Democrats Push Biden to Take Harder Line on Saudi Arabia

In addition to advancing the travel ban by Mr. Kim and Mr. Malinowski, the Foreign Affairs Committee voted unanimously to require American intelligence officials to release a report on the role that commercial entities controlled by the crown prince — such as shell companies or airlines — played in Mr. Khashoggi’s murder. The amendment, led by Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, sets up a process to eventually impose sanctions on those organizations under the Global Magnitsky Act.

Lawmakers have also become increasingly concerned with the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, as the nation faces rising rates of famine that aid groups warn are likely to rise, after an air and sea blockade by the Saudi-led coalition on Houthi-controlled territory has restricted imports of vital goods.

As part of cease-fire negotiations, Saudi officials offered last month to reopen the airport in Sana, the Yemeni capital, and allow fuel and food to flow through a major Yemeni seaport, but a spokesman for the Houthis said that they would not agree to discuss a cease-fire until Saudi Arabia first lifted its blockade.

Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee were shaken after a closed-door briefing they received late last month from David Beasley, the executive director of the United Nation’s World Food Programme and a former Republican governor. Mr. Beasley, who had just returned from a trip to Yemen, painted a dire situation of mass starvation and hospitals without fuel, and impressed upon lawmakers the urgency of lifting the blockade “immediately,” according to two officials who attended.

“Ending U.S. support for Saudi-led offensive operations in Yemen alone isn’t enough if we allow the blockade to continue,” said Representative Debbie Dingell, Democrat of Michigan, who led the letter to the Biden administration. “This blockade is causing immense suffering and starvation among Yemeni children and families, and it needs to be lifted now.”

But pushing the administration to pressure the Saudis to do so may be an uphill battle, according to Peter Salisbury, a Yemen analyst at the International Crisis Group, who said in an interview that control of the ports amounted to “very important pieces of leverage in the negotiations from the Saudi perspective.”

“When you look at it from the perspective of the administration, they are trying to deal with these things through existing negotiation mechanisms,” Mr. Salisbury said. “On Yemen, and in many other cases, there is no profoundly simple way of ending the war.”

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Divided Kingdom: Jordan Shaken by Split Between King and Ex-Crown Prince

AMMAN, Jordan — The kingdom of Jordan has long been considered an oasis of relative stability in the Middle East. While wars and insurgencies flared in neighboring Syria and Iraq, Jordan was for decades considered a secure and dependable ally of the United States, a buffer against attacks on Israel, and a key interlocutor with Palestinians.

But this weekend, that placid image was upended as a long-simmering rift between the king, Abdullah II, and a former crown prince, Hamzah bin Hussein, burst into the public eye.

On Sunday the government accused Prince Hamzah, the king’s younger half-brother, of “destabilizing Jordan’s security,” making far more explicit claims about his alleged involvement than it did the evening before, when it first divulged the supposed conspiracy.

In a speech Sunday afternoon, the Jordanian foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, directly accused Prince Hamzah of working with a former finance minister, Bassem Awadallah, and a junior member of the royal family, Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, to target “the security and stability of the nation.”

released a video in which he said he had been placed under house arrest. The prince denied involvement in any plot against King Abdullah, though he did condemn the government as corrupt, incompetent and authoritarian.

By Sunday, his mother had stepped into the fray. Queen Noor — also stepmother of the king — issued a combative statement in defense of her son, saying he was the victim of “wicked slander.”

For a royal house that usually keeps disagreements private, it was a showdown of unexpected and unusual intensity.

important to any future peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

The United States stations troops and aircraft in the country, keeps close ties with Jordanian intelligence, and last year provided more than $1.5 billion in aid to the Jordanian government, according to the State Department.

The rift seemed to be playing out not only for the Jordanian audience, but as a public relations war directed at Washington as well. Prince Hamzah made a video in Arabic, but also took care to release one in English.

To many international observers, the confrontation between king and prince underscored the fragility of the social structures that lie beneath Jordan’s calm facade.

The country is in the middle of a particularly brutal wave of the coronavirus. Its economy is struggling. And with 600,000 refugees from Syria, it is one of the countries most affected by the fallout from the Syrian war.

