How Bill O’Reilly Silenced His Accusers

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There are six publicly known settlements involving Mr. O’Reilly, five for sexual harassment and one for verbal abuse, that total about $45 million.

The court documents show that the payout to Ms. Diamond, a former Fox Business Network host who reached a settlement with Mr. O’Reilly in 2011, was $3.25 million — an amount that had not previously been reported publicly.

In a statement, Fredric S. Newman, a lawyer for Mr. O’Reilly, reiterated earlier statements that Mr. O’Reilly had settled the disputes to protect his children and said that the agreements were “fully negotiated by these plaintiffs who were ably advised by experienced counsel.”

“Confidentiality and arbitration were two critical terms for which Mr. O’Reilly bargained in good faith,” Mr. Newman said. “For the past 14 years, Mr. O’Reilly has always respected the agreed confidentiality of the settlement agreements, but now that the provision has been breached, Mr. O’Reilly will be taking all appropriate legal action to enforce the agreements.”

A spokesman for 21st Century Fox, the parent company of Fox News, declined to comment.

In the defamation suit, the women asserted that comments by Mr. O’Reilly; Rupert Murdoch, the executive chairman of 21st Century Fox; and the company falsely depicted them as liars, political operatives and extortionists after an investigation by The Times that exposed how the network stood by Mr. O’Reilly as he faced a series of harassment allegations.

Lawyers for Mr. O’Reilly and Fox News have argued for the dismissal of the lawsuit, stating they had not disparaged the women and that the claims by Ms. Mackris and Ms. Diamond should be moved to confidential arbitration proceedings because of stipulations in their settlement agreements.

Last month, Mr. O’Reilly’s lawyers requested that he be able to file “certain agreements that contain strict confidentiality provisions” under seal, but Judge Deborah A. Batts, of the United States District Court, rejected that request, stating that there is a presumption of public access to court documents and that Mr. O’Reilly had failed to meet the burden of demonstrating privacy concerns.

Lawyers for the women filed the settlement documents on Wednesday as part of a court filing.

The agreement with Ms. Mackris, the former producer on Mr. O’Reilly’s program on Fox News who sued him in 2004, accusing him of sexual harassment, includes a previously unknown provision showing that her lawyers changed sides to work for Mr. O’Reilly after the salacious dispute. It was settled for about $9 million, according to people familiar with the matter. The mediator for the dispute was the lawyer Marc E. Kasowitz, who went on to represent Mr. O’Reilly last year. (Mr. Kasowitz also has represented President Trump.)

As part of the settlement, Ms. Mackris’s former lawyers at the firm Benedict P. Morelli & Associates agreed to provide legal advice to Mr. O’Reilly on sexual harassment matters. They also agreed not to represent other parties with sexual harassment claims against Mr. O’Reilly or Fox News.

Such arrangements are considered unethical in the legal community because they can create conflicts of interest between lawyers and their clients and sideline lawyers who have the expertise to bring claims against companies and individuals.

Mr. Morelli did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The agreement between Mr. O’Reilly and Ms. Mackris nods to the potential for ethical concerns, requiring both of them to waive the conflicts of interest in Mr. O’Reilly’s retention of the Morelli firm. It states that, if the provision is found to violate the American Bar Association or New York professional codes, the rest of the agreement would remain “valid and binding.”

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Cyberattack Shows Vulnerability of Gas Pipeline Network

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The attack’s target appears to have been Latitude Technologies, a Texas-based provider of electronic data-sharing between pipeline companies and their gas producer and utility customers. The company handles the critical computer communications of gas storage facilities, as well as sales contracts and shipment scheduling.

Chris Bronk, a cybersecurity expert at the University of Houston, said such attacks on the gas marketing communications hub is a way to gather intelligence on the entire gas industry.

“If I compromise their operations, I can see all the buyers and sellers,” he said. “If I can persistently be in their network I can issue fake transactions.” In that way, Mr. Bronk added, hackers could potentially jumble gas shipments, and even cause electricity production outages.

Latitude Technologies, a unit of Energy Services Group, declined to discuss the disruption in detail. In a statement, it said, “We do not believe any customer data was compromised.”

