Blocked by Trump: Twitter Users Sound Off on Being Barred


By blocking users on Twitter, President Trump has violated the First Amendment, a federal judge ruled on Wednesday.

The lawsuit was brought by seven Twitter users — including a Texas police officer, a New York comedy writer and a Nashville surgeon — who claimed that Mr. Trump’s Twitter feed was an official government account and that preventing users from following it was unconstitutional.

In her ruling, Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald wrote that the plaintiffs who sought to view and engage with Mr. Trump’s tweets alongside those who were not restricted were “protected by the First Amendment.” The judge, though, did not require the president or Twitter to unblock anyone.

The number of users blocked from the president’s account @realDonaldTrump, which has more than 52 million followers, is known only to Mr. Trump, to those who have access to his account and to Twitter.

After months of enjoying the “exchange of ideas” in replies to the president’s tweets, she was blocked in July 2017 for suggesting that Mr. Trump not use the platform to boast about his golf club in Bedminster, N.J. She felt he was profiting from his position.

Getting blocked made her feel muzzled and disenfranchised, she said. She had noticed many others getting barred, those she’d previously conversed with, but she never thought it would happen to her because she said she never made insulting comments. She later noticed that users who had targeted her with violent threats were still commenting on the president’s posts. “This was viewpoint discrimination, an injustice and a violation of my rights,” she said.

The verdict on Wednesday was “incredibly vindicating,” she said. “It shows that it wasn’t just a wacky perspective that I had.”

‘Every tweet — in which we protest Trump’s abuses of his office — is important’

Anne Rice, a 76-year-old author most famous for her series “The Vampire Chronicles,” has long been a vocal critic of the president and was blocked years ago, she said on Wednesday.

While she couldn’t remember the exact tweet that caused her to be barred, “it certainly was not abusive,” she said.

Being blocked has been a nuisance, she said. “I have to look up Trump’s tweets every day to see what the national discussion is about,” she said. She called his proclivity unfair, “considering how widely he has used Twitter for policy.”

With this ruling, she hopes to be unblocked. “Every tweet — in which we protest Trump’s abuses of his office — is important,” she said. “If we can respond to Trump’s own tweets directly, we can reach some of his ‘base.’”

‘What he’s done is create an echo chamber’

Image
William LeGate, a tech entrepreneur, engaged with President Trump’s Twitter posts until he was blocked for suggesting the president had a crush on Hillary Clinton.CreditStephen McCarthy/Sportsfile for Web Summit

William LeGate, a 23-year-old tech entrepreneur living in Los Angeles, started interacting with President Trump’s tweets in January 2017, and quickly grew fond of replying to the president and others in the forum beneath Mr. Trump’s posts.

When he was blocked six months later for suggesting that the president had a crush on Hillary Clinton, he had a “feeling of disbelief that the person with the highest authority in the land is censoring.”

“That’s the primary method he communicates official government information,” he said. “His tweets are official statements.”

Mr. LeGate, who’s now the digital director for a congressional campaign, said the issue of the president’s blocking users is not superficial. “What he’s done is create an echo chamber, and it makes it seem that public opinion of him than is much better than it is,” Mr. LeGate said. “Once he started blocking people, it changed the perception.”

‘It was kind of a joke, at first’

Norma Kwée, a 33-year-old from Los Angeles who works in the technology sector, was confused as to why she was blocked by President Trump in June 2016 because she had never, at that point, tweeted anything political, nor had she commented on the president’s tweets.

She combed through her posts to see what may have irritated him, but found nothing, Ms. Kwée said on Wednesday. Maybe it was because she was gay, or maybe it was because she worked in tech, she had wondered. Maybe an automated bot did the culling? She never found out why.

“It was kind of a joke, at first, almost like an honor that someone way more powerful than me would take the time,” she said.

But now that he’s become the president, “I find it frustrating,” she said. Instead of using a roundabout way to see his tweets, “I would like to be able to verify these things myself,” she said.

As for the ruling, “I can’t imagine that this will be an instant change,” but she hopes it will help clarify what’s acceptable on social media.

‘He didn’t want other people to see what I was writing’

When Caroline Orr, a 32-year-old researcher from Richmond, Va., tweeted that she had been blocked, it resonated with thousands of people on the platform.

She wrote: “Trump blocked me today for 1 (or both) of these threads. It’d be a shame if anyone RTd them.”

More that 20,000 people did.

Ms. Orr thinks the president barred her because “he didn’t want other people to see what I was writing.” His effort backfired, she said.

As for her interactions with his tweets: “I think it struck a chord with him and he realized that he couldn’t redefine reality for his supporters until he got his most effective critics out of the way,” she said. “I think it’s dangerous to let Trump’s false claims and lies go unanswered.”

China Knows the Art of the Deal: DealBook Briefing


But Tesla has other worries, too:

• The Consumer Reports review of the Model 3 notes “record range and agile handling,” but says the stopping distance of 152 feet is “far worse than any contemporary car” it’s tested.

• The driver of a Model S crashed into a pond and died in the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s unclear if the car was in Autopilot mode at the time.

Despite all that, some investors are bullish, hoping that the pricier Model 3 could boost margins.

