Wall Street Journal 
Wall Street Journal Tuesday December 29, 2020 [CCLXXVI, US ed.]

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For personal, non-commercial use only. Do not edit, alter or reproduce. For commercial reproduction or distribution, contact Dow Jones Reprints & Licensing at (800) 843-0008 or www.djreprints.com.


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NASDAQ 12899.42 À 0.7%

STOXX 600 398.58 À 0.7%

10-YR. TREAS. unch , yield 0.932%

OIL $47.62 g $0.61

GOLD $1,877.20 g $2.70

Hong Kong Defendants’ Families Await Mainland Verdicts

What’s News Business & Finance


iffany shareholders are expected this week to approve a merger with French luxury giant LVMH, closing months of drama that nearly killed the $15.8 billion agreement. A1

 Cisco is pulling the plug on a flagship effort to help digitize the modern city, the latest example of a big tech company struggling to enter a new market. B1  SAP said it would return Qualtrics to public markets, a listing expected to value the business at least 50% above what it paid for the startup two years ago. B3  Marketers and the rest of the ad industry expect a busy year ahead confronting possible government rules and regulations that would bear on their businesses. B3

SUPPORT: Relatives of 12 Hong Kong activists who were detained fleeing the city by sea in August held a news conference Monday as trials were held on the mainland. The families called on the court to quickly issue its verdicts. A6


Tiffany & Co. shareholders are expected this week to approve a merger with LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE that would give the French luxury giant a big cut of the high-end jewelry market and close months of drama that nearly killed the $15.8 billion agreement. Wednesday’s vote is also expected to cap a deal in which LVMH’s controlling shareholder,


Stocks Rise on Bill’s Approval

U.S. stocks climbed to records Monday after President Trump signed a Covid-19 aid bill. Travel stocks, which have been hit hard by the pandemic, were among the biggest gainers. B1 Share-price and index performance, Monday 6%

 Officials investigating the Christmas bombing in Nashville, Tenn., said they were pursuing multiple leads on deceased suspect Anthony Warner’s motive. A3

 Novavax said it is starting a new clinical trial in the U.S. and Mexico to test whether its experimental Covid-19 vaccine safely protects people from the disease. A2  A Chinese court imposed a four-year prison term on a citizen journalist who documented how Covid-19 ravaged the city where the coronavirus was first detected. A6  A Saudi court sentenced women’s-rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul to nearly six years in prison on terrorism-related charges. A7  Argentina’s Senate is set to vote on a broad legalization of abortion, which would make the country by far the largest in Latin America to approve the procedure. A6  Died: Shirley Young, 85, former GM executive. B2 CONTENTS Arts in Review.... A11 Business News...... B3 Capital Journal...... A4 Crossword............... A11 Heard on Street. B10 Markets...................... B9

Opinion.............. A13-15 Personal Journal A9-10 Sports........................ A12 Technology............... B4 U.S. News............. A2-4 Weather................... A11 World News........ A6-7


s 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

dends before the deal closed, demanded the jeweler lower the deal price by 11%, the people said. Tiffany declined and pressed ahead with a lawsuit, filed in a Delaware court, to enforce the initial merger agreement. In the end, LVMH agreed to buy Tiffany at a 2.6% discount from the original deal price. Tiffany made a $70 million dividend payment last week. Mr. Arnault decided he would rather own Tiffany at a price close to the pre-pan-

demic agreement than continue to fight, a person familiar with the situation said. Now he faces the challenge of reviving Tiffany at a time when the brand and the broader industry have suffered significant damage. LVMH’s own lawyers, in a counter lawsuit in September, said the pandemic left the retailer with “no end to its problems in sight.” Among them: Many bigspending tourist shoppers who travel the world buying luxury Please turn to page A6

 Biden says Trump officials impede transition.................... A4

Pushback on Xi’s China Vision Spreads Beyond U.S.

More countries are moving closer to Washington’s harder stance





Norwegian Cruise Line

3 2


American Airlines



 Biden said Trump administration political appointees in the OMB and Pentagon were obstructing efforts of his transition team in ways that he said could impair U.S. national security. A4

French billionaire Bernard Arnault, didn’t get his way. Mr. Arnault fought for months to renegotiate the merger after the Covid-19 pandemic threw the luxury industry into turmoil. He asked the French government for help getting out of it and later enlisted a Rothschild & Co. banker to conduct back-channel talks with Tiffany, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Arnault, upset over Tiffany’s insistence on paying full shareholder divi-


 The House voted to override the president’s veto of a defense policy bill, sending the bill to the Senate and putting it on track to be the first legislation to become law over Trump’s objections. The House also approved sending $2,000 stimulus checks to many Americans; that bill’s Senate fate is uncertain. A1

WASHINGTON—The House on Monday voted to override President Trump’s veto of a $740.5 billion defense policy bill, sending the bill to the Senate and putting it on track to be the first legislation to become law over Mr. Trump’s objections. Mr. Trump had rejected the bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act over provisions that remove base names honoring Confederate officers and establish troop levels abroad, as well as the legislation’s lack of language revoking internet platforms’ broad immunity for the content they publish from users on their sites. The override vote, which required a two-thirds supermajority, was 322 to 87, with a majority of Republicans joining most Democrats in breaking with the president. The GOPcontrolled Senate is expected to consider the bill as soon as Wednesday. The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment. In a flurry of last-minute legislation, the House also approved sending $2,000 stimulus checks to many Americans, a day after Mr. Trump signed a sweeping Covid-19 aid bill into Please turn to page A4


LVMH-Tiffany Saga Nears End to Cap $15.8 Billion Deal

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 The EPA said that it has set its first-ever climate standards for commercial airliners and large business jets, giving jet makers eight years to comply. A2

House Votes to Override Veto on Defense


 The FAA established requirements for remote identification of drones, along with new safeguards for flights over populated areas and at night, in a bid to expand commercial use of the craft. A3

YEN 103.79

Lawmakers approve separate bill to boost relief checks; Senate action is uncertain

 All three major U.S. stock indexes closed at records after Trump signed a Covid-19 aid bill. The S&P 500 gained 0.9%, while the Dow and Nasdaq both advanced 0.7%. B1  Alibaba’s stock gains for the year have all but been erased after Chinese regulators signaled a major change in posture toward the company and its Ant affiliate. B1

EURO $1.2215


DJIA 30403.97 À 204.10 0.7%

HHHH $4.00



S&P 500



9:30 10







Source: FactSet

Dining Out? Grab Your Snowsuit i



One pieces are no longer just for toddlers, or the ’80s BY LAUREN WEBER Snowsuits aren’t just for kids or Alpine skiers this season. Americans are preparing for their first Covid winter, and one of the hottest items is the onesie snowsuit for adults. Karen Flannery recently bought two on eBay. She wears them to walk her dog and for socially distanced gatherings at the home of a neighbor who recently stretched canvas across an old soccer goal, bought an outdoor projector, and invites a few friends over for televised football games and screenings of 1970s and 1980s sitcoms in his Minneapolis backyard. Please turn to page A8

In March 2019, Xi Jinping flew to Paris to meet French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the then-president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker. By Drew Hinshaw, Sha Hua and Laurence Norman

After toasting with flutes of Champagne, the Chinese president pressed the three leaders, according to an official present. A recent European Union policy paper had described China as a “systemic rival.” Did the Europeans really mean it? Ms. Merkel demurred with a compliment for Mr. Xi, saying the language showed Europe recognized China’s growing strength and

influence, the official said. Mr. Juncker cut the tension with a joke about the EU’s inability to agree on what China was. But Mr. Macron was blunt, the official recalled. It’s true, the French president said. You are a rival. A few weeks later, France sent a warship through the Taiwan Strait, provoking Beijing, which accused the frigate of illegally entering Chinese waters. Inside China, Mr. Xi’s authority is increasingly seen as absolute. He has sidelined rivals, silenced dissidents and bolstered his popularity by promoting a resurgent China unafraid to assert its interests. Please turn to page A8  Gerald F. Seib: China’s power grows................... A4

Grocery Delivery Fees Squeeze Supermarkets BY JAEWON KANG Grocery-delivery service Instacart Inc. once seemed like the perfect partner for supermarkets looking to break into e-commerce. After several years together, though, some grocers are starting to question the relationship. Instacart’s technology provided a ready-made solution for grocery chains that hadn’t yet created options for customers to shop online. And it became even more attractive when delivery demand ballooned with the pandemic, providing armies of on-demand shoppers to fulfill orders in-store and deliver groceries to people’s homes. But many supermarkets say they aren’t making money through Instacart, largely because the delivery company typically charges them a commission of more than 10% of each order. Some of Instacart’s retailer partners say the service holds too much control over

customer interactions and expect it to take an increasing share of money that food makers spend on marketing. All that has put grocers in a bind, as delivery continues to boom and becomes a necessity. Some grocers are focusing more on their own pickup operations or working with rival delivery companies. For many supermarkets, food delivery cuts into alreadythin profits. “We don’t think we make money from an Instacart order,” said Mark Skogen, CEO of Skogen’s Foodliner Inc., which operates more than 30 stores under its Festival Foods brand and began offering Instacart about a year ago. Mr. Skogen said his company pays Instacart a percentage of its online sales. The grocer still works with Instacart because it allows for higher revenue even if there is no profit. Nilam Ganenthiran, Instacart’s president, said the comPlease turn to page A2

We're grateful for you. Thank you to all our customers, partners and team members. Here's to a bright holiday and a brighter tomorrow.

For personal, non-commercial use only. Do not edit, alter or reproduce. For commercial reproduction or distribution, contact Dow Jones Reprints & Licensing at (800) 843-0008 or www.djreprints.com.

A2 | Tuesday, December 29, 2020

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Novavax Starts New Vaccine Trial BY PETER LOFTUS

tional Institutes of Health, which is helping fund the Novavax study. “That will require multiple vaccines using different approaches to ensure everyone is protected safely and effectively from this deadly disease.” The company didn’t say on Monday when it expects to generate results from the new study, but it will likely be spring at the earliest. Studies of the first two vaccines from Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. took nearly four months for results to become available. U.S. regulators authorized emergency use of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines this month. Large U.S. studies of two more vaccines, from Johnson & Johnson and from AstraZeneca PLC and Oxford University, could yield results and

Novavax Inc. said it is starting a new clinical trial of up to 30,000 people in the U.S. and Mexico to test whether its experimental Covid-19 vaccine safely protects people from the disease. Novavax’s shot will become the fifth Covid-19 vaccine to enter final-stage testing in the U.S., and if results are positive it could receive authorization during 2021. Public-health officials say that despite the introduction of the first two Covid-19 vaccines in the U.S., additional vaccines will be needed to meet demand and control the pandemic. “We’ve come this far, this fast, but we need to get to the finish line,” said Francis S. Collins, director of the Na-

potential authorizations by February, federal officials said recently. Novavax’s vaccine contains proteins resembling the “spike” proteins found on the surface of the coronavirus, which are supposed to trigger an immune response to the virus once injected. Novavax manufactures the proteins in insect cells. It also contains an adjuvant, a substance designed to enhance immune responses. Novavax’s adjuvant is derived from the bark of an evergreen tree native to Chile. This approach of combining a protein with an adjuvant is similar to that of vaccines against some other diseases, including GlaxoSmithKline PLC’s shingles vaccine, Shingrix. But it is a different mechanism from the Pfizer and Moderna

Covid-19 vaccines, which use gene-based technologies, and those from Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, which use viral-vector technology. Novavax, of Gaithersburg, Md., has previously reported positive results from earlystage testing of its Covid-19 vaccine, showing it could induce immune responses and was generally safe. The company was originally planning to start a large Phase 3 trial of the vaccine in the U.S. in the fall, but it has experienced manufacturing issues that delayed the start. The study will be conducted at about 115 sites. About twothirds of the study volunteers will receive the vaccine in two doses, three weeks apart, while one-third will receive a placebo. Researchers will then

keep track of how many people in each group contract Covid-19 with symptoms, starting seven days after the second injections. It is being funded with some of the $1.6 billion that Novavax was awarded in July by the federal government. That funding also covers establishing large-scale manufacturing and delivering 100 million doses of the vaccine for use in the U.S. Other studies of the Novavax vaccine outside the U.S. are continuing. The company said it has completed enrollment of 15,000 people in a late-stage, Phase 3 trial in the U.K. Interim results from this study could become available in the first quarter of 2021, though timing depends on coronavirus transmission rates in the U.K.



Actress Loughlin Freed From Prison


“Full House” actor Lori Loughlin was released from prison Monday after spending two months behind bars for paying half a million dollars in bribes to get her two daughters into college. Ms. Loughlin was released from the federal lockup in Dublin, Calif., where she had been serving her sentence for her role in the college admissions bribery scheme, the federal Bureau of Prisons said. Her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, is serving his five-month sentence at a prison in Lompoc near Santa Barbara, Calif. The couple was among the highest-profile defendants charged in the scheme, which re-

vealed the lengths to which some wealthy parents will go to get their children into elite universities. Authorities said parents funneled bribes through a fake charity run by an admissions consultant to get their children into top schools with fake athletic credentials or rigged test scores. The famous couple admitted in May to paying $500,000 to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California as crew recruits even though neither girl was a rower. Ms. Loughlin, who gained fame for her role as the wholesome Aunt Becky in the sitcom “Full House,” told the judge her actions “helped exacerbate existing inequalities in society” and pledged to do everything in her power to use her experience as a “catalyst to do good.” —Associated Press


Police Officer Fired Over Fatal Shooting

A white Ohio police officer was fired Monday after bodycam footage showed him fatally shooting 47-year-old Andre Hill—a Black man who was holding a cellphone—and refusing to administer first aid for several minutes. Columbus police officer Adam Coy was fired hours after a hearing was held to determine his employment, Columbus Public Safety Director Ned Pettus Jr. said. Mr. Coy remains under criminal investigation for last week’s shooting. Members of the local Fraternal Order of Police attended the hearing on behalf of Mr. Coy, who wasn’t in attendance.

Delivery Rush

Continued from Page One pany’s services help grocers grow without spending years of work and capital investment to build infrastructure. “We don’t compete with retailers,” Mr. Ganenthiran said. “We don’t operate out of warehouses and haven’t launched our own stores or minimarts like other services that directly compete with grocers.” The Save A Lot chain joined with Instacart this summer because the service was quick and easy to implement, said Chris Hooks, chief merchandising officer at the Midwest grocer that operates more than 1,000 stores. He said Save A Lot views Instacart as a way to appeal to existing and potential customers. Instacart said it has added or expanded arrangements with more than 150 retailers in the U.S. and Canada this year, putting it in partnership with more than 500 companies including Kroger Co., Walmart Inc., Aldi Inc. and 7-Eleven Inc. Like many of its peers, the delivery service struggled to meet surging demand at the start of the pandemic but said it has since caught up. Instacart said its orders have been up 500% annually at times this year and that its workforce of largely gig workers has more than doubled to 500,000.