The Department of Homeland Security was investigating the attack, and no suspect has been publicly identified. But the attack came shortly after the department and the F.B.I. issued a report alleging that Russia was taking aim at the electric grid and other critical infrastructure with cyber probes.

The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology released a staff report this month that described Russian efforts to influence American energy markets and energy policy through inflammatory posts on social media. The motivation for such efforts appeared to be the increase in exports of liquefied natural gas from the United States, a challenge to Russian dominance in European markets.

Cybercriminals, frequently suspected of working for foreign governments, have been increasingly active in the energy sector in recent years. Last fall, hackers penetrated safety systems of a petrochemical plant in Saudi Arabia, the latest in a spate of increasingly sophisticated attacks on the kingdom’s energy infrastructure. An attack on Ukraine’s grid in 2015 led to extensive blackouts.

American gas pipeline companies were targeted in 2012, although the damage was believed to have been limited. Employees of several pipeline companies have been targets of spear-phishing attacks — efforts to lure them to click on email attachments containing malicious code.

The Trump administration has announced that it is establishing an office within the Department of Energy to shore up cybersecurity for critical infrastructure like nuclear plants, refineries and pipelines.

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Britain Aims to Close Gender Pay Gap With Transparency and Shame

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Under the new reporting requirements, companies with 250 or more employees must publish salary differences between men and women every year. They are also required to provide details on gaps in average bonuses paid, and the proportion of men and women who received those bonuses.

The submissions have made for uncomfortable reading for company executives. At Goldman Sachs’s sprawling moneymaking machine in Britain, women are paid an average of 56 percent less than men. Men outearn women by around 52 percent at easyJet, the country’s busiest discount airline. And at WPP, the British advertising giant, women take home, on average, around one-quarter less than their male counterparts.

Still, at least in some cases, the requirement to publish the data has made an impact as big companies have scrambled to counter the fallout from embarrassing reports. EasyJet has said its male chief executive would take a 4.6 percent pay cut to match the salary of his female predecessor, and pledged to more than triple the proportion of its female pilots.

In other cases, a change in the pay culture has been pushed from the outside. At Mills & Reeve, a British law firm whose audit determined it was paying women an average of 32 percent less than men, a major impetus has come from big clients that have started to request more female representation among the firm’s attorneys.

“It’s increasingly something we’re asked for as part of tenders and pitches, to give details of our diversity,” said Claire Clarke, a managing partner.

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Johan Lundgren, easyJet’s chief executive, is taking a 4.6 percent pay cut to match the salary of his female predecessor. Credit Georges Gobet/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Some efforts predate the new rules, but have come into focus because of the requirements. The British bank Barclays, for example, has sought to hire, and retain, more senior female executives by offering a new 12-week “internship” targeted at experienced women who are coming off a career break and introducing greater flexibility in existing jobs.

Supporters of the British regulations acknowledge that transparency alone won’t solve the problem. But without it, companies and regulators in countries seeking to enforce equal pay laws would have scant evidence that a gap existed — and face less pressure to address it. Jake Rosenfeld and Patrick Denice, sociologists at Washington University, found in a study that salary transparency raised wages, in part because “even being cognizant of gender pay disparity” helped change norms.

Such is the case in Iceland. The country has gone further than any other, becoming the first to require employers to submit to external audits to prove they are paying women on a par with men. The thinking was that unless equal pay laws were applied more forcefully, the imbalance might never close.

Iceland’s government has vowed to completely close the nation’s gender pay gap by 2022, after women walked out of their jobs en masse in protest on a chilly afternoon in October 2016.

The Icelandic initiative sought to address chronic hurdles that block women around the world from higher-paying positions. No matter the country, men often hold a disproportionately large number of high-level positions, while women — especially mothers — tend to populate lower-paying fields and jobs with more work-time flexibility to take care of families. After Iceland began enforcing pay audits, some employers sought to hire more women for jobs traditionally held by men.

The United States, by contrast, has taken a step backward on reporting. Last year, the Trump administration rolled back an Obama-era initiative that sought to create incentives to close pay gaps. The move would have required companies to report how much they paid workers based on gender and race, but the White House now says it would have posed a burden on employers.

Britain’s rules, though tougher than efforts in the United States, fall short of the moves in Iceland.