Photo


Credit
Eric Thayer/Reuters

Supreme Court gives employers a victory

The ruling that employers can force workers into individual arbitration could limit companies’ exposure to class-action lawsuits over issues like wages and hours. (It could be bad news for Uber drivers battling the ride-hailing company over pay.)

Critics of the ruling asserted that it could also affect fights over discrimination and harassment.

The political flyaround

• The House is scheduled to vote today on rolling back some Dodd-Frank rules. But most provisions that Republicans dislike remain in place.

• Michael Cohen reportedly helped connect a Trump campaign donor with Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund. (WSJ)

• Don Blankenship, the former Massey Energy C.E.O., lost the Republican primary for West Virginia’s Senate seat, but he’s running as a third-party candidate. (NYT)

• Twitter bots most likely played a large role in both the 2016 presidential election and the Brexit vote, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. (Bloomberg)

• British lawmakers say London is still a “laundromat” for dirty Russian money. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson may seek tougher sanctions on Russia.

Photo

The Sony C.E.O., Kenichiro Yoshida

Credit
Martin Bureau/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Sony strengthens its grip on music streaming

The company is striking a $2.3 billion deal for majority control of EMI Music Publishing — whose catalog runs from “Over the Rainbow” to Beyoncé. Behind the agreement is the rising value of music assets in the Spotify era. Yesterday’s deal more than doubles EMI’s valuation from 2011. (It also marks a return of Sony’s financial swagger.)

Critics’ corner, G.E. edition: General Electric confirmed that it would combine its transportation business with Wabtec in a tax-free transaction valued around $11 billion. It’s a decent deal, but not a transformational move, Tom Buerkle of Breakingviews says. Lex reckons that investors will be disappointed.

Elsewhere in deals:

• Britain probably won’t block Comcast’s bid for Sky.

• How Elliott Management beat Hyundai.

• Investors didn’t love Fifth Third’s $4.7 billion bid for MB Financial.

• IHS Market bought the data provider Ipreo for $1.9 billion.

• GreenSky’s I.P.O. will test investor appetite for online lenders.

• SafetyCulture raised one of Australia’s biggest-ever venture capital rounds.

Photo

Robert Shiller

Credit
Pedro Pardo/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Robert Shiller says Bitcoin may be a doomed experiment

Known for warnings about dot-com and housing bubbles, the Nobel laureate in economics has turned his attention to cryptocurrency. In a blog post yesterday, he compared Bitcoin to previous currency experiments that replaced dollars with tokens for hours of work or units of electricity:

The cryptocurrencies are a statement of faith in a new community of entrepreneurial cosmopolitans who hold themselves above national governments, which are viewed as the drivers of a long train of inequality and war … None of this is new, and, as with past monetary innovations, a compelling story may not be enough.

Crypto clampdown: Securities regulators in the U.S. and Canada have opened investigations into potentially deceitful cryptocurrency investment products.

Photo


Credit
Dado Ruvic/Reuters

The tech flyaround

• A new version of the Meltdown and Spectre chip bugs leaves processors from Intel, AMD and Arm vulnerable to hacks. (Wired)

• Facebook will work with Qualcomm to test a wireless replacement for fiber broadband, called Terragraph, next year. (PCWorld)

• A flaw in Comcast’s website could leak personal data from Xfinity customers. (ZDNet)

• A.I. could automate bank accounts and help people be savvier with their cash. (Forbes)

• Rehab marketers are flocking to Facebook groups that were set up to help people struggling with addiction. (Verge)

Photo


Credit
Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

Revolving door

• Stacey Cunningham is set to become the N.Y.S.E’s first female president in its 226-year history. (Reuters)

• Her predecessor, Tom Farley, will reportedly lead a special investment vehicle created by Dan Loeb’s Third Point. (WSJ)

• Sean Bates, Deutsche Bank’s head of emerging markets debt trading, is the latest executive to leave the firm. (Business Insider)

One last thing: President Trump’s phone security

The president has separate cellphones for voice calls and Twitter. But according to Politico, Mr. Trump doesn’t take device security as seriously as he might:

While aides have urged the president to swap out the Twitter phone on a monthly basis, Trump has resisted their entreaties, telling them it was “too inconvenient,” the same administration official said. The president has gone as long as five months without having the phone checked by security experts.

The speed read

• The Obamas have signed a deal with Netflix to produce TV shows and movies. (NYT)

• Spain’s La Liga opposes the SoftBank consortium’s proposed expansion of FIFA’s tournaments. (FT)

• Americans born in the 1980s might not accumulate as much wealth as previous generations. (WSJ)

• When a company does well, do workers or shareholders benefit most? The Marx Ratio can help you find out. (The Upshot)

• Anticipated revenue from wind power generation has almost doubled in the past year. (Bloomberg)

• What’s the fiscal outlook for the United States? It’s “not good,” according to Goldman Sachs. (CNBC)

We’d love your feedback. Please email thoughts and suggestions to bizday@nytimes.com.

Continue reading the main story

Op-Ed Columnist: Did China Just Bribe Trump to Undermine National Security?


That investment, by the way, is part of the Belt and Road project, a multinational infrastructure initiative China is using to reinforce its economic centrality — and geopolitical influence — across Eurasia. Meanwhile, whatever happened to that Trump infrastructure plan?

