Posts tagged with "The New York Times"

Report: Capitol Police were instructed to use ‘kid gloves’ on MAGA rioters on January 6

April 15, 2021

Despite being tipped that “Congress itself is the target” on January 6, Capitol Police were ordered not to use their most powerful crowd-control weapons, according to a scathing new watchdog report obtained in advance by The New York Times.

Indeed, officers were instructed by their leaders not to use their most aggressive tactics to hold off the mob, according to a scathing new report by the agency’s inspector general.

In the 104-page document, Inspector General Michael A. Bolton, criticized the way in which the Capitol Police prepared for and responded to the insurrection on January 6. The report was reviewed by the Times and will be the subject of a Capitol Hill hearing on Thursday, April 15.

Bolton found that the agency’s leaders failed to adequately prepare despite explicit warnings that pro-Trump extremists posed a threat to law enforcement and civilians; and that the police used defective protective equipment. He also found that the leaders ordered their Civil Disturbance Unit to refrain from using its most powerful crowd-control tools—like stun grenades—to put down the onslaught.

The report offers the most devastating account to date of the lapses and miscalculations around the most violent attack on the Capitol in two centuries.

Three days before the siege, a Capitol Police intelligence assessment warned of violence from supporters of President Donald Trump who believed his false claims that the election had been stolen. Some had even posted a map of the Capitol complex’s tunnel system on pro-Trump message boards.

“Unlike previous post-election protests, the targets of the pro-Trump supporters are not necessarily the counter-protesters as they were previously, but rather Congress itself is the target on the 6th,” the threat assessment said, according to the inspector general’s report. “Stop the Steal’s propensity to attract white supremacists, militia members, and others who actively promote violence may lead to a significantly dangerous situation for law enforcement and the general public alike.”

But on January 5, the agency wrote in a plan for the protest that there were “no specific known threats related to the joint session of Congress.” And the former chief of the Capitol Police has testified that the force had determined that the likelihood of violence was “improbable.”

Bolton concluded such intelligence breakdowns stemmed from dysfunction within the agency and called for “guidance that clearly documents channels for efficiently and effectively disseminating intelligence information to all of its personnel.”

 “Mr. Bolton’s findings are scheduled to be discussed on Thursday afternoon, when he is set to testify before the House Administration Committee. He has issued two investigative reports — both classified as “law enforcement sensitive” and not publicly released — about the agency’s shortcomings on Jan. 6. He is also planning a third report.

CNN first reported on a summary of the latest findings.

Research contact: @nytimes

The robots are coming … to mow your lawn

April 12, 2021

According to California’s Air Resources Board, operating a gas-fueled commercial lawn mower for just one hour emits as much pollution as driving a Toyota Camry about 300 miles. And if you substitute a commercial leaf blower for the mower, one hour of operation emits pollution comparable to driving a Camry about 1,100 miles.

What’s more, not only are both gas-powered mowers and leaf blowers bad for the environment, but they are noisy, The New York Times reports.

Indeed, Jamie Banks, the president of Quiet Communities, a nonprofit based in Lincoln, Massachusetts, said it’s not a one-machine issue. “It’s really the very widespread use of all polluting, noisy fossil-fuel-powered equipment that is at issue,” she noted.”

 

The noise from gas-powered lawn equipment is what stands out for people. But just how loud are those machines? While sound levels typically are measured in decibels, experts also rely on what are known as weighted decibels (dBAs), which take into account not just the intensity of the sound, but also how the ear responds.

Any “sound above 45 dBA is likely to start having negative effects,” John Medina, an affiliate associate professor at the University of Washington Department of Boengineering, told the Times. Leaf blowers, he said in an email, “are potentially quite dangerous,” because, when close to the ear, they “have been measured at 95 dBA.” A person standing 50 feet away is exposed to levels of anywhere from 65 dBAs to 80 dBAs, he added.

So what’s a homeowner to do?

For noise reduction alone, “robotic mowers are the biggest bang for the buck,” said Dan Mabe, the founder and president of the American Green Zone Alliance (AGZA), a California-based consulting firm that is creating its own standards and certification for areas that move to emission-free lawn care. Like LEED certification for buildings, the AGZA designation will mean that the community or commercial area has achieved emission-free status in its green spaces.

Robotic mowers are more prevalent in Europe, where yards tend to be smaller. In the United States, a few companies have begun to offer robotic services, Frank Rossi, an associate professor at the Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, told the Times.

