U.S. Consumer Prices Rise Faster Than Expected: Live Updates

uncomfortably low levels, where they have been mired for much of the past decade.

But Mr. Clarida said after the report that if there are signs that inflation is going to jump in a lasting way, “we would use our tools to bring inflation to our 2 percent longer-run goal.”

Stocks on Wall Street fell for the third-consecutive day on Wednesday as new data on consumer prices added to investors’ concerns that inflation could upend the Federal Reserve’s efforts to bolster the economy.

The S&P 500 fell 0.7 percent in early trading, and government bond yields jumped. This week, the benchmark stock index had dropped close to 2 percent through the close on Tuesday.

The moves came after the Labor Department said the Consumer Price Index climbed 4.2 percent during the month, from a year earlier, the fastest pace of increase since 2008. From March to April, prices increased 0.8 percent. Economists had expected the C.P.I. to rise 3.6 percent over the year, and 0.2 percent from the month before.

For stock investors, the concern is that hotter-than-expected inflation will prompt the Fed to raise interest rates to rein in costs. Higher interest rates discourage risk taking in the markets, and high-flying stocks can be hit hard when concern about inflation dominates.

On Wednesday, technology stocks, which are particularly sensitive to concerns about rising rates, were hit harder. The Nasdaq composite fell more than 1 percent in early trading.

The International Energy Agency said global demand for oil would be slightly less than expected in the second quarter of this year because of the toll of the pandemic in India. Still, it said, its projections for overall growth in the second half of the year were mainly unchanged, “based on expectations that vaccination campaigns continue to expand and the pandemic largely comes under control.”

In the oil markets, Brent crude gained 1.1 percent to $69.30 a barrel, and West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. crude benchmark, rose 1.1 percent, to just above $66 a barrel.

Gasoline prices continued to rise as the Colonial Pipeline, a 5,500-mile conduit stretching from Texas to New York, remained closed because of a ransomware attack. The AAA motor club said Wednesday that the national average price had reached $3.008 a gallon, up about 2 cents from Tuesday’s average price and 8 cents from a week ago. A year ago, the average price was $1.854.

Shopping for books in Barcelona last month. Spain’s economy, hit hard during the pandemic, is expected to grow nearly 6 percent this year.
Credit…Pau Barrena/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The economic outlook has brightened considerably across Europe after lockdowns restricted growth at the start of the year. Now, economists can foresee the complete recovery by the end of next year from the early effects of the pandemic.

The British economy grew 2.1 percent in March from the previous month, the Office for National Statistics said on Wednesday. The reopening of schools was one of the biggest reasons for the larger-than-expected jump in economic growth, as well as a rise in retail spending even though many stores remained closed because of lockdowns.

The statistics agency estimated that gross domestic product fell 1.5 percent in the first quarter, slightly less than economists surveyed by Bloomberg had predicted, while the country was under lockdown with nonessential stores, restaurants and other services such as hairdressers shut.

Though the British economy is still nearly 9 percent smaller than it was at the end of 2019, before the pandemic, the Bank of England forecasts it to return to that size by the end of this year.

The European Commission also upgraded its forecasts for the region on Wednesday. It predicted the European Union economies would grow 4.2 percent this year, up from a forecast of 3.7 percent three months ago. Germany’s economy is forecast to grow 3.4 percent this year and Spain, which suffered Europe’s deepest recession last year, is expected to grow nearly 6 percent.

“The E.U. and euro area economies are expected to rebound strongly as vaccination rates increase and restrictions are eased,” the commission, the executive arm for the European Union, said on Wednesday. The recovery will be driven by household spending, investment, and a rising demand for European exports, it said.

Still, despite the optimistic outlook, the commission warned that the risks were “high and will remain so as long as the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic hangs over the economy.”

Even as millions of people were vaccinated, the number of new coronavirus cases globally reached a peak in late April as the pandemic has struck especially hard in India. The uneven distribution of vaccines around the world and the emergence of new variants has the potential to set back the recovery.

The National Institute Of Economic and Social Research in London said on Monday that it did not expect the British economy to return to its prepandemic size until the end of 2022, predicting a slower recovery than the central bank.

Economists at the institute expect lower global growth because of uncertainty about the global vaccine rollout and lingering doubts about the end of the pandemic inducing more people to hold onto their savings, rather than spend it.

SoftBank reported a net profit of more than $36 billion for the year ending in March.
Credit…Philip Fong/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The comeback continued for SoftBank on Wednesday, as the Japanese technology investment firm posted a net profit of more than $36 billion for the year ending in March.

Yet a recent slide in confidence in technology stocks could make it more difficult for Masayoshi Son, the founder of the technology conglomerate turned investment powerhouse, to keep up the momentum after what seemed like an impossible change of fortune.

Last May, SoftBank was in crisis after posting a loss of more than $12 billion. Its big bets on Wall Street favorites, like WeWork, the troubled office space company, and Uber, resulted in huge losses.

But it was not down for long. Riding high on a post-pandemic stock boom, SoftBank has since notched seemingly unthinkable gains. When compared with its previously released figures, the year-end results implied a profit for the first three months of 2021 alone of more than $17 billion.

In a live-streamed press event Wednesday, Mr. Son opened by showing a photo of the humble town where SoftBank began, before calling the huge earnings numbers “lucky plus lucky plus lucky.”

SoftBank Group’s net income

Mr. Son told investors on Wednesday that he would not deny that he is a gambler. But he said he regretted some decisions. The question now is whether his current run of luck can continue.

SoftBank’s profit, mostly paper gains from increases in investment values, was based heavily on a jump in the price of South Korean e-commerce firm Coupang after it listed earlier this year. Results were also lifted by strong share price rises from other SoftBank investments, DoorDash and Uber.

