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As Trump Visits India, a Trade Deal Remains Elusive


WASHINGTON — President Trump’s visit to India includes a state dinner, tens of thousands of cheering onlookers and even a marching band on camels — but a long-awaited trade deal between the United States and India is notably absent.

For the second time since September, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India visited the United States, the two countries have failed to reach even a limited “mini-deal” that would increase trade for focused groups of goods, like dairy products, medical devices and Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

Negotiators from both countries have been working since 2018 on a deal that would lower Indian barriers to some American products, and restore India’s access to a program that allows goods to enter the United States tariff-free.

But the breakdown in negotiations illustrates the steep challenge in reaching a trade deal between two countries headed by populist leaders who harbor suspicions of multilateral arrangements. Both Mr. Trump and Mr. Modi want to protect jobs in their own countries by fending off foreign competitors — shared attributes that make it even more difficult to strike a comprehensive agreement that would roll back trade barriers more broadly.

“Both sides are attuned to their own political imperatives and not where the other side might have an area of accommodation,” said Nisha Biswal, president of the U.S. India Business Council, who served as assistant secretary of state for Central and South Asia during the Obama administration. “It is hard, then, to find where the common ground is where a deal could be struck.”

Urgency toward a deal appears to have faded, with both leaders appearing content for trade barriers to continue. Mr. Trump has said he is focused on a larger agreement that could be announced after the 2020 election, if he wins re-election.

“We are in the early stages of discussion for an incredible trade agreement to reduce barriers of investment between the United States and India,” Mr. Trump said on Monday at a rally in Ahmedabad. “And I am optimistic that, working together, the prime minister and I can reach a fantastic deal that’s good and even great for both of our countries. Except that he’s a very tough negotiator,” he added.

Since trade talks began, both the United States and India have escalated tensions by ratcheting up tariffs and trade barriers.

In March 2018, Mr. Trump included India in the list of countries that would be hit by his steel and aluminum tariffs. India responded with retaliatory tariffs on American almonds, apples and other goods. Last May, the Trump administration stripped India of a special status that exempted billions of dollars of its exports into the United States from tariffs.

The two sides were close to reaching a modest agreement in early January that would remove barriers for American farmers and medical device makers and strengthen India’s intellectual property protections, among other issues. But new demands — like a U.S. request for India to buy more walnuts and turkeys — kept popping up, delaying an agreement.

India then surprised the Trump administration in February by pledging to raise import duties on more than 100 items, including medical devices, furniture, electronics, cheese and shelled walnuts — a move that became a major stumbling block to the pact’s conclusion.

Mr. Trump’s trade negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, responded by reopening previously settled issues. Then he canceled a planned trip to work out everything in person with Mr. Modi’s commerce minister, Piyush Goyal.

An Indian official briefed on the talks said that India would not be bullied into making an agreement with the United States, especially if those concessions might ultimately hurt Indian interests.

For both India and the United States, the trading relationship is an important one. India was the United States’ ninth-largest trading partner in goods in 2018, while the United States edged ahead of China to become India’s largest trading partner last year.

Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the outcome showed the limitations of Mr. Trump’s truculent approach to trade, in which he tries to ratchet up pressure on trading partners to force them into making a bilateral deal.

With smaller countries that count the United States as a major market — South Korea, Japan, Canada and Mexico — Mr. Trump has signed a series of small or revised deals. But with bigger economies, Mr. Trump’s one-on-one approach “has really run into roadblocks,” Mr. Alden said.

With China, it resulted in a limited trade deal, but not one that addressed the biggest economic issues between the countries. Negotiations with the European Union have so far failed to progress. And with India, Mr. Trump’s pressure campaign may have backfired, he said.

Alyssa Ayres, also a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said India had gradually been moving toward greater economic openness since experiencing a financial crisis in 1991. But in recent years, the Trump administration’s trade tactics may have pushed India in the opposite direction.

“Given that the Trump administration has brought tariffs back as a policy tool, we are setting the wrong example ourselves for these trade moves,” she said.

But Wendy Cutler, vice president of the Asia Society and a former trade negotiator, said the United States was hardly alone in its inability to get India to sign a trade deal.

India has yet to sign a deal with Europe despite years of talks and has fought efforts by the World Trade Organization to update its trade rules, Ms. Cutler said. Progress that the United States and India were making toward a deal “was overshadowed by new tariff and nontariff measures that India was erecting, seriously complicating the talks.”

The Trump administration’s biggest carrot is the restoration of India’s tariff-free status for industries under the Generalized System of Preferences. But that carrot, which waived $200 million a year in tariffs on Indian exports, hardly has the Indian side salivating.

Since Mr. Trump revoked that status, India’s exports of preferential goods like leather handbags, certain metal and plastic products and furniture have increased 5.5 percent, compared with a 1.9 percent increase in overall exports to the United States. That suggests Indian companies are facing little pain from the change in trade status.

“The U.S. needs the trade deal more than India does,” 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.

The battle over milk and vegetarian cows has been another example of how the two sides can’t seem to find a middle ground.

India produces more milk than anyone else in the world, yet it’s still not enough to meet demand. But India is worried that cheap imported milk from the United States will wipe out many of its 80 million small farmers, who typically tend just a few cows each.

“If our farmers go out of business, there is no one to feed us,” said Ashwani Mahajan, a leader of Swadeshi Jagran Manch, a business group affiliated with India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

Then there’s the matter of what those cows eat. In the United States, cattle are typically fed ground-up parts of other animals. That does not pass muster with Hindus, most of whom are vegetarian.

Some American farmers are willing to keep cows on a purely vegetarian diet for 90 days before their milk is sent to India, said Tom Vilsack, the chief executive of the U.S. Dairy Export Council and the U.S. agriculture secretary under President Obama.

However, “the Indian government is not willing to accept that,” Mr. Vilsack said. “I don’t see any path forward.”

Ana Swanson reported from Washington, and Vindu Goel from Mumbai, India.



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Asia Pacific World

Trump Administration Considers Punishing Chinese News Organizations


Some U.S. officials have argued that expelling journalists runs counter to the American principle of freedom of the press.

Tensions between the United States and China have been high, largely because of President Trump’s trade war. The two countries reached an initial trade deal in December, but American national security officials have continued to push other nations to reject Chinese technology and infrastructure projects, arguing that they pose security risks.

