Africa’s Richest Woman Is Barred From Her Bank and Under Investigation

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Isabel dos Santos, Africa’s richest woman and the daughter of Angola’s former president, is under scrutiny by her bank and the Angolan government after a leak of more than 700,000 documents showed how she exploited the country’s wealth to enrich herself.

EuroBic, a Lisbon-based arm of a bank where Ms. dos Santos is the biggest shareholder, said on Monday that it was ending its “commercial relationship” with her and investigating transfers worth tens of millions of dollars, transactions that were revealed on Sunday by The New York Times and other news outlets working with the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

Angola’s attorney general said on Monday that the government would “use all possible means” to bring Ms. dos Santos back to the country, where she faces possible corruption charges and where her assets were frozen last month, along with her husband’s and those of a Portuguese business associate, Agence France-Presse reported. The Angolan government, led until September 2017 by her father, José Eduardo dos Santos, said the three were responsible for more than $1 billion in lost government money.

The leaked documents, which include emails, invoices, slide presentations and contracts, provided a paper trail showing how Ms. dos Santos and her husband, Sindika Dokolo, amassed a fortune of more than $2 billion through their stakes in vital Angolan industries like telecommunications, diamonds and construction. Angola, rich in oil and diamonds, is nevertheless impoverished, with one of the world’s highest infant mortality rates and endemic corruption.

The leaked materials also revealed that in November 2017, when Ms. dos Santos was chairwoman of Angola’s state oil company, Sonangol, more than $57 million was transferred from that company to the bank account of a Dubai company owned by a friend of hers. Ms. dos Santos has said the money was for fees owed to consultants and accountants, including Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey & Company and PwC, formerly called PricewaterhouseCoopers. It is not clear whether that sum matched bills from the consultants; the companies declined to provide billing details, citing client confidentiality. About $38 million was transferred in the hours after Angola’s new president at the time — her father’s successor — announced on Nov. 15, 2017, that she was being fired from Sonangol, the documents show.

Those transfers drained Sonangol’s account at EuroBic, the European arm of an Angolan bank where Ms. dos Santos owns a 42.5 percent stake. In EuroBic’s statement on Monday, cutting commercial ties with Ms. dos Santos and associates of hers, the bank said it would audit the November 2017 transfers and report its findings to Portugal’s central bank.

EuroBic’s headquarters, steps from Ms. dos Santos’s sprawling Lisbon apartment, plays a central role in her business empire, which encompasses more than 400 companies and subsidiaries. Most global banks, bound by tough reporting requirements on doing business with so-called politically exposed persons, have avoided doing business with her. EuroBic, though bound by the same rules, continued to do extensive business with Ms. dos Santos and her husband, the documents show.

Ms. dos Santos didn’t immediately respond to questions about EuroBic’s announcement that were emailed Monday evening to her London law firm.

But she made her position on the leaked documents clear on Sunday, when news organizations around the world simultaneously published their investigations — the work of more than 120 reporters in 20 countries, who spent months analyzing the documents and interviewing hundreds of people in Angola, Portugal and other countries where she has had business interests.

“The ICIJ report is based on many fake documents and false information, it is a coordinated political attack in coordinations with the ‘Angolan Government,’” Ms. dos Santos wrote on Twitter. “715 thousand documents read? Who believes that?”

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Uber Sells Food Delivery Business in India

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MUMBAI, India — Uber, in its latest move to drop money-losing businesses, agreed on Tuesday to sell its food delivery business in India to Zomato, a local competitor, in exchange for 9.99 percent of the Indian start-up.

All delivery drivers for the service, known as Uber Eats, and basic information about customers, including their phone numbers and order history, will be transferred to Zomato, the companies said. In addition, Uber’s app will send Indian users to Zomato for six months when they click on the “Get Food Delivery” button.

Uber has faced increased pressure from investors to turn a profit, and it spent much of 2019 cutting costs and laying off employees after a disappointing initial public offering last May. While its food delivery service, Uber Eats, has grown quickly, it faces aggressive competition around the world, and the company has been forced to spend heavily on subsidies and promotional offers to gain new users.

By selling Uber Eats in India to Zomato, Uber can cut losses while taking a stake in a start-up that was valued at $3.55 billion this month. Uber will continue to operate its ride-hailing business in the country, where it competes with a local rival, Ola.

The two local food delivery leaders in India, Zomato and Swiggy, were already well established and together controlled about 80 percent of the food delivery market. Zomato said the deal will add Uber’s 10 million in monthly food orders to its own 40 million, giving it a slight edge over Swiggy. In particular, the acquisition will bolster Zomato’s position in southern India, Swiggy’s stronghold.

Uber Eats never managed to attract many restaurants or customers in India, despite the company’s ride-hailing business. There was little synergy between the two businesses, since food delivery in India is done by motorcycle couriers, while rides are provided mostly by cars.

For the first three quarters of 2019, Uber Eats in India accounted for 3 percent of the gross booking for Eats globally and at least 25 percent of its adjusted operating losses, according to a person with knowledge of the finances who was not authorized to speak publicly.

Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s chief executive, told investors in a November conference call that he planned to make Uber Eats the primary or secondary food delivery service in every city where it operates. If the plan failed, “we’ll look to dispose or we’ll get out of the market,” he said.

Uber has recently ceded ground in several of the international markets where it operates. It pulled Uber Eats from South Korea in September and sold off its ride-hailing business in Southeast Asia to a local competitor in 2018.

Last March, Uber purchased its largest competitor in the Middle East, Careem, as a hedge against competition there. That deal has been approved by regulators in most of Careem’s markets.

For Zomato, buying the Uber Eats business in India will help it compete against Swiggy. Both companies have been raising money from investors — and burning through much of it — as they fight over the small orders that dominate India’s food delivery market.

Zomato began in 2008 as an online guide that scanned menus from restaurants. It later added reviews and reservation features, and more recently, food delivery, which is now the core of its business. Its investors include Ant Financial, which added $150 million to Zomato’s coffers in a fund-raising round this month.

To increase revenue, Zomato began a loyalty program in 2017 called Zomato Gold that gave diners buy-one-get-one-free deals at thousands of restaurants. The program, which was very popular, was initially limited to in-person dining but later extended to delivery.

Last year, hundreds of restaurants dropped out of the program in a coordinated campaign, citing large losses. The industry is still battling Zomato and other food-delivery services over what restaurateurs see as a culture of deep discounts that are ultimately paid for by restaurant owners.

Vindu Goel reported from Mumbai, India, and Kate Conger from San Francisco.

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The Davos Plutocrats Warm Up to Trump

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DAVOS, Switzerland — The last time President Trump arrived at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting, his trip was treated with deep skepticism, if not disdain, by the business and political leaders who gather once a year in this ski town in the Swiss Alps. It was 2018 and even with his newly enacted tax cuts, his populist, antiglobalist rhetoric and Twitter outbursts were more than enough to make the event’s collection of plutocrats uneasy.

This time is likely to be different.

With the stock market at record highs, two trade deals announced and the possibility that Mr. Trump may be in office for another four years, there is an increasing sense that he will be accepted, if not embraced (although some attendees may roll their eyes behind his back) when he arrives on Tuesday, even as he faces an impeachment trial.

As anathema as it may be to some participants, Mr. Trump may be the new Davos Man.

The Davos forum, marking its 50th year, has always sought to foster a sense of multilateral unity. But Mr. Trump, along with his counterpart in Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is seemingly moving the world into a tariff based, decoupled universe, based on bilateral negotiations and diplomacy by tweet.

To the surprise of many Davos regulars, the economic results have yet to prove as disastrous as they expected — and, at least in the short term, have seemingly proven to be quite positive. (The long-term effects, of course, are still unknown.)

Even Mr. Trump’s most ardent detractors acknowledge that an acceptance of the president is settling in among the Davos crowd.

“We are all adjusting to his abnormal behavior,” said the investor Anthony Scaramucci, Mr. Trump’s onetime spokesman turned enemy who has been a Davos regular for over a decade and hosts a wine tasting party that has become a hot ticket for the boldfaced names. “The economic strength helps their cognitive dissonance,” he said.

Just last week, a lineup of some executives who will attend the Davos forum were in the audience at the White House when Mr. Trump signed the initial China trade deal. They more than politely applauded.

“Will you say, ‘Thank you, Mr. President’ at least? Huh?” Mr. Trump asked Mary Erdoes, the chief executive of JPMorgan’s asset and wealth management division and a Davos regular, along with Jamie Dimon, the bank’s C.E.O. “They just announced earnings, and they were incredible,” Mr. Trump said about JPMorgan. “They were very substantial. I made a lot of bankers look very good. But you’re doing a great job. Say hello to Jamie.”

