signed a letter urging management to be more open to flexible work arrangements. It was a rare show of dissent from the company’s rank-and-file, who historically have been less willing to openly challenge executives on workplace matters.

But as tech companies grapple with offering employees greater work flexibility, the firms are also scaling back some office perks.

cutting back or eliminating free services like laundry and dry cleaning. Google, like some other companies, has said it approved requests from thousands of employees to work remotely or transfer to a different office. But if employees move to a less expensive location, Google is cutting pay, arguing that it has always factored in where a person was hired in setting compensation.

Clio, a legal software company in Burnaby, British Columbia, won’t force its employees back to the office. But last week, it gave a party at its offices.

There was upbeat music. There was an asymmetrical balloon sculpture in Clio’s signature bright blue, dark blue, coral and white — perfect for selfies. One of Clio’s best-known workers donned a safari costume to give tours of the facility. At 2 p.m., the company held a cupcake social.

To make its work spaces feel more like home, the company moved desks to the perimeter, allowing Clions — what the company calls its employees — to gaze out at the office complex’s cherry blossoms while banging out emails. A foosball table was upgraded to a workstation with chairs on either end, “so you could have a meeting while playing foosball with your laptop on it,” said Natalie Archibald, Clio’s vice president of people.

Clio’s Burnaby office, which employs 350, is open at only half capacity. Spaced-out desks must be reserved, and employees got red, yellow and green lanyards to convey their comfort levels with handshakes.

Only around 60 people came in that Monday. “To be able to have an IRL laugh rather than an emoji response,” Ms. Archibald said. “People are just excited for that.”

Karen Weise contributed reporting.

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McCarthy Holdings, Inc. Promotes Kristine Newman to Chief Financial Officer

ST. LOUIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–McCarthy Holdings, Inc., one of the nation’s largest 100 percent employee-owned construction companies, recently promoted Kristine Newman to chief financial officer. Prior to assuming this role, Newman served as executive vice president for the company. She replaces retiring CFO Doug Audiffred, and reports directly to McCarthy Holdings, Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ray Sedey.

Newman joined McCarthy in 2005 as controller for the builder’s Southwest Region and was promoted to vice president, finance in 2016 and senior vice president, finance in 2018. In 2019 she assumed the executive vice president, finance position and became a member of McCarthy’s enterprise leadership team. Now as chief financial officer, she will be responsible for all accounting, finance and insurance components of McCarthy including cash management, investments, internal audit financial reporting and risk management.

“Kris has been working closely with [outgoing CFO] Doug Audiffred for some time to ensure a thoughtful and smooth transition,” Ray Sedey said. “In addition to her outstanding financial acumen, strong work ethic and exceptional professionalism, Kris brings a deep understanding of McCarthy and our industry. She is an inspirational and trustworthy leader, and I speak for our entire leadership team and all our employee-owners when I express how pleased we are to welcome Kris into this role.”

Newman began her career with Arthur Andersen LLP, working on audit and consulting engagements in the firm’s Chicago and Phoenix offices, prior to joining McCarthy. She is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). An Indiana native, Newman earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Purdue University.

In addition to her responsibilities with McCarthy, Newman was recognized as a “Most Influential Woman in Commercial Real Estate” (AZ Business Magazine, 2019) and serves on the national committee for the McCarthy Partnership for Women, the firm’s employee resource group dedicated to recruiting, developing and retaining women. She currently serves on the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce board of directors, is past president and current member of the Valley of the Sun Chapter of the Construction Financial Management Association and is past chair of the board of directors for UMOM New Day Centers in Phoenix.

“It is an incredible honor to serve in this crucial role for our company,” Newman said. “I am grateful to be able to follow in the footsteps of Doug Audiffred, and his guidance through the transition period was extremely helpful and appreciated. I know without a doubt that this organization will continue to accomplish amazing things.”

About McCarthy Holdings, Inc.