They cover only about a third of all companies. Employers won’t face penalties even if they report discrepancies year after year. And businesses are not required to address some of the biggest causes to the pay divide, including the lack of women in high-paid senior roles.

The gender pay gap in Britain is just over 18 percent, down from 27.5 percent in 1997, according to official data. But those figures are still likely to underestimate the real gap, critics say. An analysis of 1,000 British companies by DueDil, a company-information platform in London, showed that just 13 percent of women held top directorships, creating a “significant gender gap in senior leadership” and in average pay.

Still, even without stricter enforcement, the government is betting that the mere publication of pay data will shame companies into taking action, and provide employees with ammunition to press for greater pay equality.

To coincide with the deadline on Wednesday, British women started a #PayMeToo hashtag campaign on Twitter, encouraging employees to talk to one another about how much they are paid. The nascent effort, pushed by a group of female British lawmakers, seeks to encourage women to talk about their pay at work, and make clear what rights they have.

“If we are serious about tackling the gender pay gap, then we have to do more than publish data,” Stella Creasy, a member of Parliament from the opposition Labour Party, said in an interview with The Guardian. “We have to show we’re watching what happens next.”

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Cambridge Analytica and Facebook: The Scandal and the Fallout So Far

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In March, The New York Times, working with The Observer of London and The Guardian, obtained a cache of documents from inside Cambridge Analytica, the data firm principally owned by the right-wing donor Robert Mercer. The documents proved that the firm, where the former Trump aide Stephen K. Bannon was a board member, used data improperly obtained from Facebook to build voter profiles. The news put Cambridge under investigation and thrust Facebook into its biggest crisis ever. Here’s a guide to our coverage.

March 17

Harvesting data and testing election law

The Times reported that in 2014 contractors and employees of Cambridge Analytica, eager to sell psychological profiles of American voters to political campaigns, acquired the private Facebook data of tens of millions of users — the largest known leak in Facebook history.

There was more. Our article first showed how Cambridge received warnings from its own lawyer, Laurence Levy, as it employed European and Canadian citizens on campaigns, potentially violating American election law. The Times also found that tranches of raw data still existed beyond Facebook’s control.

Read how researchers may have used your Facebook “likes” to predict your political views.

What was the Russia link?

In a companion piece, The Times reported that people at Cambridge Analytica and its British affiliate, the SCL Group, were in contact with executives from Lukoil, the Kremlin-linked oil giant, as Cambridge built its Facebook-derived profiles. Lukoil was interested in the ways data was used to target American voters, according to two former company insiders. SCL and Lukoil denied that the talks were political in nature and said the oil giant never became a client.

March 18

Anger on both sides of the Atlantic

The articles drew an instant response in Washington, where lawmakers demanded that Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, testify before Congress. Democrats looking into Russian interference in the 2016 election — already interested in Cambridge’s role in providing analytics to the Trump campaign — said they would seek an investigation into the leak. They were echoed by lawmakers in Britain investigating Cambridge Analytica’s role in disinformation and the country’s referendum to leave the European Union.

March 20

Bribes, entrapment and a suspension

The Times reported that Cambridge suspended its chief executive, Alexander Nix, after a British television channel released an undercover video in which he suggested that the company had used seduction and bribery to entrap politicians and influence foreign elections. In Washington, the Federal Trade Commission moved to investigate whether Facebook had violated an early agreement to safeguard user data.

March 23

New Trump adviser, old Cambridge connection

As Facebook reeled, The Times delved into the relationship between Cambridge Analytica and John Bolton, the conservative hawk named national security adviser by President Trump. The Times broke the news that in 2014, Cambridge provided Mr. Bolton’s “super PAC” with early versions of its Facebook-derived profiles — the technology’s first large-scale use in an American election.

What about 2016? We examined the skepticism and evidence around the role Cambridge claimed it played in Mr. Trump’s win.

Cambridge Analytica helped develop ads for candidates supported by John Bolton’s “super PAC.”

March 24

Another look at ‘Brexit’

The Times and The Observer reported allegations that the 2016 “Brexit” campaign used a Cambridge Analytica contractor to help skirt election spending limits. The story implicated two senior advisers to Prime Minister Theresa May. Testifying to Parliament a few days later, a former Cambridge employee, Christopher Wylie, contended that the company helped swing the results in favor of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.