Stephen Schwarzman, the co-founder of Blackstone, who often gets calls from global C.E.O.s seeking advice on how to manage relations with Mr. Trump because of his close relationship with him, said there has been a shift among the C-suite crowd.

“The attitude of the business community toward the Trump Administration appears quite positive,” said Mr. Schwarzman, who runs one of the world’s biggest investment funds. Among the reasons for the warm feelings, he said, are the strength of the economy, trade deals with China, Mexico and Canada, the tax bill and the elimination of regulations.

Still, if there is one topic expected to dominate the week here besides Mr. Trump himself, it will be an issue that he and the Davos community vehemently disagree about: climate change

Just last week, Satya Nadella, the chief executive of Microsoft — and a Davos participant — announced the company would be carbon negative by 2030, and by 2050 it would seek to remove all of the carbon it has ever emitted since its founding in 1975. The World Economic Forum itself announced the meeting would be carbon neutral after it bought carbon credits to offset carbon emission from the event.

Of course, Mr. Trump doesn’t believe in climate change and pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement to the horror of most of the executives and attendees of Davos.

He is likely to hear criticism from activists like Greta Thunberg, the high school phenom who has become a global icon for the climate. And he may get some nudging from C.E.O.s, but, unlike the activists, they will be unlikely to confront him publicly out of fear that he might turn on them or their companies.

“The Davos crowd are well respected followers of fashion and love whomever is in power,” said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, the senior associate dean at the Yale School of Management and an expert on corporate leadership. “They celebrate when the people are rich and powerful.”

Mr. Sonnenfeld pointed out that, despite the stock market run-up, only “12 percent anticipate economic conditions will improve over the next six months, up from just 4 percent in the third quarter,” according to the Conference Board’s most recent survey of chief executives.

While the business community has come to accept Mr. Trump — one executive described the view by saying “life is relative” — Mr. Sonnenfeld noted that a poll he conducted three weeks ago found that 56 percent of C.E.O.s favored the president’s impeachment and removal from office.

Mr. Trump may find himself flattered by the Davos audience. Whether it is genuine flattery or something else remains an open question. Whatever the answer, Mr. Scaramucci is convinced it is all self-interested: “The unspeakable truth is that C.E.O.s and their staff are horrified.”

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India Targets Jeff Bezos Over Amazon and Washington Post

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MUMBAI, India — Jeff Bezos’ ownership of The Washington Post has complicated business for his much bigger company, Amazon, in Trump-era Washington.

Now the same thing could be happening in New Delhi under India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, who has increasingly sought to rein in both the international news media and foreign technology companies.

Last week, a senior official of Mr. Modi’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party criticized The Post’s coverage of the country during a visit by Mr. Bezos to announce new investments in India, one of Amazon’s fastest-growing markets.

The official, Vijay Chauthaiwale, urged Mr. Bezos to return to Washington and “impart some wisdom” to Post employees about the bright prospects for India that Mr. Bezos was touting in New Delhi.

On the same day, Mr. Modi’s commerce minister, Piyush Goyal, dismissed Mr. Bezos’ announcement of a fresh $1 billion investment to help small businesses in the country. “It is not as if they are doing a favor to India,” Mr. Goyal told reporters. He then referred to the antitrust investigation of Amazon and its chief rival that Indian regulators opened the day before Mr. Bezos arrived.

Although both men later tempered their remarks, the double-barreled assault on The Post and Amazon is reminiscent of President Trump, who has repeatedly attacked Mr. Bezos, The Post’s coverage of his administration, and Amazon — often all in the same tweet.

Amazon filed a lawsuit against the United States government late last year, arguing that a multibillion-dollar federal contract for cloud services had been awarded to Microsoft because of Mr. Trump’s personal animus toward Mr. Bezos. The Trump administration has denied that the president’s feelings influenced the decision.

A Washington Post opinion editor, Eli Lopez, responded to Mr. Chauthaiwale’s comments on Twitter: “Just to clarify: Jeff Bezos doesn’t tell Washington Post journalists what to write. Independent journalism is not about charming governments. But there’s no question the work of our correspondents and columnists fits within India’s democratic traditions.”

An Amazon spokeswoman in India declined to comment.

In an interview, Mr. Chauthaiwale said that India was not trying to link its policies toward Amazon with concerns about The Post’s news coverage. “I don’t think the Indian government will do these things,” he said. “We also know that business is different from journalism.”

But he said that The Post’s coverage of India, particularly in its opinion pages, had been unfairly biased against the government. “The Washington Post does not want to give its readers both parts of the narrative,” he said.

The Post said in a statement that it had “covered India fairly and accurately, even when the government has imposed tight restrictions on the flow of information, as it did with Kashmir.” The news organization added that its Opinion department published a variety of viewpoints from India and around the world.

Over the past year and a half, the Modi government and its B.J.P. allies have grown increasingly strident in their criticism of foreign news media. That criticism swelled into a cacophony over international news coverage of the government’s decision in August to strip away the statehood of the predominantly Muslim region of Jammu and Kashmir, send in troops, shut down the internet and arrest community leaders and opposition politicians.

The Post and other news outlets, including The New York Times, published numerous reports contradicting the government’s claims that all was peaceful and normal in Kashmir.

In response, senior officials like the external affairs minister, S. Jaishankar, have complained in Washington and New York about the reporting. Mr. Jaishankar also canceled a meeting with members of the United States Congress after leaders refused to exclude Representative Pramila Jayapal, Democrat of Washington, who has sponsored a resolution urging the Modi government to lift restrictions in Kashmir.

In India, the government has increased limits on foreign news outlets, including shortening the duration of journalists’ visas and preventing them from going to Kashmir and to Assam, the center of a fight over a new citizenship law that is perceived as anti-Muslim.

In the realm of business, the government has also taken a nationalistic approach, seeking to rein in the power of foreign technology giants like Facebook, Google, Amazon and Flipkart, an Indian e-commerce site purchased by Walmart in 2018.

Some business leaders see the effort as counterproductive as India struggles to reverse a deepening economic slump and rising inflation.

Others suggested that the rhetoric is tougher in public than in private.

“I’ve been in touch with our member companies,” said Mukesh Aghi, the chief executive of the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum, a business group whose members include PepsiCo, Cisco, Mastercard, Boeing and Disney. “Over all, we are not experiencing any change in sentiment with regard to investment in India.”

Mr. Aghi said that the United States and India were working to improve their relationship, with the hope that Mr. Trump and Mr. Modi could sign a long-awaited trade deal during a possible visit by the American president to India at the end of February.

“There will be positive changes for U.S. companies in India,” Mr. Aghi said.

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China Says It Will Ban Plastics That Pollute Its Land and Water

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BEIJING — It’s piled up in landfills. It clutters fields and rivers, dangles from trees, and forms flotillas of waste in the seas. China’s use of plastic bags, containers and cutlery has become one of its most stubborn and ugliest environmental blights.

So the Chinese government has introduced measures to drastically cut the amount of disposable plastic items that often become a hazard and an eyesore in the country, even deep in the countryside and in the oceans.

Among the new guidelines are bans on the import of plastic waste and the use of nonbiodegradable plastic bags in major cities by the end of this year. Other sources of plastic garbage will be banned in Beijing, Shanghai and wealthy coastal provinces by the end of 2022, and that rule will extend nationwide by late 2025.

Previous efforts to reduce the use of plastic bags have faltered in China, but the government has indicated that, this time, it will be more serious and systematic in tackling the problem.

“Consumption of plastic products, especially single-use items, has been consistently rising,” said an explanation accompanying the new guidelines, which were released on Sunday by the Environment Ministry and China’s chief industrial planning agency. “There needs to be stronger comprehensive planning and a systematic rollout to clean up plastic pollution.”

The plan is likely to be welcomed by many Chinese, who have become increasingly worried about polluted air, water, soil and natural surroundings. But it could be a hard sell for a society used to the convenience of online retailers and couriers who deliver hot meals and packages swaddled in plastic.

Although people in China generally generate less plastic waste per capita than Americans, almost three-quarters of China’s plastic waste ends up in poorly managed landfills or out in the open.

Environmental campaigners in China welcomed the effort to reduce plastic use, though some said it was not strict or detailed enough. Others raised doubts about the government’s ability to develop and promote substitutes for nonbiodegradable plastics that linger in soil, waterways and oceans for decades, even centuries.

Given the severity of China’s pollution problems, greater urgency is needed, said Chen Liwen, a founder of China Zero Waste Villages, which promotes recycling in rural areas.