The share price of all three companies has fallen sharply over the past month on a broader pullback in technology shares, in part related to fears over inflation out of the United States.

Investors appeared more interested in the broader tech sell off than Mr. Son’s luck, as SoftBank’s shares fell more than 3 percent on Wednesday, despite the solid gains.

Margrethe Vestager, an executive vice president at the European Commission, announcing Amazon’s $300 million tax bill in 2017.
Credit…Emmanuel Dunand/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Amazon on Wednesday won an appeal against European Union efforts to force the company to pay more taxes in the region, illustrating how American tech giants are turning to the courts to beat back tougher oversight.

The General Court of the European Union struck down a 2017 decision by European regulators that ordered Amazon to pay $300 million to Luxembourg, home of the company’s European headquarters and where regulators said the company received unfair tax treatment. The court said regulators did not sufficiently prove that Amazon had violated a law meant to prevent companies from receiving special tax benefits from European governments.

The decision, which comes as European Union and American officials attempt to reach a global tax agreement that could result in higher levies against tech companies, undercuts an effort by Margrethe Vestager, an executive vice president at the European Commission, who issued the Amazon penalty and has led efforts to force big tech firms to pay more in taxes. The companies have been criticized for using complex corporate structures to take advantage of low-tax countries like Luxembourg and Ireland. In 2020, Amazon earned 44 billion euros in Europe, but reported paying no taxes in Luxembourg.

Tech companies are using the courts to fight European regulators trying to rein in the industry’s power. Last year, Apple won an appeal against Ms. Vestager to annul a decision to repay about $14.9 billion in taxes to Ireland, where the company has a European headquarters. That case is now before the European Union’s highest court.

Google has appealed three decisions and billions of dollars in fines issued by the European Commission over anticompetitive business practices related to its search engine, advertising business and Android mobile operating system.

More legal battles may loom, as regulators have issued preliminary charges against Apple and Amazon for violating antitrust laws.

On Wednesday, Amazon cheered the decision by the Luxembourg-based court.

“We welcome the court’s decision, which is in line with our longstanding position that we followed all applicable laws and that Amazon received no special treatment,” Conor Sweeney, a company spokesman, said in a statement.

Ms. Vestager said the European Commission would study the Amazon ruling before deciding whether to appeal.

“All companies should pay their fair share of tax,” Ms. Vestager said in a statement. “Tax advantages given only to selected multinational companies harm fair competition in the E.U.”

A closed gas pump in Falls Church, Va. Gas prices have risen in several states as drivers rush to fill their tanks.
Credit…Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

The operator of the Colonial Pipeline is expected to announce on Wednesday a timetable for resuming service of its vital fuel pipeline, which stretches from Texas to New Jersey and has been shut down since Friday after a ransomware attack.

At best, it would take several days and probably at least through the weekend to return gasoline, diesel and jet fuel shipments to normal. At worst, any delays could further encourage the panic buying that left thousands of outlets out of gasoline in Tennessee, Georgia and several other states in the Southeast, pushing up regional fuel prices.

Over the last few days, Colonial has opened segments of the pipeline manually to relieve some supply pressures in a few states, including Maryland and New Jersey. But anxiety has persisted despite the assertions of industry analysts that the impact of the shutdown would remain relatively minor as long as the artery was fully restored soon.

Gasoline in Georgia and a few other states rose 8 to 10 cents a gallon on Wednesday, a price jump typically seen only when hurricanes interrupt Gulf of Mexico refinery and pipeline operations.

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  • A gallon of gas increased an average of 10 cents in South Carolina and 6 cents in North Carolina on Wednesday, while gas in Virginia rose about 8 cents a gallon. Before the pipeline was shut down, gas prices were edging higher, as they typically do as summer approaches. Over the past week, gas has jumped 24 cents in Georgia and 18 cents in South Carolina.

  • Filling stations in Southern states were selling two to three times their normal amount of gasoline on Tuesday, according to the Oil Price Information Service, an organization that tracks the oil sector. Some stations are running out of fuel while others are limiting purchases to 10 gallons.

  • Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia signed an executive order suspending his state’s gasoline tax through Saturday, which amounts to roughly 20 cents a gallon. Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina, Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia and Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida each declared a state of emergency in an effort to suspend some fuel transport rules.

  • American Airlines said it had added stops to two daily flights out of Charlotte, N.C. One, to Honolulu, will stop in Dallas, where customers will change planes. The other, to London, will stop in Boston to refuel. The flights are expected to return to their original schedules on Saturday.

  • Southwest Airlines said it was flying in supplemental fuel to Nashville, and United Airlines said it was flying extra fuel to Baltimore; Nashville; Savannah, Ga.; and Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport in South Carolina.

Thomas Plantenga, Vinted’s chief executive, in 2019. The company, an online marketplace for secondhand clothes, recently raised funding that put its valuation at $4.24 billion.
Credit…Vinted-Investment/via Reuters

The pandemic revealed just how important e-commerce is to the future of the global fashion industry. In a year of lockdowns, millions of shoppers turned online to satisfy their desire for clothes, accelerating a shift toward digital sales and rapid growth for many e-commerce companies.

This week, two leading European names announced their latest funding rounds, as investors look to capitalize on the expansion of the online fashion market.

Lyst, a London-based online fashion platform with 150 million users, said it had raised $85 million ahead of a planned initial public offering. In 2020, the company — which acts as an inventory-free search portal for high-fashion brands and stores to sell to trend-focused online shoppers — said it had seen a 1,100 percent increase in new users on its app. It said the company has a gross merchandise value of more than $500 million.