March 28

The Silicon Valley spy contractor

In another report, The Times showed how an employee at Palantir Technologies — an intelligence contractor founded by the Trump backer and tech investor Peter Thiel — helped Cambridge harvest Facebook data. The article reported that Palantir and Cambridge executives briefly considered a formal partnership to work on political campaigns. Though the deal fell through, a Palantir employee continued working with Cambridge to figure out how to obtain data for psychographic profiles. Palantir officials said the employee did so in a strictly personal capacity.

April 4

How many were affected?

The Times originally reported that Cambridge harvested data from over 50 million Facebook users. But at the bottom of a company announcement about new privacy features, Facebook’s chief technology officer, Mike Schroepfer, issued a new estimate for the number of users who were affected: as many as 87 million, most of them in the United States.

Facebook is responding to users’ distrust. Read how the company introduced a central privacy page.

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As Spotify Goes Public, Sony Cashes In

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What the labels would do with any profits from selling their Spotify stakes has been a subject of debate in the industry. The labels have said that they would share the profits with their artists but have offered few specific details about how those payments would be calculated.

The Worldwide Independent Network, a trade group for small music labels, has called on the major labels to share that money with the independent labels they distribute.

Among the majors, Sony had the largest share in the company, with about 5.7 percent, according to Spotify’s prospectus. The stakes owned by the other two big labels, Universal and Warner, were not disclosed but are believed to be 4 percent or less. Merlin, an organization that represents independent labels in licensing negotiations, also has a stake.

Sony said it had sold 17.2 percent of its position in Spotify on Tuesday. It offered no further details of the transaction, but if it was made at Spotify’s closing price of $149.01, the sale would be worth $260.5 million. If the sale occurred at the opening price of $169.50, it would be $296 million.

Sony also announced on Wednesday that it would book a profit of 105 billion yen (about $986 million) for its fiscal first quarter, attributed to both its sale of the Spotify stock and the value of its remaining stake.

For the big labels, the question of whether — and when — to sell their Spotify equity ties in with a potential risk when it comes to dealing with their artists. If the labels sell right away, they may be accused of prematurely cashing out; if they wait, they may be accused of holding on too long to money that they have said belongs to their artists.

Representatives of Universal, Warner and Merlin declined to comment, but no transactions related to those companies’ stakes in Spotify have been announced.

A spokeswoman for Sony Music on Wednesday declined to comment on any details of Sony’s transaction. But on Tuesday, before the market opened, Sony and the Orchard, its independent distribution arm, released a brief statement saying that they were “committed to sharing with their artists and distributed labels any net gain they may realize from a sale of Sony Music’s equity stake in Spotify.”

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‘Roseanne’ Mania Cools Slightly in Show’s Second Week

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In all, Tuesday’s figures represent a 17 percent decline versus those for the premiere. In the 18-to-49-year-old demographic vital to advertisers, “Roseanne” notched a 3.9 rating, a 25 percent decline.

The loss, however, was in line with what executives at ABC and rival networks expected. And at a moment when the number of live viewers is plummeting, the figure suggests that a sizable audience is willing to watch TV the old-fashioned way.

In conversations on Tuesday, network executives said that if the second week of “Roseanne” experienced a decline in ratings of around 15 percent, ABC should still count it as a success. Stomachs were likely to churn at ABC’s Burbank, Calif., headquarters only if the show lost more than 25 percent of its initial audience.

Other recent revivals have experienced significant ratings losses once the novelty of their returns faded. In September, NBC’s “Will & Grace” lost 30 percent of its audience from its first week to its second. The show has continued to bleed viewers, but its ratings have stayed strong enough to make it a top 10 program. In 2016, Fox’s “The X-Files” lost 40 percent of its audience for its second episode. On Showtime, ”Twin Peaks” experienced a decline of more than 50 percent between its first and second weeks.

The robust return of “Roseanne” has made the show and its namesake star political lightning rods. Fox News pundits joined Mr. Trump in hailing the success of the “Roseanne” premiere as a victory of their own. Some viewers on the left have expressed misgivings about supporting the show. And there were hot-take commentators who argued that “Roseanne” is surprisingly subversive, with more nuanced politics than either its ardent fans or vocal detractors have acknowledged.

