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Cracker Barrel Reports Fourth Quarter And Full Year Fiscal 2021 Results And Declares Quarterly Dividend

LEBANON, Tenn., Sept. 21, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. ("Cracker Barrel" or the "Company") (Nasdaq: CBRL) today reported its financial results for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2021 ended July 30, 2021. Fourth Quarter Fiscal 2021 Highlights Total revenue in the fourth quarter of $784.4 million was approximately flat compared to the fourth quarter of fiscal 2019 total revenue of $787.1 million. Compared to the fourth quarter of fiscal 20191, comparable store restaurant sales decreased 6.8% and comparable store retail sales increased 18.2%. Comparable store off-premise restaurant sales grew 108.6% compared to the fourth quarter of 20191 and represented approximately 19% of restaurant sales. GAAP operating income in the fourth quarter was $62.7 million, or 8.0% of total revenue, and adjusted2 operating income was $65.9 million, or 8.4% of total revenue. GAAP net income was $36.4 million, or 4.6% of total revenue. EBITDA was $93.5 million, or 11.9% of total revenue, which represented a 30 basis point sequential improvement compared to fiscal 2021 third quarter EBITDA margin. GAAP earnings per diluted share were $1.53, and adjusted2 earnings per diluted share were $2.25. The Company announced that its Board of Directors declared a regular quarterly dividend of $1.30 per share and authorized share repurchases up to $100 million of the Company's outstanding common stock. Commenting on the fourth quarter results, Cracker Barrel President and Chief Executive Officer Sandra B. Cochran said, "Despite the well-known headwinds that the industry continues to face with respect to staffing, commodity and wage inflation, and the resurgence of the pandemic, we were pleased that our fourth quarter profitability continued to trend positively from the third quarter and that our off-premise sales, retail business, and Maple Street Biscuit Company concept continued to outperform.  In addition to these strengths, our impressive field and home office support teams delivered on multiple fronts throughout the year, including cost-savings, the introduction of our new dinner menu and the continued roll-out of beer and wine to our stores, and helped ensure our continued recovery in 2021.  I'm confident that these and other initiatives position us well for 2022 despite the uncertain environment." Fourth Quarter Fiscal 2021 Results RevenueThe Company reported total revenue of $784.4 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2021, representing an increase of 58.4% compared to the fourth quarter of fiscal 2020, and a decrease of 0.3% compared to the fourth quarter of 2019.   Cracker Barrel comparable store restaurant and retail sales compared to the fourth quarter of fiscal 20191 and versus the fourth quarter of fiscal 2020 were as follows: Versus FY19Comparable Period1 Versus FY20 Comparable Period Fourth Quarter Ended7/30/21 Fourth Quarter Ended7/30/21 Comparable restaurant sales -6.8% 53.5% Comparable retail sales 18.2% 74.8% Operating IncomeGAAP operating income in the fourth quarter was $62.7 million, or 8.0% of total revenue. Excluding the approximately $3.2 million in non-cash amortization related to the gains on the previously disclosed sale and leaseback transactions adjusted2 operating income for the fourth quarter was $65.9 million, or 8.4% of total revenue. Net Income, EBITDA and Earnings per Diluted Share GAAP net income in the fourth quarter was $36.4 million, or 4.6% of total revenue, and EBITDA was $93.5 million, or 11.9% of total revenue. GAAP earnings per diluted share were $1.53, and adjusted2 earnings per diluted share were $2.25. Convertible Debt OfferingAs previously disclosed, during the fourth quarter the Company completed the private offering of $300 million of 0.625% convertible senior notes due 2026, which generated net proceeds of approximately $291 million. The Company used approximately $30 million net, of the proceeds to fund the cost of entering into certain convertible note hedging transactions to minimize the risk of potential future dilution from the offering. The remainder of the proceeds were used to pay down debt under the Company's revolving credit facility. The Company ended the fourth quarter with approximately $327 million in total debt. The Company also paid approximately $18 million to terminate the interest rate swaps that it had been using to hedge interest rate risk on the debt outstanding under the Company's revolving credit facility. We anticipate this action will result in savings on interest expense over the next two years. In connection with the offering, the Company also repurchased $35 million of its common stock. Quarterly Dividend and Share Repurchase AuthorizationThe Company's Board of Directors declared a quarterly dividend to common shareholders of $1.30 per share, payable on November 9, 2021 to shareholders of record on October 22, 2021. This dividend represents a return to the Company's pre-pandemic quarterly dividend level. Additionally, the Board of Directors authorized share repurchases up to $100 million of the Company's outstanding common stock. Fiscal 2021 ResultsRevenueThe Company reported total revenue of $2.81 billion for fiscal 2021, representing an increase of 11.8% compared to fiscal 2020 and a decrease of 8.2% compared to fiscal 2019. Comparable store restaurant sales for fiscal 2021 increased 8.4% compared to fiscal 2020, including a 5.3% increase in store traffic and a 3.1% increase in average check. Comparable store retail sales for fiscal 2021 increased 20.9% compared to fiscal 2020. Operating IncomeGAAP operating income in fiscal 2021 was $366.7 million, or 13.0% of total revenue, compared to $103.6 million, or 4.1% of total revenue, in fiscal 2020. Adjusted2 operating income for fiscal 2021 was $166.8 million. Net Income, EBITDA and Earnings per Diluted Share GAAP net income was $254.5 million, or 9.0% of total revenue, and EBITDA was $488.0 million, or 17.3% of total revenue, in fiscal 2021. Adjusted2 EBITDA was $275.4 million, or 9.8% of total revenue. GAAP earnings per diluted share were $10.71, and adjusted2 earnings per diluted share were $5.14. Fiscal 2022 OutlookAs a result of the ongoing business impact and significant uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic, including the nationwide increase in infections and responsive public health restrictions brought about by the rise of the "Delta variant" of the virus, the Company is not providing its customary annual earnings guidance for fiscal 2022 at this time. For the full fiscal year 2022, the Company expects: Commodity and wage inflation in the mid-to-high single digits; Capital expenditures of approximately $120 million; An effective tax rate of approximately 18%; and The opening of three new Cracker Barrel locations and 15 new Maple Street Biscuit Company locations. The Company reminds investors that its outlook for fiscal 2022 reflects a number of assumptions, many of which are outside the Company's control