Health experts warn another coronavirus surge may be on the horizon as a result of holiday celebrations and travel. The number of newly recorded coronavirus cases fell Sunday, but the actual figure could be larger given the disruption holidays have on data reporting. Similar to previous holidays, Christmas was expected to disrupt Covid-19 data reported from counties and states across the U.S. New Year’s likely will do the same. Peter Walker, a data-visualization specialist with the Covid Tracking Project, said reported cases dropped on Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas, only to shoot back up. “Some state[s] don’t report anything on a holiday, as their staff is given a well-deserved day off. People may be less likely to get a test on a holiday. Some states report a fraction of their known cases...it’s messy,” Mr. Walker wrote on Twitter. Reporting lags aside, it may be weeks before health experts and officials can see the true impact of the holidays on the virus’s spread, said Michael G. Ison, professor of infectious diseases at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Dr. Ison said it takes five to 10 days from exposure of Covid-19 to the onset of symptoms, and then an additional five to seven days until people know if they are on their way to beating the virus or not. At that point, Dr. Ison said, an increase in cases would reveal itself in the data, and related hospitalizations also should be seen soon after. A week or more would pass before growth in the number of logged intensive-care unit admissions; then, if the trajectory followed previous surges, deaths also would follow. World-wide, the total number of coronavirus cases neared 80.8 million, with more than 1.76 million dead, according to Johns Hopkins data.

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SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS: Members of the confirmation class of St. Faustina Kowalska Roman Catholic Parish in Nanticoke, Pa., carried boxes of food and other items to the church’s food pantry on Monday. The class sponsored the food drive.

Grocery-delivery services have seen demand rise during the pandemic with Instacart's sales boom in April leading to its first-ever profitable month.


Grocers Squeezed By Fees


The Environmental Protection Agency said that it has set its first-ever climate standards for commercial airliners and large business jets, aligning U.S. rules with global standards and giving jet makers eight years to comply. Monday’s move follows years of momentum internationally to address the airline industry’s contribution to climate change. The sector accounts for about 2% of the global carbon emissions that are warming the planet, according to U.S. data and environmental groups. The EPA first proposed the rule in July while under legal pressure from environmental groups and amid concern from U.S. jet makers about international sales. The new rules create efficiency standards to limit carbondioxide and nitrous-oxide emissions from commercial airliners and large business jets in the U.S. starting in 2028. Aircraft companies have to apply the limits to any new designs starting this year. The core of these regulations adopt metrics established by the International Civil Aviation Organization, the United Nations commercial-aviation regulator. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in July that the U.S. aviation industry had made it clear the agency should be adopting those standards to ensure consistency globally. The EPA’s action helps prevent U.S. jets from getting shut out of the international market. U.S. manufacturers export three of every four aircraft they make, the EPA has said, and U.S. companies face the potential of losing those sales if their planes don’t meet international standards. —Timothy Puko



Emissions Limits Set For Jet Aircraft

New Surge Is Feared After the Holidays

100% 80

Share of U.S. weekly sales













Weekly U.S. sales, change from previous year Instacart Peapod

FreshDirect Shipt Walmart





10 0 Jan. 2020


Note: Percentages do not add up to 100% due to rounding Source: Second Measure

The boom in business has helped give Instacart its first profitable month, in April, since its founding in 2012. The company has raised nearly $500 million since March, for a valuation of $17.7 billion. Instacart has said it expects an initial public offering but declined to comment on the timing. Over the years, Instacart has added services such as suggesting replacements for out-ofstock items based on customer preferences and allowing consumers to communicate directly with Instacart shoppers, Mr. Ganenthiran said. Instacart has started delivering nongrocery items, such as prescriptions and alcohol. The company is expanding a business building websites and providing technology support for retailers. Instacart is also working with manufacturers to promote

and discount products on its platform. Mark Griffin, president of B&R Stores Inc. in Nebraska, said that means retailers and Instacart are going after the same pool of money that brands spend on marketing. “We’re competing with what we perceive to be a partner,” he said. When working with Instacart, B&R becomes part of “a whole laundry list” of retailers rather than customers’ local store, he said. Instacart’s Mr. Ganenthiran said the advertising business gives consumers access to discounts, which would ultimately encourage them to buy more from supermarkets. Instacart has been built to protect retailers and help them gain share in the online market, he added. When H-E-B LP partnered with Instacart in 2015, the Texas-based chain raised prices


Jan. 2020


on products it sold through Instacart to help cover delivery-related fees, said people familiar with the talks. To maintain some control, others are choosing not to outsource their entire e-commerce business. Kroger, the nation’s biggest grocer, handles pickup orders with its own staff. The company also encourages customers to order delivery through its website—rather than Instacart’s—by offering digital coupons and fuel savings at Kroger gas stations for members of its loyalty program. Kroger executives described Instacart on a recent earnings call as a big partner but said the grocer is always seeking delivery partners. Retailers have more options at hand. DoorDash Inc. and Uber Technologies Inc. started delivering groceries this year while Target Corp.’s Shipt Inc.

“Officer Coy was given the opportunity today to come and participate,” Brian Steel, vice president of the police union, told reporters Monday. “He elected not to participate. I do not know why.” Mr. Coy and another officer responded to a neighbor’s nonemergency call after 1 a.m. Dec. 22 about a car in front of his house that had been running, then shut off, then turned back on, according to a copy of the call. Police bodycam footage showed Mr. Hill emerging from a garage and holding up a cellphone in his left hand seconds before he was fatally shot by Mr. Coy. There is no audio because the officer hadn’t activated the body camera; an automatic “look back” feature captured the shooting without audio. —Associated Press

continues to expand. Associated Food Stores, a Salt Lake City-based cooperative of more than 400 stores, said it is exploring using Instacart early next year. To date, it has been using DoorDash, partly because of the service’s low commission rate of roughly 9% per order charged to stores, said Thomas Horne, a senior ecommerce manager at the company. Instacart said that it wants to give all supermarkets an edge. “It’s much more complicated to pick the perfect bunch of bananas or the best replacement for your favorite cookies than it is to deliver someone a burrito,” Mr. Ganenthiran said, adding that the company continues to make investments to improve its operations. Some supermarkets are holding out. Northeast chain Weis Markets Inc. prefers encouraging customers to order online and pick up in stores, said CEO Jonathan Weis. The grocer doesn’t use Instacart but relies on Shipt for delivery. “They were a little expensive, in our opinion,” he said of Instacart. Instacart might remain just one of many ways to shop for groceries online. Farhan Siddiqi, chief digital officer at Koninklijke Ahold Delhaize NV, said customers prefer specific delivery services. The owner of Giant and Stop & Shop chains uses Instacart in addition to its in-house delivery services Peapod and FreshDirect LLC, which it is teaming up with a privateequity firm to buy. He added, “It’s a very complicated world.”

CORRECTIONS  AMPLIFICATIONS Rent for Doc’s Backyard Grill, which used to sit on South Congress Avenue in Austin, Texas, was around $30 a square foot yearly while it was there from 2005 to 2016. A Page One article Monday about Austin incorrectly said the rent was $30 a square foot monthly.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2020 | A3

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A screenshot from security-camera footage, released by Nashville police, shows the moment a bomb was set off on Christmas Day. exploded outside an AT&T switching facility, damaging at least 41 buildings, one of which was destroyed. The explosion knocked out phone and internet service in much of Tennessee, Kentucky and northern Alabama. On Monday, some in Nashville were still dealing with those outages. The AT&T switching center is one of several such facilities throughout the country that were uniquely designed to withstand the force unleashed by the Nashville explosion, ac-

cording to Ed Amoroso, a retired AT&T chief security officer who now teaches at New York University. Many of these structures were built in cities’ urban cores during the original AT&T’s 20th-century heyday, when the government-protected monopoly could afford to construct thick, elaborate structures designed to resist bombs and other attacks. The Nashville structure worked as intended by shielding most of the equipment inside it from damage. AT&T

said it took longer than usual to restore power to the facility after backup generators failed. Interference from a water main, firefighters dousing the building and investigators scouring the crime scene also slowed repair crews’ work, the company said. Earlier Monday, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation released a criminal history for Mr. Warner that included a single arrest in 1978 by the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department for possession of marijuana for resale.

Mr. Rausch said tips from the public were key to identifying Mr. Warner as the suspected bomber. One tip in particular, he said, gave investigators a name and led them to places to search for forensic evidence to match to tissue found at the site of the bombing. A curfew remained in place for the explosion impact area, which local officials have been coordinating with federal authorities to try to narrow. —Sabrina Siddiqui contributed to this article.


Officials investigating the Christmas bombing in Nashville were pursuing multiple leads Monday on deceased suspect Anthony Warner’s motive, including a connection involving his father, as new information came to light about why he transferred property to a Los Angeles woman last month. Mr. Warner, 63, blew up an RV in front of an AT&T facility in downtown Nashville, Tenn., Friday morning, killing himself and injuring three others. David Rausch, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, said his agency and others are following up on a number of leads, including that Mr. Warner’s father worked for AT&T. On Nov. 25, Mr. Warner transferred ownership of his home in the Nashville suburb of Antioch to Michelle Swing, a 29-year-old entertainment executive who lives in Los Angeles, according to public records.

Ms. Swing told investigators that she believes he gave it to her because her mother had a prior romantic relationship with Mr. Warner, according to a law-enforcement official briefed on the investigation. Neither Ms. Swing nor her mother, Luz Swing, returned calls seeking comment. Mr. Warner also gave Ms. Swing a Nashville property in 2019 that his mother lived in, according to court documents. A deed shows Ms. Swing transferred the home back to Mr. Warner’s mother last year after a legal fight. In addition to the properties, Mr. Warner also gave Ms. Swing some cash and a computer, the lawenforcement official said. Ms. Swing, who works at concert promotion company AEG Live, was one of multiple people who helped investigators identify Mr. Warner as the bomber after the blast, the official said. The bombing occurred around 6:30 a.m. on Christmas when an RV blaring a warning




Investigators In Nashville Pursue Leads

WASHINGTON—The fight over House districts in 2022 is starting well before new lines on state maps are drawn. Lawmakers, outside groups and attorneys are readying for a battle over redistricting that could change the control of the House majority in President-elect Joe Biden’s first term. Democrats are set to go into the new Congress with 222 seats, to Republicans’ 211, with two races still in dispute. The narrow majority has Republicans preparing to fight for favorable maps and Democrats on the defense. “It’s going to be a cycle unlike any other in that there will be more potential gerrymandering than ever before but also more pushback than ever before,” said Michael Li, senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice. U.S. House and state legislative districts are redrawn every 10 years, based on census data. Estimates released last Tuesday show that 10 states are likely to lose at least one congressional seat: Alabama, California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania,

Rhode Island and West Virginia. In total, 435 districts are split between the states. Texas could gain three seats and Florida is expected to gain two. Five others are expected to gain one seat: Arizona, Colorado, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon. There is potential for New York to also lose a second seat—and Alabama to hold on to all its seats, based on the final data. “When the House majority is down to a handful of seats, every seat matters,” said Nathan Gonzales, editor of the nonpartisan Inside Elections. The process for drawing districts varies in every state. Republicans will be in charge of drawing the lines in many of the states that could matter most for the House balance of power. Democrats failed to flip several legislative seats they targeted in 2020, which they acknowledge will hurt them in places where GOP-controlled state legislatures will draw the lines. “Republicans draw maps to favor Republicans, Democrats draw maps to favor Democrats,” said Adam Kincaid, the executive director of the National Republican Redistrict-



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Battle Begins Over Redrawing 2022 House Districts Ten seats in the House of Representatives are expected to move among states during reapportionment next year, based on new population estimates. Projections for seat changes

Gaining seats +1 +2 +3

Losing seats -1 -2





















N.H. Vt.



No change 0



Pa. Pa.

Ill. Ind. Ohio W.Va. Va. Mo. Ky. N.C. Tenn. Ark. S.C. Ala. * Ga. Miss. La. Fla.

Mass. R.I. Conn. N.J. Del. Md. D.C.


*Either Alabama would lose a seat or New York would lose a second seat. Sources: Census Bureau, WSJ research

ing Trust. “And when they can’t decide or agree, then they go to court.” Both Democrats and Republicans expect many of the maps will likely be litigated. Democrats and outside civilrights groups will also be looking at how the districts are drawn and whether minority communities are divided in

ways that change how they are represented in Congress. While the Supreme Court invalidated part of the Voting Rights Act, a section remains in force that says minorities in language or race should have the proportional opportunity to elect candidates of their choice. “Litigation will remain a

big part of our strategy,” said Kelly Ward Burton, executive director of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, a group organized by President Barack Obama’s former attorney general, Eric Holder. “So if and when these states pass illegal maps, we will be there to sue them.” “I think the lawsuits will start very soon after the first of the year,” Mr. Kincaid said. In Texas, Pennsylvania, Florida and North Carolina, Republicans will control the process because they control the legislature that will approve the maps, though in Pennsylvania, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has veto power. The actual numbers that will be used for House districts won’t be released until January and are expected to be delayed because of the pandemic and President Trump’s legal battles over whether noncitizens should be included. Further delays on data release could postpone final maps from being approved and cause stress around candidate filing deadlines and even state elections in Virginia and New Jersey, said Kimball Brace, a Democrat who is president of the con-

sulting firm Election Data Services. “It’s a moving target right now for redistricting,” Mr. Brace said. One added complication this year is that more people voted by absentee ballot, and many states don’t allocate absentee ballots by precinct, instead placing them in a separate category. So political data that is used by parties to determine districts could be skewed toward Republicans because more GOP votes were cast in-person and more Democrats sent in ballots. While they failed to win key state legislative seats in 2020, Democrats say their silver lining is that more states are drawing districts by independent commissions. “Anything that moves it out of Republican control, we consider it a win,” Ms. Burton said. Some key states are out of total Republican control, such as Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Ohio. Yet Republicans see a similar advantage in Virginia because the state passed an amendment moving the drawing of districts away from the Democratic-controlled government and putting it in a bipartisan commission.