Back to ZTE: Was there a quid pro quo? We may never know. But this wasn’t the first time the Trump administration made a peculiar foreign policy move that seems associated with Trump family business interests. Last year the administration, bizarrely, backed a Saudi blockade of Qatar, a Middle Eastern nation that also happens to be the site of a major U.S. military base. Why? Well, the move came shortly after the Qataris refused to invest $500 million in 666 Fifth Avenue, a troubled property owned by the family of Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law.

Image
Qatar may be about to make a deal on 666 Fifth Avenue, a troubled property owned by the family of Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law.CreditKarsten Moran for The New York Times

And now it looks as if Qatar may be about to make a deal on 666 Fifth Avenue after all. I wonder why?

Step back from the details and consider the general picture. High officials have the power to reward or punish both businesses and other governments, so that undue influence is always a problem, even if it takes the form of campaign contributions or indirect financial rewards via the revolving door.

But the problem becomes vastly worse if interested parties can simply funnel money to officials through their business holdings — and Trump and his family, by failing to divest from their international business dealings, have basically hung a sign out declaring themselves open to bribery (and also set the standard for the rest of the administration).

And the problem of undue influence is especially severe when it comes to authoritarian foreign governments. Democracies have ethical rules of their own: Justin Trudeau would be in big trouble if Canada were caught funneling money to the Trump Organization. Corporations can be shamed or sued. But if Xi Jinping or Vladimir Putin make payoffs to U.S. politicians, who’s going to stop them?

The main answer is supposed to be congressional oversight, which used to mean something. If there had been even a whiff of foreign payoffs to, say, Gerald Ford or Jimmy Carter, there would have been bipartisan demands for an investigation — and a high likelihood of impeachment.

But today’s Republicans have made it clear that they won’t hold Trump accountable for anything, even if it borders on treason.

All of which is to say that Trump’s corruption is only a symptom of a bigger problem: a G.O.P. that will do anything, even betray the nation, in its pursuit of partisan advantage.

5 Things the New Trump Tower Meeting Documents Tell Us


A Senate committee released thousands of documents related to a 2016 meeting with Trump campaign officials and a Russian lawyer. Here are five key findings.

While he was Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort attended a meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian said to be promising dirt on Hillary Clinton.CreditBrendan McDermid/Reuters

WASHINGTON — The Senate Judiciary Committee released on Wednesday thousands of page of transcripts and other documents related to a 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between members of the Trump campaign and a Russian lawyer who promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, attended the meeting, as did Paul Manafort, then the campaign chairman, and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law.

Much of what occurred that day is already publicly known, such as who attended the meeting, why it was set up and what everyone says was discussed. But the newly released documents offer the most detailed, firsthand account of what transpired before, during and after the June 9 meeting.

The following are some of the key findings from the documents, and why they are important.

Rob Goldstone offered to arrange a meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.

Image

Well before Rob Goldstone, a publicist, set up the June 2016 meeting, he tried to position himself as a man with important Russian connections. Almost a year earlier, Mr. Goldstone emailed Mr. Trump’s longtime assistant with an invitation to come to Moscow for a birthday party that fall. The assistant emailed back a few days later saying it would be difficult for Mr. Trump to make the party because of his nascent presidential campaign. Mr. Goldstone responded that same day with the invitation to meet Mr. Putin.

Another meeting attendee also heard that the Russian lawyer had damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

Before the June 2016 meeting, another participant, Irakly Kaveladze, said he called a man who worked with Mr. Goldstone, Roman Beniaminov. Mr. Kaveladze asked Mr. Beniaminov about the meeting with Mr. Manafort and others and whether they intended to discuss the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 law that imposed sanctions against Russia for human rights abuses.

Mr. Goldstone reached out to the campaign again in January 2016. This time he was promoting his connections to a popular Russian social media platform, VK, and had a suggestion: Mr. Trump should sign up.

Millions of Russian-Americans used the site, he said, and the candidate would get “massive exposure” and coverage by the Russian media, “where I noticed your campaign is covered positively almost daily.”

In follow-up emails, Mr. Goldstone shared a mock-up of a page that he had had VK create for Mr. Trump.

Dan Scavino Jr., the campaign’s social media director, responded, encouraging Mr. Goldstone to “send me whatever you have on this system! I will share it with the team.” He added: “This is great!”

Donald Trump Jr. made several calls to blocked phone numbers around the meeting but says he can’t remember to whom.

Phone records shared with the committee show that the younger Mr. Trump called a blocked number before and after calls with Emin Agalarov, a pop star in Russia whose family is friendly with the Trumps, to arrange the meeting, and again on the night of the meeting. But Mr. Trump’s memory was fuzzy when it came to who was on the other end of the calls.

When asked if he remembered details of the calls, Mr. Trump replied, “I don’t.”

Democrats have speculated that the blocked numbers could represent communications back and forth between him and his father. They are incredulous that Mr. Trump would have taken a meeting with Mr. Manafort and Mr. Kushner, two top campaign lieutenants, about damaging information on Mrs. Clinton without telling his father. The theory is given some credence by testimony from Corey Lewandowski, a top campaign aide, who told House investigators that Mr. Trump made use of a blocked number.

Finding a final answer, though, will likely be left to the special counsel. Democrats do not have subpoena authority, and Republicans have shown no interest in pressing for fuller records.