“It’s certainly better than nothing,” she said, adding, “For disposable products — disposable plastic bags or many disposable food utensils — they should be outright banned.”

Tang Damin, a campaigner in Beijing for Greenpeace East Asia, said in emailed comments that while “Beijing is addressing the problem seriously and pushing reusable containers as the right solution,” the policy would be far more effective with incentives like deposit return programs.

The Chinese government appears to think that companies and consumers need time to get used to life with much less single-use plastic.

Even wealthy economies have moved gingerly to ban plastic bags. Last year, New York State approved a ban on most single-use plastic bags that is to take effect on March 1, making it only the second state after California to impose such a prohibition.

China’s plan for ending reliance on throwaway plastic sets out three phases until 2025. The restrictions start in bigger cities like Beijing and Shanghai, then move to smaller cities and towns, and lastly to villages.

By the end of the year, the guidelines say, China will ban disposable foam plastic cutlery. Shops, restaurants and markets in major cities will have to stop using nonbiodegradable plastic bags by that deadline, and restaurants and food vendors nationwide will have to stop using straws made from nonbiodegradable plastic.

China’s package delivery sector will have more time to adjust. By the end of 2022, couriers in Beijing, Shanghai and wealthy coastal provinces will have to stop using nonbiodegradable plastic packaging, tape and single-use sacks woven from plastic. By late 2025, that ban will extend nationwide.

The policy’s effects may not be immediately visible, said William Liu, a senior consultant in Shanghai for Wood Mackenzie, which advises businesses about chemicals, energy and related sectors.

“But going forward,” he said in an email, “as the ban rolls out to more cities and substitute materials gain traction, China’s polyethylene consumption will be impacted.”

One sizable obstacle — given the size of China’s consumer market, the ubiquity of plastic and the amount that ends up being dumped — is the foam plastic food containers that most restaurants use for takeout orders and that are rarely reused.

Orders sold online through Alibaba, JD.com, Meituan and other Chinese e-commerce outlets often arrive wrapped in multiple layers of plastic, apparently reflecting vendors’ fears that customers will reject dented or soiled deliveries. Chinese courier services used nearly 25 billion plastic bags for deliveries in 2018, according to an industry estimate cited by Workers’ Daily and other Chinese news outlets.

“The levels of environmental protection and recycling will really upgrade only if the entire supply chain follows through,” said Zheng Yixing, the founder of the Heli Environmental Technology Company in Beijing, which promotes commercial recycling.

The government said it would consider blacklisting companies that flout the plastic bans. The cooperation of the big online retail companies will be crucial, said Mr. Tang, the plastics campaigner.

“Food delivery and e-commerce ballooned China’s dependence on single-use plastics and a general throwaway culture,” he said. “It is time for Alibaba, JD.com and Meituan to stop shying away from their role in the plastics crisis.”

Wen Jing, a 28-year-old office worker in Beijing’s finance industry, said she welcomed the proposed restrictions, even if they brought inconvenience.

“There are too many plastic products in life, and it’s polluting the environment,” she said in an interview. “But I think all the right things need to be in place so there are substitutes.”

She had just left a supermarket with groceries in a plastic bag. “I bring my own bag,” she said, “though sometimes I still don’t.”

Albee Zhang contributed research.

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Tony Hall to Step Down as BBC Chief

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LONDON — After leading the British Broadcasting Corporation for seven years, Tony Hall said on Monday that he would resign this summer, an unexpected announcement that made no mention of the gender pay-gap scandal that has dogged the institution in recent years.

“If I followed my heart I would genuinely never want to leave,” Mr. Hall, 68, said in an email to BBC employees on Monday. “However, I believe that an important part of leadership is putting the interests of the organization first.”

Explaining his decision to leave the post of director general, Mr. Hall pointed to a review of the BBC’s performance by lawmakers in 2022, and said that its charter would be up for renewal in 2027. He stressed the importance of having the same leader for both events.

His resignation comes less than a month after the BBC lost a high-profile court case over pay disparity: Samira Ahmed, a well-known female TV host, sued the broadcaster for 700,000 pounds, or about $915,000, in back pay after she learned a male colleague doing similar work was paid more than six times as much. In 2018, the BBC apologized to a former China editor, Carrie Gracie, and said it would provide backdated wages after she quit over unequal pay.

The broadcaster has also faced charges of bias from the new Conservative government. Some lawmakers have taken aim at the BBC’s main source of funding: the £154 annual license fee charged to all television viewers across the country.

“I think the BBC is in some turmoil over its election coverage,” Roy Greenslade, a professor of journalism at City University of London and a media commentator for The Guardian, said in a phone interview. “I don’t know whether that had any impact on Tony’s decision to go, but I’m sure he has picked up the unusual level of criticism.”

Critics have asked for years why the BBC is allowed to use taxpayer money as it competes with private broadcasting companies. Before the general election in December, Prime Minister Boris Johnson questioned whether the model “still makes sense in the long term given the way that other organizations manage to fund themselves.”

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How Boeing’s Responsibility in a Deadly Crash ‘Got Buried’

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After a Boeing 737 crashed near Amsterdam more than a decade ago, the Dutch investigators focused blame on the pilots for failing to react properly when an automated system malfunctioned and caused the plane to plummet into a field, killing nine people.

The fault was hardly the crew’s alone, however. Decisions by Boeing, including risky design choices and faulty safety assessments, also contributed to the accident on the Turkish Airlines flight. But the Dutch Safety Board either excluded or played down criticisms of the manufacturer in its final report after pushback from a team of Americans that included Boeing and federal safety officials, documents and interviews show.

The crash, in February 2009, involved a predecessor to Boeing’s 737 Max, the plane that was grounded last year after accidents in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed 346 people and hurled the company into the worst crisis in its history.

A review by The New York Times of evidence from the 2009 accident, some of it previously confidential, reveals striking parallels with the recent crashes — and resistance by the team of Americans to a full airing of findings that later proved relevant to the Max.

In the 2009 and Max accidents, for example, the failure of a single sensor caused systems to misfire, with catastrophic results, and Boeing had not provided pilots with information that could have helped them react to the malfunction. The earlier accident “represents such a sentinel event that was never taken seriously,” said Sidney Dekker, an aviation safety expert who was commissioned by the Dutch Safety Board to analyze the crash.

Dr. Dekker’s study accused Boeing of trying to deflect attention from its own “design shortcomings” and other mistakes with “hardly credible” statements that admonished pilots to be more vigilant, according to a copy reviewed by The Times.

The study was never made public. The Dutch board backed away from plans to publish it, according to Dr. Dekker and another person with knowledge of its handling. A spokeswoman for the Dutch board said it was not common to publish expert studies and the decision on Dr. Dekker’s was made solely by the board.

At the same time, the Dutch board deleted or amended findings in its own accident report about issues with the plane when the same American team weighed in. The board also inserted statements, some nearly verbatim and without attribution, written by the Americans, who said that certain pilot errors had not been “properly emphasized.”

The muted criticism of Boeing after the 2009 accident fits within a broader pattern, brought to light since the Max tragedies, of the company benefiting from a light-touch approach by safety officials.

References to Dr. Dekker’s findings in the final report were brief, not clearly written and not sufficiently highlighted, according to multiple aviation safety experts with experience in crash investigations who read both documents.

One of them, David Woods, a professor at the Ohio State University who has served as a technical adviser to the Federal Aviation Administration, said the Turkish Airlines crash “should have woken everybody up.”

Some of the parallels between that accident and the more recent ones are particularly noteworthy. Boeing’s design decisions on both the Max and the plane involved in the 2009 crash — the 737 NG, or Next Generation — allowed a powerful computer command to be triggered by a single faulty sensor, even though each plane was equipped with two sensors, as Bloomberg reported last year. In the two Max accidents, a sensor measuring the plane’s angle to the wind prompted a flight control computer to push its nose down after takeoff; on the Turkish Airlines flight, an altitude sensor caused a different computer to cut the plane’s speed just before landing.

Boeing had determined before 2009 that if the sensor malfunctioned, the crew would quickly recognize the problem and prevent the plane from stalling — much the same assumption about pilot behavior made with the Max.

And as with the more recent crashes, Boeing had not included information in the NG operations manual that could have helped the pilots respond when the sensor failed.

Even a fix now proposed for the Max has similarities with the past: After the crash near Amsterdam, the F.A.A. required airlines to install a software update for the NG that compared data from the plane’s two sensors, rather than relying on just one. The software change Boeing has developed for the Max also compares data from two sensors.