President Xi Jinping of China has tightened limits on civil society and free expression since taking power in 2012. That includes greater clampdowns on foreign news organizations. Foreign journalists living in China usually get visas that allow them to have one-year residence permits, but in some cases that has been curtailed to a matter of months — to try to coerce the journalists not to report on issues such as the mass internment of Muslims in the Xinjiang region.

Matthew Pottinger, the chief deputy on the National Security Council, is a former reporter in The Wall Street Journal’s Beijing bureau. He has worked for three years on the council, most of the time as senior Asia director, and has been a proponent of aggressive policies toward China.

Two of the Journal reporters, Josh Chin, an American and the deputy bureau chief in Beijing, and Philip Wen, an Australian, flew out of Beijing on Monday. The third reporter, Chao Deng, an American, is in the coronavirus containment zone of Wuhan, where she had been reporting. She is unable to leave because of quarantine measures.

The expulsions have led to an extraordinary reaction within The Journal. On Thursday, 53 reporters and editors at the newspaper, mostly in mainland China and Hong Kong, sent a letter to William Lewis, the chief executive of Dow Jones and the newspaper’s publisher, and Robert Thomson, the chief executive of News Corp, the Rupert Murdoch-controlled parent company of Dow Jones, criticizing the way that top editors handled the fallout over the Feb. 3 headline. It said the leaders should offer a formal apology.

Over the weekend, Mr. Lewis told the letter writers that he empathized with them but would not overrule editorial decision-making. He also pledged to continue pushing to get the expelled journalists’ credentials restored.



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Culture

Renowned Indian director slams Trump visit and suggests poverty has been edited out of tour



An Indian director has slammed Donald Trump’s visit to India with a photo contrasting the US president’s “view” of the country with reality.

Ram Gopal Varma, an award-winning film director, producer and screenwriter who was born in Andhra Pradesh, commented on Mr Trump’s visit after the president touched down on Monday in Ahmedabad.

Mr Varma shared an image which he joked showed what Mr Trump would presumably see of India, compared with the “real view”.


The picture is split in half by a short wall. On one side – the one Mr Varma referred to as “Trump view” – is a neat street with an asphalt road, lined with trees.

On the other side, which Mr Varma called the “real view” is a littered dirt terrain.

Mr Varma’s tweet has proven popular, receiving more than 4,000 likes in less than two hours.


Mr Varma has also poked fun at the US president’s love of large crowd sizes, writing: “I luv it that our PM played [email protected]‘s obsession for crowds and lured him by saying one crore [10,000,000] will come… But now since instead of one crore only one lak [100,000] came.

“I hope Donnie baby won’t sulk and cancel the trade deal with India… Trump is known to be revengeful.”

He added: “On the other hand since  @realDonaldTrump can neither read nor count, he might imagine that the one-lak crowd is actually one-crore which could work for us.”

Mr Trump has embarked on a 36-hour tour of India.

The US president use the first day of his visit to India to reaffirm close ties with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and tease progress on a trade deal down the road.

But the day was largely devoted to a trio of enviable photo-ops: the largest rally of Mr Trump’s presidency, sandwiched between visits to a former home of independence leader Mohandas Gandhi and the Taj Mahal.

Additional reporting by agencies



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Americas World

Under Pressure From Trump, Extraditions from Mexico to U.S. Soar


MEXICO CITY — The Mexican government is on track to dramatically increase the number of extraditions of criminal suspects to the United States this year, as the Trump administration has pressured Mexico to step up its fight against organized crime.

With the first two months of this year not yet over, the government already has extradited at least 30 suspects to the United States, a sharp acceleration of extraditions from the more leisurely pace of recent years. In all of 2019, 58 suspects were extradited to the United States, according to Mexico’s attorney general’s office, with 69 sent in 2018, and 57 in 2017.

The increased number of extraditions in the early months of 2020 comes as President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico, who took office in December 2018, has struggled to show gains in his government’s effort to rein in organized crime groups and the violence they sow.

“The security of the region is a shared responsibility,” Mexico’s foreign ministry said in a statement late Monday. “All of Mexico’s actions on security, including extraditions, comply with our current legal framework and respond to the national interest and the commitment to provide security for Mexicans.”

Last year, Mexico recorded more than 34,500 murders, the highest tally since the government started keeping such data in the late 1990s. Corruption remains rampant and the rule of law weak. Criminals operate with near-total impunity despite a major overhaul of the judicial system.

Several recent and spectacular acts of violence have highlighted the gravity of the nation’s security situation, have cost the López Obrador administration public support and have fed concern among American officials.

In October, gunmen working for the Sinaloa Cartel paralyzed Culiacán, a major Mexican city, forcing the government to release the captured son of the imprisoned drug trafficking kingpin Joaquín Guzmán Loera, better known as El Chapo.

The next month, three women and six of their children, all dual citizens of the United States and Mexico, were murdered in an ambush in northern Mexico by suspected members of a criminal group that holds sway over swaths of the northern border region.

After that ambush, Mr. Trump said on Twitter that the time had come “for Mexico, with the help of the United States, to wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth.”

Several weeks later, Mr. Trump said he planned to designate Mexican drug trafficking groups as foreign terrorist organizations because of the high number of Americans killed by their activities.

Mr. Trump eventually backed off the threat after vehement pushback from Mexican officials who suggested that the designation could challenge their nation’s sovereignty and jeopardize bilateral relations. Analysts interpreted Mr. Trump’s designation threat as a way to force the Mexican government to strengthen its fight against criminal groups and the corruption that enables them.

Since making the threat, Mr. Trump has twice sent the attorney general, William P. Barr, to Mexico City for bilateral meetings with the Mexican authorities.

In early December, Mr. Barr met with Mr. López Obrador, Alejandro Gertz Manero, Mexico’s attorney general, and other officials to discuss gang violence, immigration corruption and the trafficking of drugs, weapons and migrants. They vowed to work more closely to prosecute members of the transnational gangs that control Mexico’s illegal drug trade.

Mr. Barr was back in Mexico City last month, focusing his meetings on bilateral efforts to fight criminal organizations as well as drug and arms trafficking.