“Labor challenges” in the landscaping market are helping to bring about changes, said Kris Kiser, president and chief executive of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute.

For example, a labor shortage first propelled the Langton Group, a landscaping company in Woodstock, Illinois, to make the transition to emissions-free and quieter equipment about five years ago.

“I just couldn’t find enough people to hire, and I saw robotics as a way to solve my labor problems,” said Joe Langton, president of the company. “I began to realize that we not only saved labor, but helped the environment.”

Last year, working with Dan Mabe of AGZA, Langton  designated a 29-acre green zone in Woodstock, which Mabe said was the first in the state. The zone comprises a large corporate campus as well as an 11-acre group of townhouses.

Langton now has a fleet of 200 robotic mowers, each about 2 by about 2.5 feet and just over a foot tall, operating in this zone. They charge on site, some conventionally through electrical outlets and others by solar power. Like robotic vacuum cleaners, they can return to charge when they have finished their work (and can be shut down if the weather is bad).

Each robot covers 1.25 acres, constrained by an underground, signal-emitting wire similar to one used in an invisible dog fence. The family-run company largely relies on equipment manufactured by Husqvarna. a Swedish company in the forefront of green lawn technology.

And Langton told the Times that using robots had not eliminated jobs but instead had changed the kinds of workers he hired. Now he needs people who can oversee the technology and also trim hedges and work on weeds — all with battery-power equipment.

Robotic mowers are expensive, which can deter homeowners. Costs can range from about $1,000 to $2,500, depending on the model. But over the life of the equipment, battery-power models ultimately save money, a 2017 analysis at the University of Arkansas found. Some communities are offering rebates when older mowers or blowers are traded in, Mabe said.

Among manufacturers that offer equipment, Husqvarna is well known, and there are newer companies, like EGO and Ambrogio, as well as Mean Green Products, which in September was acquired by a division of Generac Holdings. Market stalwarts like Toro and DeWalt now also offer battery operated lawn care equipment.

Those who care for their own yards are moving toward battery-operated blowers, trimmers, and edgers when purchasing new equipment, Farnsworth said, adding that roughly half of newly purchased blowers and trimmers are battery powered.

The biggest hurdle may be the professional market, because the electric equipment needs recharging to handle, say, ten hours of continuous use, the Times notes. Until there is a solution, he said, landscapers may “be laggards when compared to homeowners.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Study: Fears of ‘White people losing out’ permeate Capitol rioters’ towns

January 7, 2021

Most Americans take the Capitol rioters at their word—accepting that their motive for breaching the U.S. Capitol on January 6 was to stop the Congress from verifying the election of Democratic President Joe Biden.

However, The New York Times reports, when the political scientist Robert Pape of The University of Chicago began studying the issues that motivated the 380 or so people arrested in connection with the attack against the Capitol, he found something very different: Most of the people who took part in the assault came from places, his polling and demographic data showed, that—goaded by then-President Trump– were awash in fears that the rights of minorities and immigrants were crowding out the rights of white people in American politics and culture.

Indeed, if Pape’s initial conclusions— published on Tuesday in The Washington Post—hold true, they would appear to connect the January 6 insurrrection  to the once-fringe right-wing theory called the Great Replacement— that an indigenous European (e.g., White) population is being replaced by non-European immigrants.

What’s more Pape’s conclusions appear to link the January 6 riot to events like the far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 where crowds of white men marched with torches chanting, “Jews will not replace us!”

“If you look back in history, there has always been a series of far-right extremist movements responding to new waves of immigration to the United States or to movements for civil rights by minority groups,” Pape told the Post, adding,  “You see a common pattern in the Capitol insurrectionists. They are mainly middle-class to upper-middle-class whites who are worried that, as social changes occur around them, they will see a decline in their status in the future.”

One fact stood out in Pape’s study, conducted with the help of researchers at the Chicago Project on Security and Threats—a think tank he runs at the University of Chicago. Counties with the most significant declines in the non-Hispanic white population are the most likely to produce insurrectionists. This finding held true, Pape determined, even when controlling for population size, distance to Washington, unemployment rate, and urban or rural location.

Law enforcement officials have said that between 800 and 1,000 people entered the Capitol on January 6—and prosecutors have spent the past three months tracking down many of them in what they have described as one of the largest criminal investigations in U.S. history. In recent court filings, the government has hinted that more than 400 people may ultimately face charges, including illegal entry, assault of police officers and the obstruction of the official business of Congress.

