Billionaires have had a pretty good pandemic. There are more of them than there were a year ago, even as the crisis has exacerbated inequality. But scrutiny has followed these ballooning fortunes. Policymakers are debating new taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals. Even their philanthropy has come under increasing criticism as an exercise of power as much as generosity.
One arena in which the billionaires can still win plaudits as civic-minded saviors is buying the metropolitan daily newspaper.
The local business leader might not have seemed like such a salvation a quarter century ago, before Craigslist, Google and Facebook began divvying up newspapers’ fat ad revenues. Generally, the neighborhood billionaires are considered worth a careful look by the paper’s investigative unit. But a lot of papers don’t even have an investigative unit anymore, and the priority is survival.
This media landscape nudged newspaper ownership from the vanity column toward the philanthropy side of the ledger. Paying for a few more reporters and to fix the coffee machine can earn you acclaim for a lot less effort than, say, spending two decades building the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
$680 million bid by Hansjörg Wyss, a little-known Swiss billionaire, and Stewart W. Bainum Jr., a Maryland hotel magnate, for Tribune Publishing and its roster of storied broadsheets and tabloids like The Chicago Tribune, The Daily News and The Baltimore Sun.
Should Mr. Wyss and Mr. Bainum succeed in snatching Tribune away from Alden Global Capital, whose bid for the company had already won the backing of Tribune’s board, the purchase will represent the latest example of a more than decade-long quest by some of America’s ultrawealthy to prop up a crumbling pillar of democracy.
If there was a signal year in this development, it came in 2013. That is when Amazon founder Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post and the Red Sox’ owner, John Henry, bought The Boston Globe.
“I invested in The Globe because I believe deeply in the future of this great community, and The Globe should play a vital role in determining that future,” Mr. Henry wrote at the time.
led a revival of the paper to its former glory. And after a somewhat rockier start, experts said that Mr. Henry and his wife, Linda Pizzuti Henry, the chief executive officer of Boston Globe Media Partners, have gone a long way toward restoring that paper as well.
Norman Pearlstine, who served as executive editor for two years after Dr. Soon-Shiong’s purchase and still serves as a senior adviser. “I don’t think that’s open to debate or dispute.”
From Utah to Minnesota and from Long Island to the Berkshires, local grandees have decided that a newspaper is an essential part of the civic fabric. Their track records as owners are somewhat mixed, but mixed in this case is better than the alternative.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill released a report last year showing that in the previous 15 years, more than a quarter of American newspapers disappeared, leaving behind what they called “news deserts.” The 2020 report was an update of a similar one from 2018, but just in those two years another 300 newspapers died, taking 6,000 journalism jobs with them.
“I don’t think anybody in the news business even has rose colored glasses anymore,” said Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute, a nonprofit journalism advocacy group. “They took them off a few years ago, and they don’t know where they are.”
“The advantage of a local owner who cares about the community is that they in theory can give you runway and also say, ‘Operate at break-even on a cash-flow basis and you’re good,’” said Mr. Rosenstiel.
won a prestigious Polk Award for its coverage of the killing of George Floyd and the aftermath.
“The communities that have papers owned by very wealthy people in general have fared much better because they stayed the course with large newsrooms,” said Ken Doctor, on hiatus as a media industry analyst to work as C.E.O. and founder of Lookout Local, which is trying to revive the local news business in smaller markets, starting in Santa Cruz, Calif. Hedge funds, by contrast, have expected as much as 20 percent of revenue a year from their properties, which can often be achieved only by stripping papers of reporters and editors for short-term gain.
Alden has made deep cuts at many of its MediaNews Group publications, including The Denver Post and The San Jose Mercury News. Alden argues that it is rescuing papers that might otherwise have gone out of business in the past two decades.
And a billionaire buyer is far from a panacea for the industry’s ills. “It’s not just, go find yourself a rich guy. It’s the right rich person. There are lots of people with lots of money. A lot of them shouldn’t run newspaper companies,” said Ann Marie Lipinski, curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard and the former editor of The Chicago Tribune. “Sam Zell is Exhibit A. So be careful who you ask.”
beaten a retreat from the industry. And there have even been reports that Dr. Soon-Shiong has explored a sale of The Los Angeles Times (which he has denied).
“The great fear of every billionaire is that by owning a newspaper they will become a millionaire,” said Mr. Rosenstiel.
Elizabeth Green, co-founder and chief executive at Chalkbeat, a nonprofit education news organization with 30 reporters in eight cities around the country, said that rescuing a dozen metro dailies that are “obviously shells of their former selves” was never going to be enough to turn around the local news business.
“Even these attempts are still preserving institutions that were always flawed and not leaning into the new information economy and how we all consume and learn and pay for things,” said Ms. Green, who also co-founded the American Journalism Project, which is working to create a network of nonprofit outlets.