Mexico appeared to speed up extraditions soon after Mr. Barr’s December visit. In the last two weeks of 2019, eight suspects were sent to face charges, followed by 30 more during the first eight weeks of 2020, according to the office of Mexico’s attorney general.

American officials have grown particularly concerned with the fact that much of the illegal methamphetamine consumed in the United States is manufactured in Mexico and smuggled across the border. The Drug Enforcement Administration has increased efforts to target Mexican cartels that control major drug trafficking networks and flood the United States with meth along with other drugs.

Alejandro Hope, a security analyst based in Mexico City, said fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opiate, was also a growing matter of concern in United States-Mexico relations. The authorities have recently discovered large fentanyl labs in Mexico, possibly alarming American officials that Mexico could soon replace China as a source of illegally manufactured fentanyl, Mr. Hope said.

“My guess is that they’re very worried about fentanyl, and fentanyl is driving the increasing pressure,” he said.

American governments, concerned about the weaknesses of the Mexican justice system, have often pressed for the extradition of criminal suspects. Mexican officials have at times been reluctant to comply with these requests, citing national sovereignty or the desire to see the suspect prosecuted and imprisoned in Mexico.

After Mr. Guzmán, the former head of the Sinaloa Cartel, was captured following his escape from a maximum-security prison, Mexico’s then-attorney general, Jesús Murillo Karam, suggested he would resist an American request for extradition.

“El Chapo must stay here to complete his sentence, and then I will extradite him,” he told The Associated Press in 2015. “So, about 300 or 400 years later — it will be a while.”

Mr. Murillo Karam also sought to dispel concerns that Mr. Guzmán might escape a second time. That risk, he said, “does not exist.”

But later that year, Mr. Guzmán escaped again, through a tunnel that led from his prison cell to freedom.

The Sinaloa cartel boss was eventually recaptured and extradited to the United States where he was sentenced to life in prison.

Arturo Sarukhán, a former Mexican ambassador to Washington under President Felipe Calderón, said the Mexican government’s use of extradition has varied from administration to administration. During his years as ambassador, he recalled, “there was a clear determination that extradition was a key component of our strategy to confront organized crime.”

In Mexico’s weak penitentiary system, Mr. Sarukhán said, criminal leaders were still able to continue running their organizations from behind bars. The Calderón administration decided to employ extradition “very muscularly” as a means of degrading the kingpins’ command and control capabilities.

Last week, in one of the latest extraditions, the Mexican government sent Rubén Oseguera, the son of one of the nation’s most powerful drug lords, to the United States to face drug-trafficking and firearms charges.

American officials say that until his capture in 2015, Mr. Oseguera was the second-in-command of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, which is led by his father, Nemesio Oseguera, and is considered Mexico’s most violent criminal group.

Paulina Villegas contributed reporting from Mexico City and Katie Benner from Washington.



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Asia Pacific World

Photos of Modi’s Big Party for Trump in India


Last year it was “Howdy, Modi!” — a Texas football stadium rally for Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India that featured President Trump. On Monday, Mr. Modi returned the favor with “Namaste Trump,” a campaign-style event in a 110,000-seat cricket stadium in Ahmedabad, India.

A daylong affair featuring popular singers, dancers and pounding music under a blazing sun, the “Namaste Trump” rally was an unabashed homage to Mr. Trump. His name and image appeared on dozens of banners and billboards throughout the stadium and outside its grounds. Mr. Trump said it made a lasting impression on him.

The event catered to Mr. Trump’s taste for a giant crowd. It also made vivid an image the leaders are jointly cultivating as larger-than-life, unapologetically brash figures leading their countries to bright new futures — even as their critics accuse both men of encouraging caustic nationalism and abuses against minorities.

Mr. Modi greeting Mr. Trump and his wife, Melania, as they arrived in Ahmedabad on Monday.

Ahmedabad did not deliver the 10 million well-wishers that Mr. Trump has said Mr. Modi promised to turn out — television images suggested tens of thousands, not millions in the streets.

During a visit to the Sabarmati Ashram, where Gandhi once lived, Mr. Modi explained how to use a charkha, a traditional spinning wheel.

Locals with passes to enter the rally.

The Trumps and Mr. Modi during the rally at the stadium.

India says the Motera Stadium — formally known as Sardar Patel Stadium — is the largest cricket stadium in the world.

Making no mention of a growing backlash against what critics call Mr. Modi’s anti-Muslim Hindu nationalism, Mr. Trump praised India for its unity.

“We will always remember this remarkable hospitality,” Mr. Trump said. “We will remember it forever.”

The leaders’ and Mrs. Trump’s shoes were left behind during their visit to the Sabarmati Ashram.



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Americas World

As Trump Barricades the Border, Legal Immigration Is Beginning to Plunge


WASHINGTON — President Trump’s immigration policies — like travel bans and visa restrictions or refugee caps and asylum changes — have begun to deliver on a longstanding goal: Legal immigration has fallen more than 11 percent and a steeper cut is looming.

While Mr. Trump highlights the construction of a border wall to stress his war on illegal immigration, it is through policy changes, not physical barriers, that his administration has been able to seal the United States. Two more measures were to take effect by Monday, an expansion of his travel ban and strict wealth tests on green card applicants.

“He’s really ticking off all the boxes. It’s kind of amazing,” said Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst with the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research group. “In an administration that’s been perceived to be haphazard, on immigration they’ve been extremely consistent and barreling forward.”

The number of people who obtained lawful permanent residence, besides refugees who entered the United States in previous years, declined to 940,877 in the 2018 fiscal year from 1,063,289 in the 2016 fiscal year, according to an analysis of government data by the National Foundation for American Policy. Four years ago, legal immigration was at its highest level since 2006, when 1,266,129 people obtained lawful permanent residence in the United States.

Although the data provides only a glimpse of the effect of Mr. Trump’s agenda, immigration experts said it was the first sign of a decline that coming policies are most likely to exacerbate. Those include the wealth tests, which will be imposed on immigrants applying for green cards from both inside and outside the United States.

Around two-thirds of the immigrants who obtained permanent legal status from 2012 to 2016 could be blocked from doing so under the new so-called public charge rule, which denies green cards to those who are likely to need public assistance, according to a study by the Migration Policy Institute.