A significant proportion of Jordan’s nine million citizens are descended from Palestinians who fled to the country after the Arab-Israeli wars of 1948 and 1967. The rest are native Jordanians, whose tribes have been absorbed into the structure of the state, and whose support is crucial to King Abdullah’s legitimacy, analysts say. This weekend’s imbroglio came against a backdrop of recent and very public attempts by Prince Hamzah to build closer ties with those tribes.

King Abdullah, who is 59, named Hamzah crown prince in 1999, but he stripped him of the title in 2004 and transferred it to his son, Prince Hussein, now 26.

in a statement that he had been in touch with the prince, but that he never served in any intelligence agency.

Over the weekend, different factions of the royal family made a series of claims and counterclaims.

First, Queen Noor came to the prince’s defense.

“Praying that truth and justice will prevail for all the innocent victims of this wicked slander,” she wrote on Twitter. “God bless and keep them safe.”

Then came the riposte from another wing of the family.

The “seemingly blind ambition” of “Queen Noor & her sons” is “delusional, futile, unmerited,” tweeted Princess Firyal, an aunt by marriage to both the king and his half-brother.

Before deleting the tweet, she offered a word of advice: “Grow up Boys.”

Rana F. Sweis reported from Amman, and Adam Rasgon and Patrick Kingsley from Jerusalem.

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Women, 86 Percent Absent From Jordan’s Work Force, Are Left Behind

AMMAN, Jordan — Marwa Alomari’s compassionate and patient style made her a popular English teacher, filling her classes in Irbid, Jordan, with eager students and her off hours with private tutoring.

A university graduate, she was paid up to $3,000 a month, far more than most fellow Jordanians.

But after she married an army officer and moved in with his family, he began to resent that she was paid more than he was. Even though she contributed to the household with both money and housework, he and his family discouraged her from working and the marriage nearly fell apart, she said.

“I became adamant that I wasn’t going to quit, but eventually I found no support and I just got tired and gave up,” said Ms. Alomari, 35. “I went back to cooking, cleaning, gossiping with women. And this wasn’t my ambition.”

Her story reflects what is happening across Jordan — a small Arab monarchy that has been a steadfast ally of Western countries — where women’s status in terms of labor force participation, health and politics has been regressing for years, even lagging behind more conservative countries in the region.

Global Gender Gap Report, which tracks gaps between women and men in employment, education, health and politics.

86 percent of women in the country are absent from the work force, according to government figures and the latest Global Gender Gap Report. That is the highest rate in the world for a country not at war, according to the World Bank.

In contrast, Western Europe has moved the most toward gender parity and is continuing in that direction, followed by North America.

recent amendments allowed women to also be considered a “head of household,” at least in theory.

Traditional attitudes, discriminatory legislation, a lack of access to public transportation and pay disparities are hindering women’s advancement in Jordan.

World Bank research found that men in Jordan are paid as much as 40 percent more than women are for the same job in the private sector. In the public sector, the gap is 28 percent.

The disparity in employment — 53 percent of men are in the labor force compared with 14 percent of women — is nearly double that of neighboring countries such as Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

Traditional roles in Jordan are enshrined in laws that differentiate between women’s and men’s rights and responsibilities. There is no law prohibiting gender discrimination in the workplace. And while the Constitution provides that “every worker shall receive wages commensurate with the quantity and quality of his work,” there is no right to equal pay for women and men.

For Muslims, who make up most of Jordan’s population of nearly 11 million, matters of marriage, divorce, child custody and inheritance are governed by Shariah, or Islamic law, and adjudicated in Shariah courts rather than civil or military courts. Under Shariah law, for example, women can inherit property, but daughters receive half as much as sons.

And during the Arab Spring a decade ago, many women and human rights activists assailed a parliamentary committee for breaking its promise to include the word gender in the Constitution’s Article 6, which is supposed to guarantee the equality of all Jordanians. It states, “There shall be no discrimination between Jordanians with regard to their rights and duties on grounds of race, language or religion.”

Despite the obstacles, some women have managed to succeed professionally.

Jamileh Shetewi is by all accounts an exception among Jordanian women. She grew up in a one-room mud-walled home with her eight siblings and parents, and spent her childhood days picking tomatoes, eggplants and bananas in hot and shadeless farms with her four sisters.