According to the report by the Times. Pape determined that only about 10% percent of those charged were members of established far-right organizations like the Oath Keepers militia or the nationalist extremist group the Proud Boys. But unlike other analysts who have made similar findings,

In an effort to determine why the mob that formed on January 6 turned violent, Pape compared events that day with two previous pro-Trump rallies in Washington, on November 14 and December 12. While police records show some indications of street fighting after the first two gatherings, Pape said, the number of arrests were fewer and the charges less serious than on January 6. The records also show that those arrested in November and December largely lived within an hour of Washington while most of those arrested in January came from considerably farther away.

The difference at the rallies was former President Donald Trump, Pape said—noting that Trump promoted the January 6 rally in advance, saying it would be “wild” and driving up attendance. He then encouraged the mob to march on the Capitol in an effort to “show strength

Pape said he worried that a similar mob could be summoned again by a leader like Trump. After all, he suggested, as the country continues moving toward becoming a majority-minority nation and right-wing media outlets continue to stoke fear about the Great Replacement, the racial and cultural anxieties that lay beneath the riot at the Capitol are not going away.

“If all of this is really rooted in the politics of social change, then we have to realize that it’s not going to be solved—or solved alone—by law enforcement agencies,” Pape said. “This is political violence, not just ordinary criminal violence, and it is going to require both additional information and a strategic approach.”

 “We really still are at the beginning stages,” he said.

Research contact: @nytimes

Two U.S. Capitol Police officers sue Trump over January riot

April 1, 2021

Two U.S. Capitol Police officers who were on duty during the deadly January 6 insurrection at Capitol formally filed suit on March 30 in the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia against former President Donald J. Trump—saying he was responsible for the physical and emotional injuries they had suffered as a result of the day’s events.

The plaintiffs, James Blassingame and Sidney Hemby,  said in their filing that former President Donald J. Trump “inflamed, encouraged, incited, directed, and aided and abetted” the Capitol Riot, according to a report by The New York Times. The complaint also cited the former president’s January 6 speech and other conduct—including what it said was his failure that day to “take timely action to stop his followers from continued violence.”

Each of the plaintiffs is seeking compensatory damages in excess of $75,000, plus punitive damages. The lawsuit is the first to be brought against the former president by Capitol Police officers.  The force has more than 2,000 officer, the Times notes.

Supporters of Trump overran the Capitol with an intention to stop the Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s victory over Trump in the November presidential election. Before the incursion, Trump spoke at a nearby rally, where he urged his supporters to “show strength” and “fight like hell.”

Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died in the mayhem. Trump was later impeached by the House of Representatives on a single charge of “incitement of insurrection,” but was acquitted in February after a brief Senate trial in which few Republicans broke ranks to vote guilty.

During the attack, Officer Hemby, an 11-year veteran of the Capitol Police, was outside the building,—crushed against the side and sprayed with chemicals that burned his eyes, skin and throat, the complaint said. One member of the mob screamed that he was “disrespecting the badge.”

Officer Hemby remains in physical therapy for neck and back injuries that he sustained on January 6 and “has struggled to manage the emotional fallout from being relentlessly attacked,” according to the complaint.

Officer Blassingame, a 17-year veteran of the force, suffered head and back injuries during the riot, the complaint said; and experienced back pain, depression. and insomnia afterward.

“He is haunted by the memory of being attacked, and of the sensory impacts—the sights, sounds, smells and even tastes of the attack remain close to the surface,” the complaint said. “He experiences guilt of being unable to help his colleagues who were simultaneously being attacked; and of surviving where other colleagues did not.”

Lawyers for the officers and for the former president could not be reached for comment early Wednesday, the Times said. Trump has previously denied responsibility for the attack.

The Capitol and Metropolitan Police departments have said that at least 138 of their officers were injured during the riot. The injuries ranged from minor bruises to concussions, rib fractures, burns, and even a mild heart attack.

Research contact: @nytimes

Biden names Harris to work with Central America on migration

March 26, 2021

U.S. President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday that Vice President Kamala Harris would lead the Administration’s efforts to deter migration to the nation’ssouthwestern border by working to improve conditions in Central America—plunging her into one of the most politically fraught issues facing the White House, The New York Times reported.

The president said he had directed Harris to oversee the Administration’s plans to pump billions of dollars into the ravaged economies of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. She will work with the leaders of Central American governments to bolster the region’s economy in the hopes of reducing the violence and poverty that often have driven families in those countries to seek refuge in the United States.