Eileen Sullivan and Nicholas Fandos contributed reporting.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A15 of the New York edition with the headline: Thousands Of Pages, A Handful Of Findings. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

Live Briefing: Scott Pruitt on Capitol Hill: Round 3 in Progress


“I’m being asked, really constantly asked, to comment on housing and security and travel,” she said. “Instead of seeing articles about efforts to return your agency to its core mission, I’m reading articles about your interactions with the industries that you regulate. Some of this undoubtedly is a result of the ‘gotcha’ age, but I do think there are legitimate questions that need to be answered.’

Here’s what to watch for as Mr. Pruitt testifies.

What the Democrats are likely to ask

Democrats intend, as they did last month, to throw the kitchen sink at Mr. Pruitt. And they have plenty to ask about.

In the three weeks since Mr. Pruitt testified before the two House committees, the public has learned that the administrator has allowed lobbyists and Washington power brokers to arrange his foreign travel, that Mr. Pruitt’s aggressive effort to shroud his meetings and speaking engagements in secrecy was done primarily to avoid uncomfortable and unexpected questions and not out of a concern for security as his staff had claimed, and that E.P.A. aides took steps to conceal a dinner Mr. Pruitt held in Rome with Cardinal George Pell last year after they learned that the cardinal had been charged with sexual abuse.

That’s in addition to a raft of other longstanding questions about Mr. Pruitt’s first-class travel and the need for a 24-hour security detail of at least 20 people that has cost taxpayers more than $3 million so far.

Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico, the top Democrat on the panel, said Wednesday that he had asked the investigative arm of Congress, the Government Accountability Office, to investigate whether the E.P.A. acted improperly when it appeared to mock Democrats on Twitter after the Senate voted to confirm the agency’s second-in-command, Andrew Wheeler.

The tweet, sent from the agency’s official account on April 13, said, “The Senate does its duty: Andrew Wheeler confirmed by Senate as deputy administrator of @EPA. The Democrats couldn’t block the confirmation of environmental policy expert and former EPA staffer under both a Republican and a Democrat president.” Mr. Udall asked the accountability office to issue a legal opinion on whether the tweet violated the Antideficiency Act, which prohibits the use of federal funds for publicity or propaganda.

“This communication did nothing to further the public’s understanding of the environment or public health — and as an act of pure partisan taunting, the case is clear for why it represents a violation of federal law,” Mr. Udall said in a statement, adding, “We can add this investigation to the ever-expanding list of Scott Pruitt’s ethical transgressions.”

What Republicans are expected to talk about

This one is tougher. Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, chairwoman of the appropriations committee’s environment panel, called for Mr. Pruitt to testify at a time when Republican support for Mr. Pruitt appeared to be on a downswing. Since then, however, Republicans have tamped down criticism of the E.P.A. chief.

Graphic

The Behavior That Put Scott Pruitt at the Center of Federal Inquiries

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency faces nearly a dozen federal inquiries into his practices. We break down the accusations by category.



OPEN Graphic


One notable exception is Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa.

Mr. Grassley on Tuesday threatened to be the first Republican to call on Mr. Pruitt to resign, citing his frustration with the administrator over waivers the E.P.A. has given to small fuel refineries exempting them from a federal ethanol mandate on the nation’s gasoline. While Mr. Grassley is not a member of the committee that Mr. Pruitt will face, his concerns are shared by other corn-state Republicans and could become an issue at the hearing.

If past is prologue, though, Mr. Pruitt is likely to hear Republicans express concerns about his stewardship of E.P.A. in their opening statements but mostly draw attention to the regulatory rollbacks that they, and many of their constituents, support.

What Pruitt is expected to say

Last time around, Mr. Pruitt repeatedly shifted blame to members of his staff for the spending and ethical issues dogging him.

He said his chief of staff, Ryan Jackson, had been solely responsible for giving $72,000 in raises to two aides who previously worked with Mr. Pruitt in Oklahoma. He said career staff members had signed off on spending $43,000 to install a secure phone booth, an expense that was ultimately found to violate federal law. And he said his security detail had insisted he fly first class for his own protection.

In one exchange with Representative Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico, Mr. Pruitt had to be asked three times if he was the E.P.A. administrator before answering in the affirmative, but avoided answering whether the buck stopped with him.

“That’s not a yes or no answer,” Mr. Pruitt replied then. It’s a safe bet Mr. Pruitt will continue to tread as carefully Wednesday, and the E.P.A. spokesman, Jahan Wilcox, said in a statement that Mr. Pruitt remained focused on policy.

“From advocating to leave the Paris Accord, working to repeal Obama’s Clean Power Plan and Waters of the United States, declaring a war on lead and cleaning up toxic Superfund sites, Administrator Pruitt is focused on advancing President Trump’s agenda of regulatory certainty and environmental stewardship,” Mr. Wilcox said.

Where the president stands

President Trump has remained steadfast in his support for Mr. Pruitt, despite the arguments of several White House aides — including John F. Kelly, the president’s chief of staff — that the administrator should be fired. Asked last week if he still had confidence in Mr. Pruitt, the president replied, “I do.”

Continue reading the main story

Novartis’s Top Lawyer is Out After Michael Cohen Payments


Novartis’s top lawyer is to retire from the company over payments made by the pharmaceutical giant to President Trump’s personal lawyer Michael D. Cohen, the Swiss drug maker said on Wednesday.