The odds were stacked against her.

She dropped out of school at age 17 and married at 18. As a young farmer from 1997 to 2002, she was paid $3 a day less than the men she worked alongside, and she had to cook for them on top of her job.

She decided to go back to school, and went on to earn a Ph.D. in archaeology. Today she heads the Department of Antiquities for the Jordan Valley region.

“Yes, I defied all expectations,” said Ms. Shetewi, 50. “I fought and shattered the culture of shame.” But without changing laws and perceptions, she said, most women will not be able to advance.

“I didn’t care what people had to say, and I told my husband, ‘I need your support to make our lives better,’” she said. “We aren’t the enemy. Do you think a country can reform and prosper without half its population?”

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David Cameron Comes Under the Spotlight for His Business Dealings

LONDON — Until last month, David Cameron was known for one big thing: calling the referendum in June 2016 that produced Britain’s shock vote to leave the European Union and triggered a political earthquake that toppled him as prime minister.

Now, Mr. Cameron is in the headlines for something else: the spectacular collapse of a high-flying Anglo-Australian finance firm. His lobbying on behalf of the firm, Greensill Capital, does not appear to have violated any laws, but it has added another blot to an already checkered legacy.

Greensill’s access to senior British officials — aided by Mr. Cameron, who worked for the firm — has set off a noisy debate about the rules on lobbying by former leaders; critics say they are woefully inadequate. It has also turned a fresh spotlight on a recurring theme in Britain: the challenging after-lives of British prime ministers.

From Margaret Thatcher to Tony Blair, occupants of 10 Downing Street have often struggled after leaving office, an abrupt transition to private life that leaves them without the trappings of power, no clear public role, and little financial support. For politicians used to privilege and influence, analysts said, it can lead to trouble.

miscalculation on Brexit — he does not arouse the hostility that many in Britain still feel toward Mr. Blair over his backing of the Iraq war. Much of the media coverage has portrayed Mr. Cameron as a decent man guilty of poor judgment.

Ms. Maddox said his case underscored that “Britain should do more to help prime ministers forge a useful life afterward.”

Unlike American ex-presidents, who get taxpayer funded offices and can busy themselves building their presidential libraries, prime ministers have little in the way of a soft landing after they leave office. The rough-and-tumble nature of British politics means that many are defenestrated — one moment, at the helm of a nuclear state; the next, exiled to the parliamentary backbenches.

Mr. Cameron announced his resignation hours after Britons voted narrowly to leave the European Union, an outcome he campaigned against. At his last appearance in Parliament, he declared, “I was the future once,” a rueful play on a jibe he once aimed at Mr. Blair, when Mr. Cameron was the rising leader of the Conservatives and Mr. Blair a Labour prime minister in the twilight of his career.

“When you’re in politics, every day is a thrill or a spill,” said Simon Jenkins, a columnist at the Guardian. “Then you’re out, almost invariably because of a great mistake. You’ve got nothing to do, and nothing you can do.”

Only 49 years old when he left office, Mr. Cameron wrote a memoir, for which he was paid a reported advance of 800,000 pounds ($1.1 million). He joined several boards and became the president of an Alzheimer’s charity. He plays tennis regularly at a club near his house in West London. In 2017, Mr. Cameron’s wife, Samantha, started her own women’s fashion business.

A well-pedigreed graduate of Eton and Oxford, whose father was a stockbroker, Mr. Cameron is wealthy by conventional yardsticks. But his fortune is less than that of Mr. Blair, who amassed real estate and established a lucrative consulting business. Mr. Blair’s money-raising activities drew criticism as well, especially his work on behalf of the repressive government of Kazakhstan.

Mr. Cameron’s friends have described him as thriving on the speaking circuit and not hung up about his financial circumstances. In “Diary of an MP’s Wife,” a gossipy account of Conservative Party social circles by Sasha Swire, the wife of a former Conservative lawmaker, Hugo Swire, Ms. Swire wrote that in 2017, Samantha’s business was “taking off and Dave is making loads of money.”

