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Hoo boy, this is a moment. A government authority in the United States has sued Amazon over claims that the company is breaking the law by unfairly crushing competition.
The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday by the attorney general for the District of Columbia, joins the recent government antitrust cases against Google and Facebook. These lawsuits will take forever, and legal experts have said that the companies likely have the upper hand in court.
The D.C. attorney general, Karl Racine, however, is making a legal argument against Amazon that is both old-school and novel, and it might become a blueprint for crimping Big Tech power.
It’s a longstanding claim by some of the independent merchants who sell on Amazon’s digital mall that the company punishes them if they list their products for less on their own websites or other shopping sites like Walmart.com. Those sellers are effectively saying that Amazon dictates what happens on shopping sites all over the internet, and in doing so makes products more expensive for all of us.
told me that he believed that those price claims were the strongest potential antitrust case against Amazon on legal grounds. (He has since been picked to advise the White House on corporate competition issues.)
I don’t know if any of these lawsuits against Big Tech will succeed at chipping away at the companies’ tremendous influence. And I can’t definitively say whether we’re better or worse off by having a handful of powerful technology companies that make products used and often loved by billions of people.
the price of power is scrutiny.
How to fight back against bogus online information: The comedian Sarah Silverman and three of my colleagues are hosting a virtual event Wednesday about disinformation and how to combat it. Sign up here for the online event at 7 p.m. Eastern. It’s open only to New York Times subscribers.
fine social media companies for permanently barring political candidates’ accounts. The measure is most likely unconstitutional and unenforceable, Democrats, libertarian groups and tech companies told my colleague David McCabe, but it’s a response to Facebook’s and Twitter’s suspension of former President Donald Trump.
Posting is life. My colleague Taylor Lorenz explains how social media invitations to a teenager’s birthday party spread on TikTok and drew thousands of people and a police crackdown. The event got big partly because it was an opportunity for attendees to post compelling material online. SIGH.
POTUS loves Apple News? I don’t like it when computers and smartphones come with the device makers’ apps already installed, but it’s effective — even with the president of the United States. The Washington Post reported that during the 2020 campaign Joe Biden shared with aides human interest stories from Apple News, which came on his iPhone and he apparently hadn’t deleted.
Hugs to this
The Linda Lindas are glorious. Here is the talented punk band of four girls between the ages of 10 and 16 — Bela, Eloise, Mila and Lucia — playing “Racist, Sexist Boy” at a Los Angeles public library. The Guardian interviewed them about their sudden internet fame.
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More than 200 people were injured in Malaysia’s largest city, Kuala Lumpur, on Monday when a train full of passengers collided head-on in a tunnel with another train on a test run, the authorities said.
The trains were traveling at speeds of 12 to 25 miles an hour when they crashed on Monday evening. The authorities said all 213 passengers were hurt, including 47 who suffered serious injuries. No fatalities were reported.
Hours after the crash, Malaysia’s prime minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, called for a “full investigation” in a post on his Facebook page. “I take this accident seriously,” he said.
Photos and videos of the scene posted on social media showed injured passengers lying on the floor of the train and others lying on stretchers outside as paramedics treated them and put them in ambulances. Many other passengers sat nearby. Several had their heads wrapped in bandages.
told the government media outlet, Bernama.
“We had only moved for a few seconds when the crash happened, and the impact was so strong that I suffered injuries to my head, left leg and chest,” he said.
Mr. Wee, the transportation minister, told Channel News Asia that he would create a task force to investigate the crash and expected a preliminary report in two weeks.
“This is something that is out of the ordinary and it is not supposed to happen,” he said. “Is it signaling, or system, or complications, or human error? A special task force will be formed and its objective is to determine the exact cause of the collision.”
Eugene H. Webb, who was raised in racially segregated Alabama with modest ambitions, but who after transplanting himself to Harlem established what became the nation’s largest Black-owned real estate management company, died on April 5 at his home in Mount Vernon, N.Y. He was 102.
