Mark Zuckerberg is urged to scrap plans for an Instagram for children.

An international coalition of 35 children’s and consumer groups called on Instagram on Thursday to scrap its plans to develop a version of the popular photo-sharing app for users under age 13.

Instagram’s push for a separate children’s app comes after years of complaints from legislators and parents that the platform has been slow to identify underage users and protect them from sexual predators and bullying.

But in a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Facebook — the company that owns the photo-sharing service — the nonprofit groups warned that a children’s version of Instagram would not mitigate such problems. While 10- to 12-year-olds with Instagram accounts would be unlikely to switch to a “babyish version” of the app, the groups said, it could hook even younger users on endless routines of photo-scrolling and body-image shame.

“While collecting valuable family data and cultivating a new generation of Instagram users may be good for Facebook’s bottom line,” the groups, led by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood in Boston, said in the letter to Mr. Zuckerberg, “it will likely increase the use of Instagram by young children who are particularly vulnerable to the platform’s manipulative and exploitative features.”

The coalition of nonprofit groups also includes the Africa Digital Rights’ Hub in Ghana; the Australian Council on Children and the Media; the Center for Digital Democracy in Washington; Common Sense Media in San Francisco; the Consumer Federation of America; and the 5Rights Foundation in Britain.

Stephanie Otway, a Facebook spokeswoman, said that Instagram was in the early stages of developing a service for children as part of an effort to keep those under 13 off its main platform. Although Instagram requires users to be at least 13, many younger children have lied about their age to set up accounts.

Ms. Otway said that company would not show ads in any Instagram product developed for children younger than 13, and that it planned to consult with experts on children’s health and safety on the project. Instagram is also working on new age-verification methods to catch younger users trying to lie about their age, she said.

“The reality is that kids are online,” Ms. Otway said. “They want to connect with their family and friends, have fun and learn, and we want to help them do that in a way that is safe and age-appropriate.”

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‘It’s a Roller-Coaster Ride’: Global Chip Shortage Is Making Industries Sweat

Dan Rozycki, the president of a small engineering firm, worries about what a global semiconductor shortage could mean for curing concrete.

Mr. Rozycki’s company, Transtec Group in Austin, Texas, sells small sensors that are placed where concrete is poured at building, highway and bridge construction sites. The gadgets take temperature readings and wirelessly send data so workers with computers can ensure the material is hardening properly.

Like many other things in the modern world, from computers and cars to cash registers and kitchen appliances, the sensors require a couple of common, inexpensive semiconductors that have suddenly become a very scarce commodity.

“Every month our product is getting more popular,” Mr. Rozycki said. “But we may not be able to make it in several months.”

Shortages of semiconductors, fueled by pandemic interruptions and production issues at multibillion-dollar chip factories, have sent shock waves through the economy. Questions about chips are reverberating among both businesses and policymakers trying to navigate the world’s dependence on the small components.

Chip supply limitations are far from a new phenomenon. But past problems have typically concerned particular kinds of chips, like the types that help store computer memory or process vast amounts of data. This time, customers are also scrambling to find an array of simpler chips made in older factories. And those factories are difficult to upgrade.

ordered a 100-day review of the semiconductor supply chain, a process that drew chief executives of 19 big companies to a virtual meeting Monday. Congress has backed legislation aimed at spurring more domestic chip manufacturing to reduce dependence on Taiwan and South Korea, which Mr. Biden has proposed funding with $50 billion in his infrastructure plan.

Most attention has focused on temporary closings of big U.S. car plants. But the problem is affecting many other sectors, particularly the server systems and PCs used to deliver and consume internet services that became crucial during the pandemic.

Pat Gelsinger, the new chief executive of the chip maker Intel, who attended the meeting with the president on Monday. “People are begging us for more.”

The chip shortage potentially affects just about any company adding communications or computing features to products. Many examples were described in 90 comments filed to the Biden supply chain review by companies and trade groups, including a laundry list of needs from industry giants like Amazon and Boeing.

The personal computer giant HP said the shortage of semiconductors had prevented the company from being able to meet demand for computers ordered by schools. Rising chip prices also have made it harder to offer affordable hardware for less-wealthy school districts during the pandemic, the company said.

