China’s antitrust authority summoned 34 top internet companies to talk about new fair-competition rules. Within hours, they were discussing business changes and publicly pledging to stay in line.

“These new regulations are going to require internet platforms to look at how they innovate going forward, and the result is potentially less innovation,” said Gordon Orr, a nonexecutive board member at Meituan, the Chinese food delivery giant.

Even so, Alibaba and other internet titans have a status in China that could protect them from the most heavy-handed treatment. Officials have praised the titans’ economic contributions even as they tighten supervision. Mr. Xi wants China’s economy to be driven more by its own innovations than by those of fickle foreign powers.

That means it might be too soon to declare Jack Ma down for the count.

“His company is much more important to the success and functioning of the Chinese economy than any of the other entrepreneurs’,” Mr. McGregor said. “The government wants to continue to reap the benefits of his company — but on their terms. The government isn’t nationalizing Alibaba. It isn’t confiscating its assets. It’s simply narrowing the field in which it operates.”

Alibaba declined to comment.

Mr. Ma is no neophyte at dealing with the authorities in China.

He worked briefly and unhappily at a government-run advertising agency before founding Alibaba in 1999. At the time, China was still getting used to the idea of powerful private entrepreneurs, and Mr. Ma proved adept at charming government officials.

in the 2000s. “What a world-class company needs most is a soul, a commander, a world-class businessman. Jack Ma, I believe, meets this standard.”

Mr. Ma saw early on what success might bring with it in China, said Porter Erisman, an early Alibaba executive.

“There was only one person in the company who brought to our attention that one day we might face issues of being so big that we would come under pressure for having too much market power,” Mr. Erisman said. “And that was Jack.”

one of Alibaba’s biggest investors, Yahoo. Mr. Ma said the move had been necessary under new Chinese regulations. Alipay later became Ant Group.

“The Alipay transfer emboldened him,” said Duncan Clark, who has known Mr. Ma since 1999 and is chairman of BDA China, a consulting firm. “He kind of got away with it.”

work more closely with the state.

When Mr. Ma stepped down as Alibaba’s chairman in 2019, a commentary in the official Communist Party newspaper declared: “There is no so-called Jack Ma era — only Jack Ma as part of this era.”

China’s leaders need the private sector to help sustain economic growth. But they also do not want entrepreneurs to undermine the party’s dominance across society.

Last October, as Ant was preparing to go public, Mr. Ma spoke at a Shanghai conference and criticized China’s financial regulators. He had long seen Ant as a vehicle for disrupting the country’s big state-run banks. But there could scarcely have been a less opportune moment to press the point. Officials halted Ant’s share listing soon after.

In China, “it’s hard to say the emperor has no clothes these days,” said Kellee S. Tsai, a political scientist at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Mr. Ma has largely vanished from sight within his companies, too. In January, he popped up in an internal chat group to answer a business question, according to a person who saw the message but was not authorized to speak publicly. Employees later shared Mr. Ma’s message to reassure nervous colleagues.

estimated that Mr. Ma was not, for the first time in three years, one of China’s three richest people. The country’s new No. 1 was Zhong Shanshan, the low-key head of both a bottled-water giant and a pharmaceutical business.

Chinese news reports about his sudden wealth had to explain to readers how to pronounce the obscure Chinese character in his name.

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Where Did Chad Rebels Prepare for Their Own War? In Libya.

NAIROBI, Kenya — The rebels pulled off a stunning feat. Barely a week after their armed convoy roared across the desert into northern Chad, they kicked off a battle that on Monday claimed the biggest scalp of all: Idriss Déby, Chad’s iron-fisted president of three decades, killed on the battlefield when a shell exploded near his vehicle, according to a senior aide.

On Wednesday, a day after his death was announced, a sense of apprehension and disbelief reverberated through the capital, Ndjamena, where the military formally installed as interim president Mr. Déby’s 37-year-old son, Mahamat Idriss Déby. Rumors of an impending rebel attack on the city coursed through its streets.

But the secret of the rebels’ striking success thus far lay behind them, across Chad’s northern border in Libya, where they have been fighting as soldiers of fortune for years, amassing weapons, money and battlefield experience, according to United Nations investigators, regional experts and Chadian officials. In effect, the rebels used Libya’s chaotic war to prepare for their own campaign in Chad.

Khalifa Hifter, a powerful Libyan commander once championed by President Donald J. Trump. They fought with weapons supplied by the United Arab Emirates, one of Mr. Hifter’s main foreign sponsors.

spreading across western and central Africa.

struck a peace deal in 2010 and agreed to stop backing rebels fighting each other’s governments, the Chadian rebels were forced to leave Sudan. They found a new base, a year later, in Libya.

In the chaos that followed the ouster and death of Col. Qaddafi in 2011, rival Libyan factions hired African mercenaries to fight alongside their own forces. The Chadians, who have a reputation as dogged desert fighters, were in high demand.

Some Chadians even swapped sides, if the price was right.

The F.A.C.T. started out with out with a Libyan faction based in the central city of Misurata, said a United Nations official who has spoken with the group’s leadership, but was not authorized to speak to the media. But by 2019 they had switched their support to a rival faction, led by Mr. Hifter, which had launched a campaign to seize the capital, Tripoli.

published in February noted that F.A.C.T. fighters were based at a major military air base in Al Jufra, in central Libya — an airfield that is also a hub for Russian mercenaries from the Wagner group, and which has received cargo flights carrying weapons from the United Arab Emirates, the report notes.

The U.N. also noted that an airplane owned by Erik Prince, the former Blackwater owner who organized an ill-fated $80 million mercenary operation for Mr. Hifter, had been photographed at the Jufra air base.

Following the collapse last year of Mr. Hifter’s assault on Tripoli, the warring factions in Libya signed a cease-fire agreement in October that has mostly held.

As the fighting in Libya ended, the Chadian fighters returned home for the uprising they launched against Mr. Déby on April 11. They may have brought some of the advanced weaponry from Libya with them, said Cameron Hudson, a former State Department official now at the Atlantic Council, a research body in Washington.

He said that the Chadians appeared to be traveling in the same kind of armored vehicles that the Emiratis had donated to Mr. Hifter.

The U.N. official said that, even at the height of the Libyan war, the rebels had always intended to go home to Chad.

“That’s their real interest,” he said. “They talked about gathering as many weapons as they could and going back to Chad.”

Mahamat Adamou contributed reporting from Ndjamena, Chad, and Elian Peltier from London.

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Trudeau Was a Global Climate Hero. Now Canada Risks Falling Behind.

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada will arrive for President Biden’s climate summit on Thursday with an outsize reputation for being a warrior in the global fight against climate change.

But one facet of Canada’s economy complicates his record: the country’s insistence on expanding output from its oil sands.

Between Mr. Trudeau’s election in 2015 and 2019, Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased by 1 percent, despite decreases in other rich nations during the same period, according to government data released last week. In fact, Canada is the only Group of 7 country whose emissions have risen since the Paris climate agreement was signed six years ago.

Canadian officials insist that Mr. Trudeau’s policies simply need more time to work. But environmentalists counter that Canada can’t reduce emissions without reducing oil production from the sands.

declared them obsolete, the political backlash would be overwhelming.