McCarthy Holdings, Inc. is the oldest privately held national construction company in the country – with nearly 160 years spent collaborating with partners to solve complex building challenges on behalf of its clients. McCarthy Holdings, Inc. is comprised of McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. and Castle Contracting, Inc. Repeatedly honored as a Best Place to Work, McCarthy is ranked the 13th largest domestic builder (Engineering News-Record, May 2021). With approximately 6,000 salaried employees and craft professionals, the firm has offices in St. Louis; Atlanta; Collinsville, Ill.; Kansas City, Kan.; Omaha, Neb.; Phoenix; Las Vegas; Denver; Austin; Dallas; Houston; and San Diego, Newport Beach, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose and Sacramento, Calif. McCarthy is 100 percent employee owned. More information about the company is available online at www.mccarthy.com or by following the company on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

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Robert Malone Spreads Falsehoods About Vaccines. He Also Says He Invented Some.

“And almost without exception, these influencers feel that they have been wronged by mainstream society in some way,” Mr. Brooking added.

Dr. Malone earned a medical degree from Northwestern University in 1991, and for the next decade taught pathology at the University of California, Davis, and the University of Maryland. He then turned to biotech start-ups and consulting. His résumé says he was “instrumental” in securing early-stage approval for research on the Ebola vaccine by the pharmaceutical company Merck in the mid-2010s. He also worked on repurposing drugs to treat Zika.

In extended interviews at his home over two days, Dr. Malone said he was repeatedly not recognized for his contributions over the course of his career, his voice low and grave as he recounted perceived slights by the institutions he had worked for. His wife, Dr. Jill Glasspool Malone, paced the room and pulled up articles on her laptop that she said supported his complaints.

The example he points to more frequently is from his time at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego. While there, he performed experiments that showed how human cells could absorb an mRNA cocktail and produce proteins from it. Those experiments, he says, make him the inventor of mRNA vaccine technology.

“I was there,” Dr. Malone said. “I wrote all the invention.”

What the mainstream media did instead, he said, was give credit for the mRNA vaccines to the scientists Katalin Kariko and Drew Weissman, because there “is a concerted campaign to get them the Nobel Prize” by Pfizer and BioNTech, where Dr. Kariko is a senior vice president, as well as the University of Pennsylvania, where Dr. Weissman leads a laboratory researching vaccines and infectious diseases.

But at the time he was conducting those experiments, it was not known how to protect the fragile RNA from the immune system’s attack, scientists say. Former colleagues said they had watched in astonishment as Dr. Malone began posting on social media about why he deserved to win the Nobel Prize.

The idea that he is the inventor of mRNA vaccines is “a totally false claim,” said Dr. Gyula Acsadi, a pediatrician in Connecticut who along with Dr. Malone and five others wrote a widely cited paper in 1990 showing that injecting RNA into muscle could produce proteins. (The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines work by injecting RNA into arm muscles that produce copies of the “spike protein” found on the outside of the coronavirus. The human immune system identifies that protein, attacks it and then remembers how to defeat it.)

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$23.50 Million Community in Merced, CA Sold by The Mogharebi Group

MERCED, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Mogharebi Group, (“TMG”) has completed the sale of Axis at Compass Pointe in Merced, a 96-unit community located at 3779 Horizon Avenue. The property sold with multiple offers for a record price of $23,500,000 that equates to $244K per unit or $245 per square foot. The buyer is a private investment group out of the San Diego area.

“No inventory has been added in Merced since 2013, apart for Axis at Compass Pointe. Therefore, there was a high level of interest from buyers for this asset,” says Nazli Santana, Senior Investment Advisor of TMG. “Axis at Compass Pointe is the top option for UC Merced off-campus housing, as well as the nearby Medical Center and College.” Ms. Santana concluded, “As a result, the property sold at a record price for the market.”

Nazli Santana and Otto Ozen of TMG represented the buyer, a San Diego based private investment group.

Built in 2019, Axis at Compass Pointe is a two-story, Class A, 96-unit apartment community that is located on Horizon Avenue in Merced, CA. The property comprises 12 residential buildings totaling 95,808 rentable square feet. The complex is situated on a 4.87-acre site. The apartment homes feature spacious one-, two-, and three-bedroom floor plans with an average size of 1,000 square feet. The property boasts a clubhouse, fitness center, and leasing office. The units feature granite countertops, wood flooring, balconies & patios, and in-unit washer / dryer.