Mr. Rozycki’s engineering firm in Austin is for now among the lucky chip users. It planned ahead and has enough chips to keep making the roughly 50,000 sensors it supplies each year to construction sites. But his distributor has warned him it might not be able to deliver more of them until late 2022, he said.

“Is that going to halt those projects?” Mr. Rozycki asked. He is scouring the market for other distributors that might have the two needed chips in stock. Other possibilities include redesigning the sensors to use different chips.

drought in Taiwan and a cold snap in Texas that temporarily shut down factories operated by Samsung Electronics, NXP Semiconductors and Infineon.

“It’s hell on earth right now,” said Frank McKay, chief procurement officer at Jabil, which buys billions of dollars’ worth of chips each year to assemble products for customers that include Apple, Amazon, Cisco Systems and Tesla.

On any given day, he said, his company is facing shortages of 100 or so components and has to use all its negotiating power to get them — successfully so far. “But it’s a roller-coaster ride every day,” Mr. McKay said.

Fixing other issues is likely to stretch into 2022. Mr. Gelsinger said Intel was talking to auto industry suppliers about shifting some production of their chips to older Intel factories, possibly starting in six to nine months. But adding new production tools to an existing chip plant can take a year. Building a new one takes three years.

“This is going to be a long healing,” said Thomas Caulfield, chief executive of GlobalFoundries, a big U.S. chip manufacturer that is doubling capital spending this year so it can meet demand.

For now, chip delivery schedules have stretched from around 12 weeks to more than a year in some cases, chip buyers and brokers said. That is bad news for companies like the webcam start-up Wyze Labs.

“We’re going to be straight up with you about some bad news we got this week,” the company wrote in a note to customers in January. “Some of our key suppliers informed us they would only be able to supply about one-third of the chips we need to make Wyze Cams.”

The company, which is based in Kirkland, Wash., predicted problems stocking the third version of its flagship webcam. The company website says it is sold out, with more inventory expected in one to two weeks. Wyze did not respond to requests for additional comment.

Supply problems can be a touchy topic, said Zach Supalla, chief executive of Particle, a San Francisco company that buys chips to make communication and computing equipment. It sells its devices to thousands of companies that make products like hot tubs, air-conditioners and industrial and medical equipment.

Particle has so far has secured enough chips to keep making its products, he said. But the company is asking customers to order further and further in advance to ensure it can meet demand, Mr. Supalla said.

When chips can be found, price markups can be stark. One particularly unglamorous widget, a type of ceramic capacitor that ordinarily sells for around 3 cents each, became hard to find when a Covid-19 outbreak temporarily closed a factory in China.

The capacitor shortage hurt production of a popular cellular modem. That modem, which normally sells for $10 to $20, spiraled to $200 on the spot market, Mr. Supalla said. Customers like car companies may be willing to pay such sums to keep producing $40,000 cars, Mr. Supalla said. But not all can.

Some buyers suspect profiteering. Jens Gamperl, chief executive of an online components exchange called Sourcengine, recounted a call from an executive who fumed that a chip normally priced at $1 each was listed for sale by the exchange at $32. Mr. Gamperl had to explain that his own company had been forced to pay $28 for the component.

“That is the kind of craziness that we see left and right now,” he said.

Besides the direct effect on hardware makers, chip shortages can reduce shipments and raise the cost of servers and networking equipment to offer services like streaming entertainment, remote learning and medicine. They can also affect software makers.

Tripp, a Los Angeles start-up that makes a kind of meditation app that exploits virtual-reality headsets from Sony and others, was banking on the new PlayStation 5 to lift software demand, said Nanea Reeves, Tripp’s chief executive. But chip shortages helped to hobble that console launch.

“We were expecting a bigger bump from the PS5,” she said. The company is hoping more consoles arrive in the second quarter.

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How Coinbase Performed in the Market on its First Day

Shares in Coinbase, the first major cryptocurrency company to list its shares on a U.S. stock exchange, jumped in their market debut on Wednesday, showing that investors are hungry to get a piece of the hot market for digital currencies.

Coinbase began trading on Wednesday afternoon at $381 a share, a 52 percent increase over a $250 reference price set by Nasdaq on Tuesday. (A reference price is set by a stock exchange based on expectations for where the stock will open.)