Ms. Green is not alone in her belief that the future of American journalism lies in new forms of journalism, often as nonprofits. The American Journalism Project received funding from the Houston philanthropists Laura and John Arnold, the Craigslist founder Craig Newmark and Laurene Powell Jobs’s Emerson Collective, which also bought The Atlantic. Herbert and Marion Sandler, who built one of the country’s largest savings and loans, gave money to start ProPublica.
“We’re seeing a lot of growth of relatively small nonprofits that are now part of what I would call the philanthropic journalistic complex,” said Mr. Doctor. “The question really isn’t corporate structure, nonprofit or profit, the question is money and time.”
operating as a nonprofit.
After the cable television entrepreneur H.F. (Gerry) Lenfest bought The Philadelphia Inquirer, he set up a hybrid structure. The paper is run as a for-profit, public benefit corporation, but it belongs to a nonprofit called the Lenfest Institute. The complex structure is meant to maintain editorial independence and maximum flexibility to run as a business while also encouraging philanthropic support.
Of the $7 million that Lenfest gave to supplement The Inquirer’s revenue from subscribers and advertisers in 2020, only $2 million of it came from the institute, while the remaining $5 million came from a broad array of national, local, institutional and independent donors, said Jim Friedlich, executive director and chief executive of Lenfest.
“I think philosophically, we’ve long accepted that we have no museums or opera houses without philanthropic support,” said Ms. Lipinski. “I think journalism deserves the same consideration.”
Mr. Bainum has said he plans to establish a nonprofit group that would buy The Sun and two other Tribune-owned Maryland newspapers if he and Mr. Wyss succeed in their bid.
“These buyers range across the political spectrum, and on the surface have little in common except their wealth,” said Mr. Friedlich. “Each seems to feel that American democracy is sailing through choppy waters, and they’ve decided to buy a newspaper instead of a yacht.”
Ethel Gabriel, who in more than 40 years at RCA Victor is thought to have produced thousands of records, many at a time when almost no women were doing that work at major labels, died on March 23 in Rochester, N.Y. She was 99.
Her nephew, Ed Mauro, her closest living relative, confirmed her death.
Ms. Gabriel began working at RCA’s plant in Camden, N.J., in 1940 while a student at Temple University in Philadelphia. One of her early jobs was as a record tester — she would pull one in every 500 records and listen to it for manufacturing imperfections.
“If it was a hit,” she told The Pocono Record of Pennsylvania in 2007, “I got to know every note because I had to play it over and over and over.”
She also had a music background — she played trombone and had her own dance band in the 1930s and early ’40s — and her skill set earned her more and more responsibility, as well as the occasional role in shaping music history. She said she was on hand at the 1955 meeting in which the RCA executive Stephen Sholes signed Elvis Presley, who had been with Sun Records. She had a hand in “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White,” the 1955 instrumental hit by Pérez Prado that helped ignite a mambo craze in the United States.
Caroline Losneck and Christoph Gelfand, documentary filmmakers, were at work on “Living Sound,” a film about her.
Ms. Losneck, in a phone interview, said they had been hoping to complete the documentary by Ms. Gabriel’s 100th birthday this November.
Ms. Losneck said Ms. Gabriel had survived in a tough business through productivity and competence.
“She knew who to call when she needed an organist,” she said. “She knew how to manage the budget. All that gave her a measure of control.”
Many of the records Ms. Gabriel made fit into a category often marginalized as elevator music.
“It’s easy to look back on that music now and say it was kind of cheesy,” Ms. Losneck said, “but back then it was part of the cultural landscape.”
Toward the end of her career, as more women began entering the field, Ms. Gabriel was both an example and a mentor. Nancy Jeffries, who went to work in RCA’s artists-and-repertoire department in 1974 and had earlier sung with the band the Insect Trust, was one of those who learned from her.
who persuaded her to turn over to him her retirement package — more than $250,000 — so that he could invest it in the hope that the proceeds would finance future music ventures. The money disappeared, and Mr. Anderson, who died in 1989, was later convicted of tax evasion.
Ms. Gabriel lived in the Poconos for a number of years before moving to a care center in Rochester to be near Mr. Mauro and his family. As she died at a hospital there, Mr. Mauro said, the staff had Sinatra songs playing in her room.
She grew up in Hungary, daughter of a butcher. She decided she wanted to be a scientist, although she had never met one. She moved to the United States in her 20s, but for decades never found a permanent position, instead clinging to the fringes of academia.
Now Katalin Kariko, 66, known to colleagues as Kati, has emerged as one of the heroes of Covid-19 vaccine development. Her work, with her close collaborator, Dr. Drew Weissman of the University of Pennsylvania, laid the foundation for the stunningly successful vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.
For her entire career, Dr. Kariko has focused on messenger RNA, or mRNA — the genetic script that carries DNA instructions to each cell’s protein-making machinery. She was convinced mRNA could be used to instruct cells to make their own medicines, including vaccines.
But for many years her career at the University of Pennsylvania was fragile. She migrated from lab to lab, relying on one senior scientist after another to take her in. She never made more than $60,000 a year.
was published, in Immunity, it got little attention.