Appetite for secondhand fashion also boomed in the last year, as more shoppers looked to declutter wardrobes, earn cash by selling old clothes and became more aware of the environmental impact of the industry.

Vinted, which is based in Lithuania, says it is Europe’s largest secondhand fashion marketplace with more than 45 million members globally. On Tuesday, the company said it had raised 250 million euros in a Series F funding round, giving the start-up a valuation of 3.5 billion euros, or $4.24 billion.

“We want to replicate the success we’ve built in our existing European markets in new geographies and will continue investing not only to improve our product, but also to ensure we continue to have a positive impact,” said Vinted’s chief executive, Thomas Plantenga.

The electric Endurance pickup truck made by Lordstown Motors. An investment firm claimed the company had inflated the number of orders for its pickup trucks.
Credit…Tony Dejak/Associated Press

Lordstown Motors is one of a dozen electric vehicle start-ups that have wowed investors with big plans to revolutionize the auto industry.

But in February, a prototype it was testing in Michigan caught fire. Then, in April, another prototype dropped out of a 280-mile off-road race in Baja California after just 40 miles. Lordstown is also being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission, and its stock has tumbled from a high of about $30 last year to less than $8.

The swift rise and stunning decline of Lordstown are emblematic of the recent mania for E.V. businesses that are far from making a product, let alone selling it, Neal E. Boudette and Matthew Goldstein report for The New York Times. That frenzy has been driven by investors looking for the next Tesla, a pioneer in the industry that has a strong sales lead over other electric-car makers.

But Lordstown seems far from achieving its goal of churning out electric pickup trucks starting in September and becoming a challenger to G.M. and Ford Motor.

It’s not alone. Shares of Nikola, which is developing heavy trucks, have fallen from around $65 to about $11, for example. The S.E.C. is looking into allegations by an investment firm that Nikola made false statements about its technology.

Buying protective face masks following a small outbreak of coronavirus disease in Taipei, Taiwan, on Wednesday.
Credit…Ann Wang/Reuters

Growing concerns in Taiwan about a small but worsening coronavirus outbreak drove a sharp intraday plunge in its stock market on Wednesday, as investors worried about new government restrictions on businesses in a place that has largely escaped the pandemic.

On Wednesday morning, Taiwan’s health minister, Chen Shih-chung, said that the island’s new outbreak has reached a “very severe stage” and that restrictions could be upgraded in “the coming days.” He spoke after the government reported 16 new cases of local infection on Wednesday and seven on Tuesday.

The Taiwan Stock Exchange weighted index slumped as much as 8.6 percent intraday following the news, a nearly 13 percent loss from its April peak. The market regained some ground later in the day and finished down 4.1 percent.

Taiwan has been a rare success story in a pandemic-stricken world. The island democracy threw up its borders when the pandemic first began to spread from mainland China and has heavily limited travel. It has recorded only 1,210 total cases, according to a tally by The New York Times.

But the authorities haven’t been able to trace the handful of cases that have popped up in recent days, raising questions about whether the government will limit the number of people who can gather within restaurants or other businesses.

Taiwan instituted some Covid-related restrictions on Tuesday, the first in a long time. It suspended large events, limiting outdoor gatherings to 500 people and indoor gatherings to 100 people. On Wednesday morning, the health minister said that the restrictions might be stiffened within days.

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Colonial Pipeline: A Vital Artery for Fuel

HOUSTON — The operator of a vital fuel pipeline stretching from Texas to New Jersey, shut down for days after a ransomware attack, said Monday that it hoped to restore most operations by the end of the week.

Federal investigators said the attackers aimed at poorly protected corporate data rather than directly taking control of the pipeline, which carries nearly one-half of the motor and aviation fuels consumed in the Northeast and much of the South.

The operator, Colonial Pipeline, stopped shipments apparently as a precaution to prevent the hackers from doing anything further, like turning off or damaging the system itself in the event they had stolen highly sensitive information from corporate computers.

Colonial said it was reviving service of segments of the pipeline “in a stepwise fashion” in consultation with the Energy Department. It said the goal of its plan was “substantially restoring operational service by the end of the week.” The company cautioned, however, that “this situation remains fluid and continues to evolve.”

Federal Bureau of Investigation said was carried out by an organized crime group called DarkSide, has highlighted the vulnerability of the American energy system.

Part of that vulnerability reflects Texas’ increased role in meeting domestic demand for oil and gas over the last decade and a half, leading the Northeast to rely on an aging pipeline system to bring in fuel rather than refining imported fuel locally.

Since the pipeline shutdown, there have been no long lines at gasoline stations, and because many traders expected the interruption to be brief, the market reaction was muted. Nationwide, the price of regular gasoline climbed by only half a cent to $2.97 on Monday from Sunday, even though the company could not set a timetable for restarting the pipeline. New York State prices remained stable at $3 a gallon, according to the AAA motor club.

“Potentially it will be inconvenient,” said Ed Hirs, an energy economist at the University of Houston. “But it’s not a big deal because there is storage in the Northeast and all the big oil and gas companies can redirect seaborne cargoes of refined product when it is required.”

The Colonial Pipeline is based in Alpharetta, Ga., and is one of the largest in the United States. It can carry roughly three million gallons of fuel a day over 5,500 miles from Houston to New York. It serves most of the Southern states, and branches from the Atlantic Coast to Tennessee.

Some of the biggest oil companies, including Phillips Petroleum, Sinclair Pipeline and Continental Oil, joined to begin construction of the pipeline in 1961. It was a time of rapid growth in highway driving and long-distance air travel. Today Colonial Pipeline, which is private, is owned by Royal Dutch Shell, Koch Industries and several foreign and domestic investment firms.