The stock swung as low as $310 and as high as $429 in a volatile day of trading that reflected the unpredictable nature of cryptocurrency prices. Coinbase ended the day at $328.28, valuing the company at $85.7 billion counting all of its outstanding shares — more than 10 times its last valuation as a private company.

prices to new highs.

avoid political discussions, a stance that has caused controversy. Some of the company’s former Black and female employees have also spoken out against unfair treatment and were found to have been underpaid in a company report.

their pleas for help.

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Fervor Over Coinbase I.P.O. Spreads: Live Business Updates

Coinbase, a company that allows people and companies to buy and sell various digital currencies, begins publicly trading on Wednesday, after its shares received a reference price of $250 each on Tuesday evening.

Coinbase, which makes money through transaction fees, estimated it took in $1.8 billion in revenue in the first three months of the year as crypto prices have soared. On Wednesday, the fervor continued: Dogecoin, a cryptocurrency which started as a joke, jumped to a new high (albeit just 14 cents), and Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency, climbed above $64,000 to its own record high.

Shares in blockchain-linked companies also rose in premarket trading. Riot Blockchain shares rose nearly 5 percent. Shares in Bit Digital, a Chinese bitcoin mining company, rose nearly 25 percent in premarket trading in the United States.

Brian Armstrong, co-founder and chief executive of Coinbase, at the company’s office in San Francisco in 2017.
Credit…Michael Short/Bloomberg

Coinbase, the cryptocurrency exchange, is set to begin trading on the Nasdaq on Wednesday — and probably at a much higher valuation than the $65 billion preliminary estimate set last night. Here’s what you need to know about crypto’s move into the mainstream.

The company is the first major crypto business to trade publicly in the U.S. Its size means that its stock is likely to be held by mainstream index funds, giving average investors (indirect) exposure to the world of crypto. “Hopefully Coinbase going public and having its direct listing is going to be viewed as kind of a landmark moment for the crypto space,” Brian Armstrong, Coinbase’s chief executive, told Andrew in a CNBC interview.

Digital currency, once mocked as a tool for criminals and reckless speculators, is sliding into the mainstream. On Wednesday, Coinbase, a start-up that allows people to buy and sell cryptocurrencies, goes public on Nasdaq, marking the biggest step yet toward wider acceptance.

From Crypto Art to Trading Cards, Investment Manias Abound

Each market frenzy seems crazier than the last. But all have the same roots.

Why an Animated Flying Cat With a Pop-Tart Body Sold for Almost $600,000

A fast-growing market for digital art, ephemera and media is marrying the world’s taste for collectibles with cutting-edge technology.

Coinbase Users Say Crypto Start-Up Ignored Their Pleas for Help

As Coinbase prepares to be the first major cryptocurrency company to go public, it is struggling with basic customer service, users said.

Cryptocurrency Start-Up Underpaid Women and Black Employees, Data Shows

An analysis of internal pay data at the San Francisco company Coinbase shows disparities that were much larger than those in the tech industry.

Satoshi Tsunakawa, the chairman of Toshiba, in 2017. He will succeed Nobuaki Kurumatani, the company’s chief executive and president, whose departure was announced Wednesday.
Credit…Toru Hanai/Reuters

Toshiba announced on Wednesday the resignation of its top executive, Nobuaki Kurumatani, a move that comes as the Japanese conglomerate faces a potential buyout and a shareholder-initiated investigation into its management practices.

The board appointed Satoshi Tsunakawa — the current chairman and previous president — to replace Mr. Kurumatani, the company said in a brief statement. It did not explain the reason for the change.

Toshiba, once among the crown jewels of Japanese industry, a maker of products ranging from personal printers to railroad locomotives, has struggled in recent years, overshadowed by the legacy of a major accounting scandal and its acquisition of the American nuclear power company Westinghouse, which declared bankruptcy in 2017.

Seeking to rebuild, Toshiba looked for a new leader from outside its own ranks, and in 2018 it appointed Mr. Kurumatani, an executive with CVC Capital Partners, a private equity company based in Europe, as chief executive. It was an unusual decision for a company that had long been headed by company insiders. Last year, he was appointed president, solidifying his control over the firm.