About The Mogharebi Group (TMG): The Mogharebi Group is a brokerage firm specializing in the multifamily property sector throughout the Western United States. With unparalleled local market knowledge, an extensive global network of top real estate investors, state-of-the-art technology, and direct access to capital with over $800MM in regularly revolving inventory, The Mogharebi Group is the best choice to meet the needs of major private investors and investment funds.

For more information visit: Mogharebi.com

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Waterford and CSCDA Expand into San Diego County with Acquisition of Three Escondido Multifamily Properties as part of Essential Housing Program, Lowering Rents for Qualified Residents

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Waterford Property Company (Waterford) in partnership with the California Statewide Community Development Authority (CSCDA), a joint powers authority, has announced the acquisition of three Escondido multifamily properties, including:

Waterford and CSCDA acquired the properties for $157 million from Lyon Living, the original owner and developer. Kyle Pinkalla of Northmarq represented the seller.

Upon taking ownership, Waterford, as project administrator for the property, and CSCDA will immediately lower rents for qualified new residents making between 80 to 120 percent of the area median income (AMI) under CSCDA’s workforce housing program. This program was created in response to a serious shortage of affordable workforce housing for those that have been termed the “missing middle,” individuals and families that earn too much to qualify for traditional affordable housing, but not enough to afford market rate rents in the communities where they work. As part of this program, annual rent increases are capped at no more than four percent and existing tenants that do not meet the income restrictions can remain in place until they elect to leave.

“When we look at the essential housing portfolio we’ve built this past year, we can see how powerful this program can be in bringing housing affordability to the missing middle demographic. With this program, Waterford is making a real difference in the lives of the state’s teachers, government employees, military, and first responders, among others, who can now stay housed in the communities where they work and serve,” said Sean Rawson, co-founder, Waterford Property Company. “The timing of this essential housing program is critical, as it provides immediate savings at a time when market rate rents across the state continue to rise.”

Average in-place rent across this Escondido portfolio per unit are currently $2,800. As part of this essential housing program, average per unit rent with the new rent restrictions in place will be $2,459. With this program, residents of these three Escondido communities will realize an average discount to current in-place rents of 12.2 percent and a discount to market rate rents of 13.8 percent.

Escondido Councilmember Consuelo Martinez commented that, “Middle income housing is something that doesn’t get built in our state and it’s highly needed.” She further shared, “What is important for me is ensuring that Escondido residents can stay living in Escondido and that rents don’t continue to skyrocket.”

The Escondido City Council unanimously approved the program during its October 28, 2021 City Council meeting.

“We’re seeing double digit rent growth throughout San Diego County in 2021. For example, market area rents in this region have grown 4.5 percent per year over the last five years. Rents even rose in 2020 despite COVID, rising 2.4 percent, which underscores the strength of North San Diego County,” added John Drachman, co-founder, Waterford. “This is a vital solution to countering the rising cost of housing in California, which is why many of the cities we are working with are now adding more properties to this essential housing program.”

With this portfolio acquisition, Waterford now administers 15 communities in Southern California that have been converted from market rate to essential housing bringing its portfolio to 4,014 units and over $2.4 billion of tax-exempt bond issuances, confirming the firm as the most active sponsor in CSCDA’s middle income housing program in California.

Waterford Property Company is a diversified real estate investment and development company with an established track record in the acquisition and development of over $2 billion in multifamily and commercial properties. Its expertise includes developing mixed-use multifamily projects throughout California, developing and investing in affordable housing and repositioning existing commercial properties. It is led by its co-founders John Drachman and Sean Rawson. For more information, visit www.waterfordco.com.

CSCDA is a joint powers authority founded by the League of California Cities and the California State Association of Counties in 1988 to enable local government and eligible private entities access to low-cost, tax-exempt financing for projects that provide a tangible public benefit, contribute to social and economic growth and improve the overall quality of life in local communities throughout California. CSCDA is comprised of more than 530 cities, counties and special districts, and has issued more than $65 billion through 1,700 plus transactions across its diverse public benefit financing programs. For more information, visit www.cscda.org.