“While we are clear that people should not come to the border now, we also understand that we will enforce the law,” Vice President Harris said before a White House meeting with top immigration officials. “We also—because we can chew gum and walk at the same time—must address the root causes that cause people to make the trek.”

The announcement underscores the sense of urgency at the border, where the administration has struggled to move thousands of young migrants from detention centers meant for adults into shelters managed by the Department of Health and Human Services. Republicans, who have seized on the images to make a case that President Biden’s immigration agenda is only attracting more people from the region, have vowed to put the issue at the center of their efforts to retake power in Congress next year.

The president, however, has continued to use a pandemic emergency rule to rapidly turn away most migrants at the border. The exception: Even though an appeals court allowed the United States to resume expelling minors. Biden has elected to welcome them into the country, where they must be kept in custody until they can be released to sponsors.

For the vice president, the diplomatic assignment is likely to be challenging. Previous efforts, including one led by Biden when he was vice president, were largely unsuccessful, as critics charged that corrupt leaders there had not effectively spent foreign aid money. In the years since, a majority of the families crossing the border have traveled from Central America,—eeking economic opportunity, safety from gangs and reunions with family members already in the United States.

The effort by Ms. Harris to address the root causes of migration, which can take years, is also unlikely to quickly produce the swift action demanded by Republicans and some Democrats to reduce the overcrowding at the border,the Times said. Representative Henry Cuellar, Democrat of Texas, released photographs this week showing dozens of young migrants lying on mats under foil blankets in crowded pods in a tent facility managed by the Border Patrol in Donna, Texas.

“The administration is struggling between the humane, softer approach as opposed to Trump and they have to calibrate and find that balance in enforcing the laws on the books and still projecting compassion,” Cuellar said after touring an overflow facility managed by the Department of Health and Human Services that was established to move children quickly from the border jails.

As of Monday, more than 4,800 children and teenagers were still stuck in detention cells intended to hold adults for short periods, including more than 3,300 held longer than the maximum 72 hours allowed under federal law, according to government documents obtained by The New York Times. On Tuesday, the number of minors in the border facilities increased to more than 4,960, according to data released on Wednesday by the Department of Homeland Security. The largest number of minors held this way under the Trump administration was about 2,600 in June 2019, according to current and former Customs and Border Protection officials.

Harris acknowledged on Wednesday that “no question this is a challenging situation,” but said that she was looking forward to engaging in discussions with leaders of Central American countries.

For Vice President Harris, the diplomatic assignment is one of the first in a portfolio of responsibilities that aides said would expand in the months ahead..

The difficulty of the current task should not be underestimated.

Research contact: @nytimes

Trump hotels and resorts left in the lurch after top luxury travel agency dumps them

March25, 2021

Former President Donald Trump’s hotel business took a fresh blow this month when a top luxury travel agency reportedly ended its preferred partnership with ten different Trump hotels, Raw Story reports.

Luxury Launches, a premium lifestyle website based in Mumbai, India, also reports that the Trump hotels received “awful news” in early March when Virtuoso—which it describes as “the travel industry’s most prominent and undisputed player”—removed all Trump hotels and resorts from its network.

“This quiet elimination of all ten Trump-branded hotels and resorts from its list of preferred partners will … severely hamper Trump’s hotel management and licensing business, which is already down $24 million since 2019, as well as his golf resorts in Miami and Europe, which are down another $120 million,” Luxury Lifestyle notes.

A spokeswoman for Virtuoso confirmed that Trump hotels were no longer part of the agency’s network and said that “we consider many variables when reviewing both existing and new network participation,” although she would not comment on why the Trump hotels had been delisted.

The financial challenge is one of several that Trump must address, now that he’s no longer in the White House. Indeed, tax records obtained by The New York Times last year revealed that he must pay back at least $421 million in personally guaranteed debt”—and that much of that debt is coming due within the next four years.

Research contact: @RawStory

Goodbye, Beanie Babies; Squishmallows are taking over

March  18, 2021

Although Ty’s Beanie Babies were a smash hit with children in the 1990s–and continue to be traded as valuable collectibles—over the past couple of years, another line of bulbous and brightly colored plush toys has sparked the interest of a new generation, The New York Times reports.

Made by Kelly Toys of Los Angeles since 2017, Squishmallows now are available as more than 800 characters and are sold in 40-plus nations worldwide.

Squishmallows—a line of larger soft, huggable toys created in 2017—has exploded in popularity during the pandemic, thanks to social media and in particular TikTok (or “SquishTok,” as fans call it). Collectors say the stuffed animals have given them comfort in a painful year, and that hunting for them has fostered a much-needed sense of community during an extended period of isolation.