A spokeswoman for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, which represents oil companies, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

“There’s a disconnect, at least on the international stage, between Canada’s reputation on climate and the reality of action on the ground,” said Catherine Abreu, the executive director of Climate Action Network Canada, a coalition of about 100 labor, Indigenous, environmental and religious groups. “We have to really have to stop selling ourselves that perhaps comforting, but dangerous, lie that there is room for the oil sands in the future.”

Mr. Trudeau’s commitment to stopping climate change. Canada increased its carbon price — which provinces must adopt or have imposed by the federal government — to 40 Canadian dollars a metric ton this month and it is scheduled to rise to 170 dollars by the end of the decade. The government has also moved forward on clean fuel standards, as well as limiting leaks of methane, a potent climate change gas, and other measures.

reversed American policies to combat it.

Now Mr. Biden has made climate a central issue for his administration. At the summit, he is expected to announce that the United States will cut its greenhouse gas emissions by about half by 2030, compared with 2005 levels.

Mr. Trudeau is expected to announce a new reduction target for the same period, but few experts expect him to match Mr. Biden’s cut.

The timing could leave Canada in a bind, according to Dale Beugin, vice president for research and analysis at the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices, a nonpartisan research group.

Mr. Trudeau’s pledge to raise the carbon tax to 170 Canadian dollars, announced late last year, is already seen as ambitious, Mr. Beugin said.

percent of its electricity comes from sources that do not emit carbon, the largest one being hydroelectric dams. In 2019, emissions from Canada’s electricity generation fell below oil sands emissions for the first time.

capture carbon dioxide and store it underground is only being used at a single plant that turns bitumen into crude oil.

“We still have a huge challenge,” said Professor Leach. “You see people almost declaring victory before the first battle’s been fought.”

In its budget this week, Mr. Trudeau’s government set aside 2 billion Canadian dollars to offer Canadian industries a tax credit for carbon capture, but its details still need to be worked out.

The offer comes a month after Jason Kenney, the Conservative premier of Alberta, called on Mr. Trudeau’s government to provide 30 billion Canadian dollars for the development of carbon capture technologies.

While a step of that magnitude might be popular in Alberta, where Mr. Trudeau attracts little support, it could be seen as an oil industry subsidy and alienate voters elsewhere in country who support the Liberals, carbon taxes and other climate measures.

Many environmentalists in Canada say that rather than subsidize the energy industry, Mr. Trudeau’s government should openly acknowledge that the oil sands are a declining industry and start focusing on managing that decline and investing in new job opportunities for its thousands of workers.

“Canada’s oil gas sector produces some of the dirtiest and most expensive fossil fuels in the world,” said Ms. Abreu of Climate Action Network Canada. “It’s really unrealistic for governments in this country to keep telling the public that we can expect that industry to continue indefinitely.”

Christopher Flavelle reported from Washington. Brad Plumer contributed reporting from Washington.

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Indonesian Navy Submarine Goes Missing With 53 People on Board

The last contact came at 3 a.m. on Wednesday. Then the Indonesian Navy submarine disappeared, somewhere deep in the dark waters off the island of Bali in the Pacific Ocean.

By evening, Indonesia’s Ministry of Defense had tracked down only one possible sign of the missing vessel, which carried 53 people on board: a broad oil slick found in the area where the submarine began its dive north of Bali.

The oil slick could be evidence of the submarine’s distress from a crack in the hull, said First Adm. Julius Widjojono, a spokesman for the Indonesian Navy. Such cracking is highly unusual but can occur with a sudden change of pressure, naval experts said.

The last request made by the submarine, known as the KRI Nanggala-402, was for permission to descend to a deeper part of the Bali Sea in order to fire torpedoes for naval drills, First Admiral Widjojono said. The area includes valleys that are at least 1,900 to 2,300 feet deep (or roughly 600 to 700 meters).

an Indonesian jet that crashed in January.

Navies from neighboring nations, like Australia and Singapore, have been alerted and will join the search in the coming days, Indonesia’s Ministry of Defense said.

regular incursions by foreign fishing fleets and coast guards.

Submarine accidents are rare. In 2000, a Russian Navy submarine sank to the seabed after an explosion on board. All 118 people died after rescue teams took days to gain access to the submarine, and oxygen ran out for the 23 sailors who had survived the blast.

In 2017, an Argentine Navy submarine went missing with 44 people on board, after what was thought to be an electrical malfunction. Its wreckage was found a year later.

But miraculous rescues have occurred. In 2005, seven sailors on board a small Russian Navy submarine that was trapped in a fishing net were freed just a few hours before their oxygen would have run out.

“Crossing my fingers that help from Australia and other countries will come,” said Ms. Bakrie, the Indonesian military analyst, referring to the search for the missing Indonesian submarine. “Crossing my fingers that the crew will all survive.”

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Putin, Addressing Russia, Warns West Not to Cross Red Line: Live Updates

that could be prepared to move into neighboring Ukraine.

President Volodymyr Zelensky on the front line in Ukraine’s Mariupol region this month.
Credit…Ukrainian Presidential Press Service, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine addressed his nation on Tuesday evening, warning citizens of the possibility of war. He addressed President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia directly, urging him to step back from the brink and proposing that the two meet.

The unusual videotaped appearance by Mr. Zelensky — a former comedian elected in 2019 on a promise to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine — was the clearest signal yet that Ukraine is girding for the possibility of a full-fledged war with Russia. Moscow’s buildup of troops on the Ukrainian border, he said, had created “all the preconditions for escalation.”

“Does Ukraine want war? No. Is it ready for it? Yes,” Mr. Zelensky said. “Our principle is simple: Ukraine does not start a war first, but Ukraine always stands to the last man.”

It appeared to be no coincidence that Mr. Zelensky’s address came on the eve of Mr. Putin’s annual state of the nation address on Wednesday. At the end of his video, Mr. Zelensky switched from Ukrainian to Russian, speaking to Mr. Putin directly. He pushed back at Mr. Putin’s contention that Russian forces would be used in Ukraine only if the Russian-speaking population in the east was threatened, and proposed a summit in the war-torn eastern region known as Donbas.

“It is impossible to bring peace on a tank,” Mr. Zelensky said.

“I am ready,” he continued, “to invite you to meet anywhere in the Ukrainian Donbas where there is war.”

There was no immediate response from the Kremlin to Mr. Zelensky’s invitation.

Aleksei A. Navalny, left, at a court hearing in February. 
Credit…Yuri Kochetkov/EPA, via Shutterstock

Russia is moving ahead with efforts to outlaw the organization led by the opposition figure Aleksei A. Navalny, a step that could result in the most intense wave of political repression in the post-Soviet era. But supporters of the jailed opposition leader say they are determined to take to the streets.

Opponents of President Vladimir V. Putin have called for protests across Russia on Wednesday in support of Mr. Navalny, whose allies say he is on a hunger strike and near death in a Russian prison. The police are expected to intervene forcefully to break up the protests, which started in the country’s Far East immediately after Mr. Putin delivered his state of the nation speech.

Mr. Putin has rarely mentioned Mr. Navalny by name and did not do so in his speech. He did not refer to him in any way.

Mr. Navalny is insisting that he be allowed to be seen by doctors of his choosing. A lawyer who visited him, Vadim Kobzev, said on Tuesday that Mr. Navalny’s arms were punctured and bruised after three nurses had unsuccessfully tried six times to hook him up to an intravenous drip.

