15/08/2022

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Kevin Spacey was ordered to pay $31 million to the ‘House of Cards’ studio after sexual harassment allegations.

A promotion for the Netflix show “House of Cards” featuring Kevin Spacey in 2016. Netflix and the studio behind the show fired Mr. Spacey after he was accused of sexual harassment.
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Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

An arbitrator ruled last year that Kevin Spacey and his production companies owe MRC, the studio behind the Netflix series “House of Cards,” nearly $31 million for breach of contract following numerous sexual harassment allegations against the actor.

The secret arbitrator’s ruling, which was issued 13 months ago, was made public on Monday when lawyers for MRC petitioned a California court to confirm the award.

Mr. Spacey was once the centerpiece of the hit Netflix series, which ran for six seasons between 2013 and 2018. Mr. Spacey played the main character, the conniving politician Frank Underwood, and served as an executive producer of the series.

While the sixth and final season was being filmed in 2017, the actor Anthony Rapp accused Mr. Spacey of making a sexual advance toward him in 1986, when Mr. Rapp was 14. MRC and Netflix suspended production on the series while they investigated.

Mr. Rapp’s public accusation came just weeks after The New York Times and The New Yorker published articles about the producer Harvey Weinstein and as the #MeToo movement was gaining steam.

By December 2017, after further allegations were made against Mr. Spacey, including by crew members of “House of Cards,” MRC and Netflix fired the actor from the show.

In the arbitration, MRC argued that Mr. Spacey’s behavior caused the studio to lose millions of dollars because it had already spent time and money in developing, writing and shooting the final season. It also said it brought in less revenue because the season had to be shortened to eight episodes from the 13 because Mr. Spacey’s character was written out.

The arbitrator apparently agreed, issuing a reward of nearly $31 million, including compensatory damages and lawyers’ fees.

A lawyer for Mr. Spacey declined to comment.

In a statement, MRC said, “The safety of our employees, sets and work environments is of paramount importance to MRC and why we set out to push for accountability.”

Credit…Emma Howells for The New York Times

Former President Barack Obama’s private foundation announced on Monday that it had been promised $100 million from the Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

The gift, the largest yet for the Obama Foundation, was one in a series of splashy donations in recent months by Mr. Bezos, one of the world’s richest people. Last week, Mr. Bezos announced $96.2 million in grants to groups working to end family homelessness.

Since stepping down as the chief executive of Amazon in July, Mr. Bezos has significantly raised his profile as a philanthropist, in addition to traveling to space on a ship made by his rocket company, Blue Origin.

In return for the donation, Mr. Bezos asked that a plaza at the Obama Presidential Center be named for the civil rights leader John Lewis, who died last year. The center, being built in Chicago, will include a library, a museum, an athletic center and more.

“Freedom fighters deserve a special place in the pantheon of heroes, and I can’t think of a more fitting person to honor with this gift than John Lewis, a great American leader and a man of extraordinary decency and courage,” Mr. Bezos said in a statement released by the Obama Foundation. “I’m thrilled to support President and Mrs. Obama and their foundation in its mission to train and inspire tomorrow’s leaders.”

It was neither Mr. Bezos’ biggest gift in recent months nor his first brush with Mr. Obama’s orbit thanks to his philanthropy. In September, Mr. Bezos, standing alongside John Kerry, Mr. Obama’s former secretary of state, pledged $1 billion through his Bezos Earth Fund for conservation, out of $10 billion he has promised to the fund.

Though Mr. Obama is out of office, he remains an important member of the Democratic Party establishment. The Obama Foundation’s previous president, Adewale Adeyemo, was a member of Mr. Obama’s National Security Council and is now the deputy Treasury secretary.

The Obama Foundation had been reaching out to administration alumni as part of its fund-raising efforts. Jay Carney, a former press secretary for Mr. Obama who is now Amazon’s top lobbying and communications executive, first raised the possibility of a donation with Mr. Bezos, according to the foundation. Mr. Obama and Mr. Bezos spoke several times about the donation and it was Mr. Bezos’ idea to name the plaza for Mr. Lewis.