“He says every time he looks for a loophole to stash it away, he realizes that George and he closed it, and laughs,” Ms. Swire added, referring to George Osborne, who was Mr. Cameron’s chancellor of the Exchequer.

Ex-prime ministers, however, have far less earning power than ex-presidents. Barack and Michelle Obama signed a $65 million multi-book deal with Penguin Random House and earned millions more in a production deal with Netflix. Bill and Hillary Clinton earned $139 million from 2007 to 2014, mostly from speeches and books. George W. Bush has also earned tens of millions from speeches.

Like presidents, prime ministers become accustomed to mingling with extremely wealthy people, Mr. Jenkins said, leading them to question “why they’re an ex-prime minister when they could have been a wealthy tycoon.”

Not everyone who vacates Downing Street has struggled. John Major, Ms. Maddox said, has arguably been more successful as an elder-statesman commentator than he was in office. Theresa May, who succeeded Mr. Cameron and resigned in 2019 after her efforts to strike a Brexit deal failed, stayed on in Parliament as a Conservative backbencher and has weighed in on debates at key moments.

“It’s a rightly informal system here,” said Charles Moore, the author of a biography of Mrs. Thatcher. “If you cannot command a majority in the Commons, you’re out. That is democratic, and you should then, with a little help over the immediate transition, make your own way in the world.”

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Hiring Jumped in March, Fueled by Vaccines and Federal Aid: Live Updates

Employers added 916,000 jobs in March, up from 416,000 in February and the most since August, the Labor Department said Friday. The leisure and hospitality sector led the way, adding 280,000 jobs as Americans returned to restaurants and resorts in greater numbers. Construction firms added 110,000 jobs as the housing market stayed strong and activity resumed following winter storms in February.

The unemployment rate fell to 6 percent, down from 6.2 percent in February.

“March’s jobs report is the most optimistic report since the pandemic began,” said Daniel Zhao, senior economist of the career site Glassdoor. “It’s not the largest gain in payrolls since the pandemic began, but it’s the first where it seems like the finish line is in sight.”

The report came one year after the pandemic ripped a hole in the American labor market. The U.S. economy lost 1.7 million jobs in March 2020 and more than 20 million in April, when the unemployment rate peaked at nearly 15 percent.

The job market bounced back quickly at first, but progress began to slow as virus cases surged and states reimposed restrictions on businesses. Over the winter, the recovery stalled out, with employers cutting more than 300,000 jobs in December.

Economists said the latest data marked a turning point. Last month was the third straight month of accelerating hiring, and even bigger gains are likely in the months ahead. The March data was collected early in the month, before most states broadened vaccine access and before most Americans began receiving $1,400 checks from the federal government as part of the most recent relief package.

“The tide is turning,” said Michelle Meyer, chief U.S. economist for Bank of America. The report, she said, “reaffirms this idea that the economy is accelerating meaningfully in the spring.”

The United States still has 8.4 million fewer jobs than it did before the pandemic. Even if employers kept hiring at the pace they did in March, it would take months to fill the gap. More than four million people have been out of work for more than six months, a number that continued rising in March.

And the virus remains a risk. Coronavirus cases are rising again in much of the country as states have begun easing restrictions. If that trend turns into a full-blown new wave of infections, it could force some states to backpedal, impeding the recovery.

But few economists expect a repeat of the winter, when a spike in Covid-19 cases pushed the recovery into reverse. More than a quarter of U.S. adults have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and more than two million people a day are being inoculated. That should allow economic activity to continue to rebound.

“This time is different, and that’s because of vaccines,” said Julia Pollak, a labor economist at the job site ZipRecruiter. “It’s real this time.”

An expanded measure of the jobless rate that adjusts for misclassified workers and those on the sidelines shows that the “real” rate was around 9.1 percent in March.
Credit…Charles Krupa/Associated Press

The labor market is healing, pushing the unemployment rate steadily lower. But alternative measures of the job market show more weakness remaining than the most frequently cited data might suggest.

When the pandemic hit the economy, two big issues began to mess with the unemployment rate. A big chunk of people were classified as “employed but not at work” when they should have been counted as laid off. And many people dropped out of the labor market altogether. Since the unemployment rate only counts people who are actively applying to jobs, that means a lot of would-be workers were suddenly left out.