During a news conference Wednesday, board member Osamu Nagayama deflected questions about the resignation, saying that Mr. Kurumatani, 63, had been considering the move for months and had come to the decision with his family. Unusually, Mr. Kurumatani did not make an appearance, but in a letter that was read aloud to reporters, he said he had chosen to resign after “achieving my mission to rebuild the company.”

The announcement on Wednesday followed months of unrest at Toshiba as disgruntled shareholders agitated for reforms aimed at improving the company’s performance and increasing its value.

Toshiba investors tried to shake up the company’s management at the annual general meeting last summer. But Mr. Kurumatani was re-elected — albeit with less than 60 percent of the vote — following a showdown that angered some key shareholders and raised questions about whether the company had inappropriately interfered in the decision.

Effissimo Capital Management, a Singapore-based hedge fund that holds about 10 percent of the company and had led the campaign to unseat its management team, subsequently called for an investigation into the outcome. Other shareholders agreed, voting, over management’s objections, to begin an independent inquiry in March.

Earlier this month, Toshiba announced that it had received a buyout offer from CVC Capital Partners for a reported $20 billion, a substantial premium on the company’s share price. The offer has raised questions of conflict of interest, as Mr. Kurumatani had previously served as president of CVC’s Japan office.

In recent years, Japanese companies have increasingly been the focus of activist investors from abroad, who believe that sclerotic management and opaque governance practices have prevented many of Japan’s blue chip firms from achieving their full value.

Hisako Ueno contributed reporting.

Lemonade, which sells insurance to consumers online, went public in July. Individual investors make up about half of its shareholder base.
Credit…Associated Press

Dozens of companies are suddenly paying more attention to individual investors.

Small investors who buy single stocks have not been a major force in financial markets for the better part of half a century. They were growing in influence before the pandemic, partly because of the popularity of free trading apps such as Robinhood.

But with millions of Americans stuck at home during the pandemic, the trading trend escalated, Matt Phillips reports for The New York Times.

“Retail trading now accounts for almost as much volume as mutual funds and hedge funds combined,” Amelia Garnett, an executive at Goldman Sachs’s Global Markets Division, said on a recent podcast produced by the firm. “So, the retail impact is really meaningful right now.”

Tesla has long eschewed traditional communications with Wall Street. Ark Investment Management — the high-flying, tech-focused exchange-traded fund company run by the investor Cathie Wood — and Palantir Technologies, are also trying to reach small investors directly.

Before Lemonade, a company that sells insurance to consumers online, went public in July, it went on a traditional tour of Wall Street, meeting big investors and talking up its prospects. However, the company has since discovered that more than half of its shares are held by small investors, excluding insiders who own the stock, said Daniel Schreiber, its chief executive.

That has prompted a strategy adjustment. In addition to spending time communicating with analysts whose “buy” or “sell” ratings on the stock can move its price, Mr. Schreiber said, he has made a point of doing interviews on podcasts, websites and YouTube programs popular with retail investors.

“I think that they are, today, far more influential on, and command far more following in terms of stock buying or selling power than the mighty Goldman Sachs does,” Mr. Schreiber said. “And we’ve seen that in our own stock.”

East Austin, Texas, in February, when a huge storm left more than $10 billion in losses that insurers could dispute.
Credit…Bronte Wittpenn/Austin American-Statesman, via Associated Press

Two months after the storm crippled large swaths of Texas, insurers are sketching out a legal strategy to pin the costs on utilities and power companies that they say failed to adequately prepare for bitterly cold weather.

At stake could be more than $10 billion in insured losses for insurers and their business partners, as well as almost-certain premium increases for property owners if the insurers have to pay for the damage themselves, Mary Williams Walsh reports for The New York Times.

But decades of deregulation have made the state’s power grid a dizzying web of companies that could make determining fault tricky. Insurers will also have to show that the damage was the result of “gross negligence.” And there are dozens of small companies in the supply chain — some of which have gone bankrupt since the storm — that interact with one another in myriad ways.

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Why Coinbase’s IPO Is a Cryptocurrency Coming-Out Party

SAN FRANCISCO — Digital currency, once mocked as a tool for criminals and reckless speculators, is sliding into the mainstream.

Traditional banks are helping investors put their money into cryptocurrency funds. Companies like Tesla and Square are hoarding Bitcoin. And celebrities are leading the way in a digital-art spending spree using a technology called an NFT.