News of the gift was reported earlier by the online media company Puck.

“We intend to use Jeff’s gift to help support all of our programs,” said Valerie Jarrett, a former senior adviser to Mr. Obama who is now chief executive of the foundation. “It will certainly pay for the plaza, and we’ll have funds also available for our endowment, which will allow the programs to go on in perpetuity.”

The foundation has a global leaders program with fellows in Asia, Europe and Africa, as well as programs aimed at addressing the opportunity gaps for girls and young men of color in the United States.

In 2020, the foundation received $171 million in contributions and grants and ended the year with $564 million in total assets, according to its most recent tax filing. Construction began on the center in August and the formal groundbreaking ceremony was held in September, and the foundation has raised enough money to pay for it.

Credit…Mustafa Hussain for The New York Times

Mr. Bezos has faced some criticism in recent years over the perceived slow pace of his giving in contrast to his enormous wealth. Forbes pegged his net worth at about $207 billion on Monday, second only to the $300 billion fortune of Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla and SpaceX.

In particular, Mr. Bezos’ gifts have at times looked small compared with the more than $8 billion in grants that his ex-wife, MacKenzie Scott, has announced in just 11 months. Ms. Scott has been praised not only for the size of her gifts but the way she has given the money, with few strings attached.

Unrestricted gifts, as they are known, give organizations far more flexibility than those tied to specific programs, which often leave nonprofits starved for funds essential to running their general operations. Mr. Bezos’ $100 million gift to the Obama Foundation was also unrestricted.

The donation was the same amount he gave in April 2020 to the food-bank network Feeding America for its Covid-19 response fund. At a news conference after his trip into space, Mr. Bezos announced that he had created a prize for “civility and courage” and was awarding $100 million each to the CNN political commentator Van Jones and the chef and restaurateur José Andrés to pass on to charitable causes of their choosing.

He also gave $200 million to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum in a gift announced in July.

At least as far back as the robber baron era of the late 19th century, philanthropy has been both a means of using great wealth to help the less fortunate and a way for the extremely wealthy to burnish their reputations once they have finished their climbs to the top.

Mr. Bezos remains the executive chairman of Amazon, which has been broadly criticized for its labor practices. Amazon settled charges earlier this year from the National Labor Relations Board that the company had illegally retaliated against two prominent internal critics. The company defeated a union drive at an Amazon warehouse outside Birmingham, Ala., in August, prevailing in the largest and most viable labor threat in the company’s history, but faces the prospect of a new vote because of some of its tactics during the election.

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Mr. Bezos created Amazon’s employment model of burning through its hourly work force, which had roughly 150 percent annual turnover even before the pandemic, The New York Times reported earlier this year.

“President Obama is strongly supportive of unions, and appreciates the fact that Jeff is being philanthropic and helping not just us but many other organizations do what they couldn’t do but for his generosity,” Ms. Jarrett said.

Before Mr. Bezos’ gift, the largest donations to the foundation were three gifts of $50 million each from Mark Walter, the chief executive of Guggenheim Partners; Glenn Hutchins, a founder of Silver Lake Partners; and Connie Ballmer, the philanthropist and wife of Steve Ballmer, the former Microsoft chief executive. Mr. Hutchins and Ms. Ballmer also serve on the foundation’s board.

According to the foundation’s most recent tax filing, the museum “will document the history of President and Mrs. Obama and the Obama administration, frame these narratives in a broader historical context and with an emphasis on civic discourse, and connect these stories to the movements and milestones that have helped to shape the nation and the world over time.”

Karen Weise contributed reporting.

Stocks closed down on Monday, as a late-day slide undid early gains that followed President Biden’s decision to renominate renominated Jerome H. Powell for another four-year term as chair of the Federal Reserve.

The announcement that Mr. Powell would remain at the helm of the central bank — whose monetary policy has been a key driver of the market’s remarkable run over the past two years — had appeared to comfort investors for much of the day, as the S&P 500 briefly touched record levels.