The jobless rate fell to 6 percent in March from a high of 14.8 percent in April, but that overstates the labor market’s healing. An expanded measure that adjusts for misclassified workers and those on the sidelines — using a methodology that closely tracks a gauge Federal Reserve officials often reference — shows that the “real” unemployment rate was around 9.1 percent in March.

To be sure, that expanded measure is down sharply from a peak of nearly 24 percent last April. But it shows the extent of the damage yet to be repaired since the pandemic shuttered broad parts of the economy in 2020.

Fed officials, who are tasked with returning the labor market to maximum employment, are keeping a close eye on broad measures of slack as they try to assess how far the job market remains from full strength. Another point they often raise is that total employment in the economy remains well below its prepandemic level — as of March, 8.4 million jobs were missing compared with February 2020.

“It’s just a lot of people who need to get back to work and it’s not going to happen overnight, it’s going to take some time,” Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, said at a news conference last month.

The Saudi oil minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, is arguably the most powerful individual in the oil business. 
Credit…Ahmed Yosri/Reuters

For months, Saudi Arabia’s oil minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, arguably the most powerful individual in the oil business, has urged his fellow producers to keep a tight rein on output, fearing additional crude could flood the world’s markets and cause prices to drop. At the same time, some producers, notably Russia, have been chafing to open the spigot a bit more.

On Thursday, the prince seemed to relent, as the group called OPEC Plus — the members of Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies like Russia — agreed to modest output increases over the next three months.

Analysts said the prince, who is the chair of OPEC Plus, appeared to be calculating that by appeasing other producers who want to produce more oil, he can remain in control over the longer term.

The prince repeated his go-slow message on Thursday, arguing that the global economic recovery from the pandemic remained fragile, and so his willingness to sign off on an increase came as something of a surprise. But the decision seemed to be an acknowledgment of the diversity of opinions within OPEC Plus, and that he must take the views of other key producers like Russia and the United Arab Emirates into account to maintain leadership and to keep them from going their own way.

“It is not my decision, it is everybody’s decision,” he said at a news conference after Thursday’s OPEC Plus meeting.

So far traders have signaled their approval by pushing up prices in what had been a weak market. On Friday, Brent crude, the international benchmark was up about 3.4 percent to $64.86 a barrel.

Under the deal agreed Thursday, OPEC Plus will gradually increase production by 350,000 barrels a day in May and June and 441,000 barrels a day in July. Over the same period, the Saudis will also relax the one million barrels a day they have been voluntarily keeping off the market, bringing the total increase to about 2.1 million barrels a day by July.

The plan “points to a still cautious and orderly ramp-up from OPEC Plus, still allowing for a tight oil market,” rather than a flood, analysts at Goldman Sachs wrote in a note to clients on Thursday.

OPEC Plus also retain the option of adjusting output at monthly meetings. Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest exporter, can also take unilateral decisions to trim supplies.

This ability to quickly backtrack “provides the prince with comfort that he is exercising a fairly low-risk option,” Helima Croft, a strategist at RBC Capital Markets, wrote in a note to clients.

Shoppers at a Bed, Bath & Beyond last month. With the vaccine rollout accelerating, economists expect Americans to start spending again.
Credit…Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

Economists think the big job gains reported on Friday are just the beginning. One reason: Americans have plenty of cash, and they are ready to spend it.

U.S. households had $2.4 trillion in savings in February, $1 trillion more than a year earlier. And that was before the latest wave of $1,400 relief checks started going out in March.

The primary factor holding back spending has been the pandemic, which has prevented people from spending on restaurant meals, vacations and concert tickets. But with the vaccine rollout accelerating, that could soon change.

About 35 percent of Americans plan to spend more on travel over the next 12 months than they do in a typical year, according to a survey conducted last month for The New York Times by the online research firm SurveyMonkey. About 28 percent plan to spend more than usual at restaurants. And over all, close to 70 percent of adults plan to spend more than usual in at least one category, at least if the health situation allows.

“They have the money in the bank, they’re ready to spend it, but what was holding them back was not having a comfort about being able to go out,” said Jay Bryson, chief economist for Wells Fargo. “We’re getting into a critical mass of people that are feeling comfortable beginning to go out again.”