“If you saw me now, you would laugh,” Mr. Navalny said in a letter that his team posted to social media. “A skeleton walking, swaying, in its cell.”

The Kremlin depicts Mr. Navalny as an agent of American influence, and Russian prosecutors filed a lawsuit on Friday to declare his organization “extremist” and illegal.

The extremism designation, which a Moscow court will consider in a secret trial starting next week, would effectively force Russia’s most potent opposition movement underground and could result in yearslong prison terms for pro-Navalny activists.

The White House has warned the Russian government that it “will be held accountable” if Mr. Navalny dies in prison. Western officials — and Mr. Navalny’s supporters and allies — reject the idea that he is acting on another country’s behalf.

But in the Kremlin’s logic, Mr. Navalny is a threat to Russian statehood, doing the West’s bidding by undermining Mr. Putin. It is Mr. Putin, Mr. Trenin said, who is keeping Russia stable by maintaining a balance between competing factions in Russia’s ruling elite.

“If Putin leaves, a battle between different groups breaks out, and Russia withdraws into itself, has no time for the rest of the world and no longer gets in anyone’s way,” said Dmitri Trenin, the director of the Carnegie Moscow Center. “The West is, of course, using Navalny, and will use him to create problems for Putin and, in the longer term, help Putin become history in one way or another.”

Lyubov Sobol, center, was among the close allies of Aleksei A. Navalny to be detained before the planned rallies. 
Credit…Tatyana Makeyeva/Reuters

MOSCOW — Dozens of opposition activists were arrested in 20 cities across Russia before a rally scheduled for Wednesday night in Moscow in support of the imprisoned Kremlin critic Aleksei A. Navalny.

Some of the activists were beaten and sentenced to administrative arrests, according to OVD Info, an independent rights group that tracks arrests. Many were members of Mr. Navalny’s political organization, but some were arrested simply for sharing social media posts about the rally.

Among those detained were two prominent associates of Mr. Navalny: his spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh; and Lyubov Sobol.

In Russia’s Far East — where protests started before rallies were expected to sweep across the vast nation with 11 time zones — the police detained eight people in the city of Magadan, according to Vesma, a local news website. About 40 people came out to protest in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, the capital of the Kamchatka region, with no arrests reported.

In Vladivostok, a major port on the eastern tip of Russia, about 100 people marched through the city with no arrests reported so far, Vl.ru, a local news website reported.

“Freedom to political prisoners,” people chanted. The police warned protesters through loudspeakers that they could be arrested. “We will not stay silent,” was the response.

In recent weeks, the Russian authorities have conducted raids on Mr. Navalny’s offices across the country, looking for leaflets and other materials calling for protests. Those items would presumably be used in the Kremlin’s drive to have his organization labeled “extremist,” which would expose its members to potentially lengthy prison terms.

In Kurgan, a city in central Russia, an unknown person sneaked into Mr. Navalny’s office on Monday morning and destroyed a radiator, flooding the premises.

Under various pretexts, the authorities in cities across Russia blocked central squares and streets. In Yekaterinburg, they rescheduled a Victory Day parade rehearsal to ensure that it overlapped with a scheduled protest. In Kostroma, the central square was closed down, ostensibly for pest control measures.

In universities across the country, students were ordered to sit for unscheduled tests and other gatherings with mandatory attendance, TV Rain, an independent news station reported on Tuesday.

The authorities in Moscow denied Mr. Navalny’s allies a permit for the rally they have planned for Wednesday evening, citing coronavirus concerns. The Prosecutor General’s office warned parents that they would be subject to fines and arrest if their underage children are detained at a rally.

More than 450,000 people nationwide registered online to declare their intent to take part in demonstrations against Mr. Navalny’s incarceration and treatment in prison. More than 100,000 people did so in Moscow, and more than 50,000 in St. Petersburg.

President Aleksandr Lukashenko of Belarus in Sochi, Russia, in February.
Credit…Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In a speech filled with bluster and bromides against the West, President Vladimir V. Putin on Wednesday lingered on a grievance that has not gained much traction outside the Russian state news media: an unfounded accusation that the C.I.A. has been plotting to assassinate the leader of Belarus.

Even as he raised the subject, Mr. Putin acknowledged that it was not being taken seriously outside Russia.

“Characteristically, even such lamentable actions are not discussed in the so-called collective West,” Mr. Putin said. “They pretend nothing happened.”

Over the weekend, Russia’s domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Security Service, arrested two men whom it said were plotting to murder President Aleksandr Lukashenko of Belarus and to seize television and radio stations.

It said the men had coordinated with U.S. and Polish intelligence agencies and come to Russia to meet Belarusian generals sympathetic to the opposition. The Russian authorities released video that showed the men casually discussing their improbable plot over a meal at a Moscow restaurant.

One of the men, Aleksandr Feduta, is a former spokesman for Mr. Lukashenko. The other, Yuras Zyankovich, has dual U.S. and Belarusian citizenship. The United States and Polish governments denied any role in a murder and coup plot in Belarus.

The arrests aligned with Mr. Putin’s casting of Russia in his state of the nation speech on Wednesday as victimized and pressured by a hypocritical and aggressive Western world that poses imminent threats.

The encroaching West, Mr. Putin said, has “crossed all the boundaries.”

Policies to pressure Russia that were previously limited to economic sanctions “have been reborn as something more dangerous,” he said. “I have in mind the recent facts that came to light of a direct attempt to organize a coup in Belarus and the murder of the leader of that country.”

In an interview in March, President Biden assented when asked whether Vladimir V. Putin was a “killer.”
Credit…Amr Alfiky/The New York Times

The election of Joseph R. Biden Jr. as president of the United States, despite his promise to be tough on Russia, initially gave the Kremlin hope, analysts say.

He was seen as more professional, reliable and pragmatic than President Donald J. Trump, with a worldview shaped by a Cold War era of diplomacy in which Washington and Moscow engaged as equal superpowers with a responsibility for global security. In their first phone call in January, Mr. Biden and Mr. Putin agreed to extend the New Start arms-control treaty, a Russian foreign policy goal that the Kremlin had not been able to achieve with Mr. Trump.

Then came the television interview in March in which Mr. Biden assented when asked whether Mr. Putin was a “killer.” A month later, that moment — to which Russian officials and commentators responded with a squall of prime-time-televised, anti-American fury — looks like a turning point. It was followed by last week’s raft of American sanctions against Russia, combined with Mr. Biden’s call for a summit meeting with Mr. Putin, which to many Russians looked like a crude American attempt to negotiate from a position of strength.

“This is seen as an unacceptable situation — you won’t chase us into the stall with sanctions,” said Dmitri Trenin, the director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, a think tank.

How far Mr. Putin will go in striking back against the West’s real or imagined hostility is an open question. In the state news media, the mood music is dire. On the flagship weekly news show on the Rossiya 1 channel on Sunday, the host Dmitri Kiselyov closed a segment on Mr. Putin’s showdown with Mr. Biden by reminding viewers of Poseidon — a weapon in Russia’s nuclear arsenal that Mr. Putin revealed three years ago.

“Russia’s armed forces are ready to test-fire a nuclear torpedo that would cause radioactive tsunamis capable of flooding enemy cities and making them uninhabitable for decades,” a translation of a Danish newspaper report intoned.

Still, there are signs that Mr. Putin does not want tensions with the West to spiral out of control.