The numbers reflect the breadth of the Trump administration’s restrictionism, and they come as record low unemployment has even the president’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, confiding to a gathering in Britain that “we are desperate, desperate for more people.”

But the doors have been blocked in multiple ways. Those fleeing violence or persecution have found asylum rules tightened and have been forced to wait in squalid camps in Mexico or sent to countries like Guatemala as their cases are adjudicated. People who have languished in displaced persons camps for years face an almost impossible refugee cap of 18,000 this year, down from the 110,000 that President Barack Obama set in 2016.

Family members hoping to travel legally from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Venezuela were blocked by the president’s travel ban.

Increased vetting and additional in-person interviews have further winnowed foreign travelers. The number of visas issued to foreigners abroad looking to immigrate to the United States has declined by about 25 percent, to 462,422 in the 2019 fiscal year from 617,752 in 2016.

But two more tough policies were to take effect by Monday. The expansion of Mr. Trump’s travel ban to six additional countries, including Africa’s most populous, Nigeria, began on Friday, and the public charge rule, which effectively sets a wealth test for would-be immigrants, was to start on Monday. Those will reshape immigration in the years to come, according to experts.

The travel and visa bans, soon to cover 13 countries, are almost sure to be reflected in immigration numbers in the near future. Of the average of more than 537,000 people abroad granted permanent residency from 2014 to 2016, including through a diversity lottery system, nearly 28,000, or 5 percent, would be blocked under the administration’s newly expanded travel restrictions, according to an analysis of State Department data.

But the public charge rule may prove the most consequential change yet.

Before Monday, immigrants were disqualified from permanent resident status only if they failed to demonstrate a household income above 125 percent of the federal poverty line, a threshold set by Congress. Now, immigration officials will weigh dozens of factors, like age, health, language skills, credit score and insurance as well as whether an applicant has previously used public benefits, to determine if the applicant is likely to use them in the future. One factor that could also count against an applicant is the mere fact of applying for a green card, a Catch-22 that has been a key criticism from immigration advocates.

Even before the policy went into force, it discouraged immigrants and citizens in immigrant families from seeking public assistance they qualify for, such as Medicaid, food stamps, free or reduced-price school meals or housing help, according to immigration analysts.

“Data suggest that millions of people, including U.S. citizens, have already pulled out of safety net programs they’re legally entitled to, based on fear of the public charge rule — even though it doesn’t apply to them and never will,” said Doug Rand, a founder of Boundless Immigration, a technology company in Seattle that helps immigrants obtain green cards and citizenship. “That’s not a ‘chilling effect’ — that’s a fraud upon the American people.”

The State Department’s enforcement of a far more limited form of the public charge rule in recent years may offer insight into how aggressively the Homeland Security Department is likely to use the new policy. In 2016, the last year of the Obama administration, 1,076 immigrants were found to be ineligible for visas under the rule. In 2018, 13,450 were, according to State Department data.

As the State Department moves forward on Monday with the expanded public charge rule, the wealth test will be applied to green card applicants both inside and outside the United States.

Broadening the rule has been a long-sought after goal of the White House and specifically, the president’s senior adviser Stephen Miller, who admonished career officials for taking too long to enforce the policy.

After the Supreme Court on Friday lifted an injunction that blocked the policy in Illinois, the White House praised the plan the next day.

“This final rule will protect hardworking American taxpayers, safeguard welfare programs for truly needy Americans, reduce the federal deficit,” it said in a statement, “and re-establish the fundamental legal principle that newcomers to our society should be financially self-reliant and not dependent on the largess of United States taxpayers.”

Other more subtle steps have also helped trim the number of immigrants arriving on American shores, such as requiring in-person interviews for most immigration visas and a proposed 60-percent increase in citizenship fees for most applicants.

Tara Battle, 42, a nurse in Chicago, now finds multiple policies are burdening, if not outright dividing, her family. After meeting Daberechi Amadi Godswill, a Nigerian, in 2016 while on vacation in Gambia, Ms. Battle struck up a relationship and they married in 2018.

Since then, Ms. Battle, who supports a 12-year-old daughter on a $35,000 annual salary, said she and Mr. Godswill had spent around $1,000 on lawyer and processing fees, trying to bring him to the country. She believed she had taken the last step when she submitted her financial documents on his behalf this month.

Then her lawyers told her Mr. Trump had banned immigration from Nigeria. She said she would wait to see if the president lifted the ban, but if he does, she is likely to be saddled with much higher processing fees.

“Everything is up and running, the ball is already rolling. Why is it now on hold?” Ms. Battle asked in exasperation. “They’ve already done the background checks. They already did everything. The money, the fees, everything’s paid for.”

There is little sign that Mr. Trump will relent. He is already using his immigration agenda to incite supporters as the election nears. While the administration recorded 36,679 arrests at the border last month, slightly up from the 33,657 arrests in January 2016, the president has been celebrating an eight-month decline in border crossings since a surge of Central American families approached the border last year.

He has built only about 120 miles of his border wall, but his administration quelled last year’s surge with a less visible policy known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, which have forced roughly 60,000 migrants to wait in Mexico as their immigration cases are processed in the courts. That measure, as well as a deal with Guatemala to deport asylum seekers to the Central American country, has virtually ended asylum along the southwestern border.

“They want literally millions of people to flow into our country,” Mr. Trump said of Democrats at a recent tribute for members of the Border Patrol union. “And of those millions of people, tremendous numbers of them, are people you don’t want in this country.”

Mr. Mulvaney struck a different tone to a crowd of several hundred during a question-and-answer session with the Oxford Union in Britain, a tape of which was obtained by The New York Times.

“We created 215,000 jobs last month,” he said. “We are running out of people to fuel the economic growth.”

One aspect of Mr. Trump’s stringent immigration policies has not happened yet: The president has not deported “millions” of immigrants, as promised this year. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested about 143,000 immigrants in the country from October 2018 to September 2019, 10 percent fewer than the previous fiscal year and the lowest level since Mr. Trump took office.

The administration has tried to change that trend by threatening retaliation against localities that embrace the policies of so-called sanctuary cities. Tactical units from Border Patrol have been deployed to assist ICE agents. Mr. Trump took aim at those cities, including New York, in his State of the Union address, claiming they allowed “dangerous criminal aliens to prey upon the public.”

Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said that the president’s aggressive immigration measures had actually put people in danger. The “zero tolerance” policy to prosecute parents caught illegally crossing the border, he said, led to thousands of children being separated from their parents.

“By any reasonable measure that’s not success,” he added. “That’s abject failure.”



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Business Media & Advertising

Gunmakers Battle ‘Trump Slump’ With a Softer Sales Pitch


LAS VEGAS — It was like any other convention in this city of neon and slot machines, except for all the guns.

At the Shot Show, an annual gathering of the firearms industry in Las Vegas, flash drives shaped like military rifles were handed out. Influencers with large followings on Instagram and TikTok posed for selfies, Glocks in hand. Visitors took turns sitting in the “Freedom Throne,” an eight-foot chair made out of shell casings and other munitions from a company called Lucky Shot USA.

But amid the racks of mounted handguns and hunting gear in camouflage print, many people working for the 2,600 companies represented at the show were saying that the industry should embrace a softer, more inclusive marketing strategy, if it wants to broaden its reach beyond the aging white men who have been its core customers.

The revised marketing strategy is starting to gain traction against a backdrop of sagging gun sales and a rise in mass shootings. The 2017 massacre of 58 people, with hundreds more wounded, happened in Las Vegas, three miles from the Sands Expo Convention Center, where this year’s Shot Show was held.

Blackhawk, a maker of firearms accessories and protective gear, was one of the companies that has moved away from macho branding.

“The whole skull-and-crossbones and lightning bolts and all that kind of stuff, you don’t see that very much anymore,” Joshua Waldron, the company’s president, said at the show. “It’s about figuring out a way to change the narrative to where it’s not so focused on tactical or that aggressive side of things, but to be like, ‘It’s a responsible thing to do, to protect yourself.’”

An ad for the Thompson/Center Compass II Compact rifle in a recent issue of Field & Stream reflects the changed strategy. It features a man and young boy clad in camouflage, gazing at each other while standing in the woods. The rifle, slung over the boy’s shoulder, is at the edge of the image.

Jeremy Flinn, whose Stone Road Media marketing agency works with firearms and accessories companies like Roam Rifles and Thril, said his goal was to “put a better face in front of people.” He added that his “biggest fear” would be “scaring off that new person.”

That means less blood in advertisements featuring hunters, who are described in marketing materials as “harvesting” animals, rather than “killing” them. Models are shown wearing eye and ear protection, and fewer advertising images include the military-style rifles associated with mass shootings.

“What I’m not going to show is a guy, with one hand, just jacking it up in the air,” Mr. Flinn said at the convention, which drew more than 55,000 visitors.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade group that organized the convention, unveiled an initiative called Gun Owners Care, which helped convey the new message. A sign promoting the initiative, which focuses on safety and other issues, said: “Tired of being shamed simply because you’re a gun owner? It’s time to show who we really are.”

Mark Oliva, a spokesman for the foundation, offered a vehicular analogy for appealing to a different group of people. “I don’t think Harley-Davidson is trying to sell Harley-Davidsons to just Harley owners,” he said. “They’re trying to convince the person who drives a car to see what it’s like to ride on two wheels.”

The gun industry has also tried to ramp up its appeal to women, children and members of minority groups with Lunar New Year promotions and product placement deals with companies like the video-game maker Ubisoft.

Such sales tactics seemed less urgent in the years before the Trump presidency, when low demand for firearms was not a concern. Sales slumped after the election of Mr. Trump, a vocal supporter of firearms, because gun buyers stopped worrying about losing access to guns.

Aside from a desire to attract new customers, one reason for the change in how guns are marketed may be a Supreme Court ruling from late last year that allowed relatives of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims to go ahead with a lawsuit against Remington Arms, the maker of the Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle used in the attack. The families who brought the case have accused Remington of using reckless marketing tactics.

Mass shootings have turned more people against the gun industry and the National Rifle Association. Sixty percent of U.S. households told Gallup last year that they didn’t have a gun — the highest level in 15 years — and most Americans said they wanted firearms sales to be more strictly regulated.

The number of political ads in favor of preventing gun violence has surged in recent years, while ads supporting the right to bear arms have plunged, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found. Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire presidential candidate, has been a major donor to the school, and he spent $11 million on a Super Bowl ad focused on his gun control record.

Leading advertising agencies generally refuse to work with firearms companies, opting instead to work with gun safety groups. The Ad Council, which produces public service announcements, said a campaign about accidental gun violence in the home had drawn more than $27 million in donated advertising space since its debut 18 months ago.

Gun owners are finding it difficult to ignore the negativity, especially in Las Vegas. On the first day of the Shot Show, a shooting at a nearby mall injured three people.

The past few years have left people like Stephen Machuga, a former Army infantry captain and self-described “bleeding-heart liberal” who is the founder of Stack Up, a charity for veterans in California, with increasingly mixed feelings about firearms.

“I could not be more polarized walking through that show floor,” Mr. Machuga, the owner of a Glock 19 pistol, said at the convention. “Like, this is really neat and this is really horrible, all at the same time.”

As the industry tries to reshape public sentiment, it is struggling to spread its new message.

Gun commercials are blocked by most TV networks, as well as by Google, Pinterest, Twitter and other sites, often leaving companies to rely on unpaid search results for web traffic.

Many gun companies promote their products using social media influencers with accounts like 2alpha2quit and StyleMeTactical. But Facebook and Instagram said late last year that they would block sponsored content that advertised firearms.

“If you even use the word ‘firearms,’ or show a picture of a firearm, boom, you’re banned,” said Bryan Earl, the creator of an online directory that connects firearms companies with advertising opportunities.

To work around the restrictions, many gun companies have gone with a piecemeal approach, with ads in video game forums, posts on the digital platform Medium and occasional exposure from gun-toting celebrities like the pop star Post Malone. Firearms companies use keyword-blocking technology to help keep their ads from appearing near online news articles that mention school shootings, murder or gun violence.

Print publications, a shrinking part of most marketing budgets, are another option. Garden & Gun, Hook and Barrel and other magazines mix stories about guns with travel diaries and pop culture features. To appeal to people interested in sustainable food, the gun-focused magazine Recoil puts out an annual publication called Carnivore. The latest issue features the cover line “Meat Prey Love.”