On Wednesday, digital or cryptocurrencies will take their biggest step yet toward wider acceptance when Coinbase, a start-up that allows people to buy and sell cryptocurrencies, goes public on Nasdaq. Coinbase shares received a reference price of $250 each on Tuesday evening, which would value the company at $65 billion based on all its outstanding shares.

Call it crypto’s coming-out party. Coinbase, founded in San Francisco, is the first major cryptocurrency start-up to go public on a U.S. stock market. It is doing so at a valuation that tops that of Capital One Financial Corporation or Moody’s, the ratings agency.

plan to “create an open financial system for the world” and “increase economic freedom.”

But so far, cryptocurrency is mostly a vehicle for financial speculation and trading. Few people want to use Bitcoin for everyday purchases like coffee because its price is so volatile. Many early buyers have become wildly rich by simply holding their crypto or “buying the dip” when prices fall. Others ruefully relay tales of the sushi dinner they bought with Bitcoin years ago that would be worth $200,000 today or the million-dollar pizza.

Coinbase eases that trading by acting as a central exchange. Before it and similar services were created, people had to set up their own digital wallets and wire money.

“Can it be anything more than an asset class?” Mr. Tusk asked. “That’s still very much up in the air.”

Silk Road, a marketplace for buying and selling drugs and weapons with Bitcoin until the federal authorities shut it down, and Mt. Gox, a crypto exchange that collapsed under accusations of theft and embezzlement, further tarnished the young industry.

Coinbase tried to change that. The company joined Y Combinator, a prestigious start-up program, and raised money from top venture capital firms including Union Square Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz.

Mr. Armstrong was one of the few people in the industry who seemed prepared to comply with inevitable regulations, rather than cut corners to avoid them, said Nick Tomaino, who dropped out of business school to join Coinbase in 2013.

Coinbase also persuaded well-known retailers to accept Bitcoin. “It was good for credibility when people saw you could actually use a Bitcoin to buy a mattress at Overstock,” Mr. Tomaino, who left in 2016, said. Coinbase earned money on transaction fees.

But Bitcoin’s wildly volatile price and a slow computer network that managed it made transactions difficult, and people began to see the currency as an investment. In 2015, Ethereum, a cryptocurrency network with more tech abilities, was introduced, enticing enthusiasts to build companies and funds around the technology.

Soon after, a flood of “initial coin offerings,” where companies sold tokens on the promise of the technology they planned to build, created a new boom in cryptocurrency trading. But it quickly deflated after many projects were found to be frauds and U.S. regulators deemed the offerings to be securities, requiring that they comply with financial rules.

Tesla to buy $1.5 billion worth of Bitcoin and the payments company Square to spend $170 million. In March, Morgan Stanley began offering its wealthy clients access to three Bitcoin funds, and Goldman announced that it would soon offer similar access. The mayor of Miami has proposed that the city accept tax payments in Bitcoin and invest city funds in the asset.

The stock trading app Robinhood announced that 9.5 million of its customers had traded cryptocurrency in the first three months of the year — up more than fivefold from the previous three months. Venture funding for crypto-related start-ups surged to its highest-ever level in the first quarter to $3 billion, according to PitchBook.

PayPal recently added a crypto trading and shopping feature for its customers in the United States. The company was motivated by consumer interest and advances in the technology that made transactions faster. It plans to quickly expand the offering to customers around the world.

“It feels like the time is right,” said Jose Fernandez da Ponte, head of PayPal’s blockchain, crypto and digital currencies group. “We think this has the potential to revolutionize payments and financial systems in general.”

Still, the so-called revolution faces some challenges. Coinbase has sometimes struggled to keep up with demand, with some customers who lost access to their accounts complaining that the company has been unresponsive. It has also received criticism for its treatment of female and Black employees.

Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen has threatened harsher regulation of the currencies, including limiting their use.

And a big drop in prices could again send speculators fleeing. In its financial prospectus, Coinbase warned that its business results would fluctuate with the volatility of crypto assets, “many of which are unpredictable and in certain instances are outside of our control.”

The industry’s biggest issue — fulfilling the promise that the technology is more than just a place to park money — could take another decade to play out.