“The announcement of Powell’s renomination ensures continuity in the stance on policy,” Ellen Zentner, the chief U.S. economist at Morgan Stanley, wrote in a note to clients.

But yields on government bonds ticked higher as the day went on, driven in part by expectations that a Fed led by Mr. Powell will ultimately respond to higher inflation by more aggressively raising interest rates.

The rising yields eventually turned what had been a rally into a sudden sell-off. After being up nearly 1 percent in early trading, the S&P 500 closed down 0.3 percent.

Technology shares with high prices compared with the profits the companies are expected to earn over the next year — which are especially sensitive to movements in interest rates — got clobbered. The cloud technology providers Zscaler, Datadog and Fastly fell more than 6 percent.

Tech giants including Amazon and Alphabet — two companies with valuations well over $1 trillion that have significant sway in market indexes — were hit hard, helping push the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite down 1.3 percent. Amazon was down 2.8 percent and Alphabet, Google’s parent company, was down more than 1.5 percent.

Technology stocks are especially sensitive to rises in long-term Treasury bond yields, which move opposite bond prices. Those higher (and nearly guaranteed) returns on government debt offer an attractive option to investors, siphoning money out of the stock market — which is exactly what happened after Monday’s announcement.

Yields on the two-year Treasury note, which had been hovering around 0.52 percent before the announcement, climbed to 0.63 percent. The yield on the five-year Treasury bill, which captures market expectations for how the Fed’s monetary policy will evolve over the next few years, rose to 1.33 percent.

Government bond yields — which essentially act as the foundation for interest rates charged on new car loans, mortgages, multibillion-dollar Wall Street bond offerings and more — are heavily influenced by market expectations about what the Federal Reserve will do with monetary policy. The probability of a rate increase at the Fed’s June 2022 meeting, derived from prices in the Fed funds futures market, jumped to nearly 80 percent on Monday, up from roughly 67 percent at the end of last week.

The rising yields suggested that at least some investors had been betting that Lael Brainard, a Fed governor whom Mr. Biden will promote to vice chair, could instead have been chosen to lead the central bank. Many progressive groups had championed her to replace Mr. Powell.

Instead of tech shares, investors flocked to companies who appeared poised to benefit from a near-term uptick in economic activity.

Ford and General Motors pushed higher, rising 5.6 percent and about 3.7 percent, after the companies announced plans last week that would help them ensure greater control over the supply of microchips, shortages of which have hampered production. Steel makers Nucor and U.S. Steel, key suppliers of steel for car building, rose 6 percent and 4.3 percent.

Other industrial stocks, and shares of companies poised to benefit from the infrastructure bill that Mr. Biden recently signed into law, posted strong gains on Monday. Encore Wire, which makes copper electrical wiring for homes and businesses, rose more than 1.8 percent. Terex, which makes equipment used for handling construction materials like stone and asphalt, was up 2.4 percent.

Energy shares, sensitive to an uptick in economic demand for fuel, were the best performing part of the stock market, rising nearly 1.8 percent. Benchmark prices for U.S. crude oil rose 65 cents or 0.9 percent to $76.75 a barrel.

Credit…Netflix

In an effort to ramp up its visual effects capabilities around the world, Netflix announced Monday that it was acquiring Scanline VFX, a German company that is advancing efforts in virtual production.

Scanline has worked with the streaming service on “Cowboy Bebop,” the third season of “Stranger Things” and upcoming projects like “The Gray Man” with Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans, “The Adam Project” featuring Ryan Reynolds and Adam McKay’s “Don’t Look Up.”

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Scanline will continue to operate independently and will still work on projects outside Netflix. It has previously done work on TV shows like “Game of Thrones” and movies like “Godzilla vs. Kong.” The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2022.

Scanline VFX was founded in 1989 by Stephan Trojansky and has more than 1,000 employees with offices in seven locations around the world, including South Korea, Canada, England and the United States.

Netflix “will invest in Scanline’s pipeline, infrastructure and work force and continue to support the pioneering work that Scanline’s Eyeline Studios is doing in virtual production to push the boundaries of what is visibly possible,” Amy Reinhard, Netflix’s vice president of studio operations, wrote in a blog post.