His death was confirmed by Webb & Brooker, the New York-based management, leasing and sales company he founded with George M. Brooker in 1968, which oversaw thousands of apartments generating tens of millions of dollars in rents.
In addition to his role at the firm, where he became chairman emeritus, Mr. Webb was among the founders of Carver Federal Savings Bank and of Freedom National Bank (which closed in 1990 during a recession). Both banks earned a reputation for lending to prospective Black and Hispanic home buyers in neighborhoods like Harlem, where applicants had been reflexively rejected by other banks.
Mr. Webb also played a prominent role in Harlem’s contentious redevelopment history, when new projects often raised fears that old Harlemites would be pushed out. He was part of the team that built the $60 million Renaissance Plaza on West 116th Street in the late 1990s, which includes 240 cooperative apartments and more than 60,000 square feet of retail space.
the HistoryMakers Digital Archive in 2004.
He dropped out of Miles College in Fairfield, Ala., to marry and worked in a coal mine before finally getting his dream job in a steel mill. After a little more than a year, he decided that he had higher aspirations and it was time to move on.
The New York Times that year. “Do you realize what that means if that money is channeled to local businesses to hire Black plumbers, painters and contractors?”
He and Mr. Brooker founded the Harlem Real Estate Board, where Mr. Webb served as president. After Mr. Brooker died in 1993, Mr. Webb assumed a policymaking role at the real estate firm and assigned operating control to Bernard Warren, who remains president.
Mr. Webb was a trustee of Miles College and of Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
His survivors include his third wife, Danna (Wood) Webb, a lawyer, whom he married in 1999; his daughter, Brenda; five grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; and one great-great-grandchild.
Eurostar, the sleek and speedy high-speed train service that ties London, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and other cities, will increase its timetable on May 27 to two trains per day on its once heavily traveled Paris-London route, up from just one round-trip train per day imposed during the pandemic.
The service is increasing slightly as governments in Europe plan to slowly lift longstanding national restrictions on travel designed to combat the spread of the coronavirus. From a peak of running more than 60 trains a day, Eurostar cut service during the pandemic to one daily round trip between London and Paris, and one on its London-Brussels and Amsterdam routes.
The Brussels-Amsterdam route will remain the same with one train in each direction per day, a spokesman said, adding that Eurostar will adapt its timetable should demand increase, which still depends on travel restrictions across its routes.
Eurostar’s future has been thrown into turmoil as pandemic measures led last year to a 95 percent slump in ridership, creating a cash crunch and pushing the iconic company to the brink of bankruptcy.
sold its stake in the rail company, last month declined to back a broader financial rescue package.
A spokesman for Eurostar said that it had no new details on a financial rescue, but that “conversations are still progressing.” The spokesman added that it was “too early to predict a recovery to prepandemic levels — this would be very much dependent on the easing of international travel restrictions which are yet to be confirmed.”
Eurostar trains will maintain some vacant seats onboard to allow for social distancing. The company said it was advising riders to check with their embassies before traveling, and to consult the company’s website for the latest information.
Canadian National Railway on Tuesday offered to buy Kansas City Southern for $33.7 billion, topping a $29 billion bid 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.
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 passenger train derailed Sunday north of Cairo, killing at least 11 people and injuring scores more, the Egyptian authorities said. It was the latest of several deadly rail accidents to hit the country in recent years.
At least 60 ambulances rushed to find survivors and help those who were hurt when four train cars ran off the rails just outside Cairo, the railway authority said. At least 98 people were injured, mostly with broken bones, cuts and bruises, the Health Ministry said in a statement.
Videos on social media showed train cars overturned at the city of Banha in Qalyubia Province and passengers escaping along the tracks. The train was bound for the Nile Delta city of Mansura from Cairo, the capital, the rail authority said in a statement.
Salvage teams could be seen searching for survivors and removing the derailed train cars. It was not immediately clear what caused the derailment, and prosecutors said they were investigating.
killing at least 18 people and injuring 200 others. Prosecutors said gross negligence by railway employees was behind that crash on March 25, which caused public outcry across the country.