U.S. regulators established industrywide requirements for remote identification of drones, along with new safeguards for flights over populated areas and at night, in a long-awaited effort to expand commercial use of the craft. The pair of final rules issued Monday is intended to promote eventual widespread home delivery of small packages and a multitude of other applications for pilotless vehicles that are currently sharply restricted. But with a single announcement, the Federal Aviation Administration is formally pivoting from approving case-by-case exemptions to setting broad safety standards the industry has long sought. The new approach, replacing stringent protections that currently bar practically all home-delivery options, goes into effect in two months, but some requirements are likely to take years to implement. The detailed regulations, which total more than 700 pages and parts of which had been in the works since the Obama administration, also aim to address concerns related to law enforcement, national security and privacy protection. “They get us closer to the day when we will more routinely see drone operations such as the delivery of packages,” FAA chief Steve Dickson




FAA Issues Rules for Commercial Drones

The regulations are intended to promote home delivery of small packages and other applications for pilotless vehicles. said in a written statement accompanying the rules. Mr. Dickson has told colleagues he intends to stay on under the Biden administration, according to people involved in the conversations, to fill out the remainder of his five-year term ending in 2024. The rules are unlikely to be affected by other personnel changes. Since some of the important details differ from those contained in earlier draft proposals, initial industry reaction was positive but muted. Some aspects of the rules “will have additional untold benefits for American society,” according to Brian Wynne, chief executive of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems

International, the largest drone-industry trade association. “We look forward to reviewing these rules and working with the FAA on implementation.” The rules won’t immediately end restrictions on drones operating in higher-altitude airspace or in the vicinity of airports. They also don’t spell out safety requirements for large autonomous or remotely piloted craft capable of carrying passengers, often called urban aerial vehicles. Flights of such airborne taxis remain years away from becoming a reality in U.S. skies. Major changes from the FAA’s previous strategy include eliminating require-

ments that drones transmit identifying information and their position over the internet. Instead, newly manufactured drones covered by the rules, typically weighing less than 55 pounds, will be manufactured with onboard radio transmitters for such purposes. Existing models will have to be retrofitted with the technology. That process could take years, for new and existing drones alike. In addition, the FAA decided that in most cases even the smallest drones, weighing less than half a pound, must be designed to avoid exposed rotating parts that could cause injuries to people below. The rules also lay out a complex series of technical measures to gauge acceptable risks in the event malfunctioning drones crash to the ground. The smallest drones also are mandated to have functioning remote identification systems if they fly over crowds, stadiums or open-air concerts. The FAA has a history of fits and starts devising some of the standards, particularly as technology advanced rapidly and the industry pushed for new rules. At the same time, federal, state and local law-enforcement agencies wanted enhanced protections against the dangers posed by the possibility of rogue, hostile or terrorist drones.



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Despite U.S. Rhetoric, China’s Power Grows


ndeed, the International Monetary Fund projects that China’s economy will expand by 1.9% in 2020, which means it is likely to be the only major world economy to grow in this year of the coronavirus pandemic. By contrast, the American economy is expected to shrink by 4.3%, and the eurozone is forecast to contract by 8.3%. Mr. Biden has talked about forging a stronger front with allied nations to reduce China’s economic leverage,

and creating incentives for American companies to move critical supply chains home from China. He hasn’t declared yet what he will do with the tariffs President Trump has imposed on a range of imports from China, or the future of a partial trade deal the Trump administration negotiated with Beijing. As he faces those decisions, Mr. Biden is looking at a China that, in many respects, has weathered its trade fight with the Trump administration surprisingly well. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau show the U.S. trade deficit with China in October, the lat-

est month for which figures are available, was just 5% smaller than it was a year earlier. American exports to China were higher, largely because of more purchases of agricultural products, but so were imports from China. On other fronts, China’s economic leverage actually has grown. It has joined 14 other countries in a new regional trade bloc that excludes the U.S. Meantime, European nations are trying to complete a bilateral investment agreement with China. Overall, despite rising political tensions between China and the West, Western financial capital is


ore broadly, there is a danger that economic decoupling actually would exacerbate the geopolitical and military tensions that already hang over the U.S.-China relationship. One of the forces that can keep the rivalry from getting out of


centrifugal forces coming out of China are stronger than they were in 2017.”

control is mutual economic dependence. Unlike in the Cold War, when the U.S. had little financial entanglement with the Soviet Union and virtually no economic dependence on it, Washington and Beijing have a deeply layered economic relationship that, so far at least, has almost forced them to find a way to coexist. That mutual dependence now is at least being called into question, with potentially far-reaching ramifications. “The U.S. and China are locked in an explicit and escalating power struggle that could tear apart the rules and institutions underpinning the global trade and governance systems,” says Eswar Prasad, a professor of trade policy at Cornell University. “This will have deleterious effects on multilateralism, giving way instead to warring coalitions on a range of key issues relevant to businesses, consumers and investors around the world.” The bottom line is that the U.S. and China inevitably are heading into a more tense relationship during the Biden years, on security, trade and economic fronts. There is broad, bipartisan sentiment for a tougher approach to Beijing. But exactly what shape this changing relationship takes is very much up in the air. Meantime, the uncomfortable reality is that China enters this period of reassessment with some strong economic cards in its hand.


China’s economic leverage has increased in some ways in recent years. Above, a port in Guangzhou.

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As President-elect Joe Biden’s team prepares to move in, there’s a lot of loose talk in Washington about getting tougher with China, and beginning the process of decoupling the two nations’ economies. As is often the case with loose talk, though, reality is a lot more complicated. Getting tougher economically will be, well, tough. Despite four years of pressure from the Trump administration, China’s economy actually is stronger in some ways at the moment than is the economy of the West. Though China has plenty of its own problems, international capital is flowing in, not out. Within Asia, China actually has improved its trade position. “China is in a strong negotiating situation,” says Josh Lipsky, director of programs and policy at the Atlantic Council’s GeoEconomics Center. He adds: “The



flowing into China. A recent Atlantic Council report shows that foreign purchases of Chinese debt have risen markedly over the last four years, and concludes: “Generally speaking, China’s opening measures promoting further integration of its financial markets with global markets stand in sharp contrast with the decoupling rhetoric coming out of Washington.” David Dollar, a former U.S. Treasury attaché in Beijing, notes that America’s allies generally are less interested in detaching their economies from China’s than is the U.S. “If our allies remain engaged with China, then our decoupling would isolate us and strengthen China’s relative position,” he says. Moreover, he argues, even if the U.S. succeeded at pushing China out of the global economy and its institutions, “China likely would create alternative institutions, and many developing countries will find it in their interest to go with China. So, we would re-create the kind of blocs that we had during the Cold War.”


WILMINGTON, Del.—President-elect Joe Biden said Trump administration political appointees in the Office of Management and Budget and the Defense Department were obstructing efforts of his transition team in ways that he said could impair U.S. national security. “Right now, we just aren’t getting all the information that we need from the outgoing administration on key national security areas,” Mr. Biden said Monday in remarks in Wilmington, Del. “It’s nothing short, in my view, of irresponsibility.” Aides to Mr. Biden’s transition earlier this month said the team preparing for his new administration had encountered some resistance in the Defense Department, with meetings put on hold. At the time, acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller said that a “mutually agreed-upon holiday pause” would take place. Transition aides said no agreement had been reached to stop holding meetings. On Monday, Mr. Biden said his team has “encountered roadblocks” from the political leadership of the Office of

Management and Budget and the Pentagon. “We need full visibility into the budget planning under way at the Defense Department and other agencies in order to avoid any window of confusion or catch-up that our adversaries may try to exploit,” he said in an appearance with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. A transition official said the Defense Department has continued to “deny and delay” meetings, saying there had been “no substantial progress” since Mr. Biden’s team complained about the department’s cooperation earlier this month. The Defense Department said Monday it has held 164 interviews with more than 400 officials and provided more than 5,000 pages of documents to the Biden team. “DoD’s efforts already surpass those of recent administrations with over three weeks to go, and we continue to schedule additional meetings for the remainder of the transition and answer any and all requests for information in our purview,” Mr. Miller said in a statement. A senior administration official dismissed Mr. Biden’s



House Votes To Override Veto of Bill Continued from Page One law but said that the $600 payments in that package were too small. The House passed the stimulus-checks bill 275 to 134, with 44 Republicans joining almost all Democrats in support, exceeding the two-thirds required under fast-track procedures. The legislation increases the amount of the checks to $2,000, up from $600 per adult and per child for individuals with adjusted gross incomes under $75,000. A family of four that qualifies for the payments would get $8,000 under the proposal. The bigger payments, driven by an unusual coalition of Democratic leaders and the Republican president, now heads to the Senate, where its fate is uncertain. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) hasn’t commented on whether he will take up the bill. He is expected

to speak on the Senate floor on Tuesday, and senators are expected to return to Washington later this week to vote on overriding the NDAA veto. To press the issue, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) said Monday that he will delay the vote to override the defense-bill veto unless the Senate holds a vote on providing the $2,000 payments. Sen. Ed Markey (D., Mass.) joined him. Many Republican senators have opposed adding to the checks. The increase is expected to add several hundred billion dollars to the cost of the $900 billion aid package Mr. Trump signed into law Sunday, paving the way for millions of Americans to get economic relief as the coronavirus surges across the country. The U.S. death toll from the disease surpassed 334,000 on Monday. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) plans to ask for unanimous consent to bring the bill to the floor Wednesday, which means it won’t pass if a Republican objects. “Leader McConnell ought to make sure Senate Republicans do not stand in the way of helping to meet the needs of American workers and families who are crying out for help,” Mr.


Trump Officials Said to Impede Transition Work

‘Right now, we just aren’t getting all the information that we need from the outgoing administration on key national security areas,’ President-elect Joe Biden said Monday in Wilmington, Del., during a virtual foreign-policy and national security meeting.

criticism of the Office of Management and Budget, saying that his complaint wasn’t about national security. Mr. Biden is set to take over next month as commander in chief from President Trump. Some aspects of his transition were initially delayed when the General Services Administration waited to formally ascertain that Mr. Biden had won the November election. The former vice president is poised to inherit tensions

with China and Iran, which is increasing its supply of enriched uranium after Mr. Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal with Iran and leading world powers. The president-elect also mentioned Monday the recent cyberattack targeting government agencies that U.S. intelligence has linked to Russia. Overall, Mr. Biden said agencies critical to national security had incurred “enormous damage” on Mr. Trump’s watch. “Many of them have

Where the Year-End Legislation Stands Covid-19 aid: $900 billion package includes jobless relief, vaccine and school funding, small-business aid and $600 checks for most Americans. Status: Passed and signed into law. Omnibus spending: $1.4 trillion package continuing government funding into September.

Status: Passed and signed into law. NDAA defense-policy bill: The $740.5 billion proposal includes measure to remove Confederate names from military bases. Status: House voted 322-87 to override veto. Senate vote is expected later this week. $2,000 stimulus checks: Mr. Trump proposed increasing the size of stimulus checks to $2,000 from $600. Status: House passed bill 275 to 134; Senate fate is uncertain.

Schumer said. President-elect Joe Biden supports the increased payments. Republicans opposed to increasing the amount of direct payments have pointed to the cost of such a bill and said Congress should focus on ways to fully reopen business in order to increase demand for jobs. “What we know is that much of this extra $1,400 will go to pay down credit-card debt, or savings, or make new purchases online at Walmart, Best Buy, or Amazon,” said Texas Republican Rep. Kevin Brady, who voted against the bill. “We can do better to help people get

back to work and truly help this recovery.” The two bills made for strange bedfellows on a rare session in the House between Christmas and the New Year’s holiday. In a matter of hours, many lawmakers from both parties backed the demand by the president to increase the stimulus checks and then also objected to his veto on defense legislation. Others did the opposite. Rep. Warren Davidson (R., Ohio) voted to sustain Mr. Trump’s NDAA veto. He said the annual bill—which sets pay rates for troops and authorizes

been hollowed out in personnel, capacity and in morale,” he said. “The policy processes have atrophied or have been sidelined.” Following Mr. Biden’s victory in November, many foreign leaders moved swiftly to make inroads with the incoming administration. Mr. Biden has spoken with several of his overseas counterparts by phone, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a close Trump ally; Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau;

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Mr. Biden has long emphasized the relationships he forged with many world leaders during his two terms as vice president. A centerpiece of his 2020 campaign was what he said was the need to restore traditional U.S. alliances that he said eroded under Mr. Trump’s “Americafirst” doctrine. —Catherine Lucey contributed to this article.

funds for aircraft, ships, nuclear weapons and other national-security programs—“unduly burdened” the commander-inchief’s ability to redeploy troops. But he voted against the $2,000 checks. The votes marked the latest twists in a dramatic end to the year. In the face of a looming government shutdown, Mr. Trump signed the pandemic-aid and omnibus spending bill Sunday night, ending a showdown with Congress. In signing the bill, the president said he wanted bigger stimulus checks but also an investigation into alleged voter fraud and the repeal of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which relates to regulation of online speech. Senate GOP leaders haven’t commented on any plans to address his concerns. Mr. Trump’s decision to end the standoff came after extensive lobbying from Republican lawmakers, said people familiar with the conversations. Mr. Trump made the final decision Sunday during a phone call with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.), said a person with

knowledge of the talks. But it came after days of consultation with aides and allies, among them former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway. Allies argued blocking the bill could hurt the chances of Republicans running in a Georgia special election Jan. 5 that will determine control of the Senate. Another person familiar with the talks said that Mr. Trump was told by his advisers and those working on the Georgia race that a veto “could sink” the Republican incumbents, Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. When Mr. Trump vetoed the NDAA earlier this month, he objected to the provision that would create a commission to rename military installations honoring Confederates. He also objected to provisions requiring the Trump administration to submit to Congress an assessment of a planned Afghanistan withdrawal before it can use funds to pull those troops. The administration has said it would cut troop levels in Afghanistan by half to roughly 2,500, by Jan. 15. Another provision prevents the withdrawal of troops from Germany until after Mr. Biden takes office. —Lindsay Wise contributed to this article.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2020 | A5

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A6 | Tuesday, December 29, 2020

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Kong China Jails Wuhan Virus Chronicler Hong Activists

ger and suppressing criticism against missteps in the government’s initial response. The case against Ms. Zhang is the first known prosecution of a citizen journalist who covered the coronavirus pandemic in Wuhan, where government efforts to punish whistleblowers and suppress information on the early outbreak stirred a public backlash and prompted some ordinary citizens to chronicle conditions in Wuhan with firsthand accounts over social media. At least three other citizen journalists in Wuhan disappeared in February and, though one of them briefly resurfaced in April, their fate remains unclear, rights activists say.