“There’s no doubt we’re in the latest boom, and I don’t know if that’s going to turn tomorrow or two years from now,” Mr. Tomaino said. “But the busts and booms are always higher than the last.”

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How to Double the Vaccination Pace

The development of the Covid-19 vaccines happened with great urgency, for obvious reasons.

One of the timesaving techniques by Moderna and Pfizer involved scheduling the two vaccine doses fairly close together — just three or four weeks apart — during the research trials. The companies did not test multiple gaps between the two shots to see which was the most effective. They each chose a short gap to finish the trials as quickly as possible.

The decision made a lot of sense. It allowed the U.S. mass vaccination program to start in December, rather than pushing it back a few months. Many lives have been saved as a result.

But the approach means that nobody knows what is the most effective gap between the two shots. Maybe it really is three to four weeks. Maybe a longer delay is just as effective (or, for that matter, even more effective).

And the short delay does come with a large downside.

The U.S. is choosing to give millions of people a second shot while making millions of others wait for their first. That’s happening even though a single shot provides a high degree of protection and even as a more severe, contagious coronavirus variant is sweeping the country. Both cases and hospitalizations have risen in recent days, and deaths have stopped declining.

are calling on the Biden administration or governors to change policy and prioritize first doses:

  • “We’ve missed a window, and people have died,” Sarah Cobey of the University of Chicago told my colleague Carl Zimmer.

  • “Getting as many people as possible a vax dose is now urgent,” Dr. Atul Gawande, the surgeon and medical writer, tweeted.

  • “We need to get more people vaccinated,” Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel of the University of Pennsylvania told me.

In a USA Today op-ed, Emanuel, Govind Persad and Dr. William Parker argue that spreading out the first and second shots would be both more equitable and more efficient. It’s more equitable because working-class, Black and Latino communities all have lower vaccination rates, which means that first shots disproportionately now go to the less privileged and second shots go to the more privileged. It’s more efficient because a delay in second shots would allow the country to double the number of people who receive a first shot in coming weeks.

Doing so could prevent other states from experiencing the current misery in Michigan, where a severe outbreak fueled by the B.1.1.7 variant has overwhelmed hospitals. In much of the South and the West, the variant is not yet as widespread.

The biggest worry about a longer delay between shots is that it may allow a new variant to develop in people while they are waiting for their second shot and do not yet have full protection. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top Biden administration adviser, opposes a longer delay largely because of this possibility.

But it remains only a theoretical possibility, as Dr. Catherine Schuster-Bruce, a British health care writer, has noted. There is no data showing that variants are more likely to develop in people who have received only one shot, just as there is no data showing that a three- or four-week gap between shots is ideal.

There is real-world evidence — from Britain — showing large benefits from maximizing the number of people who get one shot.

total shots per capita. The difference is that Britain has deliberately delayed second shots, by up to 12 weeks. The results are impressive.

Despite being the country where the B.1.1.7 variant was first detected, Britain now has the pandemic under better control than the U.S. does. Both cases and deaths have fallen more sharply, highlighting the power of a single vaccine dose. “The levels of antibodies after the first shot are sky-high,” Dr. Robert Wachter of the University of California, San Francisco, told me.

has called the possibility that delaying second shots would lead to new variants a “real worry but quite a small real worry.”

A few weeks ago, I was concerned that changing to a different vaccination schedule might not be worth the confusion and uncertainty it could cause. But I find the latest arguments to be strong. The costs of switching are almost all hypothetical. The benefits are concrete.

President Biden and his aides are fond of saying that they “follow the science” when setting Covid policy. Their current definition of the science, however, is quite narrow. It revolves almost completely around the Moderna and Pfizer trials, which didn’t test what the ideal gap between shots was. Their definition ignores the mountain of real-world evidence about the strength of a single shot.

Are they warming the planet?

Lives Lived: The anthropologist Marshall D. Sahlins explored how individuals shape and are shaped by their cultures, a point he put in practice as the inventor of the “teach-in” against the Vietnam War. Sahlins died at 90.

said on “Fresh Air” last year.

Here’s a Times review.)

“It was so much fun, maybe more fun than I ever had in my life, because we were inventing something new with almost no resources,” Stamberg said in an interview with Next Avenue.

Read more: An excerpt from Napoli’s book tells the story of NPR’s first pledge drive.