As Europe and the United States scrambled to assess the Russian troop buildup in late March, Russia’s top military officer, Gen. Valery V. Gerasimov, spoke on the phone with his American counterpart, Gen. Mark A. Milley. On Monday, Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Mr. Putin’s Security Council, discussed the prospect of a presidential summit with Jake Sullivan, Mr. Biden’s national security adviser. And the Kremlin said this week that Mr. Putin would speak at Mr. Biden’s online climate change meeting on Thursday.

Ms. Stanovaya, the analyst, says she was convinced that Mr. Putin is more interested than his hawkish advisers in looking for ways to work with the United States. She pointed to Mr. Putin’s determination to return Russia to the ranks of great powers.

“Putin very much believes in his mission as a great historic figure with responsibility not only for Russia, but also for global security,” Ms. Stanovaya said. “He doesn’t understand how it is that the American president doesn’t feel the same way.”

A satellite image of Russian military equipment at the Opuk training area on Crimea’s Black Sea coast.
Credit…Maxar Technologies, via Associated Press

The Russian authorities closed airspace to commercial traffic near the Ukrainian border starting on Tuesday in another sign of rising military tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

The warning to commercial pilots covers parts of the Crimean Peninsula — annexed by Russia seven years ago — and international airspace over the Black Sea. It formalized what had already become obvious: The region is in the grips of an increasingly ominous military crisis.

Ukraine objected last week to Russia’s closing of areas in the Black Sea to shipping, a ban that the U.S. State Department spokesman, Ned Price, on Monday called an “unprovoked escalation in Moscow’s ongoing campaign to undermine and destabilize Ukraine.”

Over the past month, Russia has massed the largest military force along Ukraine’s eastern border and in Crimea since the outset of war in 2014, according to Western governments. Analysts say that the deliberately high visibility of the buildup indicates that its purpose is more a warning to the West than a prelude to invasion.

“They are deploying in a very visible way,” said Michael Kofman, a senior researcher at CNA, a policy research group in Arlington, Va. “They are doing it overtly, so we can see it. It is intentional.”

The Russian military says it is conducting exercises in response to Ukrainian threats to two Russian-backed separatist regions and to what it calls heightened NATO military activity in the Black Sea area.

Military tensions have also risen elsewhere. On Tuesday, Russia’s Air Force flew two nuclear-capable Tu-160 strategic bombers over the Baltic Sea for eight hours. In the Arctic Ocean, the Northern Fleet has been conducting a huge naval drill, the Defense Ministry said.

President Vladimir V. Putin on Wednesday hailed Russians’ “singular cohesion, their spiritual and moral values that in a number of countries are forgotten.”
Credit…Maxim Shipenkov/EPA, via Shutterstock

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has often sought to bolster domestic support through rally-around-the-flag, aggressive foreign policy moves. But on Wednesday he opened his annual address to the nation by focusing on the bread-and-butter economic issues that polls show most worry Russians.

He rattled off a laundry list of social subsidies that he said his government would begin to provide to new mothers, single parents and low-income families.

“For our entire history, our people triumphed, overcoming challenges thanks to their singular cohesion, their spiritual and moral values that in a number of countries are forgotten, but we on the contrary have strengthened,” Mr. Putin said.

He outlined programs to subsidize summer camp for children, smooth the system for child-support payments to single mothers and move more social services online.

While Russia is still in the throes of a coronavirus wave, Mr. Putin minimized the threat and said Russia would swivel to “healing the wounds” and shoring up the economy. He also laid out a requirement that Russian laboratories be ready to prepare tests for potential new infectious diseases within four days of their discovery.

Mr. Putin traditionally starts his yearly address with a focus on economic issues, and despite rising tensions with the West, this year was no different.

The Russian leader is aware that empty wallets can add fuel to protest movements and that the stagnating economy is taking a toll on support for his government. Russians’ average take-home wages adjusted for inflation have been declining since the Ukraine crisis in 2014, dropping 10 percent since then.

Analysts say it is no coincidence that protests have seeped out of the wealthy cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg to Russia’s far-flung provinces, which are feeling the economic pain more acutely.

The Russian budget fell into deficit during the pandemic last year, but in the first quarter of 2021 was again in surplus, buoyed by rising oil prices. This has provided Mr. Putin room for maneuver on populist policies before parliamentary elections scheduled for the fall.

Over the years, he has padded his speeches with populist announcements that are often repetitions or minor updates on long-running policies.

Russia, for example, has for years paid a bonus of around $10,000 to women for the birth of a child, a policy intended to help reverse Russia’s long demographic decline.

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Europe Proposes Strict Rules for Artificial Intelligence: Live Updates

“The E.U. is spearheading the development of new global norms to make sure A.I. can be trusted,” said Margrethe Vestager, the European Commission executive vice president who oversees digital policy.
Credit…Yves Herman/Reuters

The European Union on Wednesday unveiled strict regulations to govern the use of artificial intelligence, a first-of-its-kind policy that outlines how companies and governments can use a technology seen as one of the most significant, but ethically fraught, scientific breakthroughs in recent memory.

Presented at a news briefing in Brussels, the draft rules would set limits around the use of artificial intelligence in a range of activities, from self-driving cars to hiring decisions, school enrollment selections and the scoring of exams. It would also cover the use of artificial intelligence by law enforcement and court systems — areas considered “high risk” because they could threaten people’s safety or fundamental rights.

Some uses would be banned altogether, including live facial recognition in public spaces, though there would be some exemptions for national security and other purposes.

The rules have far-reaching implications for major technology companies including Amazon, Google, Facebook and Microsoft that have poured resources into developing artificial intelligence, but also scores of other companies that use the technology in health care, insurance and finance. Governments have used versions of the technology in criminal justice and allocating public services.

Companies that violate the new regulations, which are expected to take several years to debate and implement, could face fines of up to 6 percent of global sales.

Artificial intelligence — where machines are trained to learn how to perform jobs on their own by studying huge volumes of data — is seen by technologists, business leaders and government officials as one of the world’s most transformative technologies.

But as the systems become more sophisticated it can be harder to determine why the technology is making a decision, a problem that could get worse as computers become more powerful. Researchers have raised ethical questions about its use, suggesting that it could perpetuate existing biases in society, invade privacy, or result in more jobs being automated.

“On artificial intelligence, trust is a must, not a nice to have,” Margrethe Vestager, the European Commission executive vice president who oversees digital policy for the 27-nation bloc, said in a statement. “With these landmark rules, the E.U. is spearheading the development of new global norms to make sure A.I. can be trusted.”

In introducing the draft rules, the European Union is attempting to further establish itself as the world’s most aggressive watchdog of the technology industry. The bloc has already enacted the world’s most far-reaching data-privacy regulations, and is also debating additional antitrust and content-moderation laws.

In Washington, the risks of artificial intelligence are also being considered. This week, the Federal Trade Commission warned against the sale of artificial intelligence systems that use racially-biased algorithms, or ones that could “deny people employment, housing, credit, insurance, or other benefits.”

The company that began as Krystle Mobayeni's side project, BentoBox, scaled up significantly in the pandemic to help restaurants.
Credit…Gili Benita for The New York Times

The past year has crushed independent restaurants across the country and brought a reality to their doors: Many were unprepared for a digital world.