The charge against Ms. Zhang, “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” is vaguely defined and has often been used to prosecute activists and dissidents. “Authorities are sending a warning to anyone who dares to cast the government in a bad light,” said Gwen Lee, a China campaigner at Amnesty International, a human-rights watchdog. In Monday’s trial, Ms. Zhang said she regarded the proceedings against her as illegitimate and refused to answer the prosecution’s questions, according to one of her lawyers, Zhang Keke. She was brought to the courtroom in a wheelchair, likely due to her weakened state stemming

from a hunger strike, said Mr. Zhang, who was present in the courtroom. The lawyer isn’t related to the defendant. The court didn’t ask Ms. Zhang if she sought to appeal, nor did she express a preference before she was escorted out, Mr. Zhang said. Ms. Zhang couldn’t be reached to comment. Calls to press officials at the Pudong court and procuratorate rang unanswered. A former lawyer and a Shanghai resident, Ms. Zhang traveled to Wuhan in early February, after authorities sealed off the city in late January to contain the coronavirus. In a video shared by rights activists after her detention, she said she decided

HONG KONG—The families of a group of Hong Kong activists who were detained fleeing the city in a speedboat in August called on Chinese authorities to quickly issue verdicts, after they were tried in a mainland court. Four hours after a closeddoor hearing started Monday, the Yantian District Court in Shenzhen said the trials of 10 of the activists had ended and the verdicts would be announced at another time. “I want to see my son. I won’t be able to see him if you don’t decide,” said the mother of one of the defendants, Wong Wai-yin. The mother has asked not to be identified by name. The 10 charged are accused of illegal border crossing, which carries a one-year sentence. Two of the 10 are also accused of organizing the attempted escape and are potentially facing longer prison terms. Two others on the boat weren’t charged because they were under the age of 18, but they will be subject to a hearing, the families said they were told. All 12 people on the boat faced charges in Hong Kong related to pro-democracy activities before they fled. The Hong Kong police said the 12 activists each paid tens of thousands of Hong Kong dollars to be smuggled out.


Pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong called for the release of citizen journalist Zhang Zhan on Sunday.


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HONG KONG—A Chinese court imposed a four-year prison term on a citizen journalist who documented how Covid-19 ravaged the city where the coronavirus was first detected, in a case that underscores the lengths to which Beijing has defended its narrative of the pandemic. Zhang Zhan, 37 years old, was convicted of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” after a roughly 2½-hour trial at the Shanghai Pudong New Area People’s Court on Monday, where prosecutors accused her of spreading falsehoods about the pandemic through social-media posts and interviews with overseas media, her lawyers said. The verdict came more than seven months after authorities detained Ms. Zhang in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, the pandemic’s original epicenter, where she posted more than 120 YouTube videos chronicling conditions in the city and detailed what she saw as missteps in the government’s initial pandemic response. Her detention dovetails with Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s campaign to recast the coronavirus pandemic in China as a showcase of the Communist Party’s good governance, featuring extensive propaganda and censorship efforts aimed at mollifying public an-



Are Tried By Beijing

to go there after seeing an online essay that described Wuhan as an “abandoned city.” In a series of YouTube videos and tweets, Ms. Zhang documented scenes of daily life under mass quarantine in Wuhan, visiting medical facilities, walking through mostly deserted streets, and speaking to residents. Sometimes she offered commentary on conditions in the city, ranging from economic impact and government propaganda. “The party flags and red symbols at many neighborhood entrances all indicate that epidemic-prevention isn’t important,” she wrote in a May 7 tweet featuring photos of what appeared to be checkpoints at entrances to Wuhan residential compounds. “Protecting regime stability that has been impacted by the pandemic is the actual goal.” Ms. Zhang’s social-media posts appeared to have drawn relatively little attention. The bulk of her YouTube videos have each garnered hundreds of views as of late December, though some racked up thousands of views. Her last video, posted just before her detention on May 14, was the most popular, with about 30,000 views as of late December, though Ms. Zhang’s lawyer said many of her videos gained viewership only after her detention. “Ordinary Chinese people can’t see them. What impact could they have had? What exactly is the government afraid of?” said Mr. Zhang, the lawyer. “The government perhaps can’t tolerate the way she makes her criticism.”


Zhang Zhan was convicted of ‘picking quarrels and provoking trouble’ with her posts

Argentina’s Senate to Vote on Abortion Legalization

life to resolve a problem,” the pope said in a November missive to a group of neighborhood women who wrote to him opposing abortion. Argentina’s Catholic hierarchy also has come out against the measure. The vote will be the second time in two years Argentina’s Senate has considered a bill to legalize abortion. A 2018 bill fell short of passing by 38 to 31. The conservative presi-

dent at the time, Mauricio Macri, opposed abortion, though he said he would have signed the bill if lawmakers had approved it. Abortionrights groups said they believe they have more momentum this time, since Mr. Fernández, of the leftist Peronist coalition, has made legalizing abortion a central tenet of his 12month-old government. Those who track Congress

and aides to a handful of senators who are undecided said passage is far from guaranteed. Polls have generally shown citizens of this heavily Catholic and evangelical country oppose legalization. Sixty percent of respondents told pollster Giacobbe and Associates in Buenos Aires last month they didn’t want to see elective abortion approved versus 27% who did. The polls showed a

“Tiffany is big on bridal, which is not the future,” said Erwan Rambourg, a luxurygoods analyst at HSBC. Inside LVMH, Mr. Rambourg said, “the products will evolve dramatically. I think the stores will change dramatically as well.” A Tiffany spokesman declined to comment. Before the pandemic, the company had been working to revitalize its image, particularly with younger shoppers. Tiffany retains much of the sparkle that drew Mr. Arnault in the first place, in particular a brand name that is one of the most recognizable in the luxury business. Mr. Arnault had been eyeing Tiffany for years before making an offer to buy the company in October 2019 for $120 a share. After several weeks of negotiation, LVMH struck a deal to buy Tiffany for $135 a share, close to the company’s all-time high. Weeks later, the first cases of the coronavirus were reported in Wuhan, China. By

Tiffany Deal Set to End Clash

March, luxury boutiques across the world closed as major economies went into lockdown. Over the summer, LVMH representatives asked French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire for a letter that would lay the grounds for the company to renegotiate or pull out of the merger agreement, French officials said. Mr. Le Maire refused. On Sept. 8, LVMH told Tiffany that it had received a letter from French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian asking the company to delay its purchase of Tiffany until Jan. 6, 2021, to help France in international tax and tariff negotiations with the U.S. government. The next day, LVMH said it was pulling out of the deal. Tiffany promptly filed a lawsuit seeking to force LVMH to buy the company or pay damages. Tiffany Chairman Roger Farah said in a statement the same day that LVMH had “unclean hands,” suggesting that the company had asked the French government to write the letter.

The phrase infuriated Mr. Arnault and LVMH’s management, according to a person familiar with the situation. On Sept. 16, Tiffany’s adviser on the deal, Blair Effron at Centerview Partners, received a call from a French banker, Grégoire Heuzé, then at Rothschild in Paris. Mr. Ef-

would be interested in settling. Mr. Effron relayed the message to Mr. Farah, who said, “No thanks. We like our chances of winning in court,” people familiar with the discussion said. In early October, Mr. Heuzé told Mr. Effron that LVMH would be willing to settle for $120 a share, down from the original price of $135. Mr. Effron replied that Tiffany would be unlikely to accept such a large discount, according to regulatory filings. On Oct. 15, Tiffany released preliminary results for August and September 2020 that showed its business had begun to stabilize. World-wide sales had decreased slightly but operating earnings had jumped 25% from a year earlier. The company also reported strong e-commerce sales and growth in China. On Oct. 18, Mr. Heuzé raised the offer to $131 a share, according to the filings. Mr. Effron responded that the price would need to be $132 a share

and that Tiffany would likely require an “airtight” contract that would prevent LVMH from walking away, according to the filings. Mr. Heuzé said LVMH was prepared to settle for $131.50 a share. Mr. Farah felt it would be worth accepting a small discount for the certainty of getting a deal done, the people said. The two companies announced an agreement at the end of October, with LVMH paying $131.50 a share. In November, Mr. Heuzé left Rothschild to join Centerview’s Paris office. The discount saved LVMH $440 million, less than 1% of its 2019 revenue. Those savings were reduced by the $141 million that Tiffany paid in dividends in August and December, which LVMH could have avoided by completing the deal more quickly. “It seems it was more of a question of principle,” Mr. Rambourg said. “Was it worth the time spent and the cost of legal action? I don’t know.”

Continued from Page One goods have stayed at home due to the virus and its related restrictions, depriving Tiffany of a key source of revenue. Tiffany also depends heavily on mall stores in the U.S., retail locations that have been hurt this year. “The sharp decline in foot traffic in malls, which are at the heart of Tiffany’s retail strategy, will have a significant long-term detrimental impact on the company,” LVMH said in its lawsuit. Those problems come on top of other weaknesses, such as a product range skewed toward bridal jewelry at a time when fewer couples are getting married, analysts say.


the vote is favorable, I think women’s rights will advance and could consolidate.” But the growing evangelical movement in Argentina, and the Catholic Church, remain strongly opposed to legalization. Pope Francis is an Argentine and has, in carefully worded letters to allies in Argentina that have been made public, reproached the idea. “It’s not legal to eliminate a


Argentina’s Senate is set to vote on a broad legalization of abortion, which would make the country of 45 million by far the largest in Latin America to approve the procedure. Passage of a bill permitting elective abortion up to the 14th week of pregnancy would be a win for women’s rights groups in a country where the procedure is allowed only when a pregnancy results from rape or when a woman’s life is at risk. The vote in the Senate could come as early as Tuesday, and would follow the lower house’s approval earlier this month. The legalization of abortion in Argentina could have ramifications throughout Latin America. Though elective abortions are permitted in Cuba, Uruguay and Guyana, most countries in Latin America regulate it as Argentina does, while a handful have an outright ban. Well-organized abortionrights movements in countries including Colombia and Chile are looking to Argentina for inspiration and momentum as their societies increasingly grow more socially liberal. “We believe this is going to have an impact on the region,” said Vilma Ibarra, a legal counsel for President Alberto Fernández who is spearheading the effort to win approval. “This is a struggle that is taking place in the world, to advance and win rights. And if

rise in those opposed to legalizing abortion since 2018, said Jorge Giacobbe, its director. Polling in October by Opinaia showed 49% felt the abortion issue should be treated at another time because of the urgency of other issues. Twentyfour percent felt it should happen in the short term. Some opponents say Mr. Fernández has been pressing for quick approval because he needs a victory after Argentina logged one of the world’s worst per capita death rates from Covid-19. The country is also struggling economically, with growth slated to contract 10.9% in 2020. “This is an issue that deserves a debate,” said Father José María Di Paola, a leader in the anti-abortion movement who is close to Pope Francis. “What the senators need to focus on is resolving a health crisis. We have poverty, hospitals barely functioning. I’m in a province with barely enough beds for Covid patients. And here we are talking about abortion.” The Health Ministry in 2018 reported 35 deaths from complications related to abortion—both legal and illegal. Human Rights Watch said nearly 40,000 women and girls were admitted to public hospitals for health complications arising from abortions or miscarriages in 2016. —Silvina Frydlewsky in Buenos Aires contributed to this article.



Opponents of the bill protest in Buenos Aires. Polls generally show citizens of heavily Catholic and evangelical Argentina oppose abortion.

LVMH had been eyeing Tiffany for years before making an offer in 2019. fron was surprised to hear from Mr. Heuzé and not from bankers at Citigroup Inc., which had been working for LVMH on the deal, some of the people said. Mr. Heuzé had previously advised Mr. Arnault in 2017 on a transaction uniting LVMH and fashion house Christian Dior SE. Mr. Heuzé suggested LVMH

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Tuesday, December 29, 2020 | A7


Johnson would seek to create a low-tax, low-regulation economy guided the bloc’s tough approach in the Brexit negotiations. The concern was the U.K. would become a lowcost competitor on the EU’s doorstep, able to undercut European companies because its standards were lower. The EU’s answer was to construct a trade agreement under which, if the U.K. did drop its standards—say by changing the law to allow factories to pollute more—it would lose tariff-free access to the bloc. Mr. Johnson did seek in negotiations to maximize U.K. freedom from the bloc’s regulation. But, in important areas of policy, his plans mirror or augment those of the EU, rather than undercut them. His big election victory in 2019 was on a manifesto that included promises to raise the minimum wage and clamp down on corporate tax avoidance. In policy announcements covering the environment and climate change, the U.K. has set out ambitious targets that go beyond commitments laid out by the EU. Meanwhile, the Bank of England has said it won’t ease capital requirements and other regulations

Boris Johnson has broadly promised more spending to ‘level up’ an economy dependent on London. on banks. Mr. Johnson, who was the leading public face of the Brexit movement, lauded Britain’s departure from the EU as a reclamation of sovereignty. In speeches, he has trumpeted traditional conservative priorities such as low taxes and deregulation, tougher policing and stricter immigration rules. But he also has spoken in favor of traditionally left-ofcenter goals, such as lavish investment in infrastructure and state support for industry, including greater protection from foreign takeovers, marking a break from the free-mar-

ket orthodoxy that the ruling Conservatives have championed since the premiership of Mrs. Thatcher. He favors strict environmental rules and banned the export of live animals for slaughter. It isn’t clear which strain of political thought will dominate the rest of his time in office. The mixed messages mean his vision for how post-Brexit Britain will diverge from the EU is hazy. The departure in November of Dominic Cummings, his top adviser and one of the masterminds behind the Brexit referendum, adds to


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Pressed by Scandals, Vatican Kick-Starts Financial Overhaul



NEPAL UNREST: Protests on Sunday continued in the capital Kathmandu over the dissolution of parliament this month, a move prompted by power-sharing differences in the governing coalition. New parliamentary elections are set for April 30 and May 10.