But there are signs that Americans remain cautious. The survey was conducted in mid-March, just as the Treasury was preparing to send the $1,400 checks to millions of households. More than half the survey respondents who expected to receive checks said they planned to save most of the money or pay down debt. One-third said they would use it for immediate needs like food or rent. Only 10 percent said they planned to spend most of the money on discretionary items.

And while many Americans may be dreaming up ways to spend the money they saved during the pandemic, those hardest hit by the crisis are still trying to regain their financial footing. Among the unemployed, 62 percent said they planned to use their stimulus check to meet immediate needs, compared with 29 percent of the employed. Only 3 percent of the unemployed said they planned to use their stimulus checks on discretionary purchases.

Tesla said on Friday that it more than doubled the number of cars it delivered in the first quarter, bouncing back after the coronavirus slowed sales in the same period a year ago.

The electric carmaker said it sold 184,8000 vehicles in the first three months of the year, up from 88,500 a year ago. It produced 180,338 vehicles, compared to 102,672 in the first quarter of 2020.

Tesla was helped by the arrival of the Model Y, a roomier version of its Model 3 sedan. Those two cars accounted for almost all of its deliveries in the first quarter. It reported just 2,020 deliveries of its high-end cars — the Model S luxury sedan and the Model X sport-utility vehicle.

Ford and enjoyed substantial increases in sales to individual customers at dealerships while reporting declines in sales to fleet operators.
Credit…Brittany Greeson for The New York Times

General Motors reported a modest rise in car sales in North America for the first quarter, but its operations continue to be hampered by a shortage of computer chips.

G.M. said on Thursday that it sold 642,250 cars and light trucks in the first three months of the year, up just 4 percent even though sales a year ago slowed sharply as the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

By contrast, Toyota Motor showed a strong rebound in sales compared with a year ago. The Japanese company reported that sales in North America jumped 22 percent in the first three months of 2021, to 603,066 cars and light trucks. Its March sales were a record high for that month.

Toyota’s big jump helped it outsell Ford Motor, which has also been hit by the semiconductor shortage. Ford’s sales in the first quarter were up just 1 percent, to 521,334. Stellantis — the company formed by the merger of Fiat Chrysler and France’s Peugeot SA — reported its U.S. sales increased 5 percent in the first quarter.

Ford and G.M. both enjoyed substantial increases in sales to individual customers at dealerships while reporting declines in sales to fleet operators like rental car companies and governments.

G.M. and Ford have had to halt or slow production at a handful of plants. G.M. has resorted to making some vehicles without parts containing computer chips with the intention of installing those components before sale when supply improves.

In a statement, G.M. said it hoped its strategy for building cars without some components would help it “quickly meet strong expected customer demand during the year.”

That approach to building cars “underscores the dire nature” of the semiconductor shortage, an analyst at CFRA Research, Garrett Nelson, said in a report. “One of the key questions is how much better the U.S. auto sales recovery can get from here.”

The chip shortage is reflected in G.M.’s unusually low inventory of 334,628 vehicles. That is about 76,000 less than at the end of the fourth quarter and is half the number of vehicles its dealers held in stock a year ago. Ford’s inventory was 56,100 lower than at the end of 2020.

G.M.’s sluggish sales were confined to its Chevrolet brand, whose sales fell 2 percent in the first quarter. That included a 13 percent decline in sales of its full-size Silverado pickup truck, a critical profit maker for the company. The Buick, Cadillac and G.M.C. brands reported strong sales in the quarter.

Toyota also reported a drop in sales of its full-size pickup, the Tundra. But the decline was more than offset by big increases in sales of its RAV4, Highlander and 4Runner sport-utility vehicles and cars from its Lexus luxury brand.

Also on Thursday, Honda Motor reported its first-quarter sales in North America had increased 16 percent, to 347,091 vehicles.

Ed Bastian, the chief executive of Delta, was accused by Georgia’s governor of spreading “the same false attacks being repeated by partisan activists.”
Credit…Steve Marcus/Reuters

For two weeks, Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola had been under pressure from activists and Black executives who wanted the companies to publicly oppose a new law in Georgia that makes it harder for people to vote. On Wednesday, six days after the law was passed, both companies stated their “crystal clear” opposition to it.