The third episode was about a generational parenting conflict that pitted Roseanne’s stricter, more traditional style against the looser, hands-off approach of her daughter Darlene.

A wild card factor is how much of a ratings drop will come in the show’s third week. Will “Roseanne” suffer mild, 5-to-10-percent declines as it moves closer to its ninth and final episode? Or will the falloff be steeper?

To make matters more complicated, Ms. Barr has her Twitter feed back.

Two months before the show premiered, she was not much of a presence on Twitter. She said her family had taken her password away and she mentioned that she did not “want it to overshadow the show.”

But in recent weeks, Ms. Barr has been posting frequently on Twitter, and it did not take long for her to stir up controversy. Over the weekend, she seemed to endorse a fringe conspiracy theory known as “The Storm,” which suggests that Mr. Trump is breaking up child sex-trafficking rings involving Democratic politicians.

The message, which was later deleted, raised questions about whether Ms. Barr might eventually cause a revolt among viewers or advertisers, a cause for some concern among ABC executives, who have publicly backed their reborn star.

“You can’t control Roseanne Barr,” Ben Sherwood, the president of Disney and ABC’s television group, said in an interview last week. “Many who have tried have failed. She’s the one and only.”

The “Roseanne” reboot came out of a strategy hatched at ABC after Mr. Trump’s victory in November 2016. The goal was to increase the network’s appeal to Middle America. The premiere episode more than doubled ABC’s internal ratings estimates, and it performed best in heartland cities that do not usually light up the Nielsen meters.

If the show continues to deliver strong numbers, it could help take ABC out of last place among the four major broadcast networks.

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William Prochnau, Journalist and Author, Is Dead at 80

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Mr. Prochnau often said he was proudest of his own reportage from Vietnam for The Seattle Times in the mid-1960s — work that apparently earned him a berth on President Richard M. Nixon’s expanded enemies list.

The contrasts between what Mr. Prochnau witnessed and the cocksure official accounts of American gains against the Communists inspired “Once Upon a Distant War: Young War Correspondents and the Early Vietnam Battles,” published by Times Books/Random House in 1995.

With television just coming of age, Mr. Prochnau focused on print reporters, primarily David Halberstam of The New York Times; Malcolm Browne, Peter Arnett and Horst Faas of The Associated Press; Neil Sheehan of United Press International; and Charles Mohr of Time magazine — all of whose on-the-ground reporting suggested that America’s military and political strategy was doomed.

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Kai Bird, a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer, called Mr. Prochnau’s book the “classic account of the journalistic experience in Vietnam.” Credit Vintage Books

“This small group of young men,” he wrote, “would bring down upon themselves the wrath of every power structure they confronted — the White House, the Pentagon, the South Vietnamese government, the old guard of the press itself, even their own bosses.”

In an admiring review in The New York Times, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt wrote, “When all was said and done, in Mr. Prochnau’s view, blaming the journalists was simply a case of shooting the messenger.”

The correspondents were patriotic “cold warriors all,” Mr. Prochnau concluded, but, Mr. Lehmann-Haupt wrote, “the Viet Cong was winning the war, as far as the journalists could see, which seems to have been a good deal farther than anyone in charge.”

Kai Bird, a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer and director of the Leon Levy Center for Biography at the City University of New York Graduate Center, described “Once Upon a Distant War” in an email as the “classic account of the journalistic experience in Vietnam.”

Mr. Prochnau himself saw this experience as historically pivotal.

“Their extraordinary adventure would mark the beginning of the era of the modern media,” he said of the reporters he profiled, “and, ironically, the beginning of the end of the golden age of print.”

William Walter Prochnau was born on Aug. 9, 1937, in Everett, Wash. His father, Emil, was a circulation agent for The Seattle Times. His mother, the former Florence Foley, became a nurse.

His first marriage, to Lani Gruger, ended in divorce. In addition to his wife, Ms. Parker, he is survived by two daughters from his first marriage, Monica Bradley and Jennifer McMaster; a brother, John; three grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter. Another daughter from his first marriage, Anna, died in 2015.

Mr. Prochnau attended Everett Junior College (now Everett Community College) in Washington and Seattle University. At 19, he spurned an offer to play Triple-A baseball to become a sportswriter for The Everett Herald. He went on to cover sports in Alaska.