Search Is Under Way For 17 Fishermen


Bomb Kills Three French Soldiers


Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his sympathies to family and friends of 17 fishermen lost in the frigid Barents Sea on Monday after their small fishing boat capsized in a storm. The Onega sank off one of Russia’s numerous Arctic archipelagoes near the border with Norway in one of the worst disasters in years, caused by a buildup of ice on the hull during a storm, the Emergencies Ministry said on its website. Russia’s Il-38 anti-submarine aircraft with underwater acoustic capabilities were deployed from the Northern Fleet for the

search-and-rescue mission to recover the fishermen. Two of the 19 crew members were rescued by a nearby fishing ship shortly after the accident. —Thomas Grove



Three French soldiers were killed in Mali on Monday when their vehicle hit a bomb during operations under France’s counterterrorism mission in the West African nation, the French government said. France has more than 5,000 soldiers deployed in an area spanning thousands of miles from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to

Chad in the east. Over the past seven years, the forces have fought branches of Islamic State, al Qaeda and other militant groups, which roam the region’s isolated villages and threaten government forces in Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and elsewhere. The soldiers killed Monday were conducting operations around Hombori, a small town in Mali’s central Mopti province, as part of the French military’s Operation Barkhane campaign against Islamist militants across the Sahel region of Africa, authorities said. Their deaths bring French fatalities to at least 47 soldiers during the current operation and the short operation before it, which began in 2013. —Noemie Bisserbe


More Refugees Sent To Isolated Island

Officials in Bangladesh sent a second group of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar to an isolated island in the Bay of Bengal on Monday despite calls by human-rights groups for a halt to the process. More than 30 buses carrying about 1,500 refugees left their camps in Cox’s Bazar district on the way to the island, a government official said. Authorities say the refugees were selected for relocation based on their willingness. But several human-rights groups say some refugees have been forced to go to the island. —Associated Press

Saudi Women’s Rights Activist Sentenced A Saudi court sentenced activist Loujain al-Hathloul, who gained prominence for advocating women’s rights in the conservative kingdom, to nearly six years in prison on terrorism-related charges—in a case that has garnered intense Western criticism of RiBy Stephen Kalin in Riyadh and Summer Said in Dubai yadh’s human-rights record. Ms. Hathloul was detained in May 2018 just as Saudi Arabia allowed women to drive, something she and other detained activists had long pushed for. She was charged with aiding an enemy country and destabilizing the Saudi regime, as well as speaking with foreign journalists and diplomats, contacting Saudi dissidents living abroad and applying for a job at the United Nations. The Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh, a tribunal set

up in 2008 to try al Qaeda suspects, sentenced her Monday to five years and eight months in jail, starting from the date of her arrest, according to her family and people familiar with the case. A reduction for time served means she will likely be released in March on three years’ probation, with a five-year travel ban. Ms. Hathloul, who has been kept largely in solitary confinement and held a two-week hunger strike in November to protest her prison conditions, has appeared physically weak in court, her body shaking and voice faint. She has previously testified to torture by her captors, including electrocution, lashing and sexual harassment, claims the Saudi judiciary has repeatedly denied. “Loujain cried when she heard the sentence today,” her sister Lina al-Hathloul said in a tweet. “After nearly 3 years of arbitrary detention, torture, solitary confinement—they

now sentence her and label her a terrorist.” Her sister said Ms. Hathloul will appeal the sentence and ask for another investigation into her allegations of torture, which she previously said was perpetrated by former Saudi royal adviser Saud al-Qahtani.

A campaign for women to be allowed to drive landed the defendant in trouble. The Saudi media ministry didn’t respond to a request to comment on Monday’s ruling. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS, has accused women’s rights activists of espionage on behalf of regional rivals Qatar and Iran. Earlier in December, Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin

this uncertainty. Of Mr. Johnson’s entourage, Mr. Cummings had presented the most detailed vision for post-Brexit Britain. He wrote extensively about how Britain would, without the constraints of EU regulation, be able to more nimbly manage issues like climate change, immigration shifts, urbanization and harnessing big tech. Brexit aside, Mr. Johnson’s signature election pledge was to revitalize left-behind former industrial regions of the U.K. with lavish taxpayerfunded investment in schools, hospitals and infrastructure.


LONDON—British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ended a rocky year on a high note, with a free-trade agreement with the European Union and mass vaccination against Covid-19 under way. Now that the country is unconstrained by most EU rules, he has a once-in-a-generation political opportunity to reshape the U.K. and define its post-EU direction. The big unknown is what he will do with that opportunity. Brexit was billed by some of its advocates as a way to unleash a new dynamism in Britain by ditching Brussels’ red tape to create a low-tax, freewheeling economy selling its goods and services across the world. But Mr. Johnson isn’t a free-market Conservative in the mold of Margaret Thatcher. For Mr. Johnson and many Brexit supporters, leaving the EU was about returning and consolidating lawmaking powers with elected representatives in Britain, rather than pursuing specific policy goals. He has promised Britons more regulation, not

less, with ambitious plans to raise the minimum wage and curb greenhouse-gas emissions. He has promised more state spending, not less, in order to “level up” an economy he says is too dependent on London and southern England. His first task is to deal with what could prove another tough year. Disruption from new trade arrangements with the U.K.’s biggest export market risks impeding economic recovery from the pandemic. A 2019 election pledge to revive left-behind regions looks trickier now that the virus has blown a hole in the U.K.’s public finances. The pandemic itself isn’t over: The country is heading into the new year with a new variant of the coronavirus on the loose and rising infections that will bring an inevitable future toll in deaths. Even with a vaccination program on track, it will be months before Covid-19 is under sufficient control to lift economic restrictions, resistance to which is likely to continue from restive sections of his own party. Meanwhile, Scottish nationalists are eager for another shot at independence. The EU’s fear that Mr.




Hazy Agenda Clouds U.K.’s Post-EU Future

Farhan said Ms. Hathloul had allegedly passed classified information to unfriendly states. The two officials denied that Ms. Hathloul’s activism was the reason for her detention. The U.N. Human Rights office in a tweet called the sentencing for Ms. Hathloul deeply troubling. “We understand early release is possible, and strongly encourage it as matter of urgency.” The ultimately lighter sentence and apparent rush to wrap up the case—at least six sessions were convened in the past 2½ weeks—suggest an effort to remove a potential source of conflict with the new U.S. administration. Two Saudi royal advisers said the reduced sentence came at the behest of Prince Mohammed, who is seeking to alleviate pressure from Washington. Authorities didn’t respond to requests to comment. Saudi officials maintain that the kingdom’s judiciary is independent.

VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis has stepped up long-planned overhauls to the Vatican’s finances, after pressure from the pandemic and financial scandals in the Catholic Church. The changes are relatively modest and come more than seven years after Pope Francis was elected with a mandate to reform the Vatican’s finances, following a series of scandals over alleged corruption and incompetence under his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. The pope this year centralized the management of investments handled by officials in different offices and made new rules on procurement to save money and prevent corruption. The Vatican has also become more forthcoming about its use of donations. “The economic situation and the scandals have accelerated the process of reform and forced the Vatican to take measures it should have taken years ago,” said Sandro Magister, a Vatican expert who writes for Italy’s L’Espresso magazine. The Vatican continues to grapple with a scandal over a costly investment in London real estate, which erupted in October 2019 with an extraordinary raid by Vatican police of the Secretariat of State, the Holy See’s executive arm. The Holy See refers to the Catholic Church’s central administration in Rome and the papal diplomatic network around the world. It is separate from Vatican City, the sovereign territory in Italy ruled by the pope. The Vatican has charged an Italian businessman with extortion, embezzlement, fraud and money laundering in connection with the London investment. The investment has cost the Vatican more than €300 million, equivalent to around $366 million, through a series of transactions involving middlemen, or well over €100 million more than its current value, an official familiar with the matter said. It was one of several investments made by the secretariat without the supervision of the central economic institutions Pope Francis established as under his reform in 2014. In September, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, who oversaw the London investment when serving as a top official in the secretariat. Cardinal Becciu has denied wrongdoing and the Vatican hasn’t disclosed the reason for his resignation. Last month, the Vatican said all of the Secretariat of State’s financial assets were being transferred to the Holy See’s treasury, which is to manage

almost all of the Holy See’s investments along with the Vatican Bank. Pope Francis specifically mentioned the London deal in a letter ordering the change, which was formalized in a papal decree released by the Vatican on Monday. Vatican officials are also setting up a committee of outside experts who will set financial and ethical guidelines for the Holy See’s investments, a unified approach unprecedented in the modern papacy. Pope Francis is expected to approve the committee early next year, according to Vatican officials. The Holy See’s deficit is expected to grow to as much as €100 million for 2020 on a budget of about €300 million, largely reflecting lower rental income from commercial realestate properties, tourism and contributions from Catholics. The deficit has ranged from €60 million to €70 million in most recent years, the Rev. Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, told the official Vatican News this year. It was reduced to €11 million for 2019, largely on account of successful financial investments and the sale of real estate, according to the secretariat. Vatican City normally runs a surplus, owing largely to the Vatican Museums, which typically make a profit of more than €40 million a year. But with the museums closed for several months because of the pandemic, Vatican City is also expected to run a deficit of millions of euros this year. Vatican officials say more painful measures lie ahead, including the sales of assets. The pope has ruled out job cuts among the approximately 5,000 Vatican employees. Massimo Franco, author of “The Bergoglio Enigma,” a recent book about Pope Francis, remains skeptical that recent changes reflect a larger commitment to reform. “The measures are reactions to scandals, not parts of a forward-looking strategy,” Mr. Franco said. “Did he find out only now that there was a problem?” The Holy See didn’t respond to a request to comment. The Holy See's financial statements, in millions Operating revenues Operating expenses 2018

2019 €0




Note: €1 = $1.22 Source: Vatican's Secretariat for the Economy

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A8 | Tuesday, December 29, 2020

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Continued from Page One Ms. Flannery has no plans to learn to ski. “I literally bought them so I could be a couch potato outside,” she said. The one-piece snowsuit is a full-body outfit designed to keep skiers dry and warm on the slopes. It became fashionable decades ago, symbolizing Alpine glamour and fell out of fashion when more convenient two-piece outfits came on the scene. But the one-pieces are experiencing a renaissance for their warmth and retro styling, retailers and new fans say. With indoor gatherings curbed or discouraged, people are tackling winter with creativity, nostalgia and neon. At WidespreadThreads, one of the largest online sellers of vintage skiwear in the U.S., snowsuit sales jumped 78% compared with last year. “The flashiest always sells the most,” said Steven Can-


Adults Embrace Snowsuits

Arielle Chorney with her ‘snowsuit crew,’ Kellyn Leveton, Ian Addison Hall and dog, Tater. dido, the owner of WidespreadThreads. Ms. Flannery found the WidespreadThreads store on eBay and now owns a black onesie with fluorescent pink accents and a shiny blue one with a floral pattern on the shoulders. Both are belted at the middle. She thought her two teenage sons would give the vintage look a thumbs-

down, “but they have declared them to be ‘fire’ so I guess they like them,” she said. Arielle Chorney turned her snowsuit plan into a project, re-creating the look Princess Diana wore on the Swiss Alps during a 1986 holiday, complete with a pink-and-white braided headband. Ms. Chorney and her two friends, a married couple, won-

dered aloud how they would socialize together in winter. The “snowsuit crew” was born, she said. “I love a jumpsuit all year long and I had visions of Princess Diana in that great red snowsuit.” Ms. Chorney found hers on eBay for around $75, and in the fall she commissioned the $40 headband from a knitter on Etsy, sending photos of

Princess Di in the Alps. A few days after New York City’s first big snowfall this month, she debuted her look for outdoor drinks at a local bar. Her friends wore their onesies, too: Kellyn Leveton in a puffy purple wearable sleeping bag and Ian Addison Hall in a collared industrial-style jumpsuit. Natalie McMullen worried that her new outfit would be baggy or that she’d look like “a Ghostbuster or something,” she said. But when she put on her 1990s-era Italian-made snowsuit, it was more flattering than she expected. “It’s still a little bit cinched in the waist,” she said. Ms. McMullen, who lives in Ottawa, purchased hers mostly to play with her toddler outside this winter. She ordered her orange snowsuit from Etsy for around $62, which included shipping from Ukraine. After she bought it, her mother dug up an old photo of herself from 1977 wearing a similar bright orange snowsuit. Toronto-based designer Dinah Luxton added a cozy jumpsuit, available in black or white and with a defined waist, to her outerwear collection in 2019. Even at $700 to $850, it quickly sold out. She’ll be shipping more in the coming

formal request for explanation: By rival, did the EU mean enemy? Mr. Xi had the same question when he arrived in Paris in March 2019 for a meeting with Mr. Macron. The French president had his own beefs with China, including in Africa, where Paris competes with Beijing for influence. Mr. Macron asked Mr. Juncker and Ms. Merkel to join the meeting. Mr. Xi grew visibly unhappy when the topic of “systemic rival” came up, said an official who attended. After a few more weeks of talks with EU officials, Mr. Xi’s government offered to commit to provide broader EU access to Chinese markets. But as months rolled by, talks to fulfill that promise stalled. Instead of easing the flow of trade, Beijing threatened new restrictions to punish European actions it said offended China’s people. In the Czech Republic, Beijing called off a China trip by the Prague municipal orchestra, citing a quarrel with the town’s mayor over the status of Taiwan. The rebuke was also retaliation for the Czech warning against Huawei, the ambassador later told Czech diplomats. As demonstrations continued in Hong Kong, a former British colony, the U.K. started nudging its former EU partners toward a firmer stance, circulating a 12-point memo on China’s plans. Mr. Xi was breaching the 1984 Sino-U.K. agreement that returned Hong Kong to China with certain freedoms enshrined, U.K. officials argued. In late July, the EU approved sanctions that included ending extraditions to and from Hong Kong. The U.K. barred its telecom companies from buying Huawei equipment. Ms. Merkel was looking more isolated. Her EU-China conference, slated for Leipzig in September, had been downgraded because of coronavirus to a video call between Mr. Xi, Ms. Merkel and two top EU officials. The main topic was supposed to be trade, but one hour in, Charles Michel, one of the EU’s top two officials, pressed China on human rights. Mr. Xi started rattling off statistics, noting a 10% increase in antiSemitic incidents in Germany. He also alluded to the Black Lives Matter movement spreading from America, and mentioned migrants drowning at sea, according to two officials on the call. “We don’t take any lectures,” China’s president told them, according to attendees and China’s state news service. “Nobody has a perfect record.” Mr. Michel responded that the EU at least had policies to resolve human-rights problems. “We are far from perfect,” the two officials on the call recall Ms. Merkel saying, “but we are willing to address probing questions.” By the call’s end, neither side had progressed much on trade. Weeks later, the EU’s top diplomat held a call with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to settle on a shared goal: The U.S. and Europe should coordinate on China. That cooperation is set to intensify once President-elect Joe Biden takes office, the diplomat recently said. —Rachel Pannett contributed to this article.