It is particularly vital to the functioning of many Eastern U.S. airports, which typically hold inventories sufficient for only three to five days of operations.

There are many reasons, including regulatory restrictions on pipeline construction that go back nearly a century. There are also restrictions on the use of foreign vessels to move products between American ports, as well as on road transport of fuels.

But the main reason comes closer to home. Over the last two decades, at least six refineries have gone out of business in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia, reducing the amount of the crude oil processed into fuels in the region by more than half, from 1,549,000 to 715,000 barrels weekly.

“Those refineries just couldn’t make money,” said Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis at Oil Price Information Service.

The reason for their decline is the “energy independence” that has been a White House goal since the Nixon administration. As shale exploration and production boomed beginning around 2005, refineries on the Gulf Coast had easy access to natural gas and oil produced in Texas.

That gave them an enormous competitive advantage over the East Coast refineries that imported oil from the Northeast or by rail from North Dakota once the shale boom there took off. As the local refineries shut their doors, the Colonial Pipeline became increasingly important as a conduit from Texas and Louisiana refineries.

The Midwest has its own pipelines from the Gulf Coast, but while the East Coast closed refineries, the Midwest has opened a few new plants and expanded others to process Canadian oil, much from the Alberta oil sands, over the last 20 years. California and the Pacific Northwest have sufficient refineries to process crude produced in California and Alaska, as well as South America.

Not very. The Northeast supply system is flexible and resilient.

Many hurricanes have damaged pipelines and refineries on the Gulf Coast in the past, and the East Coast was able to manage. The federal government stores millions of gallons of crude oil and refined products for emergencies. Refineries can import oil from Europe, Canada and South America, although trans-Atlantic cargo can take as much as two weeks to arrive.

When Hurricane Harvey hit Texas in 2017, damaging refineries, Colonial Pipeline shipments to the Northeast were suspended for nearly two weeks. Gasoline prices at New York Harbor quickly climbed more than 25 percent, and the added costs were passed on to motorists. Prices took over a month to return to previous levels.

The hacking of a major pipeline, while not a major problem for motorists, is a sign of the times. Criminal groups and even nations can threaten power lines, personal information and even banks.

The group responsible for the pipeline attack, DarkSide, typically locks up its victims’ data using encryption, and threatens to release the data unless a ransom is paid. Colonial Pipeline has not said whether it has paid or intends to pay a ransom.

“The unfortunate truth is that infrastructure today is so vulnerable that just about anyone who wants to get in can get in,” said Dan Schiappa, chief product officer of Sophos, a British security software and hardware company. “Infrastructure is an easy — and lucrative — target for attackers.”

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Lawmakers slam Facebook Oversight Board’s decision to uphold Trump ban.

Lawmakers lashed out at the Facebook Oversight Board’s ruling on Wednesday to uphold the social network’s ban on former President Donald J. Trump, at least for now.

Driving the discontent was that the Oversight Board, a quasi-court that confers over some of Facebook’s content decisions, did not make a black-and-white decision about the case. Mr. Trump had been blocked from the social network in January after his comments online and elsewhere incited the storming of the Capitol building.

While the Oversight Board said on Wednesday that Facebook was justified in suspending Mr. Trump at the time because of the risk of further violence, it also said the company needed to revisit its action. The board said Facebook’s move was “a vague, standardless penalty” without defined limits, which needed to be reviewed again for a final decision on Mr. Trump’s account in six months.

That angered both Republicans and Democrats. Republican lawmakers have pointed to Mr. Trump’s ouster by Facebook, Twitter and others as evidence of an alleged anti-conservative campaign by tech companies, calling the decisions a dangerous precedent for censorship of political figures.

Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, tweeted that the board’s decision on Wednesday was “disgraceful” and warned it could have dangerous ripple effects.

“For every liberal celebrating Trump’s social media ban, if the Big Tech oligarchs can muzzle the former President, what’s to stop them from silencing you?” Mr. Cruz said in his tweet.

Senator Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, said in a statement that the move showed that “it’s clear that Mark Zuckerberg views himself as the arbiter of free speech.” Republican members of the House judiciary committee tweeted that the decision was “pathetic,” and Jim Jordan of Ohio, the ranking member, tweeted about Facebook: “Break them up.”

Democrats, also dissatisfied with the murky decision, took aim at how Facebook can be used to spread lies. Frank Pallone, the chairman of the House energy and commerce committee, tweeted: “Donald Trump has played a big role in helping Facebook spread disinformation, but whether he’s on the platform or not, Facebook and other social media platforms with the same business model will find ways to highlight divisive content to drive advertising revenues.”

Representative Ken Buck, Republican of Colorado and the ranking member of the House antitrust subcommittee, accused the Oversight Board of political bias.

“Facebook made an arbitrary decision based on its political preferences, and the Oversight Board, organized and funded by Facebook, reaffirmed its decision,” he said.

But scholars who support free speech welcomed the decision. They have warned that as social media companies become more active in determining what stays online and what doesn’t, that could potentially lead to a slippery slope where tech giants have too much sway over digital speech.

“The Facebook Oversight Board has said what many critics noted — the ban of former President Trump, while perhaps justified, was worrisome in its open-endedness and lack of process,” said Gautam Hans, a law professor at Vanderbilt University. “To the degree that the decision draws attention to how ad hoc, manipulable, and arbitrary Facebook’s own content policies get enforced, I welcome it.”

Mike Isaac contributed reporting.

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Celebrities Are Endorsing Covid Vaccines. Does It Help?

Pelé, Dolly Parton and the Dalai Lama have little in common apart from this: Over a few days in March, they became the latest celebrity case studies for the health benefits of Covid-19 vaccines.