Lured to The Seattle Times, he covered Washington, the Moon landing in 1969 and the restoration of diplomatic relations with China, and profiled the assassin of John Lennon.

After leaving The Times, in 1974, he helped Sen. Warren G. Magnuson, a Washington Democrat, win a fifth term. A year later he founded the short-lived Daily Journal-American in Bellevue, Wash. He became political editor of The Post-Intelligencer in Seattle and covered the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980.

Mr. Prochnau reported for The Washington Post full time in the 1980s, then returned to Seattle, where he wrote freelance articles and books and in 1996 became a contributing editor to Vanity Fair.

He was nothing if not meticulous — and persistent: It took him 11 years to write his Vietnam book. Ms. Parker had vowed not to marry him until he finished it, she said, but the project was proceeding so slowly, she relented and married him in 1988, with the book not even half completed.

But that was nothing compared to the 16,000-word article that he and his wife wrote in 2002 about Oskar Speck, who kayaked from Germany to Australia in the 1930s. Pruned nearly by half, the “The Incredible True Story of History’s Longest Kayak Journey” was finally published in Vanity Fair in February, after being held for 16 years.

“The story had no news value to speak of, but it was a terrific tale and told perfectly,” Graydon Carter, the magazine’s outgoing editor wrote. “Bill was 64 when he wrote the story. He was 80 when we finally ran it. That’s what we call playing a long game.”

“Bill had the temperament and patience of an old-school reporter,” Mr. Carter said in an email in reference to the article. “So much so, that he never once prodded me about it.”

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Tech We’re Using: Twitter, Facebook, Slack: Using Every Tool to Hear What Readers Think

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Facebook Live enables us to have candid and accessible back-and-forth discussions between our journalists and our audience. A recent thought-provoking example was a Race/NYT chat with hosts John Eligon and Rachel Swarns discussing adoptions that cross racial and ethnic lines.

We also use email, and the comments system on our site. Plus, our colleagues send us interesting or useful feedback they spot through our Reader Center Slack group.

And then there’s text message. My brother-in-law happens to be very good at spotting criticism of our coverage that is bubbling up on Twitter and probably will deserve our attention. On the weekends, when I am less active on Twitter, he’s my early warning system.

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“My entire life exists on my phone,” Ms. Ingber says. That would be an iPhone 7, which she uses here to shoot photos of her husband, Raj Yerasi, and her sons Isaac, 4, left, and Aarav, 2. Credit Joshua Bright for The New York Times

What could be better?

Many of our colleagues wish they had a better sense of what our readers are saying about their coverage. There is a lot of feedback to keep up with and sort through. We’d love to have a tool that would enable us to aggregate reader feedback (emails, social media posts, comments and more) in a faster and more systematic way.

You’ve invested time in coming up with creative ways to use social media. What are some of your favorite uses of social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram?

I appreciate Twitter when reporters bring us along on a journey, telling a story with their tweets. Rukmini Callimachi, our correspondent who covers Islamist extremism, took her followers along as she traveled with an embed into western Mosul, for example, introducing us to villagers and showing us what she saw.

When Julie Turkewitz, a national correspondent, traveled with a group of students from Parkland, Fla., to the state capital to demand more gun control, she tweeted scenes from the bus along the way. Her tweets were gripping and immediate, and they gave us a window into a scene we couldn’t have otherwise gotten.

Twitter is also an indispensable tool for journalists and just about anyone else to be part of a conversation about the news as it’s unfolding.

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Among many other tools, Ms. Ingber uses Twitter to learn how readers are reacting to coverage in The Times. Credit Joshua Bright for The New York Times

While journalists are on Twitter, the bulk of our readers are on Facebook. At The Times, we regularly use Facebook to reach our readers and ask them to participate in our coverage.

I also prefer Facebook for its sense of community. Facebook groups tend to be closed, so people are writing posts to a segment of people. Perhaps because the posts are not for the wider public, there seems to be a lot less posturing on Facebook than on Twitter.

Do you have a personal favorite Facebook group?

My guilty pleasure is scrolling through the Maplewood Moms* Facebook group. (I live in a neighboring New Jersey town.) Local parents post questions that are incredibly relevant to my life, like how to get your toddler to brush his teeth. There are discussions on managing a commute and bedtimes, and horror stories of lactation rooms that don’t lock.