Train wrecks are common in Egypt, where the railway system has a history of badly maintained equipment and mismanagement. The government says it has begun a broad effort to renovate and modernize the system. President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said three years ago that the government needed about 250 billion Egyptian pounds, or $14.1 billion, to overhaul the country’s rundown trains.
locomotive slammed into a barrier in Cairo’s main railway station, causing a huge explosion and a fire that killed at least 25 people. That crash prompted the transportation minister at the time to resign.
In August 2017, two passenger trains collided just outside the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, killing 43 people. In 2016, at least 51 people were killed when two commuter trains collided near Cairo.
Egypt’s deadliest train crash was in 2002, when more than 300 people were killed after a fire broke out in an overnight train traveling from Cairo to southern Egypt.
Vietnam and Switzerland as manipulators in its final report in 2020. The Biden administration’s report undid those designations, citing insufficient evidence.
Instead, the department said it would continue “enhanced engagement” with Vietnam and Switzerland and begin such talks with Taiwan, which includes urging the trading partners to address undervaluation of their currencies.
“Treasury is working tirelessly to address efforts by foreign economies to artificially manipulate their currency values that put American workers at an unfair disadvantage,” Ms. Yellen said in a statement.
Taiwan is the United States’ 10th largest trading partner in 2019, according to the United States trade representative. Vietnam is the 13th largest, and Switzerland is 16th.
The Treasury Department did not label China as a currency manipulator, instead urging it to improve transparency over its foreign exchange practices.
Treasury kept China, Japan, Korea, Germany, Italy, India, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand on its currency monitoring list, and added Ireland and Mexico.
Millions of workers are wondering what the office will be like when they go back after a long stretch of remote work. Employers are trying to prepare them for it.
IBM has designed a “reorientation” program to help its employees adjust when they return to a familiar setting but face a host of unfamiliar new procedures, the DealBook newsletter writes.
“It’s sort of like the first day of school,” said Joanna Daly, the company’s vice president of talent. “A day early, kids go and get to see the classroom or see how things work.”
This is needed, she said, because it is “not simply returning to the workplace as it existed before or the ways of working as it existed before.”
IBM made a “day in the life” video to show employees what to expect. One version of the 11-minute-long video seen by DealBook starts with “Paul” going back to one of IBM’s offices in Britain. To start the day, he goes through a self-screening checklist to assess potential exposure. He enters the office through designated entrances and picks up his masks for the day (and disinfectant wipes if he needs them). Arrows guide him through the halls and up one-way staircases. Only one person is allowed in the bathroom at a time.
The cafeteria is closed, so Paul must bring his lunch. He can’t use the whiteboards or marker pens in conference rooms (and he shouldn’t linger there longer than necessary). If Paul sees other IBMers not following the safety protocols, “It is OK to politely remind them,” the narrator assures him.
Along with the video, IBM produced an 18-page presentation depicting “Sonia’s’’ return to the workplace, serving as a friendly, cartoon-filled back-to-work manual.
“We’re looking now at how might anxiety manifests itself differently for different employees around being back together and then how do we address that,” Ms. Daly said, “through practical understanding of health and safety and also through having enough flexibility in the environment that everyone can kind of get used to coming back.”
IBM, which has 346,000 employees, hasn’t set a timeline for when its U.S. workers will return to the office. The company’s chief executive, Arvind Krishna, has said he expects 80 percent of them will work in a hybrid fashion when they do.
Mercedes-Benz unveiled an electric counterpart to its top-of-the-line S-Class sedan on Thursday, the latest in a series of moves by German automakers to defend their dominance of the high end of the car market against Tesla.
The EQS, which will be available in the United States in August, is the first of four electric vehicles Mercedes will introduce this year, including two S.U.V.s that will be made at the company’s factory in Alabama and a lower-priced sedan. Mercedes did not announce a price for the EQS, but it is unlikely to be lower than the S-Class, which starts at $94,000 in the United States.
The cars could be decisive for Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes, as it tries to adapt to new technology.
“It is important to us,” Ola Källenius, the chief executive of Daimler, said of the EQS during an interview. “In a way it is kind of day one of a new era.”