Dr. Weissman and Dr. Kariko then showed they could induce an animal — a monkey — to make a protein they had selected. In this case, they injected monkeys with mRNA for erythropoietin, a protein that stimulates the body to make red blood cells. The animals’ red blood cell counts soared.
25 years of work by multiple scientists, including Pieter Cullis of the University of British Columbia.
Scientists also needed to isolate the virus’s spike protein from the bounty of genetic data provided by Chinese researchers. Dr. Barney Graham, of the National Institutes of Health, and Jason McClellan, of the University of Texas at Austin, solved that problem in short order.
Testing the quickly designed vaccines required a monumental effort by companies and the National Institutes of Health. But Dr. Kariko had no doubts.
On Nov. 8, the first results of the Pfizer-BioNTech study came in, showing that the mRNA vaccine offered powerful immunity to the new virus. Dr. Kariko turned to her husband. “Oh, it works,” she said. “I thought so.”
To celebrate, she ate an entire box of Goobers chocolate-covered peanuts. By herself.
Dr. Weissman celebrated with his family, ordering takeout dinner from an Italian restaurant, “with wine,” he said. Deep down, he was awed.
“My dream was always that we develop something in the lab that helps people,” Dr. Weissman said. “I’ve satisfied my life’s dream.”
Dr. Kariko and Dr. Weissman were vaccinated on Dec. 18 at the University of Pennsylvania. Their inoculations turned into a press event, and as the cameras flashed, she began to feel uncharacteristically overwhelmed.
A senior administrator told the doctors and nurses rolling up their sleeves for shots that the scientists whose research made the vaccine possible were present, and they all clapped. Dr. Kariko wept.
Things could have gone so differently, for the scientists and for the world, Dr. Langer said. “There are probably many people like her who failed,” he said.
filed first-time claims for state jobless benefits last week, an increase of 18,000, the Labor Department said. It was the second consecutive weekly increase after new claims hit a pandemic low.
At the same time, 152,000 new claims were filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federal program covering freelancers, part-timers and others who do not routinely qualify for state benefits. That was a decline of 85,000.
Neither figure is seasonally adjusted.
Claims rose above one million early in the year but havecome down since then, helped by the spread of vaccinations, the easing of restrictions on businesses in many states and the arrival of stimulus funds.
Most individuals received payments of $1,400 in recent weeks as part of the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion relief package, and the funds should bolster consumer spending in the coming months.
On Friday, the government reported that employers added 916,000 jobs in March, twice February’s gain and the most since August. The unemployment rate dipped to 6 percent, the lowest since the pandemic began, with nearly 350,000 people rejoining the labor force.
Still, there is plenty of ground to make up.
Even after March’s job gains, the economy is 8.4 million jobs short of where it was in February 2020. Entire sectors, like travel and leisure, as well as restaurants and bars, are only beginning to recover from the millions of job losses that followed the pandemic’s arrival.
The union seeking to represent workers at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama said late Wednesday that there were 3,215 ballots cast — or about 55 percent of the roughly 5,800 workers who were eligible to vote.
The ballots are expected to be counted by hand starting either Thursday afternoon or Friday morning in the National Labor Relations Board’s office in Birmingham, according to the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union. Hundreds of ballots are being contested, mostly by Amazon, the union said.
The vote counting will be shown on a videoconference call to a small number of outsiders, including journalists, in addition to representatives from the union and the company.
Union elections are typically held in person, but the labor board determined that the election should be conducted by mail to minimize risks during the pandemic. The ballots were sent to workers in early February and were due at the agency before March 30. Since then, Amazon and the union have had a chance to challenge whether particular worker were eligible to vote.
When the public counting is done, the agency will announce the formal results if the margin of victory for one side is greater than the number of contested ballots.
If the margin is narrower, then it could take two to three weeks for the N.L.R.B. to hold a hearing to sort through the contested ballots and take evidence from both sides on whether they should be counted.
Officials are calling Taiwan’s drought its worst in more than half a century. And it is exposing the enormous challenges involved in hosting the island’s semiconductor industry, which is an increasingly indispensable node in the global supply chains for smartphones, cars and other keystones of modern life.
Chip makers use lots of water to clean their factories and wafers, the thin slices of silicon that make up the basis of the chips, Raymond Zhong and Amy Chang Chien report for The New York Times. In 2019, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company’s facilities in Hsinchu consumed 63,000 tons of water a day, according to the company, or more than 10 percent of the supply from two local reservoirs.
In recent months, the government has:
But the most sweeping measure has been the halt on irrigation, which affects 183,000 acres of farmland, around a fifth of Taiwan’s irrigated land.
The Taiwanese public appears to have decided that rice farming is less important, both for the island and the world, than semiconductors. The government is subsidizing growers for the lost income. But Chuang Cheng-deng, 55, worries that the thwarted harvest will drive customers to seek out other suppliers, which could mean years of depressed earnings.
