mission were needed. The Americans and the Russians carried out joint experiments and exchanged commemorative gifts in what became a step toward cooperation among nations in space aboard the International Space Station.

    But Mr. Lunney was remembered especially for his take-charge efforts in the dramatic rescue of the Apollo 13 astronauts James L. Lovell Jr., Fred W. Haise Jr. and John L. Swigert Jr.

    the hit 1995 movie “Apollo 13,” Marc McClure played Mr. Lunney.

    Christopher C. Kraft Jr., NASA’s first chief flight director.

    Mr. Lunney was the space agency’s fourth flight director. In that post, he was responsible for leading teams of flight controllers, research and engineering experts and support personnel around the world making decisions during spaceflights.

    Among the numerous achievements of his NASA career, Mr. Lunney was lead flight director for Apollo 7, the first crewed Apollo flight, and Apollo 10, the dress rehearsal for the first moon landing.

    He retired from NASA in 1985 as manager of the space shuttle program, but he continued to lead human spaceflight activities through executive posts in private industry.

    Voices From the Moon” (2009), an astronaut oral history complied by Andrew Chaikin and Victoria Kohl.

    “And he just brought calm to the situation,” Mr. Mattingly said. “I’ve never seen such an extraordinary example of leadership in my entire career. Absolutely magnificent.

    “No general or admiral in wartime could ever be more magnificent than Glynn was that night,” he added. “He and he alone brought all of the scared people together.”

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    Leon Black to Step Down as MoMA Chairman

    In the face of mounting pressure from prominent artists and activists about his financial ties to the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, the investor Leon Black told colleagues Friday that he would not stand for re-election as the chairman of the Museum of Modern Art, according to two people with knowledge of his decision.

    Mr. Black announced his decision to the board’s executive committee at a specially convened remote meeting on Friday afternoon, according to someone with knowledge of the meeting who was granted anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about it. He planned to inform the full board of his intentions when it meets next week.

    The news that Mr. Black did not plan to run for re-election as the museum’s chairman in June was the latest fallout from the revelation earlier this year that he had paid $158 million to Mr. Epstein for tax and estate advisory services — payments that began several years after Mr. Epstein had pleaded guilty in 2008 to soliciting prostitution from a teenage girl.

    After the size of his payments was revealed in January, Mr. Black had initially announced that he would step down this year as chief executive of Apollo Global Management, the giant private equity firm he co-founded, but added that he intended to remain Apollo’s chairman. On Monday, Apollo made the surprise announcement that Mr. Black, 69, was stepping down as chief executive earlier than anticipated and giving up the chairmanship, citing his and his wife’s health as major factors in the decision.

    his dealings with Mr. Epstein, who killed himself inside a Manhattan jail cell in 2019 while facing federal sex-trafficking charges.

    By several accounts, Mr. Black had also wrestled with how to proceed at MoMA. Mr. Black decided to tell the executive committee that as a longtime supporter of MoMA, he did not want to become a distraction to the institution by seeking another term, said two people briefed on his decision. He is expected to remain on the board after stepping down as chairman.

    Several artists and supporters of MoMA had said that Mr. Black’s decision to pay large fees to Mr. Epstein after his conviction — he also lent Mr. Epstein $30 million — raised questions about whether he should continue to represent the institution. Several MoMA trustees came to believe that Mr. Black had become a damaging distraction.

    “I would feel ashamed to be associated with the MoMA if it takes a firm position in keeping someone who has been confirmed to have hurt basic values or has worked against truth and fairness,” the artist Ai Weiwei said in an email interview last month. “If so, I hope they won’t include any of my works in their collection.” He said Friday that it was “the right decision” for Mr. Black to step down.

    And the recent pressure on Mr. Black from prominent artists and activists promised to escalate, with a 10-week “strike” against MoMA planned to start April 9.

    in February had spoken out about Mr. Black, said that he believed that Mr. Black, and several other MoMA board members, should step down from the board altogether.

    “MoMA has refused comment on every story that has emerged about Leon Black,” he said in an email. “The museum stays silent while we as artists are asked to speak. Beyond speaking, I look forward to collectively imagining an ecosystem that does not enlist our content to go on display in institutions whose board members create the very conditions in the world that many of us are devoted to dismantling.”

    It was not immediately clear who would succeed Mr. Black at MoMA. Among those expected to be in contention are the board’s several vice chairmen as well as Marie-Josée Kravis, its president emerita.

    There has been some concern among MoMA trustees that Mr. Black’s stepping down as chairman might jeopardize his potential future gifts of art or money to the museum, given his wealth and his museum-quality personal art collection.

    In 2018, the same year he became chairman of the museum’s board, Mr. Black and his wife, Debra, gave $40 million to the museum, prompting MoMA to name its film center after them.

    In 2012, he lent MoMA Edvard Munch’s 1895 version of “The Scream” — which he purchased for nearly $120 million — and in 2016, Mr. Black won the right to keep a large Picasso bust for which he had paid about $106 million and that featured prominently in MoMA’s acclaimed Picasso sculpture show.

    extended Mr. Lowry’s contract until 2025, making him the longest-serving director since the museum opened in 1929. Mr. Lowry did not respond to requests for comment.

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