Virtual production, which relies on walls of LED screens to show a virtual location is becoming more of a mainstay for studios. Disney’s “The Mandalorian” is perhaps the most prominent example. The imagery on the screen can match the camera’s viewpoint in real time and provide lighting for the physical set.

Netflix has become more acquisitive in recent months. It announced in September that it would spend more than $700 million to purchase the Roald Dahl Story Company. It also disclosed that month that it intended to purchase its first game studio — Night School Studio — to further its efforts around video games.

Alden Global Capital, the New York hedge fund that bought Tribune Publishing this year, said on Monday that it was making an offer for another big American newspaper chain, Lee Enterprises, the publisher of 90 daily newspapers including The Buffalo News, The Richmond Times-Dispatch and The Omaha World-Herald.

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In a letter to Lee Enterprises’ board of directors, Alden proposed a cash purchase at $24 a share, about 30 percent more than the company’s closing share price on Friday of $18.49. The deal values the company at about $141 million.

A number of the papers in the Lee Enterprises stable were once the property of the billionaire Warren E. Buffett, who soured on the business in recent years and said most newspapers were “toast.” Lee Enterprises managed the 31 daily newspapers and dozens of weeklies owned by Mr. Buffett for a time before he sold them to that company in 2020 for $140 million.

Alden, which owns roughly 200 publications through its MediaNews Group subsidiary, bought a 6 percent stake in Lee Enterprises in 2020. In its letter to the Lee Enterprises board on Monday, Alden said that, if it became the owner, the chain “would be in a stronger position to maximize its resources and realize strategic value that enhances its operations and supports its employees in their important work serving local communities.”

After years of steadily buying up newspapers across the country, Alden has become a force in the newspaper industry, second only to Gannett, the publisher of USA Today and more than 260 other dailies. Journalists have denounced Alden’s practice of slashing costs at the publications it owns, often through layoffs. Alden says it has saved many papers from going out of business.

In May, Alden bought Tribune Publishing, the chain that includes The Chicago Tribune and The Daily News in New York, in a deal valued at $633 million.

Lee Enterprises was founded in 1890 and owns newspapers across 26 states, according to its website. A spokesman for the company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Athenahealth, a health care software company, said on Monday that it would be sold to the investment firms Hellman & Friedman and Bain Capital for $17 billion, making it one of the biggest leveraged buyouts in a year full of them.

It also opens a new chapter for Athenahealth, whose founder, a member of the Bush political family, was forced out after accusations of domestic abuse and inappropriate workplace behavior came to light during a takeover battle with the hedge fund Elliott Management.

Athenahealth’s sale is the latest example of private equity firms taking advantage of favorable conditions, including low interest rates that let them borrow money cheaply, to strike huge deals. (In June, Hellman & Friedman was part of another sizable health care takeover, the $30 billion buyout of Medline Industries.) Globally, investment firms, which are sitting on nearly $2 trillion in capital yet to be deployed, spent a record $758 billion across more than 1,500 buyouts in the first nine months of the year, according to Dealogic.

That deal-making wave now includes the takeover of Athenahealth, which traces its roots to a technology company founded by Jonathan Bush in 1997. It eventually became a provider of patient record and billing services, with Mr. Bush — a nephew of President George H.W. Bush and cousin of President George W. Bush — as its telegenic leader.

But Mr. Bush came under pressure in 2017 from Elliott Management, the multibillion-dollar activist hedge fund known for its hard-nosed tactics. Elliott had taken a stake and demanded cost cuts and other changes, prompting the company to announce layoffs and, later, the appointment of the former General Electric chief executive Jeffrey R. Immelt as chairman.

Mr. Bush stepped down in June 2018 amid accusations of domestic abuse against his ex-wife and inappropriate workplace behavior.

