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Businesses Seek to Help Women Caregivers Return to Workforce: Live Updates

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Credit…James Estrin/The New York Times

JPMorgan Chase, Spotify, Uber, McDonald’s and almost 200 other businesses have formed a coalition focused on ensuring that women are not held back in the labor force because they bear the brunt of caregiving in the United States.

The new Care Economy Business Council, the creation of which was announced on Wednesday, portrays the effort in stark economic terms, arguing that fixing the crumbling child and elder care systems is essential to the economic recovery.

Led by Time’s Up, the advocacy organization founded by powerful women in Hollywood, the council aims to bring executives together to share ways to improve workplace policies and to pressure Congress to pass policy changes that would help people — particularly women — get back to work. The council will push for federally funded family and medical leave, affordable child care and elder care, and elevated wages for caregiving workers.

“What I’m seeing now that I have not seen in the many years I’ve been working on this constellation of issues is a realization by employers that they have a stake in this,” Tina Tchen, the chief executive of Time’s Up, said.

The pandemic laid bare the faults in caregiving in the United States, particularly the problems with child care. Many child-care centers either shuttered or cut back on hours to save on costs, leaving parents without reliable and safe places for their children while they worked. The lack of child care support was a major reason that hundreds of thousands of women left the work force in the past year, bringing female labor participation rate to its lowest level since 1986.

Companies scrambled to cobble together solutions, from flexible work hours to additional child care stipends. But for many executives, the crisis made it clear that the entire system needed an overhaul.

The issue is “bigger than something we can solve on our own,” said Christy M. Pambianchi, the chief human resources officer at Verizon, which is part of the council.

President Biden’s two-part infrastructure plan proposes pumping $425 billion into expanding and strengthening child-care services and an additional $400 billion to help expand access for in-home care for older adults and those with disabilities. His plan also offers businesses a tax credit for building child-care centers in their workplaces.

Members of Congress have also introduced three separate but similar child-care bills.

Rudolph W. Giuliani, a lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump, disputing the results of the election won by Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Fox News Media, the Rupert Murdoch-controlled cable group, filed a motion on Tuesday to dismiss a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit brought against it in March by Dominion Voting Systems, an election technology company that accused Fox News of propagating lies that ruined its reputation after the 2020 presidential election.

The Dominion lawsuit and a similar defamation claim brought in February by another election company, Smartmatic, have been widely viewed as test cases in a growing legal effort to battle disinformation in the news media. And it is another byproduct of former President Donald J. Trump’s baseless attempts to undermine President Biden’s clear victory.

In a 61-page response filed in Delaware Superior Court, the Fox legal team argues that Dominion’s suit threatened the First Amendment powers of a news organization to chronicle and assess newsworthy claims in a high-stakes political contest.

“A free press must be able to report both sides of a story involving claims striking at the core of our democracy,” Fox says in the motion, “especially when those claims prompt numerous lawsuits, government investigations and election recounts.” The motion adds: “The American people deserved to know why President Trump refused to concede despite his apparent loss.”

Dominion’s lawsuit against Fox News presented the circumstances in a different light.

Dominion is among the largest manufacturers of voting machine equipment and its technology was used by more than two dozen states last year. Its lawsuit described the Fox News and Fox Business cable networks as active participants in spreading a false claim, pushed by Mr. Trump’s allies, that the company had covertly modified vote counts to manipulate results in favor of Mr. Biden. Lawyers for Mr. Trump shared those claims during televised interviews on Fox programs.

“Lies have consequences,” Dominion’s lawyers wrote in their initial complaint. “Fox sold a false story of election fraud in order to serve its own commercial purposes, severely injuring Dominion in the process.” The lawsuit cites instances where Fox hosts, including Lou Dobbs and Maria Bartiromo, uncritically repeated false claims about Dominion made by Mr. Trump’s lawyers Rudolph W. Giuliani and Sidney Powell.

A representative for Dominion, whose founder and employees received threatening messages after the negative coverage, did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday night.

Fox News Media has retained two prominent lawyers to lead its defense: Charles Babcock, who has a background in media law, and Scott Keller, a former chief counsel to Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas. Fox has also filed to dismiss the Smartmatic suit; that defense is being led by Paul D. Clement, a former solicitor general under President George W. Bush.

“There are two sides to every story,” Mr. Babcock and Mr. Keller wrote in a statement on Tuesday. “The press must remain free to cover both sides, or there will be a free press no more.”

The Fox motion on Tuesday argues that its networks “had a free-speech right to interview the president’s lawyers and surrogates even if their claims eventually turned out to be unsubstantiated.” It argues that the security of Dominion’s technology had been debated in prior legal claims and media coverage, and that the lawsuit did not meet the high legal standard of “actual malice,” a reckless disregard for the truth, on the part of Fox News and its hosts.

Media organizations, in general, enjoy strong protections under the First Amendment. Defamation suits are a novel tactic in the battle over disinformation, but proponents say the strategy has shown some early results. The conservative news outlet Newsmax apologized last month after a Dominion employee, in a separate legal case, accused the network of spreading baseless rumors about his role in the election. Fox Business canceled “Lou Dobbs Tonight” a day after Smartmatic sued Fox in February and named Mr. Dobbs as a co-defendant.

Jonah E. Bromwich contributed reporting.

Handy Kennedy, a farmer in Cobbtown, Ga., and founder of a cooperative of Black farmers. Debt relief approved by Congress in March aims to make amends for decades of financial discrimination against Black and other nonwhite farmers.
Credit…Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The Biden administration’s efforts to provide $4 billion in debt relief to minority farmers is encountering stiff resistance from banks, which are complaining that the government initiative to pay off the loans of borrowers who have faced decades of financial discrimination will cut into their profits and hurt investors.

The debt relief was approved as part of the stimulus package that Congress passed in March and was intended to make amends for the discrimination that Black and other nonwhite farmers have faced from lenders and the Department of Agriculture over the years.

But no money has yet gone out the door.

Instead, the program has become mired in controversy and lawsuits. In April, white farmers who claim that they are victims of discrimination sued the U.S.D.A. over the initiative, writes The New York Times’s Alan Rappeport.

Now, three of the biggest banking groups are waging their own fight and complaining about the cost of being repaid early. Their argument stems from the way banks make money from loans and how they decide where to extend credit.

By allowing borrowers to repay their debts early, the lenders are being denied income they have long expected, they argue. The banks want the federal government to pay money beyond the outstanding loan amount so that banks and investors will not miss out on interest income that they were expecting or money that they would have made reselling the loans to other investors.

Bank lobbyists have been asking the Agriculture Department to make changes to the repayment program, a U.S.D.A. official said. They are pressing the U.S.D.A. to simply make the loan payments, rather than wipe out the debt all at once. And they are warning of other repercussions.

In a letter sent last month to the agriculture secretary, the banks suggested that they might be more reluctant to extend credit if the loans were quickly repaid, leaving minority farmers worse off in the long run. The intimation was viewed as a threat by some organizations that represent Black farmers.

The U.S.D.A. has shown no inclination to reverse course.

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