“I just want to say to all of you cowards out there: Don’t be such a chicken squat,” Ms. Parton, 75, said in a video that she posted on Twitter after receiving her vaccine in Tennessee. “Get out there and get your shot.”

This is hardly the first time public figures have thrown their popularity behind an effort to change the behavior of ordinary people. In medicine, celebrity endorsements tend to echo or reinforce messages that health authorities are trying to publicize, whether it’s getting a vaccine, or other medical treatment. In 18th-century Russia, Catherine the Great was inoculated against smallpox as part of her campaign to promote the nationwide rollout of the procedure. Almost 200 years later, backstage at “The Ed Sullivan Show,” Elvis Presley received the polio vaccine in an effort to help reach at-risk teenagers.

But do the star-studded endorsements really work? Not necessarily. Epidemiologists say there are plenty of caveats and potential pitfalls — and little scientific evidence to prove that the endorsements actually boost vaccine uptake.

History of Vaccines website, a project of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

and among the weirdest — online rituals of the Covid era.

To help track the phenomenon, New York Magazine over the winter kept a running list of newly vaccinated celebrities that includes Christie Brinkley (“piece of cake”), Whoopi Goldberg (“I didn’t feel it”) and Mandy Patinkin (“One of the few benefits of being old”). Journalists in India have done the same for Bollywood film stars.

getting their shots while shirtless have generated a bunch of memes. An epidemiologist in Oregon, Dr. Esther Choo, joked on Twitter that the French health minister, Olivier Véran, was carrying out a public-relations campaign that she called “Operation Smolder.”

stubbornly persistent in the United States and beyond. The rapid-fire testimonials by Pelé, Ms. Parton and the Dalai Lama in March, for example, collectively reached more than 30 million followers and prompted hundreds of thousands of engagements across Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. In April, the singer Ciara hosted a star-studded NBC special meant to promote vaccinations, with appearances by former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama, as well as Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jennifer Hudson, Matthew McConaughey and others.

“These kind of endorsements might be especially important if trust in government/official sources is quite low,” Tracy Epton, a psychologist at the University of Manchester in Britain who has studied public health interventions during the coronavirus pandemic, said in an email.

That was the case in the 1950s, when Elvis Presley agreed to receive the polio vaccine to help the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis reach a demographic — teenagers — that was “difficult to educate and inspire through traditional means,” said Stephen E. Mawdsley, a lecturer in modern American history at the University of Bristol in Britain.

“I think Elvis helped to make getting vaccinated seem ‘cool’ and not just the responsible thing to do,” Dr. Mawdsley said.

had a colonoscopy live on the “Today” show in 2000, for example, the number of colorectal screenings in the United States soared for about nine months.

experiment that when 46 celebrities agreed to tweet or retweet pro-immunization messages, their posts were more popular than similar ones from noncelebrities. That was especially true when the celebrities delivered the message in their own voices, rather than citing someone else, researchers found.

“Their voice matters,” said Vivi Alatas, an economist in Indonesia and a co-author of that study. “It’s not just their ability to reach followers.”

For the most part, though, the science linking celebrity endorsements to behavioral change is tenuous.

One reason is that people generally consider those within their own personal networks, not celebrities, the best sources of advice about changing their own behavior, Dr. Najera said.

He cited a 2018 study that found few gun owners in the United States rated celebrities as effective communicators about safe gun storage. The owners were far more likely to trust law enforcement officers, active-duty military personnel, hunting or outdoor groups, and family members.

among the first in the country to receive a Covid shot in January. “Don’t be afraid of vaccines,” he told his Instagram followers, who numbered nearly 50 million at the time, almost a fifth of the country’s population.

That night, he was spotted partying without a mask, and accused of breaking the public’s trust.

“Please you can do better than this,” Sinna Sherina Munaf, an Indonesian musician, told Mr. Ahmad and her nearly 11 million followers on Twitter. “Your followers are counting on you.”

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Faith, Freedom, Fear: Rural America’s Covid Vaccine Skeptics

So which trusted person will speak for the vaccine? Eva Fields?

She is a nurse-practitioner who treated one of the first local patients to die from Covid. Greeneville-raised, she has 24 relatives who had the virus.

When she asks patients if they will get vaccinated, about half reply, “No and I’m not going to.” Assuming she’ll be angry, they add, “I’m so sorry if that upsets you!”

Miss Fields responds, “That’s OK, honey. I’m not planning to, either.”

Her gut tells her to believe a video someone sent her from a far-right misinformation group, in which a ranter said studies showed that vaccines caused plaque in the brain.

Like others here, she is suspicious of Bill Gates’s involvement in vaccine development. One evening at supper, Dr. Theo Hensley, a vaccine proponent in her office, retorted: “I don’t know Bill Gates but I do know that Dolly Parton gave a million bucks.” (Ms. Parton is northeast Tennessee’s favorite daughter.)

“Well, she’s probably OK,” Miss Fields allowed.

“When someone pushes something really hard, I sit back, because I don’t like people telling me, ‘This is what you need to do,’ ” Miss Fields said. Echoing many others, she added, “I need to do my own research.”

For now, she neither urges nor discourages patients to get the vaccine.

The day the Fletchers, the retired couple, spoke about the vaccine with their family physician, Dr. Daniel Lewis, was the one-year anniversary of the day he was put on a ventilator with a severe case of Covid.

Dr. Lewis, 43, remained hospitalized for over a month. He was so gravely ill that he recorded farewell messages for his five children.

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A Bipartisan Schools Movement

Over the past decade, an idea has become popular with mayors and governors, both Democratic and Republican: A K-12 education is no longer enough.