Elliott, which had made a hostile takeover offer for Athenahealth in May 2018, ended up co-owning the company. Veritas Capital and Evergreen Coast Capital, Elliott’s private equity arm, agreed to buy it for $5.5 billion, and later combined it with Virence Health Technologies, which Veritas had assembled from parts of G.E.’s health care division.

Athenahealth now works with more than 140,000 health care providers in 50 states.

Jesse Cohn, the Elliott managing partner who oversaw the activism campaign, said: “Elliott is proud to have worked with Veritas to help transform Athenahealth, and we welcome Hellman & Friedman and Bain Capital as new stewards of this unique and important health care leader.”

“Today marks a significant milestone for Athenahealth,” said Bob Segert, Athenahealth’s chairman and chief executive, who will continue to run the company after the deal closes.

Credit…Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York Times

Employees of federal contractors will make at least $15 per hour under a final rule that the Labor Department announced Monday, providing a likely wage increase for over 300,000 workers, according to administration estimates.

The wage floor will affect contracts that are executed or extended beginning on Jan. 30, 2022. The current minimum wage for contractors is $10.95 under a rule enacted by the Obama administration in 2014 and is scheduled to rise to $11.25 on Jan. 1. Both rules require that the minimum wage increase over time to account for inflation.

Paul Light, an expert on the federal work force at New York University, has estimated that five million people work for employers that have federal contracts, including security guards, food workers, janitors and call center workers, but most already make more than $15 per hour. The rule will also apply to construction contracts entered into by the federal government.

Labor Secretary Martin J. Walsh said in a statement that the rule “improves the economic security of these workers and their families, many of whom are women and people of color.”

President Biden announced the rule in April when he signed an executive order directing the department to issue it. Mr. Biden’s announcement came amid a series of pro-labor moves by the administration, which included reversing Trump-era rules softening worker protections and enacting legislation that allocated tens of billions of dollars to strengthen union pension funds.

Administration officials said they did not expect the minimum wage increase to result in significant job losses or cost increases, contending that the higher wage would improve productivity and reduce turnover, providing employers and the government with greater value.

The federal minimum wage remains $7.25 per hour, though many cities and states have laws setting their wage floors substantially higher. The House of Representatives has passed a bill to raise the federal minimum to $15 per hour by 2025, but the legislation has not advanced in the Senate.

Credit…Matt Rourke/Associated Press

Target stores will close their doors for Thanksgiving Day, the retailer announced Monday, and will continue the policy every year moving forward.

The retail giant shut its stores on Thanksgiving Day last year, citing safety considerations during the pandemic. It has also started offering discounts for the holiday shopping season earlier in October instead of reserving those deals for Black Friday.

“What started as a temporary measure driven by the pandemic is now our new standard,” Brian Cornell, Target’s chief executive, said in a statement.

Target announced earlier this month that most stores would reopen at 7 a.m. local time on Black Friday.

Walmart has also said it would close its stores on Thanksgiving Day for a second year. Trader Joe’s and Aldi will also be closed for Thanksgiving.

Credit…Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via Associated Press

The Walt Disney Company has paused a coronavirus vaccine mandate for employees of its Florida theme park after the State Legislature and the governor made it illegal for employers to require all workers get the shots, a company spokesperson confirmed Saturday.

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Walt Disney World could have been facing fines under the policy, illustrating how even one of the most well-known tourism brands in the state has to deal with the headwinds of political debate over the pandemic response.

Source: State and local health agencies. Daily cases are the number of new cases reported each day. The seven-day average is the average of the most recent seven days of data.

The Republican-controlled Florida Legislature delivered the bill blocking Covid-19 vaccine mandates on Wednesday and Gov. Ron DeSantis signed it into law on Thursday, casting the measures as an effort to protect workers who could lose their jobs for lack of compliance.

Governor DeSantis, also a Republican, has been at the forefront of the political fight to curtail mask and vaccine mandates, saying the push against those restrictions counters overreach from the federal government. “Nobody should lose their job due to heavy-handed Covid mandates, and we had a responsibility to protect the livelihoods of the people of Florida,” the governor said in a statement.