Even though I don’t know all of the mothers, or even most of them, I feel a sense of shared values and experiences. We can so easily relate to one another, battling toddler meltdowns and long waits at the pediatrician’s office. And this leads to an online environment that feels both intimate and supportive.

What other tech product are you currently obsessed with using in your daily life?

I tried the Apple Watch and could barely figure it out. So I’ll say my phone (an iPhone 7 with a maroon and purple case).

My entire life exists on my phone. For nonwork purposes, I love that I have a camera and video recorder with me wherever I am — crucial for a parent of young children.

I do my banking, listen to podcasts, read, and jot down funny things my 4-year-old, Isaac, says. And I wrote out these answers on my phone (in the Notes app) while getting my hair cut.

Smartphones now also make for easy house stalking. I love going to a dinner party and then checking out the person’s home on Zillow. My husband and I often play a game to guess how much we think the house sold for. (Life in the suburbs is underrated.)

In our own home, our kids love using our Amazon Echo. Isaac asks it all sorts of important life questions (like “Alexa, do you like bubbles?”). He also orders up his favorite songs, then he and his little brother dance around the kitchen.

I wish there were a feature on my phone that could make it quickly obvious to others what I am doing on it. I grew up watching my parents read the newspaper over breakfast. I wish that when I was reading the news, my kids could tell. Instead, they just see my head in my phone. That is the major reason I still get the Sunday paper.

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The Latest on the U.S.-China Trade Conflict: Exchanging Tariffs

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Loading imported soybeans at a port in the Chinese city of Nantong. China struck back Wednesday at American tariffs placed on its goods with tariffs of its own. Credit CHINATOPIX, via Associated Press

It looks a lot like a trade war.

The Trump administration took a direct hit at China on Tuesday for its trade practices, detailing more than 1,300 imported goods from the country that would face a 25 percent tariff. About $50 billion worth of imported Chinese goods will be subject to tariffs, including flat-screen televisions, medical devices and aircraft parts.

China then struck back at the United States with its own tariffs, also worth $50 billion. Those tariffs, on 106 types of American goods, take direct aim at the farm belt and manufacturing hubs, both big bases for President Trump.

[READ MORE: How the administration imposed tariffs and how China retaliated.]

The Trump administration is fighting back against China’s trade tactics.

American companies have complained that they don’t have a level playing field with their Chinese counterparts. The Chinese government provides big subsidies for its homegrown players, as part of a broader state-led plan. The country has taken advantage of gaps in international rules or hasn’t bothered to follow them.

China has been particularly aggressive in the high-tech realm. It has forced American companies to hand over technology or form joint ventures, in exchange for access to China, the world’s second largest economy. Some American companies contend that Chinese players have stolen their secrets outright.

China is defending its industrial policy and economic power.

One area of concern for the United States is China’s ambitious agenda called Made in 2025. Under that plan, Beijing aims to dominate cutting-technologies like semiconductors, artificial intelligence and electric cars. China is putting huge resources behind this industrial policy, which it sees as crucial to its economic future and its national security.

Both countries are getting ever more protective of these industries. In the United States, regulators are increasingly blocking Chinese companies from buying American assets, as Congress considers beefing up its rules around foreign acquisitions.

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Google Workers Urge C.E.O. to Pull Out of Pentagon A.I. Project

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Google employees have circulated protest petitions on a range of issues, including Google Plus, the company’s lagging competitor to Facebook, and Google’s sponsorship of the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Employees raised questions about Google’s involvement in Project Maven at a recent companywide meeting. At the time, Diane Greene, who leads Google’s cloud infrastructure business, defended the deal and sought to reassure concerned employees. A company spokesman said most of the signatures on the protest letter had been collected before the company had an opportunity to explain the situation.

The company subsequently described its work on Project Maven as “non-offensive” in nature, though the Pentagon’s video analysis is routinely used in counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations, and Defense Department publications make clear that the project supports those operations. Both Google and the Pentagon said the company’s products would not create an autonomous weapons system that could fire without a human operator, a much-debated possibility using artificial intelligence.