Prosecutors are accusing the French arm of Ikea, the Swedish home furnishings giant, and some of its former executives of engineering a “system of espionage” from 2009 to 2012, in a criminal trial that has riveted public attention in France.
The alleged snooping was used to investigate employees and union organizers, check up on workers on medical leave and size up customers seeking refunds for botched orders, Liz Alderman reports for The New York Times. A former military operative was hired to execute some of the more clandestine operations.
In all, 15 people are charged. A verdict from a panel of judges is scheduled for June 15.
The case stoked outrage in 2012 after the emails were leaked to the French news media, and Ikea promptly fired several executives in its French unit, including its chief executive. There is no evidence that similar surveillance happened in any of the other 52 countries where the global retailer hones a fresh-faced image of stylish thriftiness served with Swedish meatballs.
Victims’ lawyers described a methodic operation that ran along two tracks: one involving background and criminal checks of job candidates and employees without their knowledge, and another targeting union leaders and members.
Ikea’s lawyer, Emmanuel Daoud, denied that systemwide surveillance had been carried out at Ikea’s stores in France. He argued that any privacy violations had been the work of a single person, Jean-François Paris, the French unit’s head of risk management.
Emails and receipts showed that Mr. Paris handed much of the legwork to Jean-Pierre Fourès, who surveilled hundreds of job applicants, gleaning information from social media and other sources to speed vetting and hiring. He also did background checks on unsuspecting customers who tangled with Ikea over big refunds. He insisted that he had never broken the law in gathering background material.
The surveillance encompassed career workers. In one case, Mr. Fourès was hired to investigate whether Ikea France’s deputy director of communications and merchandising, who was on a yearlong sick leave recovering from hepatitis C, had faked the severity of her illness when managers learned she had traveled to Morocco.
Carnival Cruise Line, the largest cruise operator in the United States, is optimistic that several of its U.S.-based lines will be up and running by July, it said on Wednesday as it reported its first quarter financials. Booking volumes for future Carnival cruises were about 90 percent higher in the first quarter of 2021 than in the previous quarter, “reflecting both the significant pent-up demand and long-term potential for cruising,” Arnold Donald, the chief executive of Carnival Corporation, the cruise line’s parent company, said in a statement on Wednesday. The company reported a net loss of $2 billion for the first quarter of 2021.
Unions representing employees at two prominent podcasting companies owned by Spotify, the audiostreaming giant, announced Wednesday that they had ratified their first labor contracts. The larger of the two unions, with 65 employees, is at The Ringer, a sports and pop culture website with a podcasting network. The second union, at the podcast production company Gimlet Media, has just under 50 employees. The two groups were among the first in the podcasting industry to unionize, and both are represented by the Writers Guild of America, East.
S&P 500 futures were up on Thursday, pointing to a rise when Wall Street trading starts, a day after the benchmark index set another record the previous day. Investors are awaiting the latest weekly jobless claims report, which could provide a fresh measure of a strengthening economy.
European markets were mostly higher and Asian stocks had a mostly positive day. Oil futures were lower, and Treasury yields slipped.
Investors on Wednesday were buoyed by remarks in the minutes of the Federal Reserve officials’ meeting last month, which suggested policies that have supported the markets and businesses through the pandemic were not about to be removed.
Fed policymakers have said they want to see “substantial further progress” toward their employment and inflation goals before scaling back the accommodative measures.
Weekly jobless claims numbers, to be released later on Thursday, come amid growing confidence about hiring in the U.S. economy. The payrolls report for March showed an impressive gain of 916,000 jobs. But even with that improvement, the economy is still 8.4 million jobs short of where it was in February 2020.
Investors are also digesting more details of President Biden’s corporate tax plan, which aims to raise as much as $2.5 trillion over 15 years. It includes a strict new minimum tax on global profits and cracking down on companies that try to move profits offshore.
Stocks, bonds and oil
In European, trading the Stoxx Europe 600 was 0.4 higher after hitting a record high at the close of trading on Wednesday. In Britain, the FTSE 100 was also 0.4 percent higher. In Asia, the Hang Seng in Hong Kong ended the day 1.2 percent higher.
In New York, S&P 500 futures were 0.3 percent higher, after the index rose 0.2 percent on Wednesday.
Oil futures were slipping, as rising coronavirus infections weigh on projections of oil demand. Brent crude, the global benchmark, was 0.2 percent lower at $63 a barrel, and the U.S. benchmark, West Texas Intermediate, fell 0.5 percent, to $59.47 a barrel.
Yields on 10-year Treasury notes were down more than 2 basis points, to 1.64 percent.
Erick Williams, the executive chef and owner of Virtue, a Southern restaurant in Chicago, said his staff of 22 employees is about half the size it was before the pandemic. “People aren’t even showing up for interviews these days,” he said.
If he can’t hire more help before business increases with the growth of outdoor dining, Mr. Williams said, “all of a sudden, you got to pay more overtime, and you’re running the risk of burning out your staff.”