Critically, in the case of the NG, Boeing had already developed the software fix well before the Turkish Airlines crash, including it on new planes starting in 2006 and offering it as an optional update on hundreds of other aircraft. But for some older jets, including the one that crashed near Amsterdam, the update wouldn’t work, and Boeing did not develop a compatible version until after the accident.

The Dutch investigators deemed it “remarkable” that Boeing left airlines without an option to obtain the safeguard for some older planes. But in reviewing the draft accident report, the Americans objected to the statement, according to the final version’s appendix, writing that a software modification had been unnecessary because “no unacceptable risk had been identified.” GE Aviation, which had bought the company that made the computers for the older jets, also suggested deleting or changing the sentence.

The Dutch board removed the statement, but did criticize Boeing for not doing more to alert pilots about the sensor problem.

Dr. Woods, who was Dr. Dekker’s Ph.D. adviser, said the decision to exclude or underplay the study’s principal findings enabled Boeing and its American regulators to carry out “the narrowest possible changes.”

The problem with the single sensor, he said, should have dissuaded Boeing from using a similar design in the Max. Instead, “the issue got buried.”

Boeing declined to address detailed questions from The Times. In a statement, the company pointed to differences between the 2009 accident and the Max crashes. “These accidents involved fundamentally different system inputs and phases of flight,” the company said.

Asked about its involvement with the Dutch accident report, Boeing said it was “typical and critical to successful investigations for Boeing and other manufacturers to work collaboratively with the investigating authorities.”

Joe Sedor, the N.T.S.B. official who led the American team working on the Turkish Airlines investigation, said it was not unusual for investigating bodies to make changes to a report after receiving feedback, or for American safety officials to jointly submit their comments with Boeing.

Mr. Sedor is now overseeing the N.T.S.B.’s work on the Max crashes. He acknowledged that reliance on a single sensor was a contributing factor in both cases but cautioned against focusing on it.

“Each of these accidents were complex and dynamic events with many contributing factors,” he said. “Boiling them down simply to the number of inputs ignores the many, many more issues that differentiate them.”

The F.A.A., in a statement, also emphasized the “unique set of circumstances” surrounding each accident. “Drawing broad connections between accidents involving different types of emergencies oversimplifies what is, by definition, a complex science,” it said.

The agency, also part of the American team in the Dutch investigation, declined to say whether the lessons from the Turkish Airlines crash factored into its decision to certify the Max — which was approved to fly in 2017 and became the fastest-selling plane in Boeing’s history.

But a senior F.A.A. official, who was not authorized to speak publicly, praised Dr. Dekker’s study and said it identified important issues that had not received enough public attention. The official pointed to the similarities — such as the reliance on a single sensor — between the Turkish Airlines crash and the Max accidents.

A spokeswoman for the Dutch board, Sara Vernooij, said it was common practice to amend draft reports in response to outside comments, but she declined to address the specific changes. Other companies and government bodies involved in the investigation, such as the French firm that made the sensors and that country’s aviation safety board, also submitted comments, but the American submission was the most extensive.

Ms. Vernooij said the Dutch agency regarded the Dekker study as confidential. “The parts considered relevant by the board were used while writing the final report,” she said.

On the morning of Feb. 25, 2009, Turkish Airlines Flight 1951 approached Amsterdam, carrying 128 passengers from Istanbul. The first officer guided the plane toward Runway 18R, calling out changes to its speed and direction. He was new to the Boeing jet, so the crew included a third pilot in addition to the captain, who was a former Turkish Air Force officer with about 13 years of experience flying the aircraft.

Because of instructions from air traffic control, the crew had to execute a maneuver that could be challenging: slowing while descending more rapidly than normal. They engaged a computer that controlled engine thrust, known as an autothrottle, to help regulate the drop in speed.

As the plane dipped to 1,000 feet, the pilots had not yet completed their landing checklist. Strict adherence to airline procedure would have meant circling around for another try, but violations were commonplace at the busy runway, investigators later determined.

About a minute later, with the plane at about 450 feet, the pilots’ control sticks began shaking, warning of an impending stall. The jet had slowed too much. Immediately, one of the pilots pushed the thrust lever forward to gain speed, but when he let go, the computer commanded it to idle.

The captain intervened, disabling the autothrottle and setting the thrust levers to their maximum. Nine seconds had elapsed since the stall warning. By then, it was too late. The jet plunged into a field less than a mile from the airport.

The three pilots, another crew member and five passengers were killed.

Dutch investigators determined that the cause of the malfunction was a sensor on the plane’s exterior measuring altitude. The sensor had mistakenly indicated that the plane was just moments from touchdown, prompting the computer to idle the engines.

For 70 seconds, the autothrottle had done what the crew intended: steadily cut the plane’s speed. But the pilots failed to notice that the computer did not then maintain the target speed when it was reached; instead, it continued to slow the plane down. The pilots realized what had happened only when the control stick began vibrating.

Losing track of airspeed is considered a grave error. The pilots, who investigators believe were preoccupied with the landing checklist, also missed multiple warnings that the autothrottle was acting up. The Dutch board’s conclusions focused on the decision not to abort the landing, the failure to recognize the dangerous drop in speed and the incorrect response to the shaking control stick, possibly because of inadequate training.

At the request of the American team led by the N.T.S.B., the Dutch added comments that further emphasized the pilots’ culpability. The final report, for example, included a new statement that scolded the captain, saying he could have used the situation to teach the first officer a “lesson” on following protocol.

In their comments, reflected largely in an appendix, the Americans addressed criticism of Boeing in the draft report. A description of the company’s procedures for monitoring and correcting potential safety problems was “technically incorrect, incomplete and overly” simplistic, they wrote. In response, the board inserted a description of Boeing’s safety program written by the Americans and a statement that Boeing’s approach was more rigorous than F.A.A. requirements.

The draft had also referred to studies that found it was common for complex automation to confuse pilots and suggested design and training improvements. The studies, the draft said, included research by “Boeing itself.”

The Americans objected, saying the statements “misrepresent and oversimplify the research results.” In its final report, the board deleted the Boeing reference.

When the Dutch board announced its conclusions during a news conference, its chairman said, “The pilots could have prevented this.”

The Dutch Safety Board had also commissioned Dr. Dekker’s analysis of the accident, which applied an engineering discipline known as human factors. As planes have come to rely on complex computer systems, researchers and investigators have identified design and training practices that can make pilot error less likely.

Dr. Dekker, then a professor in Sweden who had investigated other serious crashes and had worked part time flying a 737, acknowledged fatal mistakes by the Turkish Airlines pilots in his 129-page study.

But he also found that Boeing bore significant responsibility.

While his study was never made public, copies circulated among some researchers and pilots. And his role in the investigation was cited in an appendix to the board’s report. He is now a professor in Australia and the Netherlands.

In the study, Dr. Dekker chastised Boeing for designing the autothrottle to rely on just one of two sensors measuring altitude. That decision, he wrote, left “a single-failure pathway in place,” raising the risk that a single error could lead to catastrophe.

Five years before the Turkish Airlines crash, Boeing was aware that a sensor malfunction could idle the engines improperly, but the company decided it wasn’t a safety concern, the Dutch investigators wrote. After receiving reports about autothrottle misfires that did not lead to accidents, a Boeing review board determined that if a malfunction occurred, pilots would recognize it and intervene.

In the meantime, Boeing developed a software update that allowed the autothrottle to compare the readings from the two altitude sensors. If they differed by more than 20 feet, the autothrottle wouldn’t be able to improperly idle the engines.

The safeguard was available in 2006, but the change wouldn’t work on some 737 NG models, like the Turkish Airlines plane, that used an autothrottle computer made by a different company. After the 2009 crash, Boeing developed a version of the update compatible with those computers, and the F.A.A. required airlines to install it.

The Dekker study found that another decision by Boeing — to leave important information out of the operations manual — had also hampered the Turkish Airlines pilots.

The 737 NG has two parallel sets of computers and sensors, one on the left side of the plane and one on the right. Most of the time, only one set is in control.

On the Turkish Airlines flight, the system on the right was in control. The pilots recognized the inaccurate altitude readings and noted that they were coming from the sensor on the left. This would have led them to conclude that the bad data coming from the left didn’t matter because the autothrottle was getting the correct data from the right, Dr. Dekker found.

What the pilots couldn’t have known was that the computer controlling the engine thrust always relied on the left sensor, even when the controls on the right were flying the plane. That critical information was nowhere to be found in the Boeing pilots’ manual, Dr. Dekker learned.