Students should start school earlier than kindergarten, according to this view, both to help families with child care and to provide children with early learning. And students should stay in school beyond high school, because decent-paying jobs in today’s economy typically require either a college degree or vocational training.

In response, many states and cities have expanded education on at least one end of K-12. Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, New York, Vermont and West Virginia have something approaching universal pre-K. Arkansas, Indiana, New Jersey and more than a dozen other states have tuition-free community college. These expansions appeal to liberals’ desire to use government for helping people and conservatives’ preference for expanding the economic pie rather than redistributing wealth.

told Politico, “and the question is, ‘What are we going to do about it?’”

to lay out his agenda, and an expansion of federal funding for pre-K and community college will be a central part of it. Despite the recent gains, both pre-K and community college remain far from universal. And Biden’s proposal is an example of how he is trying to define bipartisanship during a time when congressional Republicans are often unwilling to support almost any new federal policy.

I realize that may sound like a sweeping statement about the Republican Party, but I think the facts justify it. Consider the past decade:

Biden is hoping he has found one exception — infrastructure. A handful of congressional Republicans have proposed a plan for new roads and other infrastructure that is much smaller than Biden’s yet a possible basis for negotiations. Ron Klain, Biden’s chief of staff, told a group of columnists this week that he considered the offer serious and “a step in the right direction.”

On many other issues, though, there is no sign that congressional Republicans are open to compromise with Biden. Their political strategy, as Senator Mitch McConnell famously described in 2010, is to make a Democratic president look partisan and try to win the next election.

incorrectly — that adequate funding ensures high quality. If the two parties were negotiating over a bill, it might include a mix of both sides’ best ideas.

Instead, congressional Republicans have walked away from substantive legislative talks, in education and several other major policy areas. Biden does not have a magical ability to change that. But it is not a sign of a healthy democracy.

More on Biden’s speech:

Some people are not pleased.

Lives Lived: Ole Anthony went dumpster diving to find incriminating evidence about televangelists. What he found took down ministries and sent a preacher to jail. He died at 82.

Black History, Continued — a Times project about significant moments and figures in Black culture — is about superheroes. Why? “Superheroes gave us an opportunity to look at this thing that will keep coming back through the year, which is, what is a Black hero and what do heroes mean in Black history?” Veronica Chambers, who spearheaded the project, said.

A new generation of writers is placing Black heroes at the center of big-budget films and TV shows, including “Black Panther” and “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.” Black creators are also reinterpreting well-worn superhero narratives. The writer Ta-Nehisi Coates is working on a Superman screenplay that many believe will include a Black version of the character.

Though the story lines are fantastical, the works often contain parallels to real-life experiences: In a recent adaptation of the DC Comics character Nubia, for instance, the police profile and detain her as she tries to save the day. There’s also a graphic novel series — “Harriet Tubman: Demon Slayer” — that reimagines the abolitionist as a katana-wielding warrior.

Read Veronica’s essay here. — Sanam Yar, Morning writer

Read The Times’s review.

The hosts discussed masks.

play online.

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: “My Fair Lady” lady (five letters).

If you’re in the mood to play more, find all our games here.


Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow. — David

P.S. A hidden haiku from our colleague Claire Cain Miller’s conversations with girls about how the Trump presidency shaped their politics: “Maybe I’ll try to / catch up with them again in / 2024.”

You can see today’s print front page here.

Today’s episode of “The Daily” is about India. On “The Argument,” a debate about police reform. And on “Popcast,” why the sing-rap generation is thriving.

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‘There Is a Tension There’: Publishers Draw Fire for Signing Trump Officials

After the 2020 election, those ideals have been tested in unprecedented ways.

“There is a tension there — on the one hand, I’ve always believed, and I still believe fervently, that we need to publish major voices that are at the center of the national conversation, whether we agree with them or not,” said Adrian Zackheim, the president and publisher of two Penguin Random House imprints, including Sentinel, which is geared toward conservative books. “On the other hand, we have to be leery of public figures who have come to be associated with blatant falsehoods.”

At the same time, conservative publishers and some literary agents say there is enormous demand for books from voices on the right, particularly now that Republicans are out of power, and publishers are demonstrating that they are eager to work with politicians they regard as acceptable mainstream conservatives. Politico reported that William P. Barr, Trump’s former attorney general, sold a book about his role at the Justice Department. Sentinel acquired a book by Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, whose appointment by Mr. Trump last year caused an uproar on the left. Ms. Conway’s book will be published by Threshold, a Simon & Schuster imprint focused on conservative titles, though a person familiar with it said it would be more of a memoir than a standard political book.

Simon & Schuster declined to comment.

The company published several political blockbusters last year, including Mary L. Trump’s “Too Much and Never Enough” and John R. Bolton’s “The Room Where It Happened.” This year has been more complicated.

In January, Simon & Schuster dropped plans to release Mr. Hawley’s book following criticism of his efforts to overturn the election and accusations that he helped incite the Capitol riot on Jan. 6. This month, it said it would not distribute a title, published by Post Hill Press, a small publisher in Tennessee, by one of the police officers in the raid that killed Breonna Taylor.

The petition drafted by Simon & Schuster staff, which circulated on social media last week, demanded the company cancel Mr. Pence’s books, not sign any more former Trump officials and end its distribution deal with Post Hill Press. Jonathan Karp, Simon & Schuster’s chief executive, wrote a letter to the company saying it wouldn’t take those actions.

“We come to work each day to publish, not cancel,” Mr. Karp wrote, “which is the most extreme decision a publisher can make, and one that runs counter to the very core of our mission to publish a diversity of voices and perspectives.”

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China’s Solar Dominance Presents Biden With Human Rights Dilemma

WASHINGTON — President Biden has repeatedly pledged to work with China on issues like climate change while challenging Beijing on human rights and unfair trade practices.