The tight job market has helped hasten changes that restaurant workers pushed for during the shutdowns, including higher pay and better working conditions. Ms. Button has raised wages in accordance with recommendations made by One Fair Wage, an advocacy group for service workers, and is paying $150 bonuses to employees who refer new hires who stay on the job for more than 90 days.
The starting wage for kitchen employees at Mr. Acheson’s Atlanta restaurants is $14 to $15 per hour, he said, up from $12 before the pandemic. “People will walk down the street for a buck more — and they should,” he said.
Mike Traud, the program director of the Department of Food and Hospitality Management at Drexel University, in Philadelphia, said intense competition for talent makes this an opportune time for people to break into the restaurant business. He said this is particularly true in the Northeast, where restaurants on the coast are hiring for the tourism season.
“You have more leverage,” he said, “and there are more opportunities to get into upper-level kitchens.”
Many people, though, may be reluctant to take up or return to restaurant work, given the health risks that some studies have linked to serving customers, particularly indoors. Many restaurateurs are also concerned that resuming indoor dining too quickly could cause another spike in Covid infections. (This week, the Aspen Institute’s Food and Society Program released a set of safety guidelines it developed, in partnership with other industry groups, for diners and restaurant employees to continue following.)
Getting a market-rate return is something impact investors are comfortable with, but a lower return makes it harder to attract enough investors, said Trenton Allen, managing director and chief executive of Sustainable Capital Advisors. “It’s not impossible,” he said. “But you’re narrowing the number of investors you have access to.”
Traditional impact investors also argue that accepting different returns for different investments is already happening. Consider bondlike returns for fixed-income types of risk.
“Impact investing is a big tent and should be a big tent,” said Nancy Pfund, managing partner at DBL Partners, an impact venture capital fund. “The challenge is, we shouldn’t muddy the waters and think impact-first is the only kind of investment. We also don’t want to step backward and deal with biases about returns that we have spent at least 10 years fighting.”
Even those who have taken the approach agree that it is a luxury.
“If the organizing priority is impact, that’s a privilege, but you have to have a deep tolerance for risk,” said Margot Kane, chief investment officer of Spring Point Partners, which is a social venture fund created by the Berwind family of Philadelphia, whose wealth dates to 19th-century coal mining.
For anyone considering taking the middle ground, here are the two key questions: How do you determine if an investment qualifies as impact first? And since impact, not return, is the primary motivation, how do you measure it?
Let’s start with selection.
“One of the things we ask ourselves when we’re doing due diligence on one of these projects is, ‘Is this a really great catalytic investment or a very bad market-rate investment?’” said Liesel Pritzker Simmons, co-founder and principal of Blue Haven Initiative and a member of the family whose wealth derives from Hyatt hotels.
“Honestly, it tends to come down to what is the problem they’re trying to solve and is the nature of that solution super-scalable or not?” she said.
They opened the gates on Thursday, six months after the end of a brief and surreal regular season played before cardboard cutouts and empty stands. Opening day for 2021 brought none of the usual standing-room-only crowds; with limited capacities, the games looked more like sleepy gatherings in mid-April. But the buzz was authentic, and there’s nothing like the real thing.
The first home run of the new year sliced through swirling snow flurries in Detroit. It was so confusing that the hitter, Miguel Cabrera — who is quite familiar with home runs, having swatted 488 in his career — slid into second on his trip around the bases, thinking he had hit a double.
A few players wore masks on the field, like the Brewers’ Lorenzo Cain, who opted out of last season after a few games, and the Philadelphia Phillies’ Didi Gregorius, who has a chronic kidney disorder. Cain scored the winning run in the 10th inning for Milwaukee, and Gregorius drew an intentional walk in the 10th for the Phillies, setting up Jean Segura’s game-winning single and bringing joy to the 8,529 real, live people on hand.
“So much better, so much better — that’s how it should be,” Phillies starter Aaron Nola said. “Hopefully it’ll be more soon, but it was good to hear humans in the stands.”
With more than 34,000 seats empty, though, there were ever-present reminders of the pandemic, like static intruding on a clear signal.
Most sobering was the postponement of the Nationals’ opener, against the Mets in Washington, after a Nationals player tested positive for the coronavirus. Because several teammates and a staff member were found to have been in close contact with the player, Major League Baseball said the teams would not open on Friday, either.
Then again, even without the virus-related postponement, Thursday was bound to be less than complete. The reason was the most mundane, and perhaps the most predictable, of all: bad weather in the Northeast.
With rain forecast, the Boston Red Sox announced at 9 a.m. that they had called off their opener with the Baltimore Orioles. The teams will try again on Friday afternoon, weather — and coronavirus test results — permitting.
West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, climbed 3.9 percent to $61.45 a barrel, and shares of Marathon Oil and Diamondback energy, for example, were up more than 10 percent.
The mood in financial markets also has been lifted this week by more signs of economic recovery in the United States and abroad. On Thursday, a measure of manufacturing activity rose to its highest since 1983, the Institute for Supply Management said. A weekly report on unemployment claims showed an uptick in the number of people applying for benefits, but investors will get a more complete picture of the job market on Friday when the employment report for March is released.