In a statement, Novartis said that Felix R. Ehrat, the group general counsel, would be replaced by Shannon Thyme Klinger, who is currently the company’s top ethics officer, at the beginning of June. Mr. Ehrat was stepping down “in the context of discussions surrounding Novartis’s former agreement with Essential Consultants, owned by Michael Cohen,” the pharmaceutical company said.

“Although the contract was legally in order, it was an error,” Mr. Ehrat said. “As a cosignatory with our former C.E.O., I take personal responsibility to bring the public debate on this matter to an end.”

Mr. Ehrat, a practicing lawyer in Switzerland, has been the group general counsel at Novartis since 2011.

Novartis has said that its former chief executive, Joe Jimenez, entered into the agreement with Mr. Cohen as part of an effort to gain insight into the approach the new administration would take on topics of interest to Novartis, particularly health care. The company said that, after an initial meeting with Mr. Cohen last March, it concluded that he did not have the expertise they had hoped for and decided not to go forward with the arrangement. But it said it learned the contract could only be canceled for cause and allowed it to expire in February.

Since revelations about the relationship last Tuesday, Novartis has sought to distance its new chief executive, Vas Narasimhan, from the controversy, saying that the decision to hire Mr. Cohen had been made by Mr. Jimenez and that Mr. Narasimhan had played no role. Mr. Jimenez retired from the company in January.

Image
Felix R. Ehrat, the group general counsel for the Swiss drug maker Novartis. He said that while the company’s contract with President Trump’s personal lawyer Michael D. Cohen was legal, the arrangement “was an error.”CreditAnthony Anex/Epa-Efe, via Rex, via Shutterstock

In a letter to employees last week, Mr. Narasimhan called the deal a “mistake” that led the company to be criticized “by a world that expects more from us.”

Mr. Jimenez has not responded to requests for comment.

Novartis has said that Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, contacted them last November to inquire about the connection to Mr. Cohen, and that the company cooperated with the investigation and considers its role closed. Since last week, several Democratic senators, including Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Patty Murray of Washington, sent Novartis letters demanding more information about the deal.

The telecommunications giant AT&T has also acknowledged paying Mr. Cohen $600,000 for a similar arrangement. AT&T has called the deal a “big mistake” and last week said its top Washington lobbyist would be leaving.

Trump’s Failure in Jerusalem


The day the United States opened its embassy in Jerusalem is a day the world has longed for, because of what it was supposed to represent: the end of a seemingly endless conflict, a blood-soaked tragedy with justice and cruelty on both sides. Israelis and Palestinians have envisioned a capital in Jerusalem, and for generations the Americans, the honest brokers in seeking peace, withheld recognition of either side’s claims, pending a treaty that through hard compromise would resolve all competing demands.

But on Monday President Trump delivered the embassy as a gift without concession or condition to the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu, and as a blow to the Palestinians. The world did not witness a new dawn of peace and security for two peoples who have dreamed of both for so long. Instead, it watched as Israeli soldiers shot and killed scores of Palestinian protesters, and wounded thousands more, along Israel’s boundary with the Gaza Strip.

Image
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner at the opening of the American Embassy in Jerusalem on Monday.CreditMenahem Kahana/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Unilateral action, rather than negotiation and compromise, has served the purposes of successive right-wing Israeli governments. They have steadily expanded Jewish settlements in the West Bank, on land Palestinians expected to be part of any Palestinian state.

And even when the Israelis uprooted settlements in Gaza in 2005, they did so without negotiating an agreement that would have empowered a more moderate Palestinian government. They acted to increase Israeli security in the short term while increasing Palestinian despair and the power of militant groups like Hamas. For years, Israeli governments have insisted they have no peace partner on the other side, while behaving in a way that perpetuates that reality. The possibility of peace has continued to recede, and Israel’s democratic character has continued to erode under the pressure of a long-term occupation of millions of Palestinians who lack sovereignty of their own.

Mr. Trump has repeatedly promised a grand peace plan without delivering, and he has now lent America’s weight to this maximalist Israeli strategy. For decades, the United States prided itself on mediating between Israel and the Palestinians. Successive administrations urged a peace formula in which the two parties would negotiate core issues — establishing boundaries between the two states; protecting Israel’s security; deciding how to deal with refugees who fled or were driven away after Israeli statehood in 1948; and deciding the future of Jerusalem, which was expected to become the shared capital of Israelis and Palestinians.

Mr. Trump’s announcement that he was recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and moving the embassy from Tel Aviv, swept aside 70 years of American neutrality.

The ceremony on Monday marking the embassy opening could hardly have been more dismissive of Palestinians. It was timed to make the American bias clear, coming on the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence in 1948 — and the day before Palestinians observe Nakba, or Catastrophe, the expulsion of their ancestors from the newly formed Jewish state. The fact that Robert Jeffress, a Dallas pastor who has denigrated Jews, Mormons and Muslims, and the Rev. John Hagee, a megachurch televangelist who has claimed Hitler was descended from “half-breed Jews”and was part of God’s plan to return Jews to Israel, had prominent roles in the ceremony should embarrass all who participated.

Israel has every right to defend its borders, including the boundary with Gaza. But officials are unconvincing when they argue that only live ammunition — rather than tear gas, water cannons and other nonlethal measures — can protect Israel from being overrun.