The Biden administration has ordered vaccinations for workers in large companies and members of the federal work force, but the effort has met resistance across the country. Florida is among states that have challenged federal mandates in court.

The new Florida law prohibits employers from enforcing strict vaccine mandates, allowing employees to choose exemptions that include health or religious concerns, pregnancy or anticipated pregnancy, and having had the virus and recovered from it. Unvaccinated workers could instead undergo periodic testing or wear protective equipment, at the employers’ cost. Fines for violation could cost $10,000 a day per employee violation for businesses with fewer than 99 employees or up to $50,000 per employee violation for larger businesses.

Government entities and school districts are also restricted by the Covid mandate ban.

Disney World previously struck a deal with employees to require theme park workers to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus to keep their jobs, and the company defended that rule in a statement Saturday. “We believe that our approach to mandatory vaccines has been the right one as we’ve continued to focus on the safety and well-being of our cast members and guests,” the statement said.

More than 90 percent of active cast members in Florida have verified they are vaccinated, the company said, before it sent a memo to employees halting the mandate.

Walt Disney’s website tells visitors it has been “very intentional and gradual” in operating safely, recommending guests exercise caution: wearing face coverings, checking for symptoms and getting the shots. “We encourage people to get vaccinated,” it says.

Todd Gregory contributed to this report.

Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

Tuesday

  • Retailer earnings: Another week of quarterly financial reports from big retailers will give investors more clues on whether supply chain disruptions are hampering businesses ahead of the holiday season. Best Buy and Dollar Tree are set to publish their reports on Tuesday for the three months ending October. Gap, Nordstrom, American Eagle Outfitters and Abercrombie & Fitch will also report on Tuesday.

Wednesday

  • Fed minutes: The Federal Reserve will publish minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee meeting that was held this month. Investors will get a clearer picture of any disagreements among Fed officials about whether they expect that inflationary pressures will persist.

  • Consumer sentiment: The University of Michigan will publish the final numbers of its survey of consumer sentiment for November. The survey measures how optimistic consumers feel about the overall economy. The index fell to its lowest level in a decade in early November.

Thursday

  • Markets closed: The New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, as will bond markets.

Friday

  • Black Friday: The traditional start of the holiday shopping season kicks off. Many shoppers have started early, concerned over whether product shortages and supply chain disruptions will make it harder to find the gifts they want.

Credit…Samuel Aranda for The New York Times

BARCELONA, Spain — Protesters in Barcelona are pushing back against foreign investment firms that have bought up thousands of homes over the past decade and are forcing out residents who can’t pay the rent.

Credit…Samuel Aranda for The New York Times
Credit…Samuel Aranda for The New York Times

Giant investment firms like Cerberus Capital Management, Blackstone and Lone Star have been snapping up properties across Spain at bargain prices since the global financial crisis that began in 2008. The firms then put them up for rent at a time when the country’s economy was on a stronger footing.

But the pandemic pushed the Spanish unemployment rate up to 15 percent and evictions nationwide spiked in the first half of 2021. The investment firm landlords sent out a slew of eviction notices to tenants across the country or canceled leases for those who fell behind on the rent, residents said.

In the streets of Barcelona, a group called War Against Cerberus decided to fight back.

When lawyers of private equity firms come with police officers to force residents from their homes, members of the group — some of them longtime housing activists — surround the building to block their entry. As residents are pushed out of apartments, the group sends squatters to occupy properties owned by the firms elsewhere in the city — sometimes breaking in to gain entry.

The activists even took over the offices of a Cerberus real estate servicer in Barcelona for a time last year.

Credit…Samuel Aranda for The New York Times
Credit…Samuel Aranda for The New York Times

According to War Against Cerberus, dozens of families have occupied buildings owned by private equity firms in Barcelona, which has long been a target of outside investors. That can translate into years of courtroom hearings and millions of dollars in legal fees to remove the squatters.

“This property belongs to Cerberus,” said Ana María Banegas, a resident who, along with a dozen other families, has occupied a building in central Barcelona since April and now refuses to leave. “And from this home, we aim to pressure them.”