“Even though the craze was coming before the pandemic, it certainly hit a fever pitch in the past year, and this craving for comfort is a big part of it,” Kelly Deen, senior vice president of marketing at Jazwares, the parent company of Kellytoy, which created Squishmallows, told The New York Times.

Jazwares said in early March that it has sold more than 73 million toys. (In February 2020, The Toy Book, a trade publication, reported that the company had sold 50 million Squishmallows.) According to the company, sales of Squishmallows have tripled in the past six months.

Avid collectors own dozens if not hundreds of them. Melissa Whittaker, a 35-year-old cashier in New Hampshire, has more than 70 Squishmallows, each with a tag stating its name and unique traits. “I love their cute little faces,” she said. “They’re very nice to hug, and you can double them up as pillows.”

Ilana Wiles, 46, a mother and Instagram influencer in New York City, said that she and her husband often take their 11-year-old daughter, Mazzy, on Squishmallow scavenger hunts around the city and on Long Island.

“It’s a fun activity, and they’re not that expensive if you’re buying them at a retail store,” Ms. Wiles said. “It’s a very big reward for not a lot of money.” Most of the toys are priced between $10 and $40, depending on their size.

Some that have become hard to find are fetching big prices at resale, though. According to Insider, Squishmallows are being resold for hundreds of dollars on sites like Mercari.

“The success of Squishmallows comes from the exclusivity, which helps drive collectibility, Jonathan Kelly, co-president of Kellytoy told the Times. He said that the company is increasing production to keep up with demand.

“It’s created a lot of issues finding them in stores,” said Rebecca Brown, 21, a college student in Huntsville, Alabama, who has 325 Squishmallows. “There’s a lot of scalpers now that go out and buy an entire store’s stock.”

Ms. Brown said Squishmallows have become particularly popular among students during the pandemic. Some position their Squishmallows in frame during their Zoom classes as a conversation starter or to show off their collections. Ms. Brown’s school, the University of Alabama in Huntsville, has its own local Squishmallow Instagram page, where fans can meet online and in-person and connect with each other.

Research contact @nytimes

COVID baby boom? Not so much—300,000 fewer births expected in 2021

March 17, 2021

The baby boom that some of us predicted after seeing romantic partners quarantined at home together for months has failed to materialize, according to researchers at the Brookings Institution.

Indeed, Fortune Magazine reports, it’s quite the opposite: Melissa Kearney and Phillip Levine—economics professors at the University of Maryland and Wellesley College, respectively—say they expect 300,000 fewer births in 2021, in what they’re calling a COVIDbaby bust.”

Their finding is based in part on evidence that shows a 1% increase in the national unemployment rate corresponds with an equivalent 1% drop in birth rates. In order to account for the fact that there is a public health crisis layered on top of an economic one, Kearney and Levine examined the impact of the 1918 Spanish flu on births, finding that spikes in flu deaths resulted in a decrease in the number of births nine months later.

They say that these effects can be observed on both the macro and micro level: “There is a well-documented cycle to the nation’s birthrate: When the labor market is weak, aggregate birth rates decline; when the labor market improves, birth rates improve,” Kearney and Levine wrote in a op-ed in The New York Times on March 4, noting,  “At the individual level, there is also a well-documented link between changes in income and births: When income increases, people often expand their families; when people experience job or income loss, they have fewer children.”

Kearney and Levine made a similar estimate in June, just a few months into the pandemic, writing in a Brookings report that myths about baby booms following snowstorms and blackouts were largely that—myths. This early prediction was also buoyed by findings from the Guttmacher Institute the same month, which detailed dramatic shifts in the way women were thinking about family planning during the pandemic.

The study found that more than 40% of women said they were altering their plans for when to have children or how many children they would have, and more than one-third of women said the pandemic had made them decide to delay pregnancy or have fewer children. Just 17% of respondents reported wanting to have children sooner or to have more of them because of the pandemic. 

A certain amount of common sense dictates that this must be the case. Women have suffered some of the highest rates of unemployment in recent months, and mothers especially have been effectively pushed out of the workforce because of school closures and lapses in childcare, Fortune notes.

This is only an acute symptom of a much larger problem. Birth rates have been falling in the United States for years now—the result of a confluence of social, cultural, and economic factors that have made childbearing less desirable for many people. The most obvious among these factors is the lack of government support for parents: The U.S. continues to be the only industrialized country that doesn’t have a universal paid family leave policy in place. It also lacks both universal childcare and preschool policies, which can make it more feasible for people to have children.