Led too long by men who were corrupt or violent or both, the Palestinians have failed and failed again to make their own best efforts toward peace. Even now, Gazans are undermining their own cause by resorting to violence, rather than keeping their protests strictly peaceful.

But the contrast on Monday, between exultation in Jerusalem and the agony of Palestinians in Gaza, could not have been more stark, or more chilling to those who continue to hope for a just and durable peace.

Tim Armstrong Appears Out of Running for WPP’s Top Spot: DealBook Briefing


The ZTE primer: The administration has accused ZTE of violating sanctions on Iran and North Korea (which the company says was a mistake). And it’s banned from selling products on U.S. military bases.

Andrew asks: When Mr. Trump says the Commerce Department would act independently on ZTE — after he instructed it to make a deal with the Chinese — is that different from when he said the Justice Department would act independently on AT&T after he urged it to block the Time Warner deal?

Photo


Credit
Douglas Healey/Associated Press

What’s next for Xerox?

After a series of highly unusual twists — Xerox had ousted its C.E.O., then undumped him — the company said once again that it would replace its chief and some of its board, and withdraw from its deal with Fujifilm. It’s the latest attempt to settle with Carl Icahn and Darwin Deason, two of the company’s biggest investors and consistent opponents of the Fujifilm deal.

The state of play:

• Xerox said that it was withdrawing from the Fujifilm transaction because its Japanese partner had not delivered audited statements on time. Fujifilm said that it may seek damages.

• The new Xerox board will weigh alternative proposals, including other takeover bids.

Elsewhere in shareholder activism: Elliott Management is rallying opposition to a proposed reorganization at Hyundai. Has Jana Partners’ push at Apple opened the door for activists to pursue campaigns based on environmental and social issues?

Photo

John Bolton, the national security adviser.

Credit
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

A shot across Europe’s bow on Iran

As Europe considers how to respond to President Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, U.S. officials warned that allies should fall in line — or else. John Bolton, the national security adviser, said it was “possible” that European companies who continued to do business with Iran could face sanctions, adding:

“Why would any business, why would the shareholders of any business, want to do business with the world’s central banker of international terrorism?”

Meanwhile, cybersecurity experts expect Iran to resume a global cyberhacking campaign in the wake of the deal’s demise. And Iranian officials have begun a global tour to shore up support from foreign leaders.

Elsewhere in trade: The chaos enveloping companies’ efforts to win exemptions from the Trump administration’s steel and aluminum tariffs. What corporate America plans to say at hearings on the matter.

The political flyaround

• Rudy Giuliani suggested that President Trump personally intervened in trying to block AT&T’s bid for Time Warner — “the president denied the merger” — and then backtracked.

• States face a tough dilemma: Do they pass on increased revenue from the new federal tax law to residents, or shore up their budgets? (NYT)

• Ken Kurson, an ally of Jared Kushner and a former editor of the N.Y. Observer, is under consideration for an unpaid position in the Trump administration. (NYT)

• Shares in pharmaceutical companies jumped after President Trump unveiled milder-than-expected initiatives for lower drug prices. But pharmacy benefits managers shouldn’t necessarily breathe easy.

• The turmoil at Air France-KLM could test President Emmanuel Macron’s resolve in overhauling the French economy. (FT)

• The Education Department has de-emphasized a unit focused on fraud by for-profit institutions. (NYT)

Photo

Michael Cohen, right.

Credit
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Michael Cohen’s business pitch: Fire your other consultants

When President Trump’s personal lawyer approached companies fretting about their lack of access to the new administration, he had a blunt message, according to the WSJ: No one outside the White House has a better connection to Mr. Trump than I do.

Obviously, that didn’t work out so well: Uber and Ford turned him down, and AT&T said hiring him was “a big mistake.” Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, wants to know what Novartis hoped to gain by hiring Mr. Cohen.

The big picture: The FT points out that while AT&T and Novartis didn’t break any laws, the swamp is far from being drained.

Photo

Tim Cook, left, and Mark Zuckerberg.

Credit
Eric Risberg/Associated Press

Tim Cook takes more shots at Facebook and Google

Speaking to new graduates of his alma mater, Duke, the Apple C.E.O. touched on topics like gun control and the #MeToo movement. But he also cast shade on two tech rivals as Washington and other governments focus on user privacy, declaring, “We reject the excuse that getting the most out of technology means trading away your right to privacy.”

The next big fight over privacy is coming in Silicon Valley’s backyard. If it becomes law, the California Consumer Privacy Act could restrict what tech companies could do to profit from user data, and those that violate the rules could face lawsuits. (Google and Facebook oppose the ballot measure.)

Elsewhere in tech: Several Mexican banks may have been hit by a cyberattack. HSBC struck a trade finance deal with Cargill using blockchain. Did Elon Musk have his Kanye West moment? Lex tells Silicon Valley to suck it up.

Photo


Credit
Michael Hirshon

Trying to close the gender pay gap

After Britain passed rules requiring companies to publish disparities in pay between men and women, the country’s businesses have been grappling over how to fix the problem. Here’s a look at some of those efforts:

• The cable company Virgin Media (median pay gap: 17.4 percent) has experimented with requiring that shortlists for every vacant job have at least one woman.

• The law firm Mills & Reeve (median pay gap: 34 percent) is emphasizing part-time work to help recruit and retain mothers.