But those goals are now coming into conflict in the global solar sector, presenting the Biden administration with a tough choice as it looks to expand the use of solar power domestically to reduce the United States’ carbon dioxide emissions.

The dilemma stems from an uncomfortable reality: China dominates the global supply chain for solar power, producing the vast majority of the materials and parts for solar panels that the United States relies on for clean energy. And there is emerging evidence that some of China’s biggest solar companies have worked with the Chinese government to absorb minority workers in the far western region of Xinjiang, programs often seen as a red flag for potential forced labor and human rights abuses.

This week, Mr. Biden is inviting world leaders to a climate summit in Washington, where he is expected to unveil an ambitious plan for cutting America’s emissions over the next decade. The administration is already eyeing a goal of generating 100 percent of the nation’s electricity from carbon-free sources such as solar, wind or nuclear power by 2035, up from only 40 percent last year. To meet that target, the United States may need to more than double its annual pace of solar installations.

many of which are imported from Chinese-owned factories in Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand.

China also supplies many of the key components in solar panels, including more than 80 percent of the world’s polysilicon, a raw material that most solar panels use to absorb energy from sunlight. Nearly half of the global supply comes from Xinjiang alone. In 2019, less than 5 percent of the world’s polysilicon came from U.S.-owned companies.

“It’s put the Democrats in a hard position,” said Francine Sullivan, the vice president for business development at REC Silicon, a polysilicon maker based in Norway with factories in the United States. “Do you want to stand up to human rights in China, or do you want cheap solar panels?”

The administration is increasingly under pressure from influential supporters not to turn a blind eye to potential human rights abuses in order to achieve its climate goals.

“As the U.S. seeks to address climate change, we must not allow the Chinese Communist Party to use forced labor to meet our nation’s needs,” Richard L. Trumka, the president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., wrote in a letter on March 12 urging the Biden administration to block imports of solar products containing polysilicon from the Xinjiang region.

Xinjiang is now notorious as the site of a vast program of detention and surveillance that the Chinese government has carried out against Muslim Uyghurs and other minority groups. Human rights groups say the Chinese authorities may have detained a million or more minorities in camps and other sites where they face torture, indoctrination and coerced labor.

In a report last year, Horizon Advisory, a consultancy in Washington, cited Chinese news reports and government announcements suggesting that major Chinese solar companies including GCL-Poly, East Hope Group, Daqo New Energy, Xinte Energy and Jinko Solar had accepted workers transferred with the help of the Chinese government from impoverished parts of Xinjiang.

Jinko Solar denied those allegations, as did the Chinese government. Zhang Longgen, a vice chairman of Xinjiang Daqo — a unit of one of the companies cited by Horizon Advisory — said that the polysilicon plants were not labor intensive, and that the company’s workers were freely employed and could quit if they wanted, according to Global Times, a Chinese Communist Party-owned newspaper. The report said that only 18 of the 1,934 workers at Xinjiang Daqo belonged to ethnic minorities, and that none were Uyghur.

a sweeping ban on cotton and tomatoes from the region. Those restrictions have forced a reorganization of global supply chains, especially in the apparel sector.

The Biden administration has said it is still reviewing the Trump administration’s policies, and it has not yet signaled whether it will pursue other bans on products or companies. But both Mr. Biden and his advisers have insisted that the United States plans to confront China on human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

A spokeswoman for the National Security Council said that the draconian treatment of Uyghurs “cannot be ignored,” and that the administration was “studying ways to effectively ensure that we are not importing products made from forced labor,” including solar products.

a pledge of 236 companies to oppose forced labor and encouraged companies to sever any ties with Xinjiang by June.

Some Chinese companies have responded by reshuffling their supply chains, funneling polysilicon and other solar products they manufacture outside Xinjiang to American buyers, and then directing their Xinjiang-made products to China and other markets.

Analysts say this kind of reorganization is, in theory, feasible. About 35 percent of the world’s polysilicon comes from regions in China other than Xinjiang, while the United States and the European Union together make up around 30 percent of global solar panel demand, according to Johannes Bernreuter, a polysilicon market analyst at Bernreuter Research.

John Smirnow, the general counsel for the Solar Energy Industries Association, said most solar companies were already well on their way toward extricating supply chains from Xinjiang.

also been reported in Chinese facilities outside Xinjiang where Uyghurs and other minorities have been transferred to work. And restrictions on products from Xinjiang could spread to markets including Canada, Britain and Australia, which are debating new rules and guidelines.

Human rights advocates have argued that allowing Chinese companies to cleave their supply chains to serve American and non-American buyers may do little to improve conditions in Xinjiang and have pressed the Biden administration for stronger action.

“The message has to be clear to the Chinese government that this economic model is not going to be supported by governments or businesses,” said Cathy Feingold, the director of the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s International Department.

Chinese companies are also facing pressure from Beijing not to accede to American demands, since that could be seen as a tacit criticism of the government’s activities in Xinjiang.

In a statement in January, the China Photovoltaic Industry Association and China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association condemned “irresponsible statements” from U.S. industries, which they said were directed at curbing Xinjiang’s development and “meddling in Chinese domestic affairs.”

“It is widely known that the ‘forced labor’ issue is in its entirety the lie of the century that the United States and certain other Western countries have concocted from nothing,” they said.

mothballed a new $1.2 billion facility in Tennessee in 2014, while REC Silicon shut its polysilicon facility in Washington in 2019.

China has promised to carry out large purchases of American polysilicon as part of a trade deal signed last year, but those transactions have not materialized.