Miquel Hernández, a spokesman for War Against Cerberus who helped Ms. Banegas find the home where she is squatting, accused the private equity firms of profiting from the economic distress caused by the pandemic.

“They’re treating them like any other asset,” he said, referring to the homes owned by the firms.

The problem has caught the attention of Spain’s national government, led by a left-wing coalition. It has proposed the imposition of rent controls on investment funds and other large landlords.

The proposed legislation, supported by Barcelona’s mayor, Ada Colau, would allow for rent caps for owners with more than 10 properties in areas where rent increases have outpaced inflation.

Credit…Samuel Aranda for The New York Times
Credit…Samuel Aranda for The New York Times

“We have to civilize a market that has gotten out of control,” said Ms. Colau, a former housing activist who rose to power with an organization that fought against foreclosures. “A problem that was bad before the pandemic has suddenly gotten worse.”

Spain imposed a partial moratorium on evictions for much of the pandemic, but only for those in “vulnerable situations,” such as single parents. In cases that went to the courts, the judiciary was seen as siding largely with the landlords.

In the first quarter of 2021, evictions of renters in Spain rose by 14 percent compared with the same period the previous year, according to the government. By the second quarter of this year, they surged to eight times as many as in the same period in 2020.

Samuel Aranda contributed reporting from Barcelona.

Credit…Laetitia Vancon for The New York Times

VIENNA — As Europe experiences a menacing fourth wave of the coronavirus, Austria entered a nationwide lockdown on Monday and the possibility of a vaccine mandate in Germany was under discussion as the only way to sustainably overcome the pandemic.

“Probably by the end of this winter, as is sometimes cynically said,” the German health minister, Jens Spahn, said on Monday, “pretty much everyone in Germany will be vaccinated, recovered or dead.”

Mr. Spahn had spoken out against a universal vaccine mandate in Germany.

The lockdown in Austria, in which people are allowed to leave their homes only to go to work or to procure groceries or medicines, will last at least 10 days and as many as 20 and comes after months of struggling attempts to halt the contagion through widespread testing and partial restrictions.

While Austria may be the first European country to respond with a lockdown, it may not be the last. That prospect, along with increasingly stringent vaccine mandates, has set off a backlash in Austria and elsewhere, with mass demonstrations in Vienna, Brussels and the Dutch city of Rotterdam over the weekend, sometimes punctuated with violent outbreaks.

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transcript

transcript

Austrians Protest Lockdown and Vaccine Mandate

Thousands in Vienna over the weekend demonstrated against the measures, which include a nationwide lockdown.

[drums] [chanting] [drums] [whistles] [drums]

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Thousands in Vienna over the weekend demonstrated against the measures, which include a nationwide lockdown.CreditCredit…Lisa Leutner/Associated Press

The new Covid wave is being driven by widespread resistance to vaccines, despite the growing prevalence of vaccine and mask mandates. Austrian officials have said they will enforce a nationwide vaccine mandate in February, the first European nation to do so.

Austria, where 66 percent of the population is vaccinated, reported more than 14,000 new cases of the virus within 24 hours on Sunday. Over the past week the Netherlands has been averaging more than 20,000, while Germany has seen roughly double that number.

The German health ministry said on Monday that the country was facing a dwindling supply of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, which was partly developed in the country, as it races to provide booster shots.

And while the European Medicines Agency is poised to approve the vaccine for use on children 5 to 11 this week, first doses will not begin until Dec. 20, when shots for children are scheduled to be delivered to European Union countries, Mr. Spahn, the health minister, said.

The opposition to the lockdown and vaccine mandates in Austria is being fueled in part by the far-right Freedom Party, which has used its platform in the Austrian Parliament to spread doubt about the effectiveness of the vaccines and to promote ivermectin, a drug typically used to treat parasitic worms that has repeatedly failed against the coronavirus in clinical trials.

But the fury is not limited to far-right activists, as the throngs that filled Vienna’s streets on Saturday attested. The police estimated the crowd at 40,000, with many families and others far outnumbering the right-wing extremists.