Elsewhere in gender and the workplace: The actor Benedict Cumberbatch said that he would turn down roles if female co-stars don’t get equal pay. A group of women, including the actress Salma Hayek and the director Ava DuVernay, protested the film industry’s gender gap at the Cannes Film Festival. David Leonhardt wants readers to help make his columns more gender-inclusive.

Photo


Credit
Dado Ruvic/Reuters

The deals flyaround

• T-Mobile is hoping to avoid a replay of Sprint’s messy merger with Nextel. Holman Jenkins Jr. says that the AT&T deal’s outcome will be a pivotal test of the Trump administration’s stance on mergers.

• The hurdles that Paul Jacobs will have to overcome to buy Qualcomm. (FT)

• Toys “R” Us shows how lucrative bankruptcy can be for lawyers and other professionals. (NYT)

• The hedge fund magnate David Tepper is reportedly close to buying the N.F.L.’s Carolina Panthers. (Bloomberg)

• A deep dive into the merger of Luxottica and Essilor, which would create a global eyeglasses titan. (Guardian)

Photo

A Tesla Model 3.

Credit
Jason Lee/Reuters

Revolving door

• A top Tesla safety executive, Matthew Schwall, defected to Alphabet’s Waymo. Tesla’s engineering chief, Doug Field, has taken a leave of absence.

Andrew Smith, a partner at the law firm Covington & Burling who has represented Facebook and Uber, is expected to be named as the new head of the F.T.C.’s consumer protection unit. (NYT)

Anand Chandrasekher, who led Qualcomm’s server chip business, has left the company. (Axios)

The speed read

• Marvel’s “Avengers: Infinity War” nearly broke a Chinese box office record and has racked up $1.6 billion in ticket sales worldwide. (Deadline)

• How one of Silicon Valley’s favorite charities became ensnared in allegations of harassment and abuse by its former top fund-raiser. (NYT)

• After years of being almost an afterthought, the corporate compliance department is now a hot commodity. (FT)

• A federal fraud investigation has laid bare issues in the world of lawsuit financing. (NYT)

• Why Soho House, the exclusive members club, wants … well, more members. (WSJ)

• Steve Wynn’s bad luck with Picasso continued when his “Le Marin” was damaged before auction. (Bloomberg)

We’d love your feedback. Please email thoughts and suggestions to bizday@nytimes.com.

Continue reading the main story

Awe, Gratitude, Fear: Conflicting Emotions for Korean-Americans in the Era of Trump


The fight over immigration, however, is of little interest to many older Korean immigrants who arrived in the United States decades ago. Instead, they have been captivated by the momentous developments in their native country, after three detainees were released by North Korea this week.

“This is more than stopping nuclear proliferation for us — it is very personal,” said Ellen Ahn, the executive director of Korean Community Services, based in Buena Park. Ms. Ahn’s mother, who was a refugee from North Korea in the 1950s, walked south for days to escape the country when she was 9 years old. Ms. Ahn said she grew up hearing stories of her grandfather being captured by the North Korean Army. “It’s really recent history for our families, all of those kinds of memories are etched in our collective family consciousness.”

Like many of her friends, she stayed up all night watching the Korean-language news on the meeting last month between the leaders of North and South Korea. She texted her 73-year-old mother at 2 a.m. to see if she was watching. “She told me she was in her 12th hour and had been crying the entire time.”

The next morning, her parents went out to celebrate by eating Pyongyang-style cold noodles — the kind the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, brought to a banquet during the meeting with President Moon Jae-in.

“To see what is happening is joyous and dramatic,” she added. Ms. Ahn said that fissures between the generations over the Trump administration are not just over issues like immigration; they are also about language. Younger Koreans raised in America rely on English-language media, while older generations voraciously consume news directly from South Korean sources. “People have divided energies,” she said.

Korean-American citizens have historically not been a politically active voting block: Nationally, about 46 percent of eligible voters nationally cast a ballot in 2016, compared with 61 percent among adult citizens overall. This year, though, their vote could be crucial in several competitive congressional races in Orange County.

Statewide, roughly 54 percent of Koreans self-identify as Democrats, according to the National Asian-American Survey, far more reliably liberal than immigrants from China and Vietnam. Nationally, 75 percent of Koreans voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, according to the same survey.

John Kim, who leads the Korean Federation of Orange County, said he voted for Mr. Trump in part because he believed his business background would help him solve intractable problems, like the Korean conflict.

“I supported him because he said he would do something,” Mr. Kim said. “He is honest and he is doing what he said he would do. He does not stand for nonsense. So to see this now, it is a relief.”

But among critics, anger toward Mr. Trump runs deep. Some view his past comments as racist, pointing to an incident earlier this year when he asked a Korean-American intelligence official, “Where are you from?” When she said she was from New York, he pressed to know where “your people” are from, suggesting the “pretty Korean lady” should negotiate with North Korea.

After Mr. Trump’s pre-dawn news conference on the tarmac, Korean-American leaders all over the country were struggling with how to rectify the White House’s paradoxical positions.

Photo

At the Source OC in Buena Park, a bustling business district in Orange County, Calif., that serves as a kind of suburban Koreatown. More than 325,000 Koreans live in Southern California, with about a third in Orange County.