The EQS has a range of 770 kilometers or about 480 miles, according to Mercedes. If that figure is confirmed by independent testing, the EQS would dethrone the Tesla Model S Long Range Plus as the production electric car that can travel the farthest between charges. The Tesla currently occupies the No. 1 spot with a range of just over 400 miles, according to rankings by Kelley Blue Book.
The EQS owes its stamina to advances in battery technology and an exceptionally aerodynamic design, Mr. Källenius said. Some analysts question whether Mercedes can sell enough electric vehicles to justify the cost of development, but Mr. Källenius said, “We will make money with the EQS from the word ‘go.’”
The EQS is the latest attempt by German carmakers to show that they can apply their expertise in engineering and production efficiency to battery-powered cars. Vehicles are Germany’s biggest export, so the carmakers’ success or failure will have a significant impact on the country’s prosperity.
On Wednesday, Audi, the luxury unit of Volkswagen, unveiled the Q4 E-Tron, an electric SUV. The Q4 shares many components with the Volkswagen ID.4, an electric SUV that the company began delivering to customers in the United States in March. Though priced to compete with internal combustion models, neither vehicle offers as much range as comparable Tesla cars.
In the S-Class tradition, the EQS offers over-the-top luxury features like software that can recognize when a driver might be feeling fatigued and can offer to turn on the massage function embedded in the seat.
“You’re going to get S-Class level refinement in a very, very high performing electric car,” Mr. Källenius said. “That’s your buying argument.”
China on Friday reported that its economy grew by a remarkable 18.3 percent in the first three months of this year compared with the same period last year.But the spike is as much a reflection of how bad matters were a year ago — when the China’s output shrank by 6.8 percent — as it is an indication of how China is doing now.
Global demand for the computer screens and video consoles that China makes is soaring as people work from home and as a pandemic recovery beckons. That demand has continued as Americans with stimulus checks look to spend money on patio furniture, electronics and other goods made in Chinese factories.
China’s recovery has also been powered by big infrastructure. Cranes dot city skylines. Construction projects for highways and railroads have provided short-term jobs. Property sales have also helped strengthen economic activity.
Exports and property investment can carry China’s growth only so far. Now China is trying to get its consumers to return to their prepandemic ways.
Unlike much of the developed world, China doesn’t subsidize its consumers. Instead of handing out checks to jump-start the economy last year, China ordered state-owned banks to lend to businesses and offered tax rebates.
Travel restrictions over the Lunar New Year holiday dampened consumer appetite and slowed the momentum of Chinese shoppers. But retail data on Friday showed that March sales were better than expected, raising hopes that consumers might be starting to feel confident.
By: Ella Koeze·Data delayed at least 15 minutes·Source: FactSet
Global stocks rose on Friday after a string of strong economic reports and company earnings.
The S&P 500 rose 0.2 percent, set for its fourth straight week of gains and another record. The benchmark had gained 1 percent in the week through Thursday and is up nearly 5 percent so far this month.
The Stoxx Europe 600 rose 0.6 percent on Friday, also climbing to a record, while the FTSE 100 in Britain climbed above 7,000 points for the first time since February 2020. Stock indexes in Japan, Hong Kong and China all closed higher.
China reported on Friday that its economy grew by 18.3 percent in the first three months of the year compared with the same period last year, when swathes of the country had been shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic. On Thursday, data showed U.S. retail sales in March leapt past expectations, increasing by nearly 10 percent, and initial state jobless claims fell last week to their lowest level of the pandemic.
This week, banks including Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase reported better-than-expected earnings, and their chief executives delivered upbeat economic forecasts.
The yield on 10-year Treasury notes slipped to 1.57 percent on Friday. Last month, concerns that government spending would overheat the economy and lead to higher inflation sent bond yields shooting higher, to 1.74 percent on March 31. But those worries appear to have been soothed by central bank officials, who have repeatedly said they expect increases in inflation to be temporary.