Analysts also pointed to President Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan, unveiled on Wednesday, as a tailwind. The proposal includes money for repairing roads and bridges, building affordable housing and caregiving facilities, and expanding access to broadband. And it comes just weeks after the passage of a nearly $2 trillion stimulus bill that could raise consumer spending by sending payments directly to Americans.
Mr. Biden proposed paying for the infrastructure plan with an increase in corporate taxes, but many on Wall Street had already anticipated that.
“Biden’s proposed tax increases have been discussed for months, so few were surprised by their inclusion,” Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management, wrote in a note to clients on Thursday, though he and other analysts did note that Mr. Biden could yet propose other tax increases — including one on capital gains from investments. The infrastructure plan includes spending about $50 billion on the semiconductor industry, where a global shortage in chips has disrupted car manufacturing. The Philadelphia Semiconductor index rose 3.7 percent on Thursday, while Micron Technology, which posted much better than expected quarterly sales and profit numbers a day earlier, was up 4.8 percent.
The plan also includes $174 billion to encourage the manufacture and purchase of electric vehicles. ChargePoint Holdings, which has a large network of electric-vehicle charing stations, rose nearly 12 percent.
On Friday, markets will be closed in the United States, Europe and some other countries for Good Friday.
Every month, streaming services in Australia add a new batch of movies and TV shows to its library. Here are our picks for April.
‘Worn Stories’ Season 1
Based on the Times columnist Emily Spivack’s book of the same name, the docu-series “Worn Stories” features short vignettes about what people wear and why. The show’s crew has assembled slice-of-life footage and thoughtful comments from a wide variety of people, who talk about how clothing — or the lack thereof, in the case of one segment about nudism — connects them to history, to their families, and to the communities they love. “Worn Stories” is comforting TV, designed to leave viewers feeling more optimistic about humanity.
The “Stranger Things” actor Caleb McLaughlin plays a troubled teen named Cole in this coming-of-age drama, set in a Philadelphia neighborhood where the predominately Black residents defy the local authorities by maintaining a stable of horses. Idris Elba plays Cole’s father Harp, who tries to steer him away from the local drug trade by teaching him to cherish the responsibility of caring for a large animal. Based on a Greg Neri novel, “Concrete Cowboy” is an earnest and often lyrical look at an unusual urban subculture.
In the mid-1970s, the con man Charles Sobhraj embarked on a crime spree across eastern Asia, at first swindling and then murdering a succession of tourists, with the help of a handful of loyal followers. Tahar Rahim plays Sobhraj in the British crime drama “The Serpent.” The show features a timeline-hopping structure, meant to compare and contrast the killer’s rampage with the work of the Dutch diplomat Herman Knippenberg (Billy Howle), who investigated the deaths of a young couple from his country. This eight-part mini-series is both a character sketch and a portrait of a wild and sometimes dangerous decade.
‘Shadow and Bone’ Season 1
Fans of big, sweeping Netflix fantasy series — like “The Witcher” and “The Umbrella Academy” — are the ideal audience for “Shadow and Bone.” This adaptation of Leigh Bardugo’s popular series of supernatural adventure novels is set in a world where unstoppable giant monsters terrorize a society governed by a rigid military and unscrupulous outlaws. Jessie Mei Li plays Alina Starkov, an ordinary soldier who surprises her comrades by exhibiting extraordinary superpowers — perhaps strong enough to change their lives.
‘Yasuke’ Season 1
In this animated action-adventure series, LaKeith Stanfield voices the title character, very loosely based on the historical records of an African-born samurai who fought in 16th century Japan. Created by the writer/producer LaSean Thomas (who previously worked on “Black Dynamite” and “Cannon Busters”), “Yasuke” follows this masterless swordsman as he reluctantly agrees to escort a superpowered girl on a dangerous quest. The story jumps back in forth in time, showing how Yasuke fights for his own nobility after a lifetime of bad breaks.
Also arriving: “Prank Encounters” Season 2 (April 1), “Just Say Yes” (April 2), “Madame Claude” (April 2), “Family Reunion” Season 3 (April 5), “Snabba Cash” Season 1 (April 7), “This Is a Robbery: The World’s Biggest Art Heist” (April 7), “The Wedding Coach” Season 1 (April 7), “The Way of the Househusband” Season 1 (April 8), “Night in Paradise” (April 9), “Thunder Force” (April 9), “My Love: Six Stories of True Love” (April 13), “Dad Stop Embarrassing Me!” (April 14), “Law School” (April 14), “Love and Monsters” (April 14), “The Soul” (April 14), “Arlo the Alligator Boy” (April 16), “Fast & Furious: Spy Racers” Season 4 (April 16), “Into the Beat” (April 16), “Ride or Die” (April 16), “Zero” Season 1 (April 21), “Stowaway” (April 22), “Fatima” (April 27), “Sexify” (April 28), “And Tomorrow the Entire World” (April 30), “The Innocent” (April 30), “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” (April 30), “Things Heard and Seen” (April 30).