What to Cook

pasta primavera with asparagus is a celebration of spring.

In times of uncertainty, trivia has the power to provide answers.

After Anthony Bourdain’s death, his longtime assistant was left to finish his last book. “World Travel: An Irreverent Guide” comes out next week, and it’s “an enduring embodiment of Anthony Bourdain’s love for the whole world,” Sebastian Modak writes in The Times.

The hosts got serious about police brutality.

play online.

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For Bonds, Add Safety by Venturing Abroad

Making your bond-fund portfolio less risky requires doing something that can feel like living dangerously: investing abroad.

If you’re like most people, you may have put too much of your money in bond funds invested in your home market and so failed to spread your bets around.

“People are used to thinking about diversification in their stock portfolio, and they understand how that works to control the risk,” said Rob Waldner, chief strategist for fixed income at Invesco. “You need to do that with your fixed income, too.”

Bond diversification matters all the more when traditional income producers like U.S. Treasuries are paying measly rates, he said.

1.7 percent in early April, compared with less than 1 percent in January. But rates are likely to remain relatively low by long-term standards.

Bonds come in a variety as rich — and sometimes baffling — as the screw-and-fastener aisle at Home Depot.

A well-diversified portfolio might include mutual funds or exchange-traded funds that buy bonds issued by the United States and foreign governments, and large U.S. and foreign companies, as well as ones backed by mortgages, auto loans or credit-card receivables in the United States. (Pools of these financial assets are securitized, and rights to payments from the pools become mortgage-backed and asset-backed bonds.)

“Home bias” is the financial term for people’s tendency to over-invest in their home market and shy from other places. Investment experts say it’s pervasive.

“It’s something we observe in every country,” said Roger Aliaga-Diaz, global head of portfolio construction at Vanguard.

Vanguard’s research has found that international bonds reduce portfolios’ ups and downs without hurting the total return. Internationally diversifying can provide access to securities from more than 40 countries.

“This broad exposure is important, as the factors that drive international bond prices are relatively uncorrelated to those that drive prices in the U.S.,” the report said. Lately, for example, South Korea’s 10-year government bond is yielding 2 percent, while Mexico’s is yielding nearly 7 percent.

The international bond slice of Vanguard’s target-date funds is invested in the Vanguard Total International Bond Index Fund, which owns mainly developed-world bonds. Like many international bond funds, it uses hedging to protect its shareholders against the return volatility that currency fluctuations can cause.

Jean Boivin, head of the BlackRock Investment Institute, said his outfit’s research suggests that investors may want to be bold in their foreign bond forays and look beyond developed markets.

“You need to think about emerging-market bonds and, in particular, Asia ex-Japan,” he said.

In the past, investors could view the U.S. bond market as a proxy for the world, partly because U.S. companies often had sprawling international operations, Mr. Boivin said. But there is enormous global diversity today. Foreign markets, especially China, have risen so much that this approach doesn’t work as well.

Total Return Fund might provide a starting point for considering reasonable ranges. It recently allocated about 8.6 percent of its assets to emerging markets.

The Fidelity Total Bond Fund, another broad offering, lately had a 16 percent stake in higher-yielding, riskier kinds of domestic and foreign debt.

“Historically, we’ve owned from 8 to 18 percent in the higher-yielding sectors,” said Celso Munoz, one of the fund’s managers. “It’s appropriate for most people to have exposure to the broader fixed-income world, which would include high yield, emerging markets and bank loans.”

People may tend to shun international bonds partly because stocks overshadow bonds in the popular media, said Kathy Jones, chief fixed-income strategist at the Schwab Center for Financial Research.

“Every day somebody is talking about the S&P 500 or the Dow,” she said. “People don’t talk like that about Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index,” a leading bond index, and relatively few people plunge even deeper into the fixed-income universe.

To decide how you might better diversify your bond funds, it helps to reflect on why you own them, said Tad Rivelle, chief investment officer for fixed income at TCW.

“The existential question is do you think of fixed income as a safe asset that enables you to take risk elsewhere,” he said, “or do you expect your bonds to pull their own weight, and so you’re OK with them going down in a market panic?”

MetWest Total Return Bond Fund might work for the first group, and its MetWest Flexible Income Fund for the second.