Kearney and Levine say it’s possible birth rates will begin to rebound to pre-pandemic numbers, since some people are delaying pregnancy; not abandoning the desire to have children altogether. But the longer the pandemic—and the social and economic conditions created by it—go on, the less that may be true, which could lead to long-term consequences, like a shrinking workforce.

“As of now, we stand by our prediction of a COVID baby bust of around 300,000 fewer births,” they report. “But the longer the pandemic lasts, and the deeper the economic and social anxiety runs, it is feasible that we will see an even larger reduction in births with an increasing share of them averted permanently.”

Research contact: @FortuneMagazine

Someone actually spent $69 million on this colorful JPG

March 12, 2021

“I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like.” Could that familiar quote explain the rationale of the buyer who bid $69.3 million at a Christie’s auction on a piece of art that he or she will never hang on a wall or stage on a gallery floor? Or is the visual likely to skyrocket in value within the foreseeable future?

The New YorkTimes reports that Christie’s facilitated the bidding frenzy for the collage, “Everydays: The First 5000 Days”— a JPG file created by graphic designer Mike Winkelmann.

According to the Times, the digital artist, who goes by Beeple, has created a drawing every single day for the last 13 years. He started with pen and paper but now mostly uses computer software such as the program Cinema 4D.

On March 11, the online auction of a composite of the first 5,000 days of the project took place via Christies, which says it’s the auction house’s first sale of a solely digital artwork. It also was the first time that Christie’s accepted payment in the cryptocurrency Ether.

Beeple is selling these works as nonfungible tokens (NFT)—digital collectibles that use blockchain technology as authentication. An NFT can take any form, but for Beeple, it usually consists of an image or video file, sometimes with a physical object attached, verified with a digital signature on a blockchain. NFTs cleverly respond to the art world’s need for authentication and provenance in an increasingly digital world, permanently linking a digital file to its creator. It makes digital artworks unique, and therefore, sellable.

Specifically, the collage consists of all the images that “has been posting online each day since 2007,” and is described as being an “irreverent visual commentary on 21st century life,” according to New York Magazine’s Vulture.

Like Beeple,  Kings of LeonBanksy, and Grimes have recently pivoted to selling their artistic creations as NFTs.

Research contact: @nytimes

Square acquires majority of Tidal, Jay-Z’s streaming service, in $297 million deal

March 5, 2021

What did Jay-Z and Jack Dorsey talk about when they went yachting around the Hamptons together last summer? Beyoncé knows—and now we do, too, based on a report by The New York Times.

Square, the mobile payments company founded by Dorsey (who also is CEO of Twitter) announced on March 4 that it would acquire a “significant majority” of Tidal, the streaming music service owned by Jay-Z and other artists—including Jay-Z’s wife, Beyoncé, , and singer and entrepreneur Rihanna, who is a client of Jay-Z’s entertainment management company, Roc Nation.

Square will pay $297 million in stock and cash for the stake in Tidal. Jay-Z will join Square’s board, the Times says.

The announcement comes less than two weeks after Jay-Z announced that he would sell 50% of  his champagne company, Armand de Brignac—better known as Ace of Spades—to LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton amid a downturn in the entertainment industry caused by the pandemic that has affected some of Jay-Z’s holdings.

“I think Roc Nation will be fine,” Jay-Z said in an interview last month about the sale of Armand de Brignac. “Like all entertainment companies, it will eventually recover. You just have to be smart and prudent at a time like this.”

Also last month, Dorsey announced that he and Jay-Z had endowed a Bitcoin trust to support development in India and Africa.

Tidal, which Jay-Z bought in partnership with other artists in 2015 for $56 million, provides members access to music, music videos and exclusive content from artists—but the streaming music industry has been dominated by competitors like Spotify, Apple and Amazon.

In 2017, Jay-Z sold 33% of the company to Sprint for an undisclosed amount. (After a merger, Sprint is now a part of T-Mobile.) Earlier this week, Jay-Z bought back the shares from T-Mobile, and most will be sold to Square as part of the deal.

Dorsey and Jay-Z began to discuss the acquisition “a few months ago,”  Jesse Dorogusker, a Square executive who will lead Tidal on an interim basis, told the Times.

“It started as a conversation between the two of them,” he said. “They found that sense of common purpose.”

Research contact: @nytimes