Glen Castle, Recoil’s general manager, said the magazine might attract people who are new to guns by including features on firearms among articles on exercise, trucks and other topics.

“It’s like Legos,” he said. “Trucks, guns, hunting. We try to connect them a little bit, to bring people in.”



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Asia Pacific World

As India’s Economy Sags, Even the Trump Brand Is Struggling


PUNE, India — The apartment buildings rise 23 stories into the skyline, a pair of elegant, jet-black towers buffered from the street by security guards and high fences. The name Trump is displayed in big, gold block letters.

But within the Trump Towers complex in Pune, in western India, employees say that most of the $2 million apartments are vacant. The pool is frequently empty, sales have slowed and buyers rarely visit.

The Trump brand once seemed promising to Indian developers. But it, too, is struggling to surmount one of the country’s worst economic slumps in years.

“In the past, the Trump name may have helped attract investors, but gone are those days,” said Pankaj Kapoor, the managing director of Liases Foras, an Indian real estate research company.

As Donald J. Trump prepared to run for president, Indian real estate magnates made a bet that licensing his name would sell apartments. Now India has more Trump-branded projects than any country except the United States — six residential towers in four locations, including Pune, a quiet industrial city of more than 3 million people.

But when Mr. Trump touches down in India on Monday to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his first official visit as president, he will enter a country caught in a grave slowdown. As the Indian economy faces its lowest growth rate in more than a decade, developers have abandoned residential projects and slashed prices to attract buyers.

It is not just the Trump brand that is suffering from weak demand. Thousands of apartments are vacant nationwide or trapped in construction delays and prices have stagnated. Debt-strapped builders cannot secure loans.

Real estate agents and developers sold about 40 percent less square footage last year than in 2014, according to Prashant Thakur, the head of research at Anarock Property Consultants, a real estate research firm.

At Trump Towers Pune, which were completed a few years ago as the first project in India to bear the Trump name, only seven of 46 units are occupied, according to building employees and others with knowledge of occupancy and sales.

The real estate market is now so weak, the Trump family’s partners in Pune decided to not even attempt — at least for now — to sell half of the luxury apartments in the complex, which retail for about 35 percent more than comparable properties.

Pune, Mumbai, Kolkata and Gurugram, a tech hub near New Delhi, all have Trump-branded projects. The deals in India were negotiated before Mr. Trump was elected, and the Trump family said they were contractually obligated to see them through. But the decision to push ahead has generated conflict-of-interest questions about the mixing of presidential duties with family business.

Panchshil Realty, which built the towers in Pune, did not answer emailed questions. Through a spokesman, the company’s chairman, Atul Chordia, declined to comment.

Asked to comment on its projects in India, the Trump organization and one of its India-based partners did not dispute that their real estate projects in India, particularly in Pune and Mumbai, have faced challenges because of the downturn in the luxury real-estate market.

But they argued that while they are suffering too, their sales are still better than others in the market.

“Despite the slowdown in India, Trump is still the most sought after luxury residential brand in the country,” Kalpesh Mehta, the developer of unfinished projects in Kolkata and Gurugram, said in a statement.

In most cases, the Trump Organization does not invest in such towers, but instead licenses its name in exchange for royalties, fees that are mostly paid as the individual units are sold.

According to its most recent annual financial disclosure, for 2018, the company earned perhaps as little as $200,000 last year on all four of its projects in India. The maximum revenue reported at Trump Organization from the four India projects dropped from $6 million in 2017 to $2 million in 2018, although some income from India might be counted as contributing to other accounts.

Though his brand has not surmounted India’s luxury slump, Mr. Trump remains quite popular here, with many Indians seeing him as tough on terrorism, pro-business and a crucial ally for Mr. Modi, another outspoken populist.

Last fall, Mr. Trump joined Mr. Modi onstage at a lively cultural event in Texas called “Howdy Modi!” In front of tens of thousands of Indian-Americans, Mr. Trump praised the Indian prime minister and emphasized the countries’ “common values.”

“Tell me how many Indian prime ministers have been able to visit the U.S. and get the president to mingle with the people like Modi has done?” said Varun Suhag, an Indian pilot who bought two apartments in the Gurugram development. “In decades, we have not seen such a relationship.”

In 2018, Donald Trump Jr. visited Mumbai, India’s seaside business capital, to attend a glittering sales party near the construction site for the more than 75-floor Trump Tower there, a golden-hued, 400-unit building where residents will have access to a private jet service.

Amruta Fadnavis, the wife of a former chief minister for the state of Maharashtra, which includes Mumbai, predicted in a speech at the party that the Trump brand would propel the project to success.

“Because of this tower, it will boost the confidence of international investors,” she told the crowd, a Who’s Who of fashion designers, government officials and real estate titans.

The visit coincided with an extensive advertising campaign. An ad in the Times of India occupied two full pages, with a large photo of the younger Mr. Trump, and asked: “TRUMP HAS ARRIVED. HAVE YOU?

The ad offered those who placed deposits on units in Gurugram a chance to have dinner with the president’s eldest son. For interested buyers in Mumbai, there was a champagne reception.

Trump-branded projects in India are worth around $1.5 billion, according to Mr. Mehta, founder of Tribeca Developers. Apartments in the buildings sell for between $600,000 and more than $2 million. The Kolkata project, with the least expensive apartments, has done better than the others, selling around 80 percent of its units.

But early sales figures are only one part of the story, real estate analysts say. Mr. Kapoor, of Liases Foras, said real estate developers sometimes offer a variety of incentives, including price discounts, to boost numbers.

Pawandeep Singh, the managing director of 3D Realty, a wealth management company that helps sell apartments in the Trump project in Gurugram, said the Trump brand was still desirable in India, but that property prices had stagnated and international investors were staying away.

Sales have slowed at the Gurugram project, he said, with most purchases occurring within the first few months of its launch in early 2018.

“Even Trump, with the brand it is, is not able to extract the money it would have had the market been better,” he said.

Some buyers have started reassessing their investments.

Ritesh Shah, a diamond trader, said he and more than 50 others received a 10 to 15 percent group discount when they purchased apartments, around 2014, in the planned Mumbai tower, where units start at about $1.1 million. He thought the strength of the Trump brand would help fast-track construction in a city where building delays are common, and expected a 60 or 70 percent appreciation in value by the time the tower opened.