‘Made for Love’ Season 1
The terrific comic actress Cristin Milioti takes the lead in this offbeat science-fiction dramedy, based on an Alissa Nutting novel. Milioti plays Hazel, who gets fed up with her controlling tech billionaire husband Byron (Billy Magnussen) and flees to the middle of nowhere to spend time with her relatively low-maintenance dad (Ray Romano). Unfortunately, Hazel soon finds she can’t flee modernity — not with her father’s synthetic girlfriend taking up space around the house, and not with Byron’s cutting-edge surveillance equipment tracking her every move and mood.
‘No Activity’ Season 4
The American version of the Australian series “No Activity” features a new approach for its fourth season, necessitated by the pandemic. The show is still mostly about lawmen dealing with the tedium of waiting for something to happen while investigating cases, but the format has now switched from live action to animation — which also allows for an all-star team of guest stars, including Kevin Bacon, Elle Fanning, Will Forte and D’Arcy Carden. Patrick Brammall (who cocreated the original show with the writer-director Trent O’Donnell) returns as a cop who dreams of tackling major crimes but who keeps getting assigned much duller duties.
‘Younger’ Season 7
The seventh season is the last for this beloved sitcom, created by the “Sex and the City” producer Darren Star. “Younger” started out as a shrewd and cynical take on the modern New York publishing business, with Sutton Foster playing a middle-aged divorcee pretending to be a hip 20-something in order to get a job. But over the course of its run, the series has dealt with more than just the generation gap, as Star and his team have explored the fragile state of modern media. Throughout, the heroine’s big lie has remained the main hook, and the foundation for the cliffhanger setting up this final run.
‘Everything’s Gonna Be Okay’ Season 2
One of 2020s most entertaining and emotionally engaging new comedies returns for a second season. Josh Thomas plays Nicholas, a formerly carefree Australian now saddled with the guardianship of his two American half sisters: the high-functioning autistic savant Matilda (Kayla Cromer) and the social misfit Genevieve (Maeve Press). While the show is mostly about the girls — both lovable characters, wonderfully played — it’s also about how Nicholas struggles with whether he should be more of a “dad” to these emotionally fragile teens, as they navigate upper middle-class Los Angeles.
‘Godfather of Harlem’ Season 2
The first season of this period crime drama introduced Bumpy Johnson (Forest Whitaker), an aging crime boss trying to reestablish his dominance in early 1960s New York after a decade in prison. The initial ten episodes covered the rapid changes in politics and pop culture, in an era when African-Americans were wielding power more publicly — even in the drug trade. Season two will add even more real-life (and fictional) gangsters, activists and celebrities, and should further the show’s reputation as one of TV’s best-acted and most ambitious crime dramas.
‘Rutherford Falls’ Season 1
The latest project for the writer-producer Michael Schur — one of the creators who brought “Parks and Recreation” and “The Good Place” to the small screen — is a sitcom about the complex and sometimes combative relationship between the residents of a Native American reservation and a nearby community in upstate New York. Ed Helms (another of the show’s creators) stars as the descendant of a local historical figure. The “Rutherford Falls” head writer Sierra Teller Ornelas leads a staff that is primarily made up of Indigenous people, lending authenticity — as well as some wryly self-aware humor — to these stories of small town life.
‘Jimmy Barnes: Working Class Boy’
Based on Jimmy Barnes’ frank memoir, this documentary tells the story of how the Scottish-born singer-songwriter overcame a rough childhood to become one of the most popular musicians in Australia. The film isn’t a comprehensive look at Barnes or his band Cold Chisel. Instead the director Mark Joffe lets his subject talk at length about his formative years, while cutting occasionally to some new performance footage in an intimate setting, in which Barnes strips his music — and his life — down to its soulful core.
Kate Winslet won Best Actress at the AACTA Awards — and her co-stars Judy Davis and Hugo Weaving won Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor — for this darkly comic melodrama, about a talented tailor who returns to her inhospitable hometown with vengeance on her mind. Winslet plays the title character, who was driven away by her neighbors as a little girl because of a crime she’s pretty sure she didn’t commit. Directed and co-written by Jocelyn Moorhouse (adapting a Rosalie Ham novel), “The Dressmaker” is stylish, dynamic and shockingly — and wonderfully — dark in places.
Also arriving: “Cheat” Season 1 (April 1), “Dinner with Friends” (April 1), “I Used to Go Here” (April 1), “Jiu Jitsu” (April 1), “Recoil” (April 1), “Tyson” (April 1), “The Capture” Season 1 (April 2), “The Moodys” Season 2 (April 2), “Pitch Perfect” (April 7), “Pitch Perfect 2” (April 7), “Home Economics” Season 1 (April 14), “Grow” (April 8), “Reservoir Dogs” (April 10), “Van Der Walk” Season 1 (April 16), “Confronting a Serial Killer” (April 18), “Baby Done” (April 20), “Gold Diggers” (April 22), “Anzacs” Season 1 (April 23).