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Chinese President Xi Jinping, second from left, met in Paris in March 2019 with, from left, then European Commission President JeanClaude Juncker, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.


beholden to an increasingly self-confident population back home, and a leadership that wants to showcase China’s growing stature. Chinese officials have highlighted how Beijing has contained Covid-19 and provided aid and investment across the world. In response to questions for this article, China’s Foreign Ministry said it sees Europe as a strategic partner, not a rival, and defended its own approach to international relations. There are limits to opposition to Beijing. China’s economic might means most countries can’t afford to push too hard, and much of the world looks to Beijing to fund infrastructure or for access to a Covid-19 vaccine. Germany’s Ms. Merkel remains committed to engagement with Beijing, European officials said. She has been the main driver for the EU to complete an investment pact that would further bind Europe’s economy to China’s, and is pushing to cement a deal before a new U.S. president takes office. Still, concern about China’s market power is growing in Germany. And some EU lawmakers are threatening to block approval of the pact when it reaches them. Earlier in Mr. Xi’s tenure, most European leaders saw China mainly as an opportunity—a vast market whose rising stature could help balance out U.S. dominance. Since then, backlashes have built across Europe, especially in smaller countries such as the Czech Republic, where heavyhanded actions by Chinese diplomats fueled resentment, and among business leaders who worry about unfair competition with Chinese companies. Officials including Mr. Juncker, when he was European Commission president, have worked behind the scenes to stiffen leaders’ spines. So, too, have diplomats from Australia, who have crisscrossed Europe connecting China critics in smaller nations with counterparts elsewhere. Concerns about Mr. Xi already were building in 2018, a time of heightened tensions between the EU and the Trump administration that some


Continued from Page One The biggest challenge to his vision for China comes not from within its borders but from other parts of the world, in nations whose views of Beijing have dramatically changed in just a few years. Countries that once avoided upsetting Beijing are moving closer to Washington’s harder and largely bipartisan stance— to curb Chinese access to customers, technology and sensitive infrastructure. Australia, economically dependent on China, became one of the first countries to block Huawei Technology Co. on its soil, and led global calls for an investigation into China’s initial handling of the coronavirus. India, once a pillar of the world’s nonaligned movement, is expanding military cooperation with the U.S. and its allies as it fights with China over contested borders. Europe now trades roughly as much with China as America, and is on the brink of concluding an investment pact with Beijing that would further deepen those economic links. At the same time, the continent has installed new barriers to Chinese acquisitions and technology. The U.K. and France have chipped away at Huawei’s ability to compete in Europe, and while Germany remains cautious, debates there about Europe’s dependency on China are growing more heated. This summer, after Beijing curtailed freedoms in Hong Kong, EU countries unanimously backed sanctions, a once unthinkable step. Foreign leaders cite complaints about the way Mr. Xi’s government initially handled Covid-19, its clampdowns on Muslim minorities in Xinjiang and democracy activists in Hong Kong and greater competition from Chinese companies that once were customers. “What happened during the last year…is a massive disruption or reduction in support in Europe, and elsewhere in the world, about China,” the EU’s ambassador in Beijing, Nicolas Chapuis, said at a Beijing energy forum earlier this month. “And I’m telling that to all my Chinese friends, you need to seriously look at it.”



Pushback On China Spreads

weeks, she said. Her jumpsuits are designed for women to wear while walking their dogs, running errands and, these days, having an al fresco winter lunch with friends, she said. Skye Ostreicher ordered herself a neon yellow snowsuit from the brand Tipsy Elves a few weeks ago, along with a matching one for her husband Sean Weissbart. They wore them to Marea, an upscale seafood restaurant in Manhattan, to celebrate Ms. Ostreicher’s birthday, soon after New York City banned indoor dining for the second time. The eatery had an apresski theme with a menu featuring hot whiskey-spiked cider. Passersby “went nuts over our matching outfits,” said Ms. Ostreicher, a political consultant and district leader in Manhattan. “We posed for so many pictures with people, as if we were Mickey and Minnie at Disney World,” she said. Ms. Ostreicher has taken to wearing her onesie on errands with her Maltese tucked into a sling on her hip, and to meet friends out for drinks or a bite. “People need these to go eat outside,” she said. “What else are you gonna wear? Jeans? They’re not warm enough!”

Distrust rises A Pew Research Center survey in October found distrust in Mr. Xi reaching highs in nearly every country surveyed. “China has become plank number one for the U.S. in our diplomatic conversations with Europeans,” said former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Wess Mitchell, who stepped down last year. “Our best ally in the effort to make China an issue is China’s own behavior.” China has said that negative views toward Beijing are an issue mainly in Western countries, and have been stoked by Washington. One senior Foreign Ministry official said that many Chinese diplomats feel

thought might push Europe and China closer together. In July of that year, Mr. Juncker and other EU delegates met Mr. Xi in Beijing, days after a fractious NATO summit between President Trump and European leaders when the U.S. president suggested he could pull Washington out of the alliance. Mr. Trump had shocked EU officials by saying in an interview the EU was among America’s biggest foes. Mr. Xi, by contrast, was welcoming the EU officials with a state dinner. He offered vague reassurances of opportunities

An EU policy paper called China not just a competitor but a ‘systemic rival.’ for European businesses and collaboration on climate change, according to three people present. As waiters cleared plates, his language shifted, those people recalled. China’s state-led model would flourish in a globalized era of free trade, Mr. Xi said. Europe was hobbled by “its slowness of decision making,” and income inequality was fueling populism, he said. Mr. Juncker fired back, according to two officials present: “What you call slowness,

we call democracy.” Mr. Juncker left convinced that China was trying to use Europe in its fights with the U.S. Mr. Juncker has since retired and couldn’t be reached for comment. Around that time, a group of German industry representatives and policy makers gathered for a discussion of China’s ambitions to compete with Germany in industries like robotics, autonomous driving and clean-energy vehicles. The business leaders agreed to lobby for tougher policies on China. They produced a policy paper warning that liberal market economies risked losing out to China, a country it labeled a “systemic competitor.” Australian officials, wary of China’s rise, noticed that language and repeated it during meetings with Germany’s foreign ministry. Australia had just blocked Huawei from installing 5G equipment at home, after which China penalized Australia’s barley and beef exports. Ms. Merkel, however, wanted to expand engagement with China and, according to two European officials, privately floated a summit that would bring Mr. Xi to Germany for a first-ever meeting with all EU national leaders in September 2020. Before then, she hoped, Beijing would afford European businesses more access to China’s market. A spokesman for the Ger-

Percentage who have no confidence in Chinese President Xi Jinping to do the right thing regarding world affairs 100%


France Germany U.S.


U.K. Australia


0 2015





Note: Only five of 14 surveyed countries shown Source: Pew Research Center telephone surveys, most recent of 14,276 adults from June 10 to Aug. 3, 2020, in 14 advanced economies; margin of error: +/- 3.7 pct. pts.


man government said it doesn’t comment on confidential conversations and internal deliberations. Elsewhere in Europe, though, complaints about China were spreading. In the Czech Republic, officials were taken aback when their cybersecurity agency determined that somebody acting in China’s interests had hacked the foreign ministry’s email and researched Czech positions on issues sensitive to Beijing.

Huawei issue Although Huawei wasn’t implicated and China denied any involvement, the agency decreed in late 2018 that government data could no longer be sent over the company’s hardware or software. Officials worried Chinese law could compel Huawei to cooperate with Chinese intelligence gathering. Huawei has denied it would surrender data to Beijing. China’s ambassador, Zhang Jianmin, a former interpreter for Mr. Xi, came to the foreign ministry and issued a warning, according to people familiar with the matter: If the Czech Republic didn’t retract its position on Huawei, Chinese tourists would stop coming, and other economic consequences would follow. Instead of backing down, Czech officials worked with the White House National Security Council to bring European officials to Prague for an internetsecurity summit. Chinese representatives weren’t invited. Some French, German and Dutch officials worried the summit would needlessly offend China, but they came anyway, according to several participants. Australians at the event warned: Today Beijing is punishing us, but tomorrow it will do the same to you. An EU policy paper early last year called China not just a partner and competitor but a “systemic rival.” The language startled China’s diplomats to the EU, according to one of them familiar with their response. The Chinese diplomats looked up “rival” in a dictionary to better understand all its connotations, then asked, in a

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Tuesday, December 29, 2020 | A8A

State Moves to Freeze Evictions Lawmakers pass bill protecting tenants; critics say it will hurt struggling landlords

Demonstrators called for a moratorium on evictions during an October protest in New York City. “You do not solve a public health crisis, you do not solve an economic crisis, by kicking people out on the street,” said state Sen. Zellnor Myrie, a Democrat from Brooklyn. “You solve it by keeping people in their homes.” The state Senate and Assembly voted Monday to approve the moratorium. Critics of the legislation

said it doesn’t contain a mechanism allowing landlords to verify that tenants are truly unable to pay their rent because of the pandemic. James Whelan, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, said its members supported previous eviction moratoriums but are also facing financial strain and need the income they are owed from tenants who can

afford to pay it now. “Creating a broad incentive for any tenant to refuse rent would place even greater strain on New York’s ailing economy and further deplete the tax revenue that fuels basic government services for our entire population,” he said. State Sen. Brian Kavanagh, a Democrat from New York City and sponsor of the bill,

BY CHARLES PASSY New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that he would sign an executive order to penalize health-care providers that administer the Covid-19 vaccine without following state prioritization protocols. The state requires that health-care workers at high risk of being exposed to the coronavirus, along with nursing-home residents and staff, receive priority for the vaccine. Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, said providers that ignore this will face fines of up to $1 million and a revocation of all state licenses. In addition, Mr. Cuomo said the state attorney general’s office would now be handling a case involving ParCare Community Health Network, a health-care provider with offices in New York City and Orange County. State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said over the weekend that ParCare was being investigated by the state police for possibly obtaining the vaccine fraudulently and then transferring it to other parts of the state and administering it to the public without paying heed to the prioritization rules. Ultimately, Mr. Cuomo said he wants “to send a clear signal” that the state won’t tolerate attempts to subvert the process it has put in place


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New York is poised to enact wide-reaching protections for tenants suffering from hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic, after lawmakers voted to place a moratorium on many evictions until May 1. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, said Monday he would sign the bill, a move cheered by tenant advocates who said the state would be enacting one of the strictest eviction moratoriums in the country. Opponents said the legislation didn’t do enough to protect landlords and could prevent struggling building owners from paying their taxes. The bill effectively bans all evictions statewide for 60 days, including those already in motion. After that, tenants who are unable to pay their rent because of the coronavirus pandemic can file paperwork to prevent or suspend eviction proceedings until May 1. Households where a member is at increased risk of severe illness from Covid-19 are also protected under the bill.



said that lying about financial hardship would be a misdemeanor offense. He said it wouldn’t be feasible to verify thousands of tenant claims during the four-month moratorium period. State Sen. Phil Boyle, a Republican from Long Island, said that while tenants and landlords are suffering, he worried that lawmakers were opening the door to indefinite eviction moratoriums. “What are we setting up?” he said. “Months and months of people adding on to the amount of rent they owe is going to cause disaster in the spring.” The legislation includes some provisions for property owners with 10 or fewer units, including a ban on foreclosure and tax-lien sales for those facing hardship due to the pandemic. Homeowners can submit a hardship declaration to avoid negative credit impacts. Some tenant advocates said the legislation didn’t go far enough. Cea Weaver, campaign coordinator for the nonprofit Housing Justice For All campaign, described the moratorium as a temporary solution and urged lawmakers to cancel the back rent owed by tenants and raise taxes on the state’s highest earners. —Charles Passy contributed to this article.

Vaccine Providers That Defy The Rules Face Fines



Noelle Nikci teaches first-graders at P.S. 105 in the Bronx. Most of the students at the school come from families that speak Spanish or Arabic as a first language.


Pandemic Makes Teaching Reading Harder


BY LESLIE BRODY First-graders practiced reading words with the short “o” sound on a recent morning at P.S. 105 in the Bronx, where words like “mop” and “pop” were displayed on an interactive board. Their teacher, Noelle Nikci, asked a squirmy little boy to sound out the circled word, “top.” “Tee,” he said. “Look at me,” she said, pointing to her face as she enunciated tuh - ah - puh. But her mask blocked him from seeing her mouth’s movements. She tried several times to get him to connect the sounds. That didn’t work, so she said it herself. “Top!” he echoed. “You got it!” The coronavirus pandemic has brought a host of new challenges to teaching the foundational skills of reading and writing. With masks, social distancing and millions of young children nationwide learning online at home—either several days a week or full-time—teachers say they have to find new ways to tackle literacy instruction, so students don’t miss a crucial window in kindergarten through second grade. They can no longer rely on read-alouds with kids answering questions as they sit together on a rug. Teachers can’t roam around a room, peering over the shoulders of children trying to write, or put their hands on students’ hands to help them hold a pencil properly. “When kids are just starting

out is when they really need a teacher who can see what’s going on day to day,” said Timothy Shanahan, a literacy expert and professor emeritus at the University of Illinois. “My heart goes out to every teacher trying to deal with this. I don’t know how I would teach a first-grader to read at a distance.” Physical constraints come on top of lost class time due to school shutdowns last March, higher absenteeism, and—for many students— waiting months for electronic devices or Wi-Fi for remote lessons. Research has found school disruptions led to slower academic progress nationwide, especially among disadvantaged students, and educators worry that achievement gaps will widen. The share of first-graders nationwide in need of intensive intervention in reading

hit 40% this fall, up from 27% last year, according to Amplify Education Inc., a company that provides assessments for more than a million students across the country, mostly in cities. About 35% of second-graders scored significantly below benchmarks, up from 29% last year, it said. “We need tutoring to catch these kids up,” said Susan Neuman, New York University professor of literacy development. “If we don’t devote massive amounts of funding to build in small-group learning hubs, we’re living in a fantasy world.” Sitting near the Bronx Zoo, P.S. 105 has about 900 students in prekindergarten through fifth grade. Most come from low-income families that speak Spanish or Arabic as a first language. During last spring’s closure, some children went to live temporarily with relatives in the

Dominican Republic, Peru and Yemen, administrators said, because working parents couldn’t leave them home alone or wanted them safe from New York’s virus outbreak. Some tuned in to class from afar. Now about a third of the school’s students attend inperson two or three days a week, with remote learning on other days. Most are fully virtual, so many classrooms sit empty. The air is chilly, with windows cracked open several inches to boost ventilation. Ms. Nikci says this year has been her toughest in a decade with first-graders, and the stakes are high. In the early years, students learn to read, and after third grade they need to be able to read to learn other subjects. Studies show students who can’t read by third grade can fall behind at an accelerating clip and are at high risk of eventually dropping out. “First grade is serious business,” she said. Her students arrived this fall with a broader range of skills than usual. Some can read books on grade level or above, but others struggle to recognize letters. Masks make it hard for them to hear how words break down into small segments, a key part of learning to read. It is difficult for her to hear them too. “I can’t say, ‘Pull your mask down for a second and tell me,’ ” she said. Some teachers use clear masks for lip-reading but others say they don’t help enough. Ms. Nikci tries to give children different exercises according to their needs and encourages independent reading.

But a child can’t simply pick a new book anymore: School rules say every book has to be cleaned and quarantined for a few days before another student touches it. P.S. 105 had trouble getting students on grade level well before the pandemic. About 37% of third-graders passed state tests in reading in 2019, compared with 53% citywide. Five years ago, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio set a goal of having every child read on grade level by the end of second grade, by 2026. Teachers will know sometime this year if what they are doing is working or if children are still falling behind. Students will take periodic online assessments that track their skills compared with typical years and national norms. On a recent day, Ms. Nikci had eight children in her classroom, as well as 17 watching from home as she livestreamed a lesson. Some had special needs. Her co-teacher, Rosemarie Diana, who was quarantining at home after exposure to the virus, focused on the online students. The coteaching aimed for continuity: Children cycling between inperson and virtual days keep the same two teachers. Ms. Nikci asked which letter she should take away to change “lot” to “got” on an interactive board visible to all the children. “L!” said a child piping up from home. “And I’m going to make it what?” she asked a boy in front of her. “G!” he chimed in. “Awesome!”