Unlike other small retailers, restaurateurs could keep the tech low, with basic websites and maybe Instagram accounts with tantalizing, well-lit photos of their food. It meant businesses like BentoBox, which aims to help restaurants build more robust websites with e-commerce abilities, were a hard sell, Amy Haimerl reports for The New York Times.

For many, BentoBox’s services were a “nice to have,” not a necessity, the company’s founder, Krystle Mobayeni, said.

But the pandemic sent chefs and owners flocking to the firm as they suddenly needed to add to-go ordering, delivery scheduling, gift card sales and more to their websites. Before the pandemic the company, based in New York City, had about 4,800 clients, including the high-profile Manhattan restaurant Gramercy Tavern; today it has more than 7,000 restaurants on board and recently received a $28.8 million investment led by Goldman Sachs.

The moment opened a well of opportunity for other companies like it. Dozens of firms have either started or scaled up sharply as they found their services in urgent demand. Meanwhile, investors and venture capitalists have been sourcing deals in the “restaurant tech” sector — particularly seeking companies that bring the big chains’ advantages to independent restaurants.

A growing number of retirees and those approaching retirement are in debt.

The share of households headed by someone 55 or older with debt — from credit cards, mortgages, medical bills and student loans — increased to 68.4 percent in 2019, from 53.8 percent in 1992, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute. A survey at the end of 2020 by Clever, an online real estate service, found that on average, retirees had doubled their nonmortgage debt in 2020 — to $19,200.

Susan B. Garland reports for The New York Times on what to do if you’re in this position:

  • Consult a nonprofit credit counseling agency, which will review a client’s expenses and income sources and create a custom action plan. The initial budgeting session is often free, said Bruce McClary, senior vice president for communications at the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. An action plan could include cutting unnecessary spending, such as selling a rarely used car and banking some proceeds for taxi fare.

  • Tap into senior-oriented government benefits, such as property tax relief, utility assistance and Medicare premium subsidies. The National Council on Aging operates a clearinghouse website for them, BenefitsCheckUp.org. “The average individual 65-plus on a fixed income is leaving $7,000 annually on the table” in unused benefits, said Ramsey Alwin, the council’s president.

  • Avoid using high-interest credit cards to fill income gaps. Medical bills typically charge little or no interest but turn into high-interest costs if placed on credit cards, said Melinda Opperman, president of Credit.org. Instead, she said, patients should call hospitals or other providers directly to work out an arrangement.

  • Avoid taking out home-equity loans or lines of credit to pay off credit cards or medical bills, said Rose Perkins, quality assurance manager for CCCSMD, a credit counseling service. Though tapping home equity carries a lower interest rate than a credit card, a homeowner could put a home at risk if a job loss, the death of a spouse or illness made it difficult to pay off the lender, she said.

Fans of Chelsea Football Club were among many who protested the European soccer Super League before it unraveled Tuesday. The share price of publicly traded teams tumbled.
Credit…Neil Hall/EPA, via Shutterstock

European stocks rose slightly on Wednesday, reversing some of the previous day’s drop, while U.S. stock futures indicated the S&P 500 would open lower. The sentiment in stock markets this week has shifted away from the optimism that recently set record highs amid growing concerns about coronavirus variants that are leading to new outbreaks.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index rose 0.3 percent after plunging 1.9 percent on Tuesday. That was the biggest one-day decline since December. The S&P 500 fell 0.7 percent on Tuesday.

Oil prices fell, with futures on West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, declining 1.2 percent to just below $62 a barrel.

  • Netflix shares dropped nearly 8 percent in premarket trading after its latest earnings report. For the first quarter of 2021, Netflix said it added four million new customers, less than the six million it had forecast. It’s another sign that, although Netflix still dominates streaming, its rivals are starting to catch up.

  • As plans for a European Super League for soccer rapidly fell apart on Tuesday, shares in publicly traded football clubs that had joined the group dropped. Manchester United shares fell in premarket trading in New York, extending a 6 percent drop from the previous day. Shares in Juventus, an Italian club, plummeted nearly 13 percent.

  • Inflation in Britain rose less in March than economists predicted. The annual rate of price increases was 0.7 percent, data published Wednesday showed, up from 0.4 percent in February. The jump is notable, but it is less than the 0.8 percent analysts had predicted. As in the United States, policymakers and economists expect some of the increase to be temporary and explained by transitionary factors such as the steep drop in oil prices this time last year. Therefore, bets are that the central bank won’t reduce its monetary stimulus yet.

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Idriss Déby Dies at 68; Poor Herder’s Son Became Chad’s Longtime Autocrat

NAIROBI, Kenya — It was a point of pride for Idriss Déby, the leader of Chad, a vast African country at the crossroads of numerous conflicts, that he was willing to throw himself to the front line of the many battles he fought.

Mr. Déby, a poor herder’s son who rose through the Chadian military to become one of Africa’s most enduring and feared leaders, was killed as he commanded his troops during what the military said was one such battle. His death, at age 68, was announced on Tuesday.

He first distinguished himself more than three decades ago by commanding soldiers to victory against Libyan-backed rebels in the Tibesti Mountains, in the far north of Chad. After seizing power in 1990, he faced down regular uprisings in an impoverished country that often seemed to boil with revolt.

And he embraced elections that he held every five years, always winning — even if those victories were strengthened by his tight grip on Chad’s repressive security forces and its considerable oil revenue.

going to the polls for a presidential election. By last weekend, as fighting intensified, Mr. Déby had flown to northern Chad to command his forces, the army said.

On Tuesday, the army announced that the president had been killed on the battlefield, and that his 37-year-old son, Mahamat, was taking over as the interim head of state. Just a day before, provisional election results showed that Mr. Déby had won almost 80 percent of the vote.

In the capital, Ndjamena, residents scrambled for the safety of their homes, gripped by uncertainty over what might come after the abrupt departure of the man who had led them for three decades.

Mr. Déby was born in 1952, the son of a herder who scraped a living from the harsh deserts of northern Chad. After enrolling in the military, he left in the 1970s for training in France, where he qualified as a pilot, and returned to Chad in 1979 to find the country torn between rival warlords.

Mr. Déby allied with one of them, Hissène Habré, who in 1982 became president and appointed him as his army chief.

an attempted coup in 2006.

Mr. Déby had testy relations with his neighbor, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan — another wily autocrat whom Mr. Déby accused of having fomented unrest inside Chad. Mr. Déby allowed journalists and aid workers to pass through Chad into the Sudanese region of Darfur, where they documented abuses that later led the International Criminal Court to indict Mr. Bashir for war crimes including genocide.

Mr. Déby’s rule might have been one of prosperity for Chadians. The country’s vast deserts cover untapped reserves of uranium, as well as oil that is currently pumped at a rate of 130,000 barrels a day, generating much of Chad’s revenue.

But under Mr. Déby, Chad frequently featured prominently in lists of the world’s poorest and most corrupt countries. The adult literacy rate is 31.8 percent; life expectancy is 54 years; and critics accused Mr. Déby of squandering the oil wealth by pouring it into the military, which he has used to repress his critics.

In 2017 the U.S. Justice Department accused Mr. Déby of having accepted a $2 million bribe from a Chinese company in exchange for oil rights in Chad.

Still, such failings were largely overlooked by Western countries that embraced Mr. Déby as an indispensable ally in a dangerous part of the world. Mr. Déby supported a French military operation against Islamist militants in neighboring Mali in 2013, and a year later he helped to end violent turmoil in the Central African Republic.