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For third day, COVID-19 crimps Americans’ holiday travels

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK, Dec 26 (Reuters) – U.S. airlines canceled more than 1,300 flights on Sunday as COVID-19 thinned out the number of available crews, while several cruise ships had to cancel stops after outbreaks on board, upending the plans of thousands of Christmas travelers.

Commercial airlines had canceled 1,318 flights within, into or out of the United States by mid-afternoon, according to a tally on flight-tracking website FlightAware.com.

At least three cruise ships were also forced to return to port without making scheduled port calls after COVID-19 cases were detected on board, according to multiple media reports.

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It was the third straight day of pain for some Americans traveling over the weekend as the Christmas holidays, typically a peak time for travel, coincided with a rapid spread of the Omicron variant nationwide.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease official, warned of rising U.S. cases in coming days and potentially “overrun…hospitals, particularly in those regions in which you have a larger proportion of unvaccinated individuals.”

“It likely will go much higher,” he said of the Omicron-driven surge even as President Joe Biden last week unveiled new actions aimed at containing the latest wave and continued urging vaccinations and other prevention strategies.

With rising infections, airlines have been forced to cancel flights with pilots and cabin crew needing to quarantine while poor weather in some areas added to travelers woes.

Enjoli Rodriguez, 25, whose Delta Air Lines Inc (DAL.N) flight from Los Angeles to Lexington, Kentucky, was canceled on Christmas Eve, was one of thousands still stranded on Sunday.

Delta rebooked Rodriguez through Detroit, but that flight was delayed so she missed the connection.

Speaking from the Detroit airport on Sunday, Rodriguez said she was surrounded by angry passengers, flustered airline representatives and families with young children in limbo.

“I’ve run into a lot of people sharing their horror stories here. We’re all just stuck in Michigan, Detroit, heading different places,” Rodriguez, who was rebooked on a later flight to Kentucky, told Reuters.

A total of 997 flights were scrapped on Christmas Day and nearly 700 on Christmas Eve. Thousands more were delayed on all three days.

A Delta Airlines spokesperson said “winter weather in portions of the U.S. and the Omicron variant continued to impact” its holiday weekend flight schedule but that it was working to “reroute and substitute aircraft and crews.”

United Airlines also said it was working to rebook impacted passengers, while a Southwest Airlines spokesperson said its cancellations were all weather related.

Passengers line up at John F. Kennedy International Airport during the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant in Queens, New York City, U.S., December 26, 2021. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

Overall, U.S. airports most heavily impacted were in Seattle, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Dallas-Fort Worth and JFK International in New York.

A White House official, who asked not to be named, said the administration was monitoring the delays closely but noted that while they can disrupt plans “only a small percentage of flights are affected.”

Delta on Sunday canceled 167 flights or 6%; United canceled 115 flights or 5% and American canceled 83 flights or 2%, according to FlightAware.

Globally, 3,023 flights were called off and more than 13,742 were delayed, as of 8:15 p.m. EST on Sunday (0015 GMT Monday), FlightAware data showed.

COVID HITS CRUISES

Meanwhile, a Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCL.N) cruise ship turned back to Ft. Lauderdale, CNN reported, and on Sunday a Carnival Corp (CCL.N) ship returned to Miami after COVID was detected onboard, although it was unclear if the cases were Omicron.

Carnival said “a small number on board were isolated due to a positive COVID test” on board its Carnival Freedom ship, which again left Miami later on Sunday for its next trip with another round of passengers.

“The rapid spread of the Omicron variant may shape how some destination authorities with limited medical resources may view even a small number of cases, even when they are being managed with our vigorous protocols. Should it be necessary to cancel a port, we will do our best to find an alternative destination,” it said in a statement.

A Holland America ship also returned to San Diego on Sunday after Mexican authorities banned it from docking in Puerto Vallarta citing onboard cases, NBC News and Fox News reported. Carnival, which owns Holland America, did not address that reported incident in its statement.