‘Them’ Season 1
“The Chi” creator Lena Waithe is one of the producers of this socially conscious horror anthology, from the mind of the writer Little Marvin. In season one — subtitled “Covenant” — Deborah Ayorinde and Ashley Thomas play the Emorys, a pair of married Black parents from North Carolina who move to a white middle-class neighborhood in Los Angeles in the early 1950s. Alison Pill plays the block’s bigoted tastemaker, who persuades her girlfriends and their husbands to make the Emorys feel unwelcome. The story eventually takes a turn toward the supernatural, although it’s plenty terrifying when it’s just about discrimination.
Also arriving: “Frank of Ireland” (April 16), “Without Remorse” (April 30).
George F. Bass, who was often called the father of underwater archaeology, scouring shipwrecks for revelatory artifacts and developing new techniques for exploring the ocean, died on March 2 at a hospital in Bryan, Texas. He was 88.
His son Gordon confirmed the death.
Professor Bass was a graduate student in 1960 when he first donned a scuba tank and dived to the seabed of the Mediterranean. He went on to find bronze ingots more than 3,000 years old, wooden fragments that solved mysteries about shipbuilding from the time of the “Odyssey,” and much more — treasures that opened up a new field for archaeology, one that seemed to him as limitless as the Seven Seas.
Excavation of shipwrecks could provide not only “the ultimate histories of watercraft,” he later wrote, but also “the ultimate histories of virtually everything ever made by humans.”
Professor Bass led or co-directed archaeological efforts around the world, including in the United States, but he focused on the coast of Turkey — for thousands of years a maritime trade route for a succession of civilizations, from the ancient Canaanites to the early Byzantine Empire.
wrote that the Uluburun ship cast new light “on the histories of literacy, trade, ideas, metallurgy, metrology, art, music, religion, and international relations, as well as for fields as diverse as Homeric studies and Egyptology.”
The historical value of sunken treasure began to be recognized at the turn of the 20th century, when Greeks diving for sponge encountered a shipwreck carrying, among other goods, a magnificent ancient Greek bronze statue of a young man known as the Antikythera Youth. But sustained archaeological work under the sea was not feasible until 1943, when the oceanographers Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Emil Gagnan invented the aqualung.
Cape Gelidonya in Turkey, solved a puzzle about why Homer refers to brushwood on Odysseus’s ship. The remains of a sunken ship there revealed that brushwood had been used as a cushion for heavy cargo to protect the hull.
Deborah Carlson, the president of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, which Professor Bass helped create and then ran for much of his life, ultimately in Texas, said he deserved to be considered the founder of the field.
“Under his direction, ancient shipwrecks were excavated underwater for the first time,” she said in a phone interview. “He did it by taking his archaeological training and putting on scuba gear and taking the excavation to a new dimension.”
In his lectures, Professor Bass was fond of telling audiences about the ancientness of sea travel — which he said humans had developed before farming, shepherding or metalworking — and about the infinitude of shipwrecks to be discovered.
“We will never run out of worthy sites,” he wrote in “Beneath the Seven Seas” (2005), a book that chronicles his career. “Hundreds of ships have sunk in Aegean storms in a single day. We cannot calculate the number of wrecks in that one sea.”
Peter Throckmorton was researching Turkish sponge divers and learned that they knew of ancient artifacts on the ocean floor. Mr. Throckmorton wrote to the renowned archaeologist Rodney Young seeking sponsorship for a proper excavation. Professor Young turned to one of his graduate students who specialized in the Bronze Age and had enthusiastically read accounts of deep sea dives — George Bass.
Mr. Bass was less than fully prepared. He had time for only six weeks of a 10-week diving course at a Philadelphia Y.M.C.A. And before joining the expedition and diving 100 feet into the Mediterranean, he had tried on a tank just once and gone no deeper than 10 feet — in a pool. Yet that first trip became the foundation for the rest of his career.
“You have to be young and ignorant and naïve to get anywhere,” he reflected in a 2010 interview with the Penn Museum.
He obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and became a professor there in 1964. Though tenured, he left his position in 1973 to form, with his colleagues J. Richard Steffy and Michael L. Katzev, an independent institute devoted to nautical archaeology.
Professor Bass and his wife — he had married Ann Singletary in 1960 — sold their house, car and furniture and, with their two sons, moved to Cyprus. Their stay was short-lived. When Turkey invaded in 1974 in a struggle with Greece over control over the island, the Basses fled in the middle of the night.
Texas A&M University, in College Station, offered to house Professor Bass’s institute and make him and his colleagues members of the faculty. Now known as the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, it has excavated dozens of shipwrecks across Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. Professor Bass’s early research helped put in motion the establishment of Turkey’s Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology, which today is one of the premier institutions of its kind worldwide.
He called them “destructive of our search for knowledge of the past.”
“It is relatively simple to find and salvage antiques or antiquities,” he said. “It is what happens to those antiques or antiquities later that makes their recovery part of archaeology.”