His army is one of the best trained and equipped in the semi-arid belt of Africa known as the Sahel, and it has played host to military exercises conducted by the United States.

In an email, Col. Christopher Karns, a spokesman for the Pentagon’s Africa Command, said Chad was a major partner in an effort involving several countries in the Lake Chad basin to fight Boko Haram.

France, for its part, did its utmost to protect Mr. Déby himself, deploying troops to Chad in 2008 and 2019 to defeat rebels who tried to unseat him.

After three decades in power, Mr. Déby was aiming for a fourth. In 2018, Chad’s parliament revised the Constitution to allow him to stay in office until 2033. Analysts say his sudden death will likely throw Chad’s politics into disarray.

Some were skeptical that his son Mahamat could hold on for long in the face of challenges from rivals in the security establishment or disaffected members of his own Zaghawa ethnic group, where some had bristled at the rise of Mr. Déby’s family.

“The prospects of more splits within the military is significant,” said Judd Devermont, director of the Africa program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. Others speculated that France would struggle to find a new partner in a country that French leaders long considered their African backyard.

“The French have been so associated with Déby — not just propping him up but also eliminating his enemies on his behalf — that they will have a hard time establishing any credibility with a successor regime that doesn’t have the last name Déby and isn’t a Zaghawa,” said Cameron Hudson, an Africa expert at the Atlantic Council.

Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Washington.

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Canadian Rivals in Bidding War for U.S. Railroad: Live Updates

put forward last month by a rival railroad operator, Canadian Pacific.

The competing offers underline the riches expected to come from trade flows after the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement was passed into law last year. A merger with either suitor would create a railroad line that stretches from Canada to Mexico. In the already consolidated railroad industry, few lines are left to bid on — let alone deals that will be approved by regulators.

Canadian National said in a letter to Kansas City board that the company had spent “considerable time and resources analyzing a potential combination of our two companies.” It argues its offer represents “an unparalleled opportunity to create a premier railway for the 21st century.”

The offer gives Kansas City Southern a valuation 21 percent higher than Canadian Pacific’s bid, which had been agreed on by the companies’ boards.

For Canadian National, the proposal would be a chance to stop its smaller domestic competitor from gaining significant scale. Unlike Canadian Pacific, Canadian National already has track agreements extending to the Gulf of Mexico.

The rival bid is one further challenge to Canadian Pacific’s offer, which was already facing regulatory scrutiny. The U.S. Department of Justice has urged the Surface Transportation Board — which must approve the offer — to examine the deal under tough industry guidelines put in place in 2001 and expressed concern over its use of a voting trust that would it allow it close the deal even before getting regulatory approval.

Canadian Pacific has argued that there should be no regulatory trouble, given the two railroads have no overlap and in some cases create new markets. It said its smaller size compared with other major North American railroads should exempt it from the guidelines.

A Louis Vuitton store in Paris. The retailer’s parent company helped set up a digital ledger that provides a history of luxury goods bought by consumers.
Credit…Charles Platiau/Reuters

Three rival names in the European luxury sector have established a new blockchain consortium that will allow shoppers to track the provenance of their purchases and authenticate goods.

LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, which first unveiled plans for a global blockchain-based system in 2019, will be joined by Prada Group and Compagnie Financière Richemont in the Aura Blockchain Consortium, a nonprofit group that will promote the use of a single blockchain solution open to all luxury brands worldwide.

Many sectors are looking at the possibility of using blockchain, the distributed ledger system that underpins Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Because blockchains are unchangeable and decentralized, the data stored on them is trustworthy and secure.

In this case, each product will be given a unique digital code during the manufacturing process that will be recorded on the Aura ledger. When customers make a purchase, they will be given login details to a platform that will provide the history of the product, including its origin, components, environmental and ethical information, proof of ownership, a warranty and care instructions.

Bulgari, Cartier, Hublot, Louis Vuitton and Prada are already using the system, with “advanced conversations” being held with a number of other luxury brands, according to a statement released Tuesday. Participating luxury brands pay an annual licensing fee and a volume fee. Aura, based in Geneva, was developed in partnership with Microsoft and ConsenSys, a blockchain software technology company in New York.

“The Aura Consortium represents an unprecedented cooperation in the luxury industry,” said Cartier’s chief executive, Cyrille Vigneron, adding that he invited “the entire profession” to join the consortium.

“The luxury industry creates timeless pieces and must ensure that these rigorous standards will endure and remain in trustworthy hands,” he said.

“Businesses are reimagining the office to foster collaboration, culture and focused work, while supporting a growing remote employee base,” Andi Owen, chief executive of Herman Miller.
Credit…Emily Rose Bennett for The New York Times

Just as workers across the country begin to return to the office, two of the largest furniture design companies will merge.

Herman Miller agreed to acquire its rival Knoll in a cash and stock deal valued at $1.8 billion.

The merger combines two furniture giants that share a modern design element. Herman Miller, best known for its Eames chair and ottoman, and Knoll for its Barcelona chair, together hope to capture an even bigger share of the renovations occurring at home and in offices as many companies and employees look to a future of splitting their time between the two in the post-pandemic world.

“As distributed working models become the new normal for companies, businesses are reimagining the office to foster collaboration, culture and focused work, while supporting a growing remote employee base,” Andi Owen, president and chief executive of Herman Miller, said in a statement Monday. “At the same time, consumers are making significant investments in their homes.”

Based in Zeeland, Mich., Herman Miller traces its roots to 1905 when it began selling bedroom suites. During the depression, when the company was struggling to survive, its then-chief executive, Dirk Jan De Pree, met the designer Gilbert Rohde, who persuaded him to move away from traditional design and toward more modern design and the office furniture market. In 1942, Herman Miller introduced the Executive Office Group, designed by Mr. Rohde, that featured modular pieces that could be configured in different ways.

After Mr. Rohde died in 1944, Mr. De Pree worked with a range of designers, including Charles Nelson, Charles and Ray Eames and Isamu Noguchi. The Eames Executive Chair, a plush, padded, leather chair that was released in 1961 and commissioned for the ultramodern lobby of the Time Life building in New York, can be purchased today for $4,895.

Likewise, Knoll’s history in furniture dates back more than 80 years when the husband-and-wife founders, Hans and Florence Knoll, embraced the creativity of the Bauhaus School in Weimar, Germany, and later, the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., teaming up with a variety of architects, sculptors and designers.

After the expected close of the transaction later this year, Ms. Owen will become the president and chief executive of the combined company. Andrew Cogan, Knoll’s chairman and chief executive, will depart after 30 years with the company.

Journalists watch a screen showing China's president, Xi Jinping, delivering a speech during the opening of the Boao Forum on Tuesday.
Credit…Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Xi Jinping, China’s top leader, called for cooperation and openness to an audience of business and financial leaders on Tuesday. He also had some warnings, presumably for the United States.

Speaking electronically to a largely virtual audience at China’s annual Boao Forum, Mr. Xi warned that the world should not allow “unilateralism pursued by certain countries to set the pace for the whole world.”

The audience included American business leaders including Tim Cook of Apple and Elon Musk of Tesla, as well as two Wall Street financiers, Ray Dalio and Stephen Schwarzman. Long a platform for China to show off its economic prowess and leadership, the Boao Forum is held annually on the southern Chinese island of Hainan. (Last year’s was canceled amid the pandemic.)