Representatives for Royal Caribbean did not respond to a request for comment.

Overall, COVID-19 outbreaks altered at least six sailings in the past week, the Washington Post reported, echoing the turmoil facing the industry after COVID erupted in early 2020.

Testing woes have compounded the travel angst, as many Americans scrambled for their status amid long lines and lack of at-home test kits amid the holiday travels.

“We’ve obviously got to do better. I mean, I think things will improve greatly as we get into January, but that doesn’t help us today and tomorrow,” Fauci told ABC’s “This Week.”

Meanwhile, some states are already bracing for the upcoming New Year’s holiday weekend, warning residents to reduce potential exposure to the virus.

“Omicron is surging statewide,” Louisiana’s health department tweeted on Sunday, noting Omicron-related hospitalizations had doubled in the past week. “We are urging everyone to take safety precautions ahead of New Year’s Eve.”

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Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and Gabriella Borter; Additional reporting by Kanishka Singh, Diane Bartz and Karen Brettell; additional writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Kieran Murray, Daniel Wallis, Mark Porter and Diane Craft

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Uber Survived the Spying Scandal. Their Careers Didn’t.

The relationship was tense, Mr. Gicinto recalled, and both men seemed uneasy about sharing leadership.

Still, their work ramped up quickly. The group, which grew to include dozens of employees, wanted to keep track of Uber’s competitors overseas, whether they were taxi drivers or executives at the Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi. But they also needed to protect their own executives from surveillance, and fend off web-scraping operations, which used automated systems to collect information about Uber’s pricing and driver supply.

It was an overwhelming task. To keep up, the team outsourced some of the projects to intelligence firms, which sent contractors to infiltrate driver protests. Other work was done in house, as Uber built its own scraping system to gather large amounts of competitor data. Scraping public data is legal, but the law limits the use of such data for commercial purposes.

The team rushed to hire more staff, and Mr. Gicinto recruited people he knew from his time at the C.I.A.: a fellow agent, Ed Russo, and Jake Nocon, a former agent for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, who met Mr. Gicinto when they worked at the Joint Terrorism Task Force in San Diego.

When Jean Liu, Didi’s chief executive, visited the Bay Area, Uber had her tailed. And when Travis Kalanick, Uber’s chief executive at the time, traveled to Beijing, employees tried to throw off Didi’s surveillance teams, shuttling Mr. Kalanick’s phones to other hotels so his location would ping in a place he wasn’t.

“To us, every bit of this was this game of helping our executives carry out their meetings without divulging who they were meeting,” Mr. Henley, who led Uber’s global threat operations, said. “And it was super fun, right? It was a cat-and-mouse game going back and forth.”

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Evergrande’s Struggles Offer a Glimpse of China’s New Financial Future

HONG KONG — Xu Jiayin was China’s richest man, a symbol of the country’s economic rise who helped transform poverty-stricken villages into urbanized metropolises for the fledgling middle class. As his company, China Evergrande Group, became one of the country’s largest property developers, he amassed the trappings of the elite, with trips to Paris to taste rare French wines, a million-dollar yacht, private jets and access to some of the most powerful people in Beijing.

“All I have and all that Evergrande Group has achieved were endowed by the party, the state and the whole society,” Mr. Xu said in a 2018 speech thanking the Chinese Communist Party for his success.

China is threatening to take it all away.

The debt that powered the country’s breakneck growth for decades is now jeopardizing the economy — and the government is changing the rules. Beijing has signaled that it will no longer tolerate the strategy of borrowing to fuel business expansion that turned Mr. Xu and his company into a real estate powerhouse, pushing Evergrande to the precipice.

Last week, the company, which has unpaid bills totaling more than $300 billion, missed a key payment to foreign investors. That sent the world into a panic over whether China was facing its own so-called Lehman moment, a reference to the 2008 collapse of the Lehman Brothers investment bank that led to the global financial crisis.

struggles have exposed the flaws of the Chinese financial system — unrestrained borrowing, expansion and corruption. The company’s crisis is testing the resolve of Chinese leaders’ efforts to reform as they chart a new course for the country’s economy.