Earlier this week, data showed that prices in the United States rose2.6 percent in March from a year earlier, a larger-than-normal increase partly because prices of some items fell in March 2020 as the pandemic took hold.
Another reason yields have drifted lower is a “remarkable” demand for bonds, ING, a Dutch bank, said. Recent Treasury bond auctions have received more bids than normal, and JPMorgan Chase sold $13 billion of bonds on Thursday, the biggest sale ever by a bank, according to Bloomberg.
“Cash has to go somewhere, and it can’t all go into equities,” the ING analysts wrote in a note to clients.
Twitter said on Thursday that it had blocked the account of James O’Keefe, the founder of the conservative group Project Veritas.
Mr. O’Keefe’s account, @JamesOKeefeIII, was “permanently suspended for violating the Twitter Rules on platform manipulation and spam,” specifically that users cannot mislead others with fake accounts or “artificially amplify or disrupt conversations” through the use of multiple accounts, a Twitter spokesman said.
In a statement on his website, Mr. O’Keefe said he will file a defamation lawsuit against Twitter on Monday over its claim that he had operated fake accounts.
“This is false, this is defamatory, and they will pay,” the statement said.
“Section 230 may have protected them before, but it will not protect them from me,” Mr. O’Keefe said, referring to a legal liability shield for social media. That shield, part of the federal Communications Decency Act, has become a favorite target of lawmakers in both parties.
In February, Twitter permanently suspended the Project Veritas account, saying it had posted private information. It also temporarily locked Mr. O’Keefe’s account.
To keep you watching, YouTube serves up videos similar to those you have watched before. But the longer someone watches, the more extreme the videos can become.
Caolan Robertson learned how making clever edits and focusing on confrontation could help draw millions of views on YouTube and other services. He also learned how YouTube’s recommendation algorithm often nudged people toward extreme videos.
Over more than two years, he helped produce and publish videos for right-wing Youtube personalities including Lauren Southern, Cade Metz reports for The New York Times.
Knowing what garnered the most attention on YouTube, Mr. Robertson said, he and Ms. Southern would devise public appearances meant to generate conflict. They attended a women’s march in London and, with Ms. Southern playing the part of a television reporter, approached each woman with the same four-word question: “Women’s rights or Islam?”
They often received a confused, measured or polite response, according to Mr. Robertson. They continued to ask the question and sharpened it. Ms. Southern, for example, said it would be difficult for Muslim women to answer the question because their husbands wouldn’t let them attend the march. That caused anger to build in the crowd.
“It appears in the videos that we are just trying to figure out what is going on, gather information, understand people,” Mr. Robertson said. “But really, we were trying to find the most incendiary way of making them mad.”
Ms. Southern described the situation differently. “We asked the question because we knew it was going to force people to question their own political views and realize the contradiction in being a hard-core feminist but also supporting a religion that, quite frankly, has questionable practices around women,” she said. And, she added, they used video techniques that any media company would use.
A court has awarded attendees of the infamous Fyre Festival approximately $7,220 apiece, nearly four years after they were left scrounging for makeshift shelter on a dark beach. The $2 million class-action settlement, reached Tuesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of New York between organizers and 277 ticket holders from the 2017 event, is still subject to final approval, and the amount could ultimately be lower depending on the outcome of Fyre’s bankruptcy case with other creditors.
CBS is turning to a pair of outsiders to restore the fortunes of a news operation that trails its rivals at ABC and NBC. CBS said on Thursday that Neeraj Khemlani, a vice president at the publishing powerhouse Hearst, and Wendy McMahon, a former ABC executive, would succeed Ms. Zirinsky. The two will serve as presidents and co-heads of CBS News, a division that will be expanded to include local stations owned by the network.
Factories are whirring, new apartments are being snapped up and more jobs are up for grabs. When China releases its new economic figures on Friday, they are expected to show a remarkable post-pandemic surge.
The question is whether small businesses and Chinese consumers can fully share in the good times.
China is expected to report that its economy grew by a jaw-dropping double-digit figure in the first three months of the year compared with the same period the year before. The number is widely estimated by economists to be 18 percent to 19 percent. But the growth is as much a reflection of the past — the country’s output shrank 6.8 percent in the first quarter of 2020 compared with a year earlier — as it is an indication of how China is doing now.