Now Republicans are mad at the companies for speaking out. Hours after the companies made their statements, Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, took aim at Ed Bastian, the chief executive of Delta, accusing him of spreading “the same false attacks being repeated by partisan activists.” And Republicans in the Georgia state legislature floated the idea of increasing taxes on Delta as retribution.

On Thursday, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida posted a video in which he called Delta and Coca-Cola “woke corporate hypocrites.” Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi said Coca-Cola was “caving to the ‘woke’ left.” And Stephen Miller, an adviser to former President Donald J. Trump, said on Twitter, “Unelected, multinational corporations are now openly attacking sovereign U.S. states & the right of their citizens to secure their own elections. This is a corporate ambush on Democracy.”

It was another illustration of just how fraught it is for big companies to wade in to partisan politics, where any support for the left draws the ire of the right, and vice versa.

Other big Georgia companies have managed to stay on the sidelines. UPS, which is based in Atlanta, also refrained from criticizing the new law before it was passed. On Thursday, the company said it “believes that voting laws and legislation should make it easier, not harder, for Americans to exercise their right to vote.” It made no mention of the law.

Mannequins at a Brooks Brothers warehouse in Enfield, Conn.
Credit…Amr Alfiky/The New York Times

In the fallout of Brooks Brothers’ bankruptcy filing and sale last year, the retailer abandoned a warehouse in Connecticut full of junk — mannequins, sewing machines and a whole section of Christmas trees.

Ever since, the couple that owns the warehouse, Chip and Rosanna LaBonte, has been scrambling to figure out how to get rid of it all.

Junk removal companies have told them it will cost at least $240,000 to clear the space, which Brooks Brothers had rented through November, Sapna Maheshwari and Vanessa Friedman report for The New York Times. In order to pay the bill, the LaBontes are going to have to sell their home.

Credit…Amr Alfiky/The New York Times

Brooks Brothers, which was founded in 1818 and is the oldest continuously operated apparel brand in the United States, began renting the warehouse in Enfield in 2011, most recently at a rate of roughly $20,000 a month.

The couple bought the warehouse in 2010. They said that it was their first foray into commercial real estate and that they worked on residential projects before that. They have other tenants and a self-storage section, but are frustrated about the mess and the fact they can’t use the space for anything else until it is cleared.

The couple’s plight illustrates the far-reaching consequences of retail bankruptcies, which cascaded during the pandemic and affected everyone from factory workers to executives. Smaller vendors and landlords have often been left holding the short end of the stick during lengthy byzantine bankruptcy proceedings, particularly with limits on what they can spend on legal bills compared with larger corporations. And once bankrupt brands are sold, people like the LaBontes are typically left in the dust.

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Saudis keep control of the oil market despite a production increase.

For months, Saudi Arabia’s oil minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, arguably the most powerful individual in the oil business, has urged his fellow producers to keep a tight rein on output, fearing additional crude could flood the world’s markets and cause prices to drop. At the same time, some producers, notably Russia, have been chafing to open the spigot a bit more.

On Thursday, the prince seemed to relent, as the group called OPEC Plus — the members of Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies like Russia — agreed to modest output increases over the next three months.

Analysts said the prince, who is the chair of OPEC Plus, appeared to be calculating that by appeasing other producers who want to produce more oil, he can remain in control over the longer term.

The prince repeated his go-slow message on Thursday, arguing that the global economic recovery from the pandemic remained fragile, and so his willingness to sign off on an increase came as something of a surprise. But the decision seemed to be an acknowledgment of the diversity of opinions within OPEC Plus, and that he must take the views of other key producers like Russia and the United Arab Emirates into account to maintain leadership and to keep them from going their own way.

“It is not my decision, it is everybody’s decision,” he said at a news conference after Thursday’s OPEC Plus meeting.

So far traders have signaled their approval by pushing up prices in what had been a weak market. On Friday, Brent crude, the international benchmark was up about 3.4 percent to $64.86 a barrel.

Under the deal agreed Thursday, OPEC Plus will gradually increase production by 350,000 barrels a day in May and June and 441,000 barrels a day in July. Over the same period, the Saudis will also relax the one million barrels a day they have been voluntarily keeping off the market, bringing the total increase to about 2.1 million barrels a day by July.