A puzzle for all bond-fund investors is how the end of the Covid-19 pandemic might affect interest rates.

Rates usually rise when the economy grows, as it’s expected to do as the world emerges from the pandemic. As that happens, inflation may rise, which could stifle a long bull market in bonds. Bond prices rise as interest rates fall.

Yet renewed inflation has been erroneously predicted before, and Jerome Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, has made clear that the bank isn’t rushing to raise the short-term rates it controls.

For investors who are counting on their bond funds for income, continued low rates could create a temptation to court risk.

A more patient approach is prudent, said Mary Ellen Stanek, chief investment officer for Baird Advisors, which oversees the Baird Funds.

“You don’t own bonds for excitement and drama,” she said. “You own them for predictability and lower volatility.”

Ms. Jones of Schwab warned, too, against seeking excessive risk. She suggested investors instead rethink how they take cash from their portfolios.

“In a year when your stocks are up 20 percent and your bonds are up 2, you may want to pull out some of those capital gains and put them in your cash bucket,” she said. “Say you’re looking to generate 6 percent overall, and you’ve made 20 percent in stocks. If you have excess above your plan, you can look at that as potential income.”

No matter what path investors choose, they should always pay close attention to the costs of funds and E.T.F.s, said Jennifer Ellison, a financial adviser at Bingham, Osborn & Scarborough in San Francisco.

“Costs are really important, especially with yields where they are,” since those costs will eat up much of that scant yield, she said. “If you’re a retail investor and you’re buying a loaded bond fund, you’re giving all your yield away up front.”


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PG&E Charged With Crimes in 2019 California Wildfire

Pacific Gas & Electric, the troubled utility that has started some of California’s most destructive wildfires, faces new criminal charges, for its role in igniting a 2019 wildfire that burned 120 square miles in Sonoma County north of San Francisco.

The county’s district attorney on Tuesday charged PG&E, which emerged from bankruptcy protection last year, with five felonies and 28 misdemeanors, including recklessly causing a fire with great bodily injury, in connection with the Kincade Fire. The blaze damaged or destroyed more than 400 buildings and seriously injured six firefighters.

This is the third set of criminal charges filed against PG&E, California’s largest utility. A jury in 2017 convicted PG&E of charges related to five deaths in a gas pipeline explosion seven years earlier. And the utility pleaded guilty last year to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the 2018 Camp Fire, which was started by its equipment. That fire destroyed the town of Paradise and helped drive PG&E into bankruptcy, where it worked to resolve an estimated $30 billion in wildfire liabilities.

California’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection concluded that the Kincade Fire had started after high winds knocked a cable from a PG&E tower at the Geysers geothermal field. The fire took 15 days to contain, and the district attorney, Jill Ravitch, described the evacuation required in some towns as the largest ever in Sonoma County, a California wine hub.

If convicted, PG&E could face fines and additional penalties for violating a federal probation that stems from the pipeline explosion case. The company has paid billions of dollars to governments, families, insurance companies and others for disasters caused by its equipment, which regulators have said has often been very poorly maintained.

In a statement on Tuesday, PG&E promised that it would continue upgrading its equipment and carrying out safety practices to protect Californians. The company said it accepted findings that its equipment had caused the Kincade Fire but did not believe it was criminally liable.

“We are saddened by the property losses and personal impacts sustained by our customers and communities in Sonoma County and surrounding areas as a result of the October 2019 Kincade Fire,” the company said. “We do not believe there was any crime here. We remain committed to making it right for all those impacted and working to further reduce wildfire risk on our system.”

The company emerged from bankruptcy last summer, agreeing to pay $13.5 billion to a fund set up to compensate tens of thousands of individuals and families who lost homes in wildfires started by PG&E.

Emerging from bankruptcy allowed the utility to participate in a $20 billion state wildfire fund with California’s other investor-owned utilities to help cover costs of future wildfires.

The utility has been working to improve its equipment, adding weather stations, cameras, micro-grids and sturdier transmission towers and lines. Patricia K. Poppe, who became chief executive of PG&E’s parent company in January, said she had taken the job “to ensure that we care for all those who were harmed, and that we make it safe again in California.”

“We will work around the clock until that is true for all people we are privileged to serve,” she added.

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