A year ago, entire cities were shut down, planes were grounded and highways were blocked to control the spread of a relentless virus. Today, global demand for computer screens and video consoles that China makes is soaring as people work from home and as a pandemic recovery beckons. That demand has continued as Americans with stimulus checks look to spend money on patio furniture, electronics and other goods made in Chinese factories.
in the corporate sector, where many firms have borrowed beyond their means. Many economists are looking for signs of a broader recovery that relies less on exports and the government and more on Chinese consumers to juice growth.
A slow vaccination rollout and fresh memories of lockdowns have left many consumers in the country skittish. Restaurants are still struggling to bounce back. Waiters, shopkeepers and students are not ready yet for the “revenge spending” that economists hope will power growth. When virus outbreaks occur, the Chinese authorities are quick to put new lockdowns in place, hurting small businesses and their customers.
To avoid a wave of outbreaks in February, the authorities canceled the travel plans of millions of migrant workers for the Lunar New Year holiday, the biggest holiday of the year in China.
“China’s Covid strategy has been to crush it when it reappears, but there seems to be a lot of voluntary social distancing and that’s affecting services,” said Shaun Roache, chief economist for Asia Pacific at S&P Global. “It’s holding back normalization.”
Wu Zhen runs a family business of 13 restaurants and dozens of banquet halls in Yingtan, a city in China’s southeastern Jiangxi Province. When China began to bounce back last year, more people started coming to her restaurants for their favorite dishes, like braised pork. But just as she and her employees began preparing for the Lunar New Year, a new Covid-19 outbreak prompted the authorities to limit the number of people allowed to gather in one place to 50.
“It should have been the best time of the year for our business,” said Ms. Wu, 33.
This year, Ms. Wu decided that closing the entire business over the holiday would be cheaper. “If we want to serve Lunar New Year’s Eve dinner, the labor wage for one day is three times higher than the usual time. We save more money by just closing the doors and the business,” she said. It will be the second year in a row that the restaurants shut their doors over the holiday.
Ms. Wu inherited the business from her father two years ago and employs more than 800 people. Before the pandemic, three quarters of the business revenue came from big banquets for weddings and family reunions. She said business has yet to return to normal after months of crushing virus restrictions.
The setbacks facing small-business owners like Ms. Wu are also affecting regular consumers who are jittery about opening their wallets. According to Zhaopin, China’s biggest job recruitment platform, more jobs in hotels and restaurants, entertainment services and real estate are available than a year ago. But households are still being cautious about spending.
Families continue to save at a higher rate than they did before the pandemic, something that worries economists like Louis Kuijs, who is head of Asian economics at Oxford Economics. Mr. Kuijs is looking at household savings as an indication of whether Chinese consumers are ready to start splurging after months of being stuck at home.
“More people still seem to not go all the way in terms of carefree spending,” he said. “At times there are still some lingering Covid concerns, but there is perhaps also a concern about the general economic situation.”
Many families took on more debt last year as they borrowed to buy property and to cover expenses during the pandemic. China still largely lacks the kind of social safety net that many wealthy countries provide, and some families have to dip into savings for health care and other big costs.
Unlike much of the developed world, China doesn’t subsidize its consumers. Instead of handing out checks to jump-start the economy last year, China ordered state-owned banks to lend to businesses and offered tax rebates.
Retail figures on Friday will give a better sense of where consumers are picking up their old spending habits. But data from the first two months of the year already show that consumers like Li Jinqiu are spending less and saving more.
Mr. Li, 25, who recently got married, has a one-month-old baby at home. He had planned to work for the family business, but it has been hit by the pandemic and he doesn’t think there is much opportunity for him if he stays.
“The whole family has some sense of crisis,” Mr. Li said. “Because of the pandemic and because of family business, I have a sense of crisis.”