Erik van der Lely, a 737 NG pilot and instructor for a European airline who studied under Dr. Dekker, told The Times that he had not known about this design peculiarity until he read a copy of the study. “I’m pretty sure none or almost none of the 737 pilots knew that,” he said.

When the draft report criticized Boeing for not giving pilots information that might have helped prevent the accident, the Americans disagreed, citing general directions from the training manual and writing, “Boeing did provide appropriate guidance to flight crews.” The plane was “easily recoverable” if the pilots had followed the proper procedures, they said.

In its final report, the board retained its general conclusion but softened some language.

Boeing later made a similar assessment on the 737 Max. The company did not inform pilots of a new automated system that contributed to both deadly crashes, hindering their ability to counteract its erroneous commands, investigators have determined.

Over all, the final report by the Dutch Safety Board did mention some of Dr. Dekker’s conclusions, but the aviation safety experts who read his study said the systemic issues he raised received too little emphasis.

For example, while the report noted the design quirk not included in the manual, it did so only briefly amid other technical documentation, and the significance of it was unclear. Dr. Dekker estimated that the board included the equivalent of about one page of information from his study in its report, which was 90 pages in addition to appendices.

Today, faced with a public outcry over the Max crashes and demands for reforms, Boeing and the F.A.A. have agreed that more attention should be paid to the engineering discipline Dr. Dekker applied in his study.

Both the N.T.S.B. and a panel of international experts found that Boeing and the F.A.A. had not sufficiently incorporated lessons from this human-factors research when developing and certifying the Max.

But even though the research has been around for decades — an F.A.A. study recommended in 1996 that the industry and regulators embrace the approach more readily — accident investigations have tended to focus on pilot errors while minimizing or ignoring systemic factors, such as design and training problems, experts said.

“It’s really easy to blame it on the dead pilots and say it has nothing to do with our improperly designed system,” said Shawn Pruchnicki, who teaches at Ohio State and has worked on accident investigations for the Air Line Pilots Association.

Dr. Pruchnicki, who studied under Dr. Dekker, said he had participated in numerous investigations in which human-factors experts were largely ignored. “It just gets frustrating because we keep having the same types of accidents,” he said.

Dr. Woods, the Ohio State professor who has advised the F.A.A., wrote an email to colleagues shortly after the first 737 Max crash, in October 2018, of Lion Air Flight 610, which killed 189 people just minutes after taking off from Jakarta, Indonesia. The initial details, he wrote, indicated it was an automation-triggered disaster of the sort that he and others had studied for almost 30 years. He cited research from the 1990s and pointed to the Turkish Airlines crash.

“That this situation has continued on for so long without major action is not how engineering is supposed to work,” he wrote.

After the second Max crash — in March 2019, of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, killing all 157 people on board shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa — Dr. Woods said in an interview, “I was appalled.”

“This is such of a failure of responsibility,” he said. “We’re not supposed to let this happen.”

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Climate Change Takes Center Stage in Davos

anastasios pallis

Even before catastrophic fires broke out in Australia in late fall, climate change was at the top of the list of priorities at the 50th anniversary of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this week.

But those fires — preceded by others in California — along with rising sea levels, flooding and supercharged storms are putting more pressure on the politicians, business executives, financiers, thought leaders and others who attend to show they are part of the solution to one of the world’s most pressing challenges.

In a nod to a younger generation most at risk and demanding action on climate change, Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager who has become a prominent environmental activist, is scheduled to appear. In a column this month in The Guardian that she wrote with other environmental activists, they demanded an end to investments in fossil fuels.

“Anything less than immediately ceasing these investments in the fossil fuel industry would be a betrayal of life itself,” they said. “Today’s business as usual is turning into a crime against humanity. We demand that leaders play their part in putting an end to this madness.”

Daniel Yergin, the oil historian and a regular attendee at the Davos forum, agreed that “climate is going to loom larger than ever before.” And Ian Bremmer, founder and president of the political risk firm Eurasia Group, said: “These issues are becoming more real, more salient every day, whether you are talking about Venice or California or Australia or Jakarta. These are real events with enormous direct human and economic costs.”

But an overriding question as the Davos gathering gets underway is: Will all the talk matter?

Mr. Bremmer, who plans to attend, said the forum could help force change because it brings together big players, like chief executives of banks, money management firms and hedge funds, who are rethinking their investments. Gradually — some say too gradually — financial firms are directing money away from oil companies and others associated with carbon-dioxide emissions blamed for environmental damage.

Financial institutions “see the future coming, and they are changing the way they invest,” Mr. Bremmer said. “That is going to require multinational corporations to act differently; it will lead to new corporations that will do better.”

While thinking on climate change may be shifting, by some metrics the corporate elite that always makes up a large contingent at Davos still has a lot of work to do. According to a study published in December by the Davos organizers, only a quarter of a group of 7,000 businesses are setting a specific emissions reduction target and only an eighth are actually reducing their emissions each year.

If so, they are making a major strategic error, according to Mark Carney, the departing governor of the Bank of England who planned to be in Davos. Companies that work to bring their emissions to zero “will be rewarded handsomely,” Mr. Carney said in a recent speech. “Those that fail to adapt will cease to exist.”

Some people in the financial industry said that environmental issues were being given greater weight in investment decisions despite setbacks like President Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Paris agreement on climate change. The president, who shunned the gathering in Davos last year, said he would go this time.

The number of people who are talking about fossil fuels as a real concern “has increased dramatically over the last 12 to 24 months,” said Jeff McDermott, chief executive of Greentech Capital, an investment bank focused on low-carbon technologies. “They are both looking at the risks of high-carbon companies and industries as well as the returns available from low-carbon alternatives.”

Mr. McDermott said that Davos was a good venue for sifting through such ideas. The conference organizers are also pushing an environmental agenda that supports an ecologist’s notion of persuading the world to plant a trillion trees to soak up carbon dioxide and prodding companies to announce ambitious targets for lowering their emissions.

Potentially, enormous sums could be used to influence corporate behavior. For instance, Climate Action 100+ said investors with around $35 trillion in assets had signed on to its program for pushing companies toward greater disclosure and action on emissions.

“I believe we are on the edge of a fundamental reshaping of finance,” wrote Laurence D. Fink, chief executive of BlackRock, which has nearly $7 trillion under management, in a letter vowing to put sustainability at the core of the firm’s investment approach.

Many likely targets of investor and environmental initiatives may be available at the gathering at the Swiss resort. Among them are the chiefs of the world’s major oil companies, including Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Chevron and Saudi Aramco, who are expected to attend.

In recent months, some of these companies, especially those based in Europe, have been responding to the concerns of investors and other constituents with commitments to reduce their emissions or make investments in other environmentally friendly technology.

Repsol, the Spanish oil company, pledged last month to cut its emissions to zero by 2050 through a combination of actions, including more investments in renewable electricity like wind and solar and, possibly, reforestation. And BP, the London-based oil company, said it was forming a business with other companies for recycling a type of plastic known as PET that is used in soft drink bottles and packaging. In the latest of these pledges, Equinor, the Norwegian company, said it would reduce emissions from its oil and gas fields and plants in its home country to near zero by 2050 by using electricity in its operations and other measures.

Mr. Yergin, who is also vice chairman of IHS Markit, a research firm, said that “energy transition” would be the “two most spoken words at Davos” about the sector.

Marco Alverà, chief executive of Snam, an Italian natural gas company, plans to talk about recent experiments in mixing hydrogen, a fuel that does not produce carbon emissions, with the natural gas that the company delivers to users, potentially lowering their climate impact. Mr. Alverà said he was going to Davos because he thought it would be a “powerful forum” to make his points.

“I don’t think we will solve the climate challenge with taxes or a radical change in consumer behavior,” he said. “I think we can only solve it with business ideas that make business sense.”

The chemical industry, another sector that is integral to modern economies and a target for environmentalists, also plans to make its case at Davos.

A group of about 20 large chemical companies is working on low-carbon technologies, like making chemicals from carbon dioxide and biomass, said Martin Brudenmuller, chief executive of the German chemical company BASF.

Mr. Brudenmuller also said another large coalition in the sector was working on the plastic waste problem, with BASF turning discarded plastic into raw materials for its plants. Mr. Brudenmuller cautioned that such problems, which involve not only new technologies but also organizing the collection and sorting of waste, are so complex and globe-spanning that only an effort of similar scope will succeed in solving them.

“A collaborative effort of companies, governmental and nongovernmental organizations as well as civil society is necessary to address the global challenge of mismanaged waste,” Mr. Brudenmuller wrote in an email.