But improved analysis of drone video could be used to pick out human targets for strikes, while also better identifying civilians to reduce the accidental killing of innocent people.

Without referring directly to the letter to Mr. Pichai, Google said in a statement on Tuesday that “any military use of machine learning naturally raises valid concerns.” It added, “We’re actively engaged across the company in a comprehensive discussion of this important topic.” The company called such exchanges “hugely important and beneficial,” though several Google employees familiar with the letter would speak of it only on the condition of anonymity, saying they were concerned about retaliation.

The statement said the company’s part of Project Maven was “specifically scoped to be for non-offensive purposes,” though officials declined to make available the relevant contract language. The Defense Department said that because Google is a subcontractor on Project Maven to the prime contractor, ECS Federal, it could not provide either the amount or the language of Google’s contract. ECS Federal did not respond to inquiries.

Google said the Pentagon was using “open-source object recognition software available to any Google Cloud customer” and based on unclassified data. “The technology is used to flag images for human review and is intended to save lives and save people from having to do highly tedious work,” the company said.

Some of Google’s top executives have significant Pentagon connections. Eric Schmidt, former executive chairman of Google and still a member of the executive board of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, serves on a Pentagon advisory body, the Defense Innovation Board, as does a Google vice president, Milo Medin.

In an interview in November, Mr. Schmidt acknowledged “a general concern in the tech community of somehow the military-industrial complex using their stuff to kill people incorrectly, if you will.” He said he served on the board in part “to at least allow for communications to occur” and suggested that the military would “use this technology to help keep the country safe.”

An uneasiness about military contracts among a small fraction of Google’s more than 70,000 employees may not pose a major obstacle to the company’s growth. But in the rarefied area of artificial intelligence research, Google is engaged in intense competition with other tech companies for the most talented people, so recruiters could be hampered if some candidates are put off by Google’s defense connections.

As Google defends its contracts from internal dissent, its competitors have not been shy about publicizing their own work on defense projects. Amazon touts its image recognition work with the Department of Defense, and Microsoft has promoted the fact that its cloud technology won a contract to handle classified information for every branch of the military and defense agencies.

The current dispute, first reported by Gizmodo, is focused on Project Maven, which began last year as a pilot program to find ways to speed up the military application of the latest A.I. technology. It is expected to cost less than $70 million in its first year, according to a Pentagon spokeswoman. But the signers of the letter at Google clearly hope to discourage the company from entering into far larger Pentagon contracts as the defense applications of artificial intelligence grow.

Google is widely expected to compete with other tech giants, including Amazon and Microsoft, for a multiyear, multibillion-dollar contract to provide cloud services to the Defense Department. John Gibson, the department’s chief management officer, said last month that the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure Cloud procurement program was in part designed to “increase lethality and readiness,” underscoring the difficulty of separating software, cloud and related services from the actual business of war.

The employees’ protest letter to Mr. Pichai, which has been circulated on an internal communications system for several weeks, argues that embracing military work could backfire by alienating customers and potential recruits.

“This plan will irreparably damage Google’s brand and its ability to compete for talent,” the letter says. “Amid growing fears of biased and weaponized AI, Google is already struggling to keep the public’s trust.” It suggests that Google risks being viewed as joining the ranks of big defense contractors like Raytheon, General Dynamics and the big-data firm Palantir.

“The argument that other firms, like Microsoft and Amazon, are also participating doesn’t make this any less risky for Google,” the letter says. “Google’s unique history, its motto Don’t Be Evil, and its direct reach into the lives of billions of users set it apart.”

Like other onetime upstarts turned powerful Silicon Valley behemoths, Google is being forced to confront the idealism that guided the company in its early years. Facebook started with the lofty mission of connecting people all over the world, but it has recently come under fire for becoming a conduit for fake news and being used by Russia to influence the 2016 election and sow dissent among American voters.

Paul Scharre, a former Pentagon official and author of “Army of None,” a forthcoming book on the use of artificial intelligence to build autonomous weapons, said the clash inside Google was inevitable, given the company’s history and the booming demand for A.I. in the military.

“There’s a strong libertarian ethos among tech folks, and a wariness about the government’s use of technology,” said Mr. Scharre, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security in Washington. “Now A.I. is suddenly and quite quickly moving out of the research lab and into real life.”

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