Mr. Li said he had received a job offer in sales at a financial firm in Beijing but had delayed the start date to help take care of his newborn. He said he once borrowed to spend on items like his $150,000 Mercedes. Now he drives a $46,000 electric car and has put off buying new clothes.
HUALIEN, Taiwan — Crawling through the smoky wreckage, she first found her husband and son pinned under luggage lockers and mangled steel, but they weren’t breathing. Then she called her daughter’s name. A faint voice responded: “I’m over here.”
Following the voice, Hana Kacaw found her daughter underneath a mass of metal train parts. She tried pulling pieces of the wreckage off, but it was no use. “Please hold on,” she urged. “Someone is coming to rescue us.’
“I can’t hang on any longer,” her daughter responded, according to Ms. Kacaw. Those were her last words.
Just like that, Ms. Kacaw had lost her husband of more than 20 years and their 21-year-old son and 20-year-old daughter, both promising athletes in college. They were among the 51 people who were killed on Friday when a train derailed along Taiwan’s east coast in the island’s worst such disaster in four decades. Others who died included the train’s two drivers, at least two young children, as well as a French national and an American.
The eight-car Taroko Express train had been nearly full, with about 490 passengers — including 120 or so who held standing-room-only tickets — on the first day of a long holiday weekend in Taiwan. The authorities say the train, which was bound for the eastern city of Taitung, probably collided with a construction vehicle that had rolled down a slope onto the track, then slammed into a tunnel.
The authorities, who have pledged a thorough investigation, said on Saturday that a suspect had been questioned and then released on bail. The government also said that it might compensate families about $190,000 for each deceased person, although it would finalize the amount later.
By Saturday, rescuers had saved all those they presumed had survived, and were using excavators to try to pull out the train cars. The casualties were the greatest in several train cars — numbered 5 to 8 — that were stuck deep inside the tunnel. Ms. Kacaw, who had been in Car 8, at the front of the train, had eventually found her way out of the tunnel on her own.
After spending a sleepless night in a hotel, she joined dozens of other grieving relatives on Saturday in the grim, painful task of identifying remains and saying their goodbyes.
They gathered at a temporary support center that had been set up under tents outside a funeral home in Hualien, a city south of the crash site. They took turns entering a morgue where bodies were being kept, and many emerged shaken and distraught. Some discussed funeral arrangements and reviewed autopsy reports, while volunteers, Christian pastors and Buddhist monks — and even President Tsai Ing-wen, briefly — offered comfort.
For some families, grief has been complicated by uncertainty. Some relatives were frustrated that they had been unable to identify their loved ones, but officials said they were hoping that DNA samples would help. The impact of the crash was so great and the destruction so severe, the officials explained, that in several train cars, rescuers could only extricate human remains in parts.
Inside these train cars, the acrid smell of blood hung in the air, said Zeng Wen-Long, a volunteer Red Cross rescue worker, in an interview. It was there, also in Car 8, that Mr. Zeng’s team found 5-year-old Yang Chi-chen, who had been traveling with her older sister and father, wedged under a chair.
More than an hour passed before the team had reached her on Friday, and she was already very weak. Mr. Zeng said he had carried her to her father, Max Yang, who was leaning against the tunnel and had called out to the rescuers, asking to hold the motionless child.
Mr. Yang, 42, said he had tried calling to her to wake her up. Several times, he said, her eyes would flutter open before closing again. “I’m sorry,” Mr. Yang told her.
By the time they got to a hospital, Mr. Yang said, Chi-chen had died. She was one of the youngest victims. Her 9-year-old sister remains in intensive care.
On Saturday, Mr. Yang returned to the site of the crash — a tunnel running through verdant mountains overlooking the Pacific Ocean — with other grieving relatives to “call back the soul,” a traditional Taoist mourning ritual typically performed for victims of an accident.
Facing the placid blue waters, the family members called out to their loved ones who had perished in the crash.
“Come home!” they yelled toward the tunnel, where workers in yellow hard hats had halted work on restoring the damaged railway track and removing the train carriages. “It’s time to go now!”