Awareness of these issue may be growing, but with global emissions continuing to rise governments are falling short on tackling them, according to a pre-conference report issued by the World Economic Forum. Many businesses, too, are failing to set effective targets, the report said. In 2006, Nicholas Stern was the chief author of a seminal study for the British government that set out the case for acting on climate change. More than a decade later, as he prepared to attend the 50th gathering in Davos, Lord Stern, chairman of the Grantham Institute at the London School of Economics, said there were reasons to be encouraged and to worry.

He said that the costs of wind and solar technology had fallen much more rapidly than anticipated. Electric vehicles, he said, were also making more rapid progress than expected, with most automakers talking about the end of the era of the internal combustion engine.

Such advances, he said, are opening attractive opportunities for investors and creating jobs.

He also said the growing activism of young people was crucial in pushing their elders to enact change. “Business people really feel that,” including those who attend Davos, he said, adding that he hoped such pressures would push companies into making commitments on emissions reduction at the meeting.

On the other hand, he said that the world had been slow to act and each report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations agency that tracks emissions, was more worrying than the last.

“I am really optimistic about what it is possible to do,” he said. “But I worry deeply about whether we will.”

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Caneel Bay: Why a Caribbean Paradise Remains in Ruins

anastasios pallis

Browned palm leaves fan over the white-sand beaches of Caneel Bay Resort. Peeling paint buckles on the exterior walls of roofless cabins. Inside, white curtains, still knotted, drape like ripped cobwebs from windows, and mold-matted mattresses sag without their frames. A back door swings wide.

Long considered the crown jewel of St. John, a small emerald island found among the U.S. Virgin Islands and cut with curved bays and set against the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, the 170 secluded acres of Caneel Bay once drew presidents, movie stars and literary icons — from John Steinbeck and Lady Bird Johnson to Meryl Streep and Mitch McConnell.

More than 15,000 people annually visited the property nestled within the Virgin Islands National Park and home to a handful of endangered species. The four-star eco-resort, established by the Rockefeller family, was one of the first in the United States.

“It was a first-class experience without the pretentiousness of the rest of the world,” said Bob Rice, a guest from Needham, Mass., who stayed at the property with his family eight times. “You just got nature at its best.”

Two weeks in September 2017 changed that. Hurricanes Irma and Maria — both Category Five storms — flogged St. John, ripping apart structures and flooding what remained.

Even as other accommodations in the region have reopened, Caneel Bay remains in tatters. Those who have ventured inside recall a newspaper on the front desk dated September 2017 — just before the first storm. Scheduled weddings marked the chalkboard, they say, and rats could be seen scurrying across the wine cellar floor.

While the hurricanes ripped apart the resort’s infrastructure in a matter of hours, the storms’ lingering aftermath laid bare its long-festering problems, which include an unorthodox land-use agreement with the federal government, possible environmental contamination that predated the storms and contentious relationships between the staff and management. Together, they have stalled the resort’s reconstruction and hurt the island’s economy.

Caneel Bay’s future is tied up in a dispute between its owner, CBI Acquisitions, which took over the resort in 2004, and the National Park Service, which owns the land where Caneel Bay sits. CBI Acquisitions says they cannot afford to rebuild unless they get an extension of their right to control and use the resort property from the Park Service.

In turn, the Park Service says that the agreement needs to be renegotiated and that it needs to complete environmental testing — on hold since 2014 — to determine the extent of mercury, arsenic and other hazardous chemicals previously found on the property, as well as the cost of the cleanup.

Bob Natt and his wife, Helen, honeymooned at Caneel Bay in 1971. As their family grew, they spread to several cabins, staying some 30 to 35 times over 46 years.

“Getting a Christmas cottage on Caneel Bay was like something you put in your will — it was that hard to get,” said Mr. Natt, who lives in Easton, Conn.

To stay in its 166 simply furnished cabins, guests spent an average of $727 a night — and up to almost $2,000 for Christmas in 2017.

Mr. Natt, 71, has maintained contact with management. “I said ‘the day you open, I want to be on the first ferry over’.”

In 2017, less than two weeks after employees waved the last boatload of guests from the dock, ahead of an annual eight-week hurricane season closure, Hurricane Irma hammered St. John and neighboring St. Thomas, splintering trees, ripping off roofs, twisting metal frames and collapsing walls.

Twelve days later, Hurricane Maria swallowed what little remained — including the initial repair efforts — dumping up to three feet of rain atop the devastation.

At other hotels, the push to rebuild was almost immediate. The Westin St. John Resort Villas, one of the few other resorts on St. John, employed staff to help with the cleanup, which took 16 months. The resort fully reopened to guests last February.

At first, Caneel employees — who made up seven percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands’ total employment in the hotel and restaurant sector, “putting Caneel on par with Walmart in terms of the number of jobs created in a state by a single employer,” according to a Congressional white paper — expected they would be similarly involved in their resort’s clean up, as they had with previous storms.

But this time, hundreds of workers found themselves unemployed. Unionized employees, some who had worked on the resort for decades, received termination letters by mail.

“The whole community is hurting,” said Theresa Germain, a housekeeper who retired months before the storms and worked on the resort about 35 years.

But no rebuilding began.

CBI Acquisitions, a limited liability company based in Connecticut and created to purchase the resort, has the rights for land use and occupancy until 2023. Gary Engle, the resort’s principal owner, has refused to rebuild without an extension of those rights, saying it is not worth the investment of about $100 million to rebuild most units and install new electrical wiring and plumbing, among other tasks.

“Lack of clarity is the major problem with the resort right now,” Mr. Engle said in an interview. “Because without fixing the uncertainty, there’s no money that’s going to be invested in this property.”

The destroyed resort is an inescapable sight on such a small island. Only the main entrance has been repaired. For $20, visitors can take a golf cart ride from there to Honeymoon Beach, the only beach out of seven associated with the resort that has reopened.

The golf cart trundles over a potholed path, jagged with bare pipes and winds past an eerie landscape of deserted cabins, overgrown brush and felled trees.

In 1952, while cruising along the Caribbean, Laurance Spelman Rockefeller, the grandson of the oil tycoon and a successful venture capitalist and conservationist, docked at Caneel Bay, where he bought the stock of an existing resort.

Mr. Rockefeller and another developer soon began buying real estate around the resort. Despite reservations from some residents, they planned to create a national park.

Eventually, Mr. Rockefeller turned over more than 5,000 acres to the National Park Service, which today owns almost two-thirds of the island.

In 1956, Mr. Rockefeller opened an environmentally focused resort in the heart of the newly created Virgin Islands National Park — on land he kept for himself.

Theovald E. Moorehead, a native of St. John and local lawmaker who successfully petitioned Congress to prevent islanders’ land from being condemned for the park, grew concerned over changes he witnessed on the island.

“We like tourists but we will not sacrifice ourselves to make this a happy place for tourists,” he wrote in 1958. “What we want is a happy island — happy for everyone — including ourselves.”

As the years passed, the Caribbean, a popular destination for American travelers accustomed to luxury hotels, saw an influx of big-brand hoteliers and cruise lines; Many benefited from offshore tax incentives from the U.S. Virgin Islands Economic Development Commission, an organization geared toward aiding companies establishing themselves in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Caneel Bay Plantation, as it was then called, offered an alternative experience beyond chain brand amenities — with cabins just footsteps from the water, and an informal communal teatime where guests mingled each day on the veranda.

The Rockefeller family donated the property to the Park Service in 1983, but based on a vaguely written legal condition, they continued operating the resort through one of their nonprofits, untethered by typical National Park standards.

The “retained use estate” contract — now the only such commercial agreement across the Parks Systems — was 13 pages long, bare bones compared to current park leases, and immediately caused confusion. Within a year, the Interior Department, which oversees the Park Service, explained the parks had “very little authority” on the property, based on “the expansive nature” of the Rockefellers’ reserved rights.

The resort changed hands several times, eventually causing even Mr. Rockefeller concerns. He wrote to the Park Service director in 1988: “It is my sincere hope that you would not consider granting any request to extend the Retained Use Estate at Caneel Bay.” He added that his “intention and expectation” was for the R.U.E. to expire by 2023.

Caneel Bay Resort was one of the region’s few eco-lodge resorts, featuring a reverse osmosis water plant and environmentally friendly upgrades. And the land agreement with the Park Service — which receives no payment for use of the federal property — along with long-extended benefits from the Economic Development Commission, made the resort’s business position enviable.

Shortly after CBI Acquisitions took over the land agreement in 2004, Mr. Engle, started looking for ways to extend the R.U.E.