Mr. Cuomo said 140,000 doses have been administered in the state so far. for vaccine distribution and administration. “If you violate the law on these vaccinations, we will find out and you will be prosecuted,” he said. ParCare issued a statement Monday saying it was “actively cooperating” with the state on its investigation. In a previous statement, ParCare said it had followed the state’s procedures for obtaining the vaccine—specifically, the one developed by Moderna Inc.—and that it was approved by the state for distribution. Mr. Cuomo said he wasn’t surprised that issues are already arising with healthcare providers potentially violating state mandates with vaccine prioritization. “You’re going to see more and more of this. The vaccine is a valuable commodity,” he said. Mr. Cuomo said 140,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered in the state so far, adding that the figure put New York ahead of all other states in the country. The state is expecting another 259,000 doses to arrive this week, Mr. Cuomo said. With the increased availability, the state would expand its vaccine program to include employees of urgentcare centers as well as to individuals who administer the vaccine, among others. As the vaccine rollout continues, the state is seeing an uptick in the rate of those who are testing positive for the coronavirus, Mr. Cuomo said. On Sunday, the rate hit 8.33%, up from Saturday’s figure of 5.8%. Mr. Cuomo said the spike might be due to the fact that fewer people were getting tested over the course of the post-Christmas period, since the need for testing was particularly tied with holiday gatherings and travel. In effect, he said, the number of people testing positive hadn’t actually increased, but those individuals were now part of a smaller testing pool—hence, the growth in percentage. “The sample is artificially skewed,” Mr. Cuomo said.

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A8B | Tuesday, December 29, 2020


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Farmers Await State Decision On Overtime


rent job at a community health clinic. She said the overtime threshold should be lowered so workers could spend more time with their families. “Farmworkers got used to thinking like farm slaves for many years, which means they spent more hours at work than at home—missing out with special events, medical

and dental appointments, and most important, family time,” she said on Aug. 31. New York state AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento said his labor umbrella group believed the overtime threshold should be 40 hours in the agricultural sector and said farmers were employing scare tactics. Mr. Cilento said that every-

one else in the food production chain—from delivery drivers to grocery clerks—received overtime pay if they worked more than 40 hours in a week. “Why would the most essential of those workers, the first leg of that journey, not receive 40 hours? It’s outrageous, it’s nonsensical and we should all be ashamed of ourselves,” he said.


riod was $68,486, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Farms had previously been exempted from some of New York’s labor laws because of what farmers said were the unique conditions of their operations, including dependence on weather and the need to concentrate work in key periods like planting and harvest. Labor leaders and clergy campaigned to extend more labor protections to farmworkers for two decades. The 2019 law, called the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act, guaranteed farmworkers a day of rest and gave them the right to form a union—but prohibited strikes and lockouts. It passed after Democrats, who have controlled the state Assembly and governor’s office since 2007, won a majority in the state Senate. During virtual public hearings conducted in August, many farmers and some farmworkers testified in favor of keeping the threshold at 60 hours. Other workers and advocates testified that it should be reduced. Angie Hernandez, a former farmworker in upstate Wayne County whose husband still works in agriculture, testified that she sees workers with medical problems in her cur-


The Schmitt family and workers at their Suffolk County farm. Below, a June storm damaged some apples at Dressel Farms in Ulster County.


were lowered. Phil Schmitt, who grows vegetables and processes horseradish on around 225 acres in Suffolk County, said he employs about 20 seasonal workers to tend, harvest and bunch his crops. Much of what he grows is sold on the wholesale market, and Mr. Schmitt said he was struggling to keep prices in line with growers in nearby states that have lower wage costs. “Customers want your product, they want the local stuff. But we have to compete. They tell me, ‘Phil, I can get this stuff from another state,’ ” Mr. Schmitt said. He said he might have to reduce the acres he cultivates in 2021. Dressel Farms in Ulster County had a middling year because of a June hailstorm that damaged some of its apples. Sarah Dressel-Nikles, who manages the 300-acre farm’s wholesale operations, said if labor costs increased, the farm would focus more on the stand where it sells to the general public. She urged Ms. Reardon to wait before making a decision. “The responsible thing for this wage board to do would be to encourage some kind of economic impact study over a few years—because this year is definitely an anomaly,” Ms. Dressel-Nikles said, referring to the coronavirus pandemic. There were 23,523 people employed for crop and animal production in New York in 2018, according to the state Department of Labor. They earned aggregate wages of $842.3 million. The average wage varied by region, from $41,574 on Long Island to $28,055 in the Mohawk Valley. The median household income in New York during that pe-


Farmers in New York are spending the last week of 2020 worrying that a state panel will recommend a legal change that could increase their overtime costs for the next growing season. A 2019 law required the state’s farms to provide overtime pay to their employees if they work more than 60 hours in a week. It also created the three-person Farm Wage Board, which was tasked with reviewing whether the overtime threshold should be lowered. The 60-hour trigger was a compromise between agriculture interests concerned about increased costs and labor unions, who said the overtime threshold for farms should be 40 hours, as it is for most other industries and occupations in the state. The wage board must issue a report by Thursday. A decision about moving the threshold ultimately rests with New York state Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon, who could also order further study. The state Department of Labor abruptly postponed a meeting of the wage board last week due to scheduling issues, department spokeswoman Deanna Cohen said, but the board is now set to convene on Monday and Tuesday. She said it would be premature and inappropriate to comment further until the board issues its recommendations. The New York Farm Bureau and other agriculture trade groups said in a November letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who appointed Ms. Reardon, that there would be significant alterations to farm operations in the state if the threshold

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Tuesday, December 29, 2020 | A9


Mindset Health, a hypnotherapy startup, has two hypnosis apps.


ly Alex Naoumidis, its co-founder and CEO. The company’s two hypnosis apps, Mindset and Nerva, have a total of roughly 6,200 paying users, Mr. Naoumidis says. Hypnosis is the practice of easing a person into a relaxed, highly focused state that makes them unusually susceptible to suggestion, typically through verbal cues and mental imagery. Today it is used to help treat pain and conditions such as anxiety, phobias and sleep disorders, and to help stop behaviors like smoking or overeating. Much like meditation, hypnosis is a predominantly auditory therapy that can work as well over Zoom as it does in person, says Cynthia Sholes, a neuroscientist and CEO of the Mind Wave Institute in Menlo Park, Calif. It may even work better at home, Dr. Sholes says, because people are

more comfortable in their home environment with less novelty to distract their attention. Reveri Health works on Alexa by using natural language processing, which decodes incoming sounds and matches them to preprepared instructions or responses. The program asks questions like “Where are you feeling stress right now?” and responds to the answers accordingly, then asks the user to participate in a series of breathing and imagery exercises. (“Picture that you’re surfing waves of uncertainty.”) In recent years, new research has led to a greater understanding of how hypnosis works. Four years ago, brain imaging published in the journal Cerebral Cortex suggested that the hypnotic state reduces activity in the parts of the brain involved in critical judgment

and analysis, allowing a therapist to reach areas of the brain that are more open to suggestion. Or as California hypnotherapist and coach Linda Shively explains it, “hypnosis gets the conscious mind out of the way.” That way, she adds, “change can happen quickly, relatively painlessly and effectively.” Earlier this year, a study Dr. Spiegel co-authored in Cerebral Cortex found that hypnosis mobilizes neurochemicals in the brain that enable a person to selfsoothe, a process he likened to “helping people to use their own internal pharmacy.” Hypnosis doesn’t work for everybody. About one-third of the population is not susceptible to hypnosis at all, according to Dr. Spiegel. The practice is also not well-regulated. And while the amount of research on hypnosis

Why There’s Nothing Natural About Exercise



are not exercising—or being physically active generally—it’s because they’re sitting. If you look at the data, work-time sitting is not strongly associated with negative health outcomes, but it’s leisure-time sitting that is, because if you sit in the morning and then sit in the evening then you’re not getting any exercise. If you went to visit a hunter-gatherer tribe in Africa that doesn’t even own chairs, they’re sitting as much as we are, 9 to 10 hours a day.



ne of the biggest myths about exercise is that it’s natural. If anything, human instincts lean more toward taking a nap. Want to feel bad about skipping a workout? Blame evolution. Daniel E. Lieberman argues this theory in his new book “Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do Is Healthy and Rewarding,” which tips some of the fitness world’s most sacred cows. Everyone knows exercise is good for them, yet studies show most people don’t get enough of it. Mr. Lieberman set out to find out why, and the answers, he hopes, will help remove some of the shame people feel about their own inactivity that makes it even harder to get moving. Mr. Lieberman criticizes people he calls “exercists” who brag about how much they work out and pass judgment on the less fit as unnaturally lazy. Those who take the escalator instead of the stairs are not guilty of the sin of sloth, he writes, but doing what they were evolved to do—saving energy only for what is necessary or recreational. Other highlights from the book out Jan. 5: People who believe brutal cross-training workouts bring them closer to the brawny body that belonged to their ancient forebears probably are not familiar

has surged in recent years, large areas remain to be studied. Joseph Green, a psychology professor at Ohio State University, says it is difficult for researchers to isolate the specific effects of hypnosis, because it is so often used in tandem with other therapies. But the biggest obstacle to the large-scale adoption of hypnosis remains its stigma, practitioners say. Hypnosis is still known in many quarters as a stage stunt rather than a therapeutic tool. “You know, the guy with the watch—the swirling thing—that puts you into a deep, deep sleep and then you act like a chicken,” says Mark Wise, a hypnotherapist in Santa Cruz, Calif., who has worked with individual athletes and college teams. He said that persistent stereotype still prevents many people from trying hypnosis. Those who have experienced hypnosis, however, say it can be very helpful, especially during the pandemic. Dr. Sholes says hypnosis—conducted over Zoom—has brought relief to her patients who feel stuck, burned out, and more vulnerable to compulsive behavior due to the pandemic. “We have wine more often, comfort foods,” says Dr. Sholes, who combines hypnosis with other therapeutic techniques. “We binge on Netflix.” When the pandemic forced Debi Corrie—a self-described “emotional eater”—to isolate at her home in Maryville, Ill., she gained 10 pounds. She wanted something quicker than therapy to help, so she decided to try hypnotherapy although she was skeptical. “I have always been traditional medicine, and this isn’t traditional to me,” says Ms. Corrie, 58, owner of a financial services business. But since starting hypnotherapy over Zoom in October, she says she’s lost more than 7 pounds and stopped binge eating. “I don’t understand the science,” she says. “But it has been mindblowing. A game changer.”

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Can Hypnosis Cure The Pandemic Blues?




elley Cutler was deeply skeptical when she took part in a monthlong pilot test of Reveri Health, a new digital hypnosis program, at Stanford University last year. The San Francisco social worker needed help quitting smoking, and only joined the program at her doctor’s urging. “I was thinking it was nonsense and was never going to work,” says Ms. Cutler, 44, who had smoked for 25 years. Her first hypnosis session, which took place in person with a clinician, was so anxiety-producing that she had to have a cigarette afterward. Reveri Health, one of a new generation of hypnosis programs and apps that make the practice easily accessible at home, then required her to take part in interactive, selfhypnosis sessions at home for a month. After two of the digital sessions, she was shocked to discover that she no longer felt like smoking. “The craving was really gone,” she says. “I can’t explain it. It doesn’t make sense.” She hasn’t had a cigarette since. “This hypnosis is some crazy-ass voodoo,” she says. “And I mean that in a good way.” Hypnosis is no longer considered crazy in the medical field, doctors say, but many patients, like Ms. Cutler, still are leery. The practice has increasingly gained acceptance in the medical community, and in the last two years, the research into how and why it works has accelerated, with new studies on the use of hypnosis to alleviate anxiety; ward off pain; and successfully inhibit the fear circuitry structures in the brain. Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and investors have started to take notice, creating new apps that aim to popularize hypnosis in a similar way to meditation, which until recently was also considered fringe. A safer alternative to medications like opioids, hypnosis can be a helpful tool for combating the stress and anxiety caused by the pandemic, doctors and researchers say, especially as it can be done successfully via recording or over Zoom. But while many people are in need of stress relief right now, hypnosis still has a strong stigma that often prevents them from trying it. “People either think it’s ridiculous or dangerous,” says David Spiegel, a clinical psychiatrist and professor at Stanford University School of Medicine and co-founder of Reveri Health. “Because it’s hypnosis, people just don’t take it seriously.” Reveri Health, which is free and can be accessed through Amazon Alexa, launched in August and has about 2,200 users, Dr. Spiegel says. Mindset Health, a hypnotherapy startup, received $1.1 million in venture funding a year ago, says

with research that shows Neanderthals were only slightly more muscular than today’s regular humans. Fitness buffs who think civilization’s pampering has muted our natural strength might not realize that a profoundly inactive couch potato moves more than a typical chimpanzee in a day. As for our natural talents, it bears noting that the average person runs as fast as a hippo. Mr. Lieberman, 56, a professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University, helped popularize barefoot running in the U.S. after publishing a paper in Nature on how and why people ran barefoot before the invention of shoes. In this book, the biological anthropologist hails the benefits of fitness and recommends beating the anti-exercise instinct by working out with friends and making commitments like registering for a race. His philosophy: Any movement is an improvement on none, more is usually better, and it is never too late to start. The 24-time marathoner recently spoke with The Wall Street Journal about why he’ll go running on the day he gets his Covid-19 vaccination, how standing desks don’t count as exercise and why a caveman would never do CrossFit. I wonder how people who do highintensity cardio with weight training will respond to this book. I feel

Biological anthropologist Daniel E. Lieberman wrote ‘Exercised,’ a new book. like you’re calling out CrossFit in particular. I guess I am. I’ve done some CrossFit workouts, they’re great. I’m not anti-CrossFit. But there’s this CrossFit mystique that your inner primal macho ripped huntergatherer ancestor, is who you were meant to be. If that gets you happy, that’s fine, all power to you, but you don’t have to make the rest of us feel bad for not doing these intense crazy workouts. They’re not necessary. You get this sense by reading some books or popular articles that those of us who are contaminated by civilization are somehow abnormal because we don’t want to get out of bed and run an ultramarathon or go to the gym and lift 300 pounds. Our ancestors never did that and they would think it’s crazy because they were struggling to survive with limited food. [Editor’s note: A CrossFit spokesperson said the program is designed for functional fitness across daily activities, like lifting the kids or playing sports, rather than strength alone.]