Credit
Rozette Rago for The New York Times

“We see there are various, blatant contradictions in his general attitude and disposition,” said John Park, 44, the executive director of the MinKwon Center for Community Action, the leading Korean-American activist group in New York.

“In terms of North and South Korea, we do care about family unification; that’s something we’ve been hoping for, for a long time,” Mr. Park said. But, he added, “They are O.K. with splitting up families. They are really doubling down on that position, which is horrifying and inhumane to us.”

Even among those who support negotiations with North Korea, some Korean-Americans say they are skeptical the Trump administration will play a crucial role. Jung-woo Kim, who moved to Fullerton from South Korea when he was 15 and regularly speaks to friends there, said that it was Mr. Moon, the South Korean president, who deserved credit for the recent shifts.

“If you want to have peace, it’s Korean people’s work to do,” said Mr. Kim, who now works for the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium. “Whatever he is doing is not about helping our people. He thinks he deserves the Nobel Prize.”

Mr. Kim is among the activists who hope the fight over immigration will play a key role in the midterm congressional races in Orange County, where Democrats are trying win several seats. Local political experts say Korean voters in the county are evenly split, with about a third each registering as Republican and Democrats and the remainder choosing neither party.

Earlier this year, dozens of people gathered outside Representative Mimi Walters’s district office, urging her to do more to create a path to citizenship. Since Mr. Trump’s election, the activists have focused their ire on Ms. Walters, along with other Republicans in Orange County who are facing tough re-election bids this year.

“They haven’t done very much for us, even though there are so many people here impacted,” said Erica Kim, who has lived in Orange County for years and now works as a parent organizer at the Korean Resource Center. “My daughter thinks she is American. My friends, they want to do something to help her. I tell them: The only way we can change anything is vote and get people who are elected to listen.”

Continue reading the main story

U.S. Takes a Risk: Old Iraqi Enemies Are Now Allies


Several former militia commanders have risen to high-level political positions. Now, a coalition of them is expected to be among the biggest winners in parliamentary elections this Saturday, giving them even more prominent roles in the new government and possibly determining the future of the American presence in Iraq.

The United States has expanded secretive military ventures and counterterrorism missions in remote corners of the world, but in Iraq it is taking a different tack. Here, the United States is reducing its troop presence and gambling that common interests with former adversaries will help prevent a resurgence of the Islamic State. The bet seemed to pay off with the announcement this week that a joint Iraqi-American intelligence sting captured five senior Islamic State leaders.

And as President Trump pursues a confrontational approach with Iran, the American military hopes to use its evolving Iraqi partnerships to peel away Shiite factions from Iran’s orbit and chip away at Tehran’s influence in Iraq and the region.

Photo

American and British troops at an Iraqi military base in 2016, where they trained Iraqi forces.

Credit
Ahmad Al-Rubaye/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“This is a time when Iraqi patriots can build their nation,” said Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk II, the commander of the American-led coalition fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. “There is an opportunity here. We will do all we can to give them all the help they need and want.”

Last year, Congress appropriated $3.6 billion to train and equip Iraqi security forces, with a priority on units under Mr. Araji’s Interior Ministry. They include border guards monitoring the long Syrian-Iraqi frontier, a place where American and Iraqi commanders fear that Islamic State remnants could regroup, and which Iran sees as part of its corridor to move fighters and weapons to Syria and Lebanon. The funds also equip the Iraqi SWAT teams responsible for arresting and detaining terrorism suspects, and train a national police force in charge of daily security.

It was the Islamic State’s conquest of a third of Iraqi territory in 2014 that first brought together once-rival Iraqi militias and security forces with an American-led military coalition in a united effort to defeat a common enemy. The United States wanted to prevent the Islamic State from building a caliphate in Iraq and Syria, and the Shiite militias saw the Sunni extremist group as a sectarian threat.

After Iraq’s regular armed forces crumbled in the face of the Islamic State blitz, a coalition of Iranian-financed Shiite militias took up front-line positions against the extremists. The militias never worked directly with the Americans, but a joint command helped coordinate their efforts to defeat the Islamic State.

Now, some of the most influential militia leaders are working directly with the Americans and pressing for a continued American military presence.

For some of these former militants, America’s display of superior equipment and skills side by side with them in battle brought a newfound respect. Others say they had an ideological reckoning, a realization that years of sectarianism and interference from Iraq’s neighbors had made their nation vulnerable to invasion. Partnering with the world’s superpower, they said, was the best way to bring Iraq back up from its knees.

“We all made mistakes in the past, the Americans, as well as us,” said Hadi al-Ameri, the leader of the Badr Organization, the largest of the Shiite militias that helped battle the Islamic State and the leader of the electoral alliance of former militia members, known as Fatah. “Now, we need their help. We can’t let our country become a playground for other powers and their agendas.”

The vote on Saturday could determine whether the United States military stays in Iraq or leaves.

Most polls show that the front-runners are the current prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, Washington’s closest ally in Iraq, and Mr. Ameri, whose electoral list includes the interior minister, Mr. Araji. If either of them lead the new government, the military partnership is likely to continue.

However, Iraqi political analysts say that the previous prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, who demanded the withdrawal of American forces in 2011 and still has close ties to Iran, could play spoiler. They believe he has a good chance of being included in a new coalition government, giving Iran a way to foil America’s growing influence.

Continue reading the main story