“That was an essential part of the transaction,” Mr. Engle said of the initial purchase. But despite the benefits, he said it wasn’t all positive, particularly the lack of clarity around what would happen after the agreement expired in 2023.

A bill passed by Congress in 2010 would enable a 40-year extension, following routine environmental testing, and contingent on the company relinquishing the mandates of the R.U.E.

Initial environmental tests were conducted in 2012 and 2014; but while some results were made public, those referring to potential environmental problems were not.

Those unpublished assessments, reviewed by The Times and National Parks Traveler, a news website covering the parks and other protected areas that provided The Times with some documents, noted, among other concerns “a release of hazardous substances or petroleum products” throughout the property, including excessive amounts of mercury and arsenic.

A pipe with “approximately 30 percent asbestos,” considered a high amount, was also found, and an employee told the assessors that more pipes existed.

No health problems have been documented, but the Park Service, which requested the tests as part of departmental policy, noted that more tests were needed. The public was never alerted, and the follow-up tests never happened.

Caitlin Klevorick, a CBI Acquisitions spokeswoman, said by email that the company believed that if any potential environmental problems exist, they resulted before CBI Acquisitions became landholders.

“Caneel Bay was fully committed to and did operate the resort to ensure guests’ safety,” she said.

Michael Litterst, acting chief of public affairs for the Park Service, declined to be interviewed, noting “both pending legislation and potential litigation.”

But Stephanie Roulett, a Park Service spokeswoman, said by email that the agency had tried to get on the property multiple times and had not been granted access. She said that while they could implement a “legal procedure,” they had “thus-far not significantly pushed back.”

A series of letters between Mr. Engle and the Park Service, obtained by The Times, illustrates negotiations at loggerheads.

In April 2019, Mr. Engle sent the Interior department a letter claiming the right to “immediately and automatically” take over the property unless the government paid $70 million and assured indemnification “from all environmental liabilities.”

The agency rejected Mr. Engle’s ultimatum, repeating a request for additional environmental testing.

Ms. Klevorick, the resort spokeswoman, said the company is “committed to further cooperation with the NPS in the next phase of an environmental site investigation.”

Even before the hurricanes forced the resort to shut down, some longtime employees had become increasingly frustrated.

Ms. Germain, the housekeeper and local union representative, said when she started working at the resort in the 1980s, staffers had a sense of pride but that diminished under new management.

“As time passed it got a dose of bad management,” she said. “They treated us really poorly — really bad down to the last.”

Employees who had been full-time said that their hours declined in favor of seasonal workers. (Ms. Klevorick said that CBI Acquisitions “always prioritized” full-time employees over seasonal workers.) Management also instituted a security policy in which it checked employees’ bags before they left the resort each day.

Sheryl Parris, who has been president of the local union representing Caneel Bay since 2012, said that the “very insensitive” practices evoked hard feelings.

Caneel also attempted to reduce its full-time staff, successfully negotiating in April 2017 with the Economic Development Commission to decrease the minimum number of employees with full-time status to 230, a reduction of almost 100 people.

Additionally, despite continuing to collect local tax breaks — including a 90 percent income tax exemption and full exemptions from other taxes — the resort did not actually employ most of their workers year-round. All but a few dozen were let go each year for a six-to-eight week hurricane season closure, beginning in 2009.

Other resorts on nearby islands have also implemented such closures, but previous owners of Caneel Bay had never done seasonal layoffs. At a public hearing the day the work force agreement was announced, one commission member expressed reservations about the habitual layoffs but the resort continued the practice.

Months after the storms, and with the resort moldering on site, Stacey E. Plaskett, the U.S.V.I. delegate in Congress, introduced a new bill allowing a 60-year extension on the R.U.E. to coax the owners to rebuild. Missing from the bill’s text: any mention of required environmental testing.

Some resort staff and the greater St. John community felt excluded from the process and the bill was not well-received, particularly by some former employees who say they still never received paychecks for their last two weeks of work. Ms. Klevorick said the company was unaware of any employees who had not received payment “but recognizes that immediately following the storms it was very chaotic.”

As Ms. Plaskett’s approval rating plummeted on St. John, her working relationship with Mr. Engle also deteriorated; he appeared uninterested in working with the community, she said.

Mr. Engle acknowledged community frustration.

“Maybe when I was down there I didn’t handle it as well as I could have,” he said. “I want to do the right thing for the employees, I want to do the right thing for the community and the Virgin Islands.”

Then, about a year after the storms, Mr. Engle invited former employees and others onto the resort property for a meeting. Several people there recalled him framing the rebuild as contingent on the bill’s passage. Ms. Parris recalled employees offering to return and clean up, but instead, she said of the company: “They were waiting for that bill and so they kept all the employees waiting.”

The bill died. Ms. Plaskett said she has no plans to introduce new legislation.

Negotiations between CBI Acquisitions and the Park Service are ongoing. Last month, the company submitted a proposal to the service, and Ms. Roulett said earlier this month that the agency was currently drafting its own.

The loss of tourism has had lasting effects on bars and restaurants, as well as cabdrivers, who made the bulk of their money taking guests to and from dinner to places like ZoZo’s at The Sugar Mill, an Italian restaurant once located at Caneel.

“Before, everybody was making something,” recalled Everett Wilkinson, one cabdriver. “Now everyone is hustling for whatever they can make. It’s why most people on the island have two or three jobs — just to survive.”

Previously, he often brought in $200 a day. Now, “$60 and you’re doing good,” he said. “The taxi service right now is down to nothing. We’re sitting right by the dock, and we’re not moving.”

Although Mr. Engle insists that the rebuild has been stalled by uncertainty about what will happen to the property in 2023, court documents filed by certain underwriters at Lloyd’s London, suggest that the company was “grossly underinsured.”

So far the company has received $32 million for a claim of total devastation following Hurricane Irma — although the resort’s insurable value was more than twice that.

Mr. Engle said that the groups are currently arbitrating the company’s claim for a separate payout for Hurricane Maria, saying that the damage incurred by the second storm was distinct from the first — a claim the insurance company has contested. Arbitration is scheduled for April.

Around the time that he was promoting Ms. Plaskett’s bill to former employees in 2018, Mr. Engle said in an interview with a local reporter that he was in a position of power with an insurance payout that did not require him to rebuild.

“I could take that money and walk away, or I can take that money and reinvest and maybe put up a little more capital and turn this into something special,” Mr. Engle said. “Without Caneel Bay, St. John is going to implode.”

Recalling that interview, Mr. Engle said that “as a matter of economic fact” the resort brought thousands of visitors to St. John and that “the amount of money that was spent by Caneel guests both at the resort and in the shops and the restaurants in Cruz Bay was very significant for an island with several thousand people.”

“I was basically stating the obvious,” he concluded.

A new environmentally sustainable resort is set to open in early 2021 on Lovango Cay, an island belonging to St. John and a 10-minute boat ride from Caneel Bay.

Mark and Gwenn Snider, who own resorts in Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, are designing the solar- and wind-powered resort.

“We’re really hoping to just have people do what they do best,” Mr. Snider said. “ Come down, help the economy — not to impose on the community — and travel with just their footprints.”

The hurricanes that battered the Caribbean in recent years have brought to light the region’s deeper issues with economies overly dependent on tourism. On St. John, all of those issues have come to a head.

“Keep in mind this has never happened in the Virgin Islands before,” said Ms. Parris, the union president. “We didn’t have hurricanes like this. We had hurricanes where trees would fall, but we went back to work. ”

And still, Caneel Bay’s devoted patrons hope one day they can return.

Mr. Natt, the longtime guest, said his family has returned to the region three times since the storms, though not to St. John.

“We have not found anything on the Caribbean that has been as good,” he said. “Without Caneel, the grandkids didn’t want to go.”

Emily Palmer, a journalist based in New York, contributes frequently to The New York Times and covers courts and crime.

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Trump’s China Deal Creates Collateral Damage for Tech Firms

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WASHINGTON — Among the corporate titans recognized last week by President Trump during a White House signing ceremony for his China trade deal was Sanjay Mehrotra, the chief executive of Micron Technology, whose Idaho semiconductor company is at the heart of Mr. Trump’s trade war.

Micron, which makes memory chips for computers and smartphones, is precisely the kind of advanced technology company that the Trump administration views as crucial to maintaining a competitive edge over China. After Micron rebuffed a 2015 takeover attempt by a Chinese state-owned company, it watched with disbelief as its innovations were stolen and copied by a Chinese competitor and its business was blocked from China.