From an evolutionary standpoint, how do you explain people who love to exercise? It’s not that we don’t have rewards for being physically active. Our brain produces this wonderful mix of chemicals that makes us glad we’ve exercised. The sad part of the equation is that our brain doesn’t create these chemicals to get us to exercise. We’ve turned something normal and simple and basic into a virtue signaling thing. It’s like people who are intolerant of other peoples’ weight. Most people in America are now overweight. They’re not overweight because of some fault of their own and they’re struggling, and yet there are people out there who are unacceptably mean to people who are struggling. I think we need to have the same level of compassion toward people who are struggling to exercise. There’s nothing wrong with them. Do you disagree with those who call sitting the new smoking? Let’s relax. The chair is not the enemy. It is true that when people

Does that mean standing desks are not worth it? There’s almost no data on that, so the answer is nobody really knows. There’s nothing wrong with standing desks. I actually have a standing desk and am standing while talking to you. But it’s not a form of exercise. Interrupted sitting or more active sitting—kneeling, squatting sometimes, also standing—does turn your metabolism on a little bit. You’re spending maybe an extra eight calories an hour standing. The point is that if you sit for a bunch of hours a day and you’re not sitting petrified and completely immobile, you’re not going to kill yourself. What have you learned about exercise and Covid-19? The evidence is pretty clear that physical activity does help reduce peoples’ vulnerability to a wide range of respiratory tract infections. Of course there’s no data yet on this for Covid, but for some other immunizations there’s evidence that if you exercise the day you have an immunization, you have a better antibody response. So will you exercise on the day you get the Covid vaccine? I can’t wait. Yes, of course.

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A10 | Tuesday, December 29, 2020




His Biking Routine Hit 10,000 Miles



The Bottom Line

For millions of people who struggle with nail-biting, things have only gotten worse amid the stress of the coronavirus pandemic. As nail-biters know, kicking the habit is difficult. Before they realize it, their fingers are again in their mouths, even as doctors warn against touching faces to keep the deadly virus from spreading. But a new potential treatment is getting the attention of dermatologists and psychiatrists who treat patients with onychophagia— the medical term for nail-biting.


NUTRITION AND GEAR THE DIET Reformed vegan: Just because a cupcake is vegan doesn’t mean it is good for you, Mr. Arthur said. In 2018, he ditched his mostly vegan diet and focused on eating whole foods and lean meats. He has lost nearly 25 pounds.

The Workout

Mr. Arthur has maintained his prepandemic routine of rising at 6:30 a.m. to exercise. “Life is busy, even in pandemic times, so I like to get my workout done first thing,” he

Salad for breakfast: He starts the day with a bowl of kale, spinach, fava beans, radishes, peppers and carrots topped with herbs, spices and tahini.

The new treatment is an inexpensive, over-the-counter supplement called N-acetyl cysteine, or NAC, that is widely available. “It’s a promising alternative that

onions, tomatoes and cilantro.” Anti-delivery: Mr. Arthur doesn’t believe in paying someone to deliver food. “I’ll eat out or pick up food, but I’d never pay someone to bring me a meal,” he said. Splurge: “If I’m going to have red meat, I go to Sixteenth Ave. Glatt, Brooklyn’s version of Katz’s Deli, for a pastrami roll,” he said.

bought new in 1993 for $500. “This bike is a steamroller, perfect for a short commute,” he said. “Now I primarily use it for heavy shopping trips.” Folding bike: Xooter Swift bought used for $350 in 2010. “I have a rear rack mounted on it so I can carry supplies,” he said. “This bike has taken me from Casablanca to Istanbul and across Belgium, the Netherlands, Florida, Thailand, Israel and Southern California, to name a few trips.”

may be helpful to people who may be struggling with a disorder that’s otherwise very difficult to manage,” said Michael Berk, professor of psychiatry at Deakin University in Geelong, Australia. Dr. Berk has been studying NAC’s utility in treating various psychiatric disorders since 2002. While studying the supplement’s effect on bipolar disorder in the mid-2000s, he and his colleagues discovered that three study participants who took NAC saw their nail-biting ease. “They just noticed that they

ESSENTIAL GEAR Road bike: Bianchi Brava bought new in 1999 for $650. “It’s served me well,” he said. “I’m certain I’ve logged over 50,000 miles on it.” Mountain bike: Giant Sedona

Safety first: Mr. Arthur won’t get on his bike before putting on his Giant helmet ($20).

said. He uses 10-pound dumbbells to perform an overhead press, front raises, lateral raises and biceps curls until fatigued. He then does four pull-ups. Mr. Arthur had given up his yoga studio membership pre-pandemic due to cost and commute, but devised a home routine with a focus on stretching his back. After yoga, he straps fivepound weights to his ankles and performs leg lifts, sit-ups and push-ups until fatigued, then does another four pull-ups.

Around noon, he rides the 3.35mile loop in Prospect Park in Brooklyn. “My goal is to go as fast as I can to get my heart rate up midday,” he said. He rides with a mask that he can pull up if he sees other cyclists or pedestrians. On the rare instance that he can’t get out in the middle of the day, he puts on reflective gear and rides at night. “I don’t think it’s natural to stay indoors all day,” he said. “It’s just as important for me to get out for my mental health as it is for

my physical fitness.” On weekends he explores Brooklyn’s neighborhoods. He plans many of his routes around take-out meals and food shopping. To avoid grocery stores, he cycles to outdoor markets and totes what he buys in bike bags. He loves ethnic cuisine and on his bike has discovered Jamaican, Trinidadian and Senegalese spots throughout Brooklyn. His favorite take-out place is Irie Caribbean Kitchen and Bakery on Utica Avenue.

seemed to stop biting their nails,” Dr. Berk said. The researchers wrote up the accidental findings, which have yet to be tested in a large-scale clinical trial. But several small-scale studies of NAC’s effectiveness in treating related behaviors, such as skin-picking and hair-pulling, have shown promising results. In one randomized clinical trial, led by Dr. Jon Grant at the University of Chicago, researchers found that 15 of 32 participants receiving NAC showed a large reduction in skin-

picking behavior, compared with only four of 21 participants who received a placebo. “The studies that we do have, there’s not many of them, but they look really promising,” said Sam Chamberlain, a psychiatry professor at the University of Southampton in the U.K., who worked on the study. Limited research and little funding for more studies leave the science behind the results unclear. One theory is that NAC helps limit the release of a chemical known as glutamate in the part of the brain responsible for reward-seeking behaviors like drug use, nail-biting or skin-picking. That, in turn, helps damp the brain’s reward signal from the behaviors, thus helping inhibit them. “It’s a bit like telling the brain that this thing isn’t rewarding anymore and you better stop,” said Dr. Chamberlain, who runs a clinic that treats behaviorally addictive disorders ranging from nail-biting to compulsive gambling. He has recommended NAC to some patients and seen positive results. The drug has been around since the 1960s when it was introduced as an agent for clearing mucus in the lungs and later as an antidote for acetaminophen poisoning. It has only received attention as a psychiatric treatment in the past 20 years.

Researchers note that NAC is safe and well-tolerated by the body, even in high doses—a finding consistent across various studies. It is commonly sold as a dietary supplement in 600 milligram capsules at pharmacies and nutrition stores, though its sulfuric odor and sour taste can make it difficult to stomach. Reported side-effects include stomach aches, nausea and diarrhea. In New York City, dermatologist Susan Bard has recommended NAC to patients struggling with nail-biting, skin-picking and hair-pulling disorders. Those who can tolerate the regimen showed good results, she said. Others discontinue the therapy because of the side-effects. For those who can’t stomach the supplement, there are other treatments that may help. Bitter nail lacquers that contain unpleasant-tasting compounds, as well as nail coverings like band-aids or gloves, can help lessen nail-biting, according to Dana Stern, a Mount Sinai dermatology professor who specializes in treating nail disorders. So can substituting behaviors such as squeezing a stress ball. Dr. Stern said NAC also shows promise and that she would be open to trying it for the right patient. —Cezary Podkul

Dinner: “Canned wild-caught salmon on a taco with chopped


I’d like to kick my nail-biting habit but I don’t know how to stop. What are the latest recommended treatments, and how effective are they?

Stephen Arthur cycles in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn.


inter weather doesn’t have to mean a season of indoor spin-bike workouts. With the proper equipment, gear and precautions, cycling can be an enjoyable winter activity, said Zack Allison, co-owner of Bike Sports, a racing team, bike-fit studio and bike travel company in Fort Collins, Colo. “A really good set of gloves and booties are the most important winter cycling apparel,” he said. “If it’s below freezing, a thin glove liner, then an outer glove that’s more wind protectant will keep hands cozy.” Your booties don’t have to be that thick if you layer well, he said. “A pair of wool socks, then a piece of plastic or foil over your toes, then shoes, then a set of booties and you’re set for well below freezing temperatures,” he said. When it gets really cold, you may want to grab your warmest down jacket, but you will sweat right through that, and wet almost always equals cold, Mr. Allison said. “Thinner base layers and a windbreak are the way to go, while keeping the thick stuff on your extremities, feet and hands.” “Ice is probably the biggest danger in winter,” he said. “Lowering your tire pressure and looking up the road for ice or obstacles are the best ways to stay safe.”



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Arthur didn’t have the target in mind when 2020 began, but when the pandemic hit, cycling preserved his sanity. He used to bike 2 miles round trip to work. “It was an easy way to turn my commute into exercise,” he said. When he began working from home in March during lockdown, there were days when he never left his 650-squarefoot apartment or spoke with anyone, except on Zoom. “Getting outdoors to bike became the highlight of my day,” he said. “I kept waiting for the governor or mayor to say you can’t ride your bike, but instead they encouraged people to get outside and exercise.” Pre-pandemic, Mr. Arthur would use vacations to take multi-day, solo bike tours in different countries. Unable to travel, he now uses weekends to explore Brooklyn by bike. “I thought I knew the city,” said Mr. Arthur, who grew up in Bergen County, N.J. “Now, I’ve gotten to know it on a whole other level.” When his mom died in May, cycling became an outlet for grief. Weekend rides got longer, taking him along the Hudson River or to Coney Island or to Rockaway Beach in Queens. “I probably cycled at least four centuries in September,” he said, referring to rides of 100 miles or longer. Mr. Arthur said he was never a fan of tracking his exercise on fitness apps. But when he realized he could accomplish 10,000 miles in one year, he became motivated to monitor his miles on Strava. “To see you are so close to a goal that seems unattainable makes you want to chase it down,” he said. “It’s getting darker earlier and it’s cold, but no matter what the weather, I want to complete this journey.” He completed his 10,000 miles on Dec. 20. He had never ridden that much before. Based on Strava data, he estimates he biked between 60% to 70% more due to Covid.



hen a winter storm blanketed the Northeast in snow and ice this month, many outdoor exercisers shifted to an indoor workout. But Stephen Arthur, a 53-year-old IT specialist in the North Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, was 28 miles away from cycling 10,000 miles in 2020. Determined to reach his goal before year’s end, he put knobby, snow-worthy tires on his mountain bike and bundled up. Mr.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2020 | A11




n April 24, rapper and singer Post Malone, born Austin Post, strapped on a guitar and stood in front of a camera to perform Nirvana covers for more than an hour. The live-streamed event raised money for Covid relief and was one of the more successful early experiments in providing a concert experience during the lockdown, raising more than $500,000 with 200,000 people watching at one point. Mr. Post’s own music—a spare and low-key hybrid of rap and pop—sounds nothing like Nirvana, but his rendering of the Seattle grunge band’s catalog led to ho-


Phoebe Bridgers performing in September, right; Kurt Cobain performing on Dec. 13, 1993, below

Many of today’s musicians were too young to experience bands like Nirvana firsthand sannas from former Nirvana members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, along with Kurt Cobain’s widow, Hole frontwoman Courtney Love. And this was even more notable since Mr. Post, age 25, was born in 1995, the year after Mr. Cobain died by suicide. The livestream was one highly visible moment among many in 2020 that confirmed how thoroughly ’90s alternative rock—both the heavier and folkier varieties—has now become part of the musical conversation for those who were too young to experience it firsthand. Among the most highly anticipated debut albums of 2020 was “Fake It Flowers” from 20-year-old Filipino-British singer-songwriter Beatrice Laus, who performs as Beabadoobee. In 2019, Ms. Laus released a single called “I Wish I Was Stephen Malkmus,” the frontman of the quintessential ’90s indie rock band Pavement. Her LP transports the thick guitar sound of that decade and its quiet-versus-loud choruses into the present moment. While plenty of indie rock bands have touched on grunge over the years, her record channeled the more accessible end of the genre and imparted a ve-




The Sound of the ’90s Is Alive

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The alt rock of an earlier decade is influencing artists like Post Malone, Taylor Swift and more neer of slickness. “Fake It Flowers” made some year-end lists, was a modest success on its own terms, and offers a glimpse at how the sound of ’90s rock might be integrated into the pop of the future. The most significant ’90s trend in 2020 drew not from the maledominated grunge and indie scenes of that era but from the intimate work by female singer-songwriters who dominated the stages at the


late-1990s tour festival Lilith Fair. Conceived by Canadian singersongwriter Sarah McLachlan, Lilith Fair was financially successful, but the music press maligned it. The name became shorthand for artists who were too soft, serious and introspective for their own good—artists who didn’t rock, in other words. That was then. In 2020, artists working in this tradition and who draw inspiration from that era are topping polls and being nominated for awards. Phoebe Bridgers, Taylor Swift and Waxahatchee are three such songwriters, and each this year released what is arguably her best record—Ms. Bridgers’s dreamy “Punisher,” Ms. Swift’s stark and autumnal “Folklore,” and Waxahatchee’s dusty alt-country “Saint Cloud.” All three records were also among the top four 2020 albums in a critics’ poll conducted by pop culture site Uproxx. The album at No. 1 in this survey of 230 music writers? “Fetch the Bolt Cutters” by Fiona Apple, a veteran artist who appeared at Lilith Fair in 1997 and is a godmother of sorts to artists working in this vein. And that’s not to mention LPs by Haim, a band comprising three sisters (“Women in Music,” No. 6), and Sophia Allison, who records as

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IDLE HANDS | By Michael Lieberman Across 1 Bot. or biol. 4 Athlete for whom a street outside Berlin’s Olympiastadion is named 9 Turn away, as one’s eyes 14 French denial 15 Swindler, say 16 Diet that goes against the grain? 17 Out of fashion 18 Karate chop target, sometimes 20 Capital on the Mediterranean coast 22 Observe 23 Miller brand

24 Unnerves 26 Go-between 28 Radio format for Fleetwood Mac and Heart 30 High-priority hosp. sites 31 Inauguration Day highlight 32 Informal denial 33 That fellow 35 Jacket material 37 “I’m less than impressed” 39 Dragster fuel 43 Furnish 45 Roadwork goo 47 Seehorn of “Better Call Saul” 48 Soviet space station

51 Where Oxford types might hang out? 54 Masters golfer who’s unlikely to win 56 When Juliet first meets Romeo 57 45 and 78, e.g. 58 Clumsy lout 60 Long-haired terrier 62 It’s right twice a day, and it can be found at 18-, 28and 51-Across 65 College application fig. 66 Social-distancing proponent 67 Mulligatawny utensil

Solve this puzzle online and discuss it at WSJ.com/Puzzles.


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