The plan “points to a still cautious and orderly ramp-up from OPEC Plus, still allowing for a tight oil market,” rather than a flood, analysts at Goldman Sachs wrote in a note to clients on Thursday.

OPEC Plus also retain the option of adjusting output at monthly meetings. Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest exporter, can also take unilateral decisions to trim supplies.

This ability to quickly backtrack “provides the prince with comfort that he is exercising a fairly low-risk option,” Helima Croft, a strategist at RBC Capital Markets, wrote in a note to clients.

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OPEC and Its Allies Agree toGradual Increases in Oil Production

OPEC and its allies, including Russia, announced on Thursday they would gradually increase oil production over the next three months.

In agreeing to modest output increases, Saudi Arabia appears to have yielded to pressure from Russia and other producers who are eager to raise output. They want to take advantage of what they see as a likely growing global thirst for oil as economies slowly expand after pandemic lockdowns.

The group, known as OPEC Plus, has been withholding eight million barrels a day from the market.

On this occasion, the Saudis “decided to go with the consensus of the members,” said Helima Croft, a commodity strategist at RBC Capital Markets, an investment bank.

A call on Wednesday from the new U.S. secretary of energy, Jennifer Granholm, to Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, the Saudi oil minister, may also have had some impact, although the Saudi official denied that the oil markets had been discussed.

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Under the agreement, OPEC Plus will increase production by 350,000 barrels a day in both May and June and by 441 thousand barrels a day in July. Over the same period, Saudi Arabia will gradually unwind additional cuts of one million barrels a day that it has been making voluntarily.

Prince Abdulaziz said during a news conference after the meeting that OPEC Plus wanted to test out increased production but would still be able to change plans if demand failed to materialize.

“We can freeze; we can increase; we can decrease,” he said.

For now, the oil market has accepted the prospect of increases that would amount to less than 1 percent of global consumption per month. Larry Goldstein, an oil analyst at the Energy Policy Research Foundation, said that the approach to relaxing cuts was “very modest and conservative” and would tend to bolster prices over the coming months.

In addition, Ms. Croft said, OPEC’s willingness to increase output is seen as a vote of confidence in the global economic recovery.

France’s reimposition of a national lockdown, announced Wednesday, underlines persistent doubts about the pace of recovery from the pandemic, as have rising case numbers in the United States.

But other producers, including Russia and the United Arab Emirates, have been pushing for increased production.

At the beginning of the meeting, Russia’s deputy prime minister, Alexander Novak, who is co-chair of OPEC Plus, said that the market had “considerably improved” since its meeting last month. He estimated that demand now exceeded supply by about two million barrels a day, a deficit that would lead to a rapid draw down of inventories, potentially leading to higher prices.

Prince Abdulaziz emphasized that he had good rapport with Mr. Novak — a big difference from a year ago, he said, when the two countries clashed in a market-wrenching price war.

“We talk to each other more often than talking to our own families,” the prince said.

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Biden Trimming Forces Sent to Mideast to Help Saudi Arabia

WASHINGTON—President Biden has directed the Pentagon to begin removing some military capabilities and forces from the Gulf region in the first steps of an effort to realign the U.S. global military footprint away from the Mideast, changes that come as Saudi Arabia endures rocket and drone attacks from inside Yemen and Iraq.

In moves that haven’t been previously reported, the U.S. has removed at least three Patriot antimissile batteries from the Gulf region, including one from Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia, that had been put in place in recent years to help protect American forces.

Some capabilities, including an aircraft carrier and surveillance systems, are being diverted from the Middle East to answer military needs elsewhere around the globe, according to U.S. officials. Other reductions are under consideration, officials said.

The removal of Patriot batteries, the permanent aircraft-carrier presence and other military capabilities means that several thousand troops may leave the region over time. As of late last year there were about 50,000 troops in the region, down from a high of about 90,000 at the height of tensions between the Trump administration and Iran about two years ago.

Defense officials declined to provide specifics about the reductions in military capabilities or forces. Saudi officials didn’t respond to a request for comment about the U.S. plans.

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