China’s treatment of American companies like Micron fed Mr. Trump’s decision to unleash a punishing trade war with the world’s second-largest economy, a fight he said would halt Beijing’s use of unfair practices to undermine the United States. But that two-year conflagration may wind up being more damaging to American technology companies.

The initial trade deal announced last week should make operating in China easier for companies like Micron. The deal contains provisions meant to protect American technology and trade secrets and allow companies to challenge China on accusations of theft, including older cases like Micron’s that precede the agreement.

But Mr. Trump’s aggressive trade approach has also accelerated a technology arms race between the two countries, putting American companies like Micron at risk as the two nations try to decouple their economies. In an effort to reduce its reliance on American components, China has expedited efforts to produce its own semiconductors, driverless cars, artificial intelligence and other technologies. Those efforts, along with the Trump administration’s desire to restrict the sales of American tech products to China, could hurt the very companies Mr. Trump set out to protect.

“Let’s be clear, the trade war has been very bad for the semiconductor industry in several ways,” said Robert D. Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a think tank funded by the tech industry. “It’s like China woke up and said, ‘We’ve relied too much on the United States.’”

The trade deal does nothing to curtail China’s use of subsidies, industrial plans and state-owned companies, which have helped it build formidable industries in steel, wind turbines and solar panels. Those state-directed efforts, which put many American manufacturers out of business, are now being harnessed for high-tech industries.

The Trump administration is constructing its own walls around American technology, reducing access to the lucrative Chinese market out of security concerns. It is restricting exports of sensitive technologies, barring sales to certain Chinese companies and blocking Chinese entities from investing in the United States.

The administration is considering further restricting sales to Huawei, the Chinese telecom company that relies on components from Micron and other American suppliers. And the China trade deal leaves tariffs on more than $360 billion in Chinese goods in place as Mr. Trump tries to push American companies to bring manufacturing back home.

Semiconductor sales to China, which represent more than half the global chip demand, have fallen, and semiconductor stocks have been whipsawed by the trade war.

Mr. Trump and his supporters say that conflict is no longer avoidable, and that the president’s unconventional approach is necessary to take on a growing threat from China. Officials across the administration look with suspicion on Chinese industrial plans, including Made in China 2025, which called for $300 billion in financing and other support for 10 advanced industries, including semiconductors.

American officials worry that gaining an advantage in semiconductors would give China both a commercial and military edge.

Chips, which serve as the tiny sensors, brains and memories of all high-tech devices, are crucial to next-generation telecom networks, supercomputers, artificial intelligence and driverless cars, as well as military ships, satellites and aircraft. They are also one of the United States’ largest exports, along with airplanes, oil and cars.

While China’s ability to make chips is still far behind the United States’, the Chinese government, its state-owned enterprises, and provincial and private equity funds have been pumping billions of dollars into the industry, particularly the kind of memory chips that Micron makes. In areas where Chinese companies cannot develop or buy technology, companies say, some will simply steal their intellectual property.

For the Trump administration, which was looking for a fight with China, Micron’s story proved a formative one. As officials prepared an investigation into Chinese intellectual property theft that would ultimately spiral into the trade war, Micron provided a “camera ready” case that fit everything the administration was looking for, one industry executive said.

In 2015, Micron was the target of a $23 billion takeover attempt by a Chinese state-owned company, but the overture was withdrawn over United States national security concerns. In 2016, another Chinese state-owned company, Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit, allegedly worked in concert with a Taiwanese company to steal the American company’s designs and market them as their own.

According to Taiwanese authorities, Fujian Jinhua used Micron’s proprietary designs to build an enormous $5.7 billion microchip factory in China. In 2018, the Department of Justice charged the Chinese company and others with stealing trade secrets from Micron, and the Commerce Department blacklisted it for national security concerns.

The same year, a Chinese court temporarily blocked Micron from selling some products in China, after Fujian Jinhua and another company accused Micron of patent infringement.

Through 2017 and 2018, Micron employees met repeatedly with administration officials, sometimes with the National Security Council and National Economic Council. The company’s case was discussed in internal planning meetings attended by Robert Lighthizer, the United States trade representative, and Peter Navarro, a top Trump trade adviser.

In July of last year, Mr. Trump met at the White House with Mr. Mehrotra of Micron, as well as the chiefs of Intel, Google and Broadcom, to discuss the trade clash with China and the administration’s policies toward Huawei.

Two months later, in an address to the United Nations, Mr. Trump described the Micron theft as a rationale for the trade war.

“To advance the Chinese government’s five-year economic plan, a company owned by the Chinese state allegedly stole Micron’s designs, valued at up to $8.7 billion,” the president said. “Soon, the Chinese company obtains patents for nearly an identical product, and Micron was banned from selling its own goods in China. But we are seeking justice.”

“For years, these abuses were tolerated, ignored or even encouraged,” Mr. Trump added. “But as far as America is concerned, those days are over.”

Chip makers initially supported the Trump administration’s willingness to take on China. Companies had long grumbled about intellectual property theft and unfair treatment in the Chinese market, but they had little recourse: Going public about their troubles could spook investors and invite Chinese retaliation.

Then, in April 2018, the administration announced $50 billion in tariffs that would directly hit semiconductor companies by raising prices for imported equipment and materials. A chip finished in China would be subject to a 25 percent tariff, even if its components had been made in America.

The tariffs caught the industry by surprise. The Semiconductor Industry Association, a trade group, pushed back, telling the United States trade representative in July 2018 that the tariffs would “undermine U.S. technological leadership, cost jobs, and adversely impact U.S. consumers of semiconductor products and the U.S. semiconductor producers.”

Some industry executives grew more nervous as Mr. Trump escalated his trade fight and the prospect of an economic rupture between the United States and China became more real. Chinese customers shifted their purchases to suppliers in South Korea, Taiwan and elsewhere.

Mr. Trump’s trade pact did ink some victories — it includes greater protections for companies like Micron, including preliminary injunctions and expanded legal recourse for theft of trade secrets. It also contains new promises from China to refrain from pressuring American businesses to transfer their technology to Chinese companies, and it allows American companies to sue individuals, including former employees and hackers.

Semiconductor companies said they would press the administration to make more gains in the next phase of negotiations, including subsidies, which Mr. Trump said he plans to address. Just getting China to acknowledge and agree to forgo unfair practices was progress, they said.

In a statement, Micron said it applauded the deal. “We look forward to additional discussions between the countries on significant issues that are important to Micron and the semiconductor industry, such as intellectual property protection and subsidies,” said Jon Hoganson, Micron’s managing director of global government affairs.

But the fight has spilled over into more damaging areas. Last May, the Commerce Department placed Huawei, which makes handsets and telecom equipment, on a national security blacklist that bans it from buying some American products. Other Chinese technology companies were added to the list, and the government began planning which types of advanced technologies it would no longer allow companies to export overseas.

Micron had so far experienced limited effect from Mr. Trump’s tariffs since it does not ship the products it makes in China to the United States. But Huawei’s blacklisting was potentially devastating — 13 percent of Micron’s microprocessor sales are to the Chinese company.

In its fourth-quarter earnings call with investors last September, Micron warned that the clash could damage its bottom line.

“We see ongoing uncertainty surrounding U.S.-China trade negotiations. If the Entity List restrictions against Huawei continue and we are unable to get licenses, we could see a worsening decline in our sales to Huawei over the coming quarters,” Mr. Mehrotra said. Micron’s stock sank 11 percent after his remarks.

Micron, Intel and other companies with global operations initially found a way to keep selling to Huawei since the rule did not restrict products containing less than 25 percent of certain types of American content. But the Commerce Department is considering lowering that threshold and expanding the number of goods subject to the ban, according to five people with knowledge of the plan.

Like other Chinese companies, Huawei has worked to curtail its dependence on America. By substituting parts from Japan and other countries, the company has recently produced handsets and telecom equipment that do not contain any American components.

Its internal semiconductor unit, HiSilicon, has also developed replacements for advanced chips that Huawei once bought from American companies. Huawei said its 2019 sales topped $120 billion, representing 18 percent growth over the year before — less than its initial target, but not by much.

American companies say they are sympathetic to the administration’s complaints about China. But they must compete globally, and they are not willing to forgo access to China, the hub of the global electronics supply chain and probably one of the world’s fastest growing markets for decades to come.

Jim McGregor, the chairman of Greater China for APCO Worldwide, said the trade war and other restrictions were already shaping investment decisions by American technology companies. When deciding where to put their money next, many companies have quietly been looking to invest outside the United States to secure access to China.

“You’ve got to be there, no matter what the president says,” he said.

Raymond Zhong contributed reporting from Beijing.

This article is from NYT – go to source