Now, in light of the tough economy, Mr. Shah said he only expected to break even. And the completion date for the tower has been pushed back from 2018 to 2020.

“Because it’s Trump, the tower will appreciate, but a lot slower than what we had thought,” he said.

The Trump partner in Mumbai is Abhishek Lodha, whose Lodha Group, one of India’s largest real-estate developers, did not return requests for comment. In an October interview with the Economic Times, an Indian news outlet, Mr. Lodha said the company planned to cut premium housing from 30 percent of its holdings to 17 percent, and all of its new investments were in affordable housing and office space.

As India’s market liberalized in the 2000s, buyers found it easier to obtain mortgages and a building boom followed.

But in the past few years, banks stopped funding projects, responding to a growing number of dodgy deals. Builders struggled to get government clearances. Projects faced long construction delays, and buyers with money tied up in them sued developers.

By many measures, Pune has been hit notably hard.

In the past decade, as the city experienced a boom in the information technology sector, luxury buildings were constructed swiftly, with the spacious apartments in Trump Towers Pune being among the more extravagant options.

A promotional video for the towers pieces together footage of an airplane, a speedboat and a fizzing glass of champagne. Buyers included the famous Bollywood actors Rishi and Ranbir Kapoor, and Rajesh Uttamchandani, a founder of Syska, the massive Indian lighting company.

But between 2018 and 2019, the number of unsold luxury apartments in the city jumped by 56 percent. For the third quarter of 2019, Pune property prices dropped by 3.5 percent, the worst performance among India’s big cities.

Anil Deshmukh, a real estate agent in Pune, said that sheer brand might was not enough to overcome challenges to India’s property market, and a turnaround was unlikely for the next five years.

Would Mr. Trump’s visit to India help?

“If the promise of investment follows, that could give consumers new confidence,” he said. “Let’s see.”

Kai Schultz and Suhasini Raj reported from Pune, India, and Eric Lipton from Washington. Sameer Yasir contributed reporting from New Delhi.



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Asia Pacific World

Trump Was Furious That Passengers With Coronavirus Were Brought Back to U.S.


WASHINGTON — President Trump was infuriated that 14 American citizens who had tested positive for coronavirus were permitted to return this week to the United States, said two senior administration officials. The decision had taken the president, a self-declared “germophobe,” by surprise.

Officials at the State Department decided to bring back the citizens, who had been quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, after consulting with a senior official at the Department of Health and Human Services. But officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention objected, concerned that the passengers, among hundreds of Americans being evacuated from the ship, could spread the virus. News organizations reported on the decision on Monday, and the passengers arrived in the United States that day.

Mr. Trump, furious at not having been briefed on the Americans who had tested positive, relayed his anger to Alex M. Azar II, the health and human services secretary, and other top officials. They then alerted the White House interagency task force on the coronavirus, which Mr. Azar oversees. One official said Mr. Trump views shutting the borders to infected people as critical to keeping the country safe and wants to be seen as managing a proper response.

The top State Department official on the task force is Stephen E. Biegun, the deputy secretary of state.

During the early legs of a four-day trip this week to the West Coast meant to bolster his re-election effort, Mr. Trump paid close attention to Fox News’s coverage of the Diamond Princess that played aboard Air Force One.

Word of Mr. Trump’s reaction had already begun circulating among officials on Tuesday morning. The Washington Post and Politico first reported on it on Friday.

In 2014, during an Ebola crisis in Africa, Mr. Trump, who was then a private citizen, demanded that the Obama administration cancel flights and bar anyone infected with the virus from entering the country — including American medical workers who had gone to Africa to help. “KEEP THEM OUT OF HERE!” he wrote in a July 31 tweet after learning that one American medical worker would be evacuated to Atlanta from Liberia.

“The U.S. cannot allow EBOLA infected people back,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter the next day, adding: “People that go to far away places to help out are great — but must suffer the consequences!”

There have been at least 634 infections and two deaths from the Diamond Princess, which Japanese officials kept in isolation for two weeks at a port in Yokohama. That effort at a quarantine contributed to the virus’s rapid spread among passengers. The cluster from the ship is the largest concentration of coronavirus cases outside China, warranting its own category in data compiled by the World Health Organization.

American officials began a complex evacuation procedure on Sunday night for 328 passengers aboard the Diamond Princess. All had been examined by American medical experts and showed no symptoms of the coronavirus, Dr. William Walters, managing director of operational medicine at the State Department, and Dr. Robert Kadlec, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services, said on Monday during a conference call with reporters.

  • Updated Feb. 22, 2020

    • An Omaha hospital that drew attention for treating Ebola patients is now playing a key role again.
    • One of the people evacuated from Wuhan last week to San Diego had coronavirus but was discharged because of a labeling error.
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    • There was a race to contain the disease after one man’s cough became confirmation of America’s first case.
    • Many who recently traveled to China are isolating themselves in ‘self quarantines’ for 14 days.
    • Most experts agree: To protect yourself wash your hands and avoid touching your face.
    • Affected by travel? Or do you know someone who is? Please contact us at [email protected] if you are willing to be contacted by a reporter or have your comments used for a coming story.

But as those passengers were bused to Haneda Airport in Tokyo early Monday morning, Japanese officials told American counterparts that laboratory tests for 14 passengers had come back positive, Dr. Walters said. The tests had been conducted two to three days earlier, but American officials, believing the timing of the results would be “unpredictable” because of the volume of testing being done in Japan, began the evacuation without having all results in hand.

American passengers who had already tested positive or who had displayed symptoms had been sent to hospitals in Japan, Dr. Walters said.

After they learned that 14 passengers had tested positive, American officials decided that the entire group set to leave Japan should be treated according to protocols the officials had developed for evacuees, Dr. Walters said. That meant continuing to transport those who had tested positive but putting them in isolation — behind sheets of plastic about 10-feet tall — at the rear of the two planes flying them back to the United States.

Dr. Walters said on Monday that he and Dr. Kadlec reviewed the possible options after learning of the test results.

“Then the question was simply this: Are these evacuees?” Dr. Walters said. “And do we follow our protocol? And the answer to that was yes on both accounts.”