If they save Evergrande, they risk sending a message that some companies are still too big to fail. If they don’t, as many as 1.6 million home buyers waiting for unfinished apartments and hundreds of small businesses, creditors and banks may lose their money.

“This is the beginning of the end of China’s growth model as we know it,” said Leland Miller, the chief executive officer of the consulting firm China Beige Book. “The term ‘paradigm shift’ is always overused, so people tend to ignore it. But that’s a good way of describing what’s happening right now.”

speech accepting an award for his charitable donations.

He went to college and then spent a decade working at a steel mill. He started Evergrande in 1996 in Shenzhen, a special economic zone where the Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping launched the country’s experiment with capitalism. As China urbanized, Evergrande expanded beyond Shenzhen, across the country.

Evergrande lured new home buyers by selling them on more than just the tiny apartment they would get in a huge complex with dozens of identical towers. New Evergrande customers were buying into the lifestyle associated with names like Cloud Lake Royal Garden and Riverside Mansion.

annual report was Wen Jiahong, the brother of China’s vice premier, Wen Jiabao, who oversaw the country’s banks as head of the Central Financial Work Commission.

elite group of political advisers known as the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

“He could not have gotten so big without the collaboration of the country’s biggest banks,” Victor Shih, a professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego, said of Mr. Xu. “That suggests the potential help of senior officials with a lot of influence.”

Mr. Xu was also a power broker who socialized with the Communist Party’s elite families, according to a memoir by Desmond Shum, a well-connected businessman. In his book, “Red Roulette,” published this month, Mr. Shum recounts a 2011 European wine-tasting and shopping spree in which Mr. Xu took part, along with the daughter of the Communist Party’s fourth-ranking official at the time, Jia Qinglin, and her investor husband.

The party flew to Europe on a private jet, with the men playing a popular Chinese card game called “fight the landlord.” At Pavillon Ledoyen, a Paris restaurant, the party spent more than $100,000 on a wine spree, downing magnums of Château Lafite wines, starting with a vintage 1900 and ending with a 1990. On a trip to the French Riviera, Mr. Xu considered buying a $100 million yacht owned by a Hong Kong mogul, Mr. Shum wrote.

To supercharge Evergrande’s growth, Mr. Xu often borrowed twice on each piece of land that he developed — first from the bank and then from home buyers who were sometimes willing to pay 100 percent of the value of their future home before it was built.

property grew to account for as much as one-third of China’s economic growth. Evergrande built more than a thousand developments in hundreds of cities and created more than 3.3 million jobs a year.

cool down, the damage caused by Evergrande’s voracious appetite for debt became impossible to ignore. There are nearly 800 unfinished Evergrande projects in more than 200 cities across China. Employees, contractors and home buyers have held protests to demand their money. Many fear they will become unwitting victims in China’s debt-reform campaign.

Yong Jushang, a contractor from Changsha in central China, still hasn’t been paid for the $460,000 of materials and work he provided for an Evergrande project that was completed in May. Desperate not to lose his workers and business partners, he threatened to block the roads around the development this month until the money was paid.

“It’s not a small amount for us,” Mr. Yong said. “This could bankrupt us.”

Mr. Yong and others like him are at the heart of regulators’ biggest challenge in dealing with Evergrande. If Beijing tries to make an example out of Evergrande by letting it collapse, the wealth of millions of people could vanish along with Mr. Xu’s empire.

protested on the streets and complained online about delays in construction. The central bank has put Evergrande on notice.

And China’s increasingly nationalistic commentators are calling for the company’s demise. Debt-saddled corporate giants like Evergrande were given the freedom to “open their bloody mouths and devour the wealth of our country and our people until they are too big to fall,” Li Guangman, a retired newspaper editor whose recent views have been given a platform by official state media, wrote in an essay.

Without proper intervention, Mr. Li argued, “China’s economy and society will be set on the crater of the volcano where all may be ignited any time.”

Michael Forsythe reported from New York. Matt Phillips contributed reporting from New York.

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