Mr. Yang said that Chi-Chen, a rambunctious girl, had been excited to spend the long holiday weekend at an ocean-themed amusement park in Hualien, known for its dolphin show.
“Yang Chi-chen, stop playing in the water now, we’re leaving!” wailed Mr. Yang, who still had a catheter in his hand and bandages on his bruised cheek. “We’re going to take the bus to have fun somewhere else!”
On a viewing platform above the other families, Ms. Kacaw, the woman who had lost her husband and two children, wept quietly as a Christian pastor led a prayer.
Both her son, Kacaw, and her daughter, Micing, had been students and track stars at the National Taiwan Sport University in Taoyuan, a city near Taipei. They were a tight-knit family and maintained a deep connection to their Indigenous ethnic group, the Amis.
Ms. Kacaw said she had enjoyed playing badminton with her daughter in their neighborhood in New Taipei City and listening to her son play the guitar. She said the children had been introverts, just like their father, Siki Takiyo, whom she described as a soft-spoken university administrator.
Now, all three of them were gone, and Ms. Kacaw’s grief was compounded by guilt as she struggled to understand how they could have died while she survived.
She said she could not stop thinking about how she had asked her children to go back to their ancestral home in eastern Taiwan. She had wanted them to see their grandparents and pay their respects at their ancestors’ graves. The children had agreed even though her daughter had a track meet and her son had been preparing for exams.
On Friday morning, the family missed the train they had originally booked. A kindly ticket seller on the platform had offered to upgrade them to the Taroko Express, which would get them there faster. On the train, she had taken a seat at the back of the first car, while her husband and children had been at the front — the part of the train that would later absorb the greatest impact.
To Ms. Kacaw, the seeming randomness of it all was unbearable.
“Why didn’t I go with them?” she asked, in tears. “Why did I ask my children to come home with me?”
After the prayer, she sat in a wheelchair, dazed, a large cotton bandage across her forehead. Tears streamed down her face as she stared out at the ocean. A light rain began to fall.
“My only wish is for them to come into my dreams tonight,” she said.
STEEPLE CLAYDON, England — A chorus of bird song gives way to the roar of a chain saw and then the creaking and splintering of timber. A 50-foot tree sways, wobbles and finally crashes to the ground, while protesters shout and jeer.
The construction of the British government’s largest public works project — a high-speed rail line known as HS2 — has long been promoted as helping to save the environment. But it is under growing challenge from those who accuse it of doing the exact opposite.
They have waged a mostly fruitless fight against the project, a grand scheme to cut air and road travel by connecting the north of England to the more prosperous south with trains traveling at up to 225 miles per hour.
Now, with the pandemic prompting a surge in working from home and a slump in train travel, the opponents believe the argument is finally tilting their way, eroding the already shaky rationale for an effort that could cost more than $140 billion.
thought to have cost the project around £50 million already. Activists caught the authorities by surprise when they occupied tunnels dug near Euston Station in London, where the line starts and where Larch Maxey, a veteran of such protests, spent three weeks underground despite suffering from claustrophobia.
“I was living in an incredibly confined space, but it got better in the second and third weeks and it became an empowering experience,” he said in an interview. He described the project as “a 20th century scheme foisted on the 21st century,” adding, “The business model for HS2 was always shaky — it was based around the expected growth of business travel — and that has disappeared.”
At a protest camp at Jones Hill Wood, about 25 miles from Steeple Claydon, activists have built tree houses and other shelters on a landscape that inspired the writer Roald Dahl, and where tree felling was scheduled last year.
They say they have worked hard to monitor wildlife, including the location of badger dens and bat colonies, to hold officials to their promises to protect some species. But construction work is going on behind a green metal fence erected by security guards who take video footage on their phones of anyone who approaches.
Sitting around a campfire, Ross Monaghan, an activist who has spent a year here, much of it sleeping in a treehouse 80 feet above the ground, said it was “a victory that Jones Hill Wood is still standing, but we haven’t won that battle yet.”
To prevent more felling, he said, “people are going to have to step forward, put their bodies on the line, put their freedom on the line, and I think you will see that happen.”