Dr. Kadlec added, “We had additional expertise and experienced eyes on these people and monitoring through the flight.”

The planes landed at Travis Air Force Base in California and Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. Most of the 14 passengers who had tested positive were then flown to Omaha for treatment and monitoring by experts at the University of Nebraska.

Since then, Japanese officials have informed American officials that several other passengers among the 328 brought back had also tested positive for coronavirus. On Friday, American officials said at least 34 people inside the United States have the virus — 18 of them from the Diamond Princess. All of the 34 cases have been linked to overseas travel. There has been no sign yet of the virus spreading among communities in the United States.

The State Department is closely monitoring American citizens on board the Westerdam cruise ship in Cambodia, as well as Americans who have disembarked and are in hotels in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. Those Americans are expected to travel onward at some point. One 83-year-old American woman from the ship traveled to Malaysia and tested positive for coronavirus.

Dr. Walters said Monday that 92 American citizens were still on board the Westerdam, while another 260 were in hotels in the Cambodian capital. About 300 American citizens had left the country, but “only after testing by the government of Cambodia’s ministry of health,” he said.

When asked whether the United States was thinking about arranging evacuation flights for the hundreds of Americans in Cambodia or elsewhere, Dr. Walters did not offer a direct answer. He said the State Department was “following very closely” the situation of American citizens in places where coronavirus is prevalent and of citizens who are “having difficulty in returning to the United States because of the disruptions in the international airline industry, and flights, and so forth.”

Separately, State Department officials say that thousands of Russia-linked social media accounts are spreading disinformation about the coronavirus, including a conspiracy theory that the United States is behind the outbreak.

American monitors first identified the campaign in mid-January. Agence France-Presse reported the assessment on Saturday.

“Russia’s intent is to sow discord and undermine U.S. institutions and alliances from within, including through covert and coercive malign influence campaigns,” said Philip T. Reeker, the acting assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasia. “By spreading disinformation about coronavirus, Russian malign actors are once again choosing to threaten public safety by distracting from the global health response.”



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Business Energy & Environment

Trump Administration Moves to Relax Rules Against Killing Birds


WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Thursday moved to drop the threat of punishment to oil and gas companies, construction crews and other organizations that kill birds “incidentally,” arguing that businesses that accidentally kill birds ought to be able to operate without fear of prosecution.

Conservation groups said the proposed new regulation from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, which operates under the Department of Interior, would substantially weaken the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 and put millions of birds in danger. The threat of fines and prosecution has, for decades, helped prod industries to take steps to protect birds, like affixing red lights on communication towers, they say.

But industry leaders and administration officials said they expected businesses to continue to voluntarily protect bird habitats. Removing the threat of punishment, they said, would bring regulatory certainty and eliminate legal disputes over whether the law covers birds killed unintentionally, whether from an oil spill or the blade of a wind turbine.

Aurelia Skipwith, director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, called bird conservation “an integral part” of the agency’s mission. By specifying that entities should be held liable only if they can be proven to have set out to kill birds, she said, “we are taking action today to make sure our rules and regulations are clear.”

The proposed regulation, if finalized, would cement a legal opinion that the Department of Interior issued in 2017 that previous administrations had interpreted the law too broadly and that only actions explicitly intended to kill birds should be forbidden.

That interpretation has already had significant consequences for migratory birds. According to internal agency documents recently obtained by The New York Times, the Trump administration has discouraged local governments and businesses from taking simple precautionary measures to protect birds, and federal wildlife officials have all but stopped investigating most bird deaths.

With a presidential election coming in November, the Trump administration is moving quickly to finalize dozens of regulatory rollbacks and other actions to weaken environmental protections viewed as burdensome by industry.

In recent weeks, the administration has scrapped a clean water regulation aimed at protecting streams and wetlands, and blocked an effort to require Americans to use energy-efficient light bulbs. Within the next month, the administration plans to weaken vehicle emissions standards and a rule restricting mercury, a toxic chemical emitted from coal-burning power plants. Completing the rule curtailing the Migratory Bird Treaty Act before the November election will be difficult, but the agency has indicated it will push aggressively to do so.

“It’s a race against the clock,” Bob Dreher, senior vice president of conservation programs at Defenders of Wildlife, an environmental organization, said of the proposed regulation.

Any legal guideline, like the one now governing bird-death enforcement, can be easily overturned; the 2017 opinion on incidental avian deaths reversed guidelines written by the Obama administration to enshrine the government’s ability to fine and prosecute those who accidentally kill migratory birds. Mr. Dreher noted that codifying the opinion into regulation, as the Trump administration is trying to do, would make it harder for a future president to issue a quick reversal.

“They’re trying to entrench this as much as they can, and get stuff locked into place,” he said, but added, “We’re going to fight it.”

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Six conservation groups and eight states have already sued to block the underlying legal opinion. Last week, a group of former Interior Department officials from both Republican and Democratic administrations filed an amicus brief in support of the lawsuit.

Oil industry representatives said that they have worked voluntarily to protect birds and would continue to do so. They also accused the Obama administration of abusing the law by singling out oil and gas companies for prosecution. The new rule, several business leaders said, brings regulatory certainty to companies worried that bird deaths would make them criminally liable for millions of dollars.

Erik G. Milito, president of the National Ocean Industries Association, which represents offshore oil and wind industries, called it “welcome news for safe and responsible energy development.” He said the proposal would prevent “the unnecessary criminalization” of accidental bird deaths that he said had blocked or slowed energy projects.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act makes it illegal “by any means or in any manner” to hunt, take, capture or kill birds, nests or eggs from listed species without a permit. Beginning in the 1970s, federal officials used the act to prosecute and fine companies up to $15,000 per bird for accidental deaths on power lines, in oil pits, in wind turbines and by other industrial hazards.

In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon disaster killed 11 people and spewed more than 210 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Hundreds of thousands of birds were killed, and BP agreed to pay $100 million for criminal violations under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Under the current legal guidance and the proposed regulatory changes, that episode would no longer trigger criminal liability because the birds were killed unintentionally. Illegal acts are also protected under the plan. For example, a farmer who sprayed a banned pesticide that killed birds would not be held liable as long as the birds were not the “intended target.”

The rule will appear in the Federal Register on Monday and the public will have 45 days to comment on it.



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