In the near term, tensions over Xinjiang could be a boon for the few remaining U.S. suppliers. Ms. Sullivan said some small U.S. solar developers had reached out to REC Silicon in recent months to inquire about non-Chinese products.

But American companies need the promise of reliable, long-term orders to scale up, she said, adding that when she explains the limited supply of solar products that do not touch China, people become “visibly ill.”

“This is the big lesson,” Ms. Sullivan added. “You become dependent on China, and what does it mean? We have to swallow our values in order to do solar.”

Chris Buckley contributed reporting.

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One America News Network Stays True to Trump

Months after the inauguration of President Biden, One America News Network, a right-wing cable news channel available in some 35 million households, has continued to broadcast segments questioning the validity of the 2020 presidential election.

“There’s still serious doubts about who’s actually president,” the OAN correspondent Pearson Sharp said in a March 28 report.

That segment was one in a spate of similar reports from a channel that has become a kind of Trump TV for the post-Trump age, an outlet whose reporting has aligned with the former president’s grievances at a time when he is barred from major social media platforms.

Some of OAN’s coverage has not had the full support of the staff. In interviews with 18 current and former OAN newsroom employees, 16 said the channel had broadcast reports that they considered misleading, inaccurate or untrue.

The channel did not broadcast live coverage of Mr. Biden’s swearing-in ceremony and Inaugural Address. Into April, news articles on the OAN website consistently referred to Donald J. Trump as “President Trump” and to President Biden as just “Joe Biden” or “Biden.” That practice is not followed by other news organizations, including the OAN competitor Newsmax, a conservative cable channel and news site.

OAN has also promoted the debunked theory that the rioters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 were left-wing agitators. Toward the end of a March 4 news segment that described the attack as the work of “antifa” and “anti-Trump extremists” — and referred to the president as “Beijing Biden” — Mr. Sharp said, “History will show it was the Democrats, and not the Republicans, who called for this violence.” Investigations have found no evidence that people who identify with antifa, a loose collective of antifascist activists, were involved in the Capitol riot.

Charles Herring, the president of Herring Networks, the company that owns OAN, defended the reports casting doubt on the election. “Based on our investigations, voter irregularities clearly took place in the November 2020 election,” he said. “The real question is to what extent.”

Herring Networks was founded by Mr. Herring’s father, the tech entrepreneur Robert Herring, who at age 79 runs OAN with Charles and another son, Robert Jr. About 150 employees work for the channel at its headquarters in San Diego.

Pew Research reported that 7 percent of Americans, including 14 percent of Republicans, had gotten political news from OAN. By contrast, 43 percent of Americans and 62 percent of Republicans had gotten political news from Fox News, the survey found.

a Reuters/Ipsos poll last month, about half of Republicans said they believed that the Jan. 6 attack, which left five dead, was largely a nonviolent protest or was the handiwork of left-wing activists. Six in 10 of Republicans surveyed said they also believed Mr. Trump’s claim that the election was “stolen.”

OAN, which started in 2013, gained attention when it broadcast Mr. Trump’s campaign speeches in full before the 2016 election. In recent months, it has courted viewers who may have felt abandoned by Fox News, which on election night was the first news outlet to project Mr. Biden as the winner of Arizona, a key swing state. In a mid-November promotional ad, OAN accused Fox News of joining “the mainstream media in censoring factual reporting.”

OAN’s stories “appeal to people who want to believe that the election was not legitimate,” said Stephanie L. Edgerly, an associate professor at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. “These are two mutually reinforcing narratives of people who want to believe it and continue to get that fire stoked by OAN.”

report in May on the pandemic, Mr. Rouz said Covid-19 might have started as a “globalist conspiracy to establish sweeping population control,” one that had ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton, the billionaires George Soros and Bill Gates, and “the deep state.”

Ms. Britton, the former OAN producer, recalled checking a website that Mr. Rouz had cited to back some of his reporting. “It literally took me to this chat room where it’s just conservatives commenting toward each other,” she said.

In an email to staff last month, Ms. Oakley, the news director, warned producers against ignoring or playing down Mr. Rouz’s work. “His stories should be considered ‘H stories’ and treated as such,” she wrote in the email, which The Times reviewed. “These stories are often slugged and copy-edited by ME as per Mr. H’s instructions.”

OAN’s online audience is significant, with nearly 1.5 million subscribers to its YouTube channel. One of its most popular videos, with about 1.5 million views since it went online Nov. 24, criticized Dominion Voting Systems, the election technology company whose equipment was used in more than two dozen states last year, including several won by Mr. Trump. Hosted by the OAN White House correspondent, Chanel Rion, the video shows a man who said he had infiltrated Dominion and heard company executives say they would “make sure” Mr. Trump lost.

Dominion has sued Fox News and two of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, Rudolph W. Giuliani and Sidney Powell, accusing them of making or promoting defamatory claims. A lawyer for Dominion, who did not reply to requests for comment, has said the company is considering further legal action.

Mr. Golingan, the producer, said some OAN employees had hoped Dominion would sue the channel. “A lot of people said, ‘This is insane, and maybe if they sue us, we’ll stop putting stories like this out,’” he said.

Weeks after Dominion filed its first defamation suits, OAN broadcast a two-hour video in which the chief executive of MyPillow, Mike Lindell, made his case that widespread voter fraud had occurred. YouTube removed the video the day it was posted, saying it violated the platform’s election integrity policy. Last month, an OAN report described Dominion’s “voting machines” as “notorious.”

Two of the current and former employees interviewed for this article — Dan Ball, a talk-show host, and Neil W. McCabe, a former reporter — described OAN’s coverage as unbiased. Mr. McCabe, who now writes for The Tennessee Star, said the network gave a “voice to people that are just not covered.”

Susan Beachy contributed research.

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