In recent years, Mr. Xi has used the forum to portray himself as an advocate of free trade and globalization, calling for openness even as many in the global business community have become increasingly vocal about growing restrictions in China’s own domestic market.

On Tuesday, he also reiterated his earlier message opposing efforts by countries to weaken their economic interdependence with China.

“Attempts to ‘erect walls’ or ‘decouple’” would “hurt others’ interests without benefiting oneself,” Mr. Xi said, in what appeared to be a reference to the United States and the Biden administration’s plans to support domestic high-tech manufacturing in the United States.

The White House held a meeting with business executives last week to discuss a global chip shortage and plan for semiconductor “supply chain resilience.” Speaking to executives from Google, Intel and Samsung, Mr. Biden said “China and the rest of the world is not waiting, and there’s no reason why Americans should wait.”

China is pursuing its own program for self-sufficiency in chip manufacturing.

Mr. Xi also pledged to continue to open the Chinese economy for foreign businesses, a promise that big Wall Street banks like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have clung to even as foreign executives complain that the broader business landscape has become more challenging.

The display at a crytocurrency ATM in Zurich, Switzerland. Prices of cryptocurrencies and related stocks slipped lower on Tuesday.
Credit…Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

Dogecoin, a cryptocurrency started as a joke, now has a market value that can’t be laughed at: more than $50 billion. On Tuesday, traders of Dogecoin were trying to push up the price to coincide with 4/20, or April 20, a date associated with smoking cannabis.

On Twitter, the hashtags #DogeDay and #Doge420 were trending. Dogecoin’s price, which has surged lately, fluctuated between gains and losses on Tuesday, trading at about 40 cents, according to Coindesk. A month ago, it was about 5 cents.

The ripple effects of the boom in crypto markets are being felt far and wide. Coinbase, the cryptocurrencies exchange that went public last week and is helping the industry move into the mainstream, has a market value of $66 billion. Central banks have ramped up plans to explore digital currencies to offer people a secure alternative to cryptocurrencies, which are out of their control. On Monday, the Bank of England was the latest to announce it was looking into a central bank digital currency.

On Tuesday morning, prices of cryptocurrencies and related stocks slipped. Bitcoin fell 1 percent, trading just above $55,000. Shares in Coinbase and Riot Blockchain were slightly lower in premarket trading.

Exxon wants to capture carbon from industrial plants along the Houston Ship Channel and pipe it offshore.
Credit…Bronte Wittpenn for The New York Times

HOUSTON — Under growing pressure from investors to address climate change, Exxon Mobil on Monday proposed a $100 billion project to capture the carbon emissions of big industrial plants in the Houston area and bury them deep beneath the Gulf of Mexico.

Exxon, the largest U.S. oil company, wants to create a profit-making business out of the capture of carbon emitted by petrochemical plants and other industries. But its plan would require significant government support and intervention, including the introduction of a price or tax on carbon dioxide emissions, an idea that has failed to attract enough support in Congress in the past.

The company already captures carbon, which it injects into older fields to produce more oil. Exxon now wants to use its expertise to store the carbon dioxide generated by other industries. But without a price on emitting carbon, many businesses would have little financial incentive to pay Exxon to capture and store their carbon.

The Obama administration failed to enact a cap-and-trade system, which raises costs for polluting companies by forcing them to buy tradable permits to release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. California, the European Union and 11 states in the Northeast use versions of cap-and-trade. Other governments, including British Columbia and Britain, have imposed a per-ton tax on emissions.

Exxon wants to capture carbon from industrial plants along the Houston Ship Channel and pipe it offshore where it would stored up to 6,000 feet below the Gulf of Mexico. The effort would be paid for by industry and the government, and would eventually store 100 million tons of carbon annually — equivalent to the emissions of 20 million cars, according to Exxon.

The company has discussed its idea with national and Texas policymakers and Republicans and Democrats in Congress, Exxon’s chief executive, Darren Woods, said in an interview. “They see the opportunity and appeal of this idea,” he said. “The question is, how do you translate the concept into practice?”

Exxon said its proposal complements President Biden’s climate efforts, but it would require the administration to embrace a price on carbon, something it has not done.

“The concept of a price on carbon is critical,” Mr. Woods said. “There has to be a way to incentivize the investment.”

Offshore storage has already gained traction in Europe, where governments have put carbon prices in place and lawmakers are more willing to spend taxpayer money to address climate change.

Mr. Woods said that, given the right policies, carbon capture projects could be a major business for Exxon around the world. “The potential for these markets is very, very large to the extent that demand continues to increase to decarbonize society,” he said.

A used-car dealership in Naperville, Ill. The average price paid for a used car is well above $20,000.
Credit…Nick Carey/Reuters

Last year’s pandemic-induced production delays, combined with a continued shortage of computer chips and other automotive components, have tightened the supply of new models — especially popular sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks.

That means it may be challenging to find a new ride with the colors and features you want at a price you can afford, Ann Carrns reports for The New York Times. “It’s harder to get exactly what you want,” said Ivan Drury, senior manager of insights at Edmunds. “Don’t expect heavy discounts.”

So if new cars are too expensive, you can just buy a used car, right?

Yes, but deals may be elusive there as well. Fewer people bought new cars last year, so fewer used cars were traded in. And the short supply of new cars is pushing more buyers to consider used cars, raising those prices, analysts say. The average price paid for a used car is well above $20,000, Edmunds says.

On the plus side, if you have a car to trade in, its value is probably higher, especially if it’s a popular model. The average value for trade-ins, including leased cars turned in early, was about $17,000 in March, up from about $14,000 a year earlier, according to Edmunds. The average age of trade-ins was five and a half years.

Various online services, like Kelly Blue Book, TrueCar and Carvana, will supply a trade-in estimate based on your location and your car’s age, mileage and general condition, and offer more tailored appraisals if you provide details like the vehicle identification number. Some even offer to buy your car outright.

Noting the power of digital platforms, Margrethe Vestager, a European Commission official, said in a recent speech that “we need something more to keep that power in check.”
Credit…Pool photo by Olivier Hoslet

Around the world, governments are moving simultaneously to limit the power of tech companies with an urgency and breadth that no single industry had experienced before.

Their motivation varies. In the United States and Europe, it is concern that tech companies are stifling competition, spreading misinformation and eroding privacy; in Russia and elsewhere, it is to silence protest movements and tighten political control; in China, it is some of both.

Nations and tech firms have jockeyed for primacy for years, but the latest actions have pushed the industry to a tipping point that could reshape how the global internet works and change the flows of digital data, Paul Mozur, Cecilia Kang, Adam Satariano and David McCabe report for The New York Times.

“It is unprecedented to see this kind of parallel struggle globally,” said Daniel Crane, a law professor at the University of Michigan and an antitrust expert. Now, Mr. Crane said, “the same fundamental question is being asked globally: Are we comfortable with companies like Google having this much power?”

Underlying all of the disputes is a common thread: power. The 10 largest tech firms, which have become gatekeepers in commerce, finance, entertainment and communications, now have a combined market capitalization of more than $10 trillion. In gross domestic product terms, that would rank them as the world’s third-largest economy.

Governments agree that tech clout has grown too expansive, but there has been little coordination on solutions. Competing policies have led to geopolitical friction. Last month, the Biden administration said it could put tariffs on countries that imposed new taxes on American tech companies.

Tech companies are fighting back. Amazon and Facebook have created their own entities to adjudicate conflicts over speech and to police their sites. In the United States and in the European Union, the companies have spent heavily on lobbying.

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CreditCredit…By Simoul Alva

In today’s On Tech newsletter, Shira Ovide looks at a health technology nonprofit organization that is turning the approach to vaccination credentials on its head.

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Jamie Dimon, LeBron James and the Super League Debate

The biggest business and policy story in the world at the moment isn’t about taxes or infrastructure. It’s about the fate of European soccer, as the fight over the Super League draws in everyone from Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase to President Emmanuel Macron of France to the N.B.A. star LeBron James.

Critics have denounced the proposed league, which would guarantee 15 of Europe’s top teams a spot, as a cash grab by the richest clubs. We’ve also heard from sports executives who argue that the plan could hurt the economies of cities whose teams are excluded.

JPMorgan, which is backing the plan, faces a backlash. Irate soccer fans denounced the bank for providing over $4 billion to finance the creation of the league. (“#JPMorgan” was a trending topic on Twitter yesterday, and not in a good way.) The bank was brought into the deal through its relationship with the Super League’s chief architect, Florentino Pérez, the billionaire president of Real Madrid. Its bet is that supporting a star-studded competition, in a sport with a gigantic worldwide fandom will pay off in the long run, not least through broadcast rights.

  • JPMorgan’s involvement was vetted by its internal reputation committee, which assesses high-profile and potentially controversial assignments, according to people briefed on the decision. But that committee didn’t fully expect the emotional reaction from sports fans that has flooded the airwaves around the world, these people added.

Big media and tech companies could get entangled. Many are expected to bid on the broadcast rights for the Super League, with speculation surrounding Amazon, Apple and Facebook. But they may have to worry about more than ratings. Political leaders like Mr. Macron and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain (and even Prince William) have spoken out against the league; is that a fight they want? And do they want to run afoul of FIFA, the sport’s global governing body, or UEFA, its European counterpart, and risk losing out on rights to the World Cup or other high-profile competitions?

courting corporate America to support its infrastructure initiative, taking advantage of a rift with Republicans over political and social issues like restrictions on voting rights. But opposition to higher taxes and more regulation may yet reunite the estranged allies.

Exxon Mobil unveils a $100 billion plan to profit from carbon capture. The oil giant said it would make a business based on trapping the carbon emissions of industrial plants around Houston. But the strategy would require government support, including a new carbon tax — which has little political backing.

Amazon is accused of corrupting the recent warehouse unionization election. The union, which lost the vote 2-to-1, said the e-commerce giant had intimidated and surveilled workers. If the National Labor Relations Board agrees with the claims, it could order a new election.

Xi Jinping warns against economic decoupling. In a speech today, the Chinese president called for greater global economic integration and made thinly veiled critiques of America’s efforts to reduce its dependence on Chinese exports like computer chips. “Bossing others around or meddling in others’ internal affairs will not get one any support,” Mr. Xi said.

disclosed in its prospectus that sales more than doubled last year, to $421 million, though it lost about $60 million. It’s reportedly aiming for a $10 billion valuation, betting on the plant-based food trend.

published an open letter in The Financial Times urging asset managers to match their pledges on social and political issues with their votes at coming shareholder meetings. Of top importance: votes on board diversity, racial equity and political spending disclosures.

The top three asset managers have significant power to influence corporate decisions. BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street control about 80 percent of all indexed money, making them a dominant force in the governance of public companies. The activists behind today’s letter — including Rashad Robinson, the president of Color Of Change; Alicia Garza, the principal of Black to the Future; and Derrick Johnson, the president of the N.A.A.C.P. — argue that the money managers are not sufficiently exercising their power:

The “big three” asset managers made commitments to racial justice after the killing of George Floyd last year. They’ve incorporated that focus into their voting guidelines: BlackRock has said it may vote against directors when it considers a board to be “insufficiently diverse.” State Street said it would vote against certain directors at firms that do not disclose diversity data this year and firms that do not have at least one director from an underrepresented community next year. When it comes to voting rights, BlackRock and Vanguard signed a recent letter opposing “any discriminatory legislation” that would make voting more difficult.

The activists are asking funds to do more, including:

The letter sets the stage for a potentially contentious proxy season, targeting specific shareholder resolutions at a host of S&P 500 companies in its “voting guide” for investors. Neuberger Berman, which manages $429 billion in assets, said yesterday it plans to vote against management at Berkshire Hathaway on topics including diversity reporting, which also features in the activists’ guide. “We’re trying to behave like owners and shareholders and help make the company better,” Neuberger’s C.E.O., George Walker, told CNBC.


in a USA Today op-ed. (He did not address the increase in corporate taxes that would pay for it.)


a private Discord chat with Casey Newton, a reporter who writes a Substack subscription newsletter.

Facebook sent a message that the traditional gatekeepers are gone. The private channel chat was just one sign; another was Mr. Zuckerberg saying so explicitly. “If you look at the grand arc here, what’s really happening is individuals are getting more power and more opportunity to create the lives and the jobs that they want,” he said of the new media age.

What about fair disclosure? Mr. Zuckerberg was speaking on social media but using a restricted channel. Companies can’t selectively disclose material information but the S.E.C. has said that “most social media are perfectly suitable methods for communicating with investors.” Still, the rules were designed to ensure that no one can get a jump on other investors, so channels don’t qualify “if the access is restricted or if investors don’t know that’s where they need to turn to get the latest news.”

“Issuers must take steps” to let investors know the news channels they’ll use, the S.E.C. wrote in a 2013 investigation of Netflix after its C.E.O., Reed Hastings, posted data about the company on his private Facebook page. The S.E.C. didn’t take action, noting “market uncertainty” about how fair-disclosure rules applied to social media at the time, and said it would consider each case individually.

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Exxon Mobil Proposes Carbon Capture Plan

HOUSTON — Under growing pressure from investors to address climate change, Exxon Mobil on Monday proposed a $100 billion project to capture the carbon emissions of big industrial plants in the Houston area and bury them deep beneath the Gulf of Mexico.

Exxon, the largest U.S. oil company, wants to create a profit-making business out of the capture of carbon emitted by petrochemical plants and other industries. But its plan would require significant government support and intervention, including the introduction of a price or tax on carbon dioxide emissions, an idea that has failed to attract enough support in Congress in the past.

The company already captures carbon, which it injects into older fields to produce more oil. Exxon now wants to use its expertise to store the carbon dioxide generated by other industries. But without a price on emitting carbon, many businesses would have little financial incentive to pay Exxon to capture and store their carbon.

The Obama administration failed to enact a cap-and-trade system, which raises costs for polluting companies by forcing them to buy tradable permits to release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. California, the European Union and 11 states in the Northeast use versions of cap-and-trade. Other governments, including British Columbia and Britain, have imposed a per-ton tax on emissions.

embrace a price on carbon, something it has not done.

“The concept of a price on carbon is critical,” Mr. Woods said. “There has to be a way to incentivize the investment.”

Offshore storage has already gained traction in Europe, where governments have put carbon prices in place and lawmakers are more willing to spend taxpayer money to address climate change.

Mr. Woods said that, given the right policies, carbon capture projects could be a major business for Exxon around the world. “The potential for these markets is very, very large to the extent that demand continues to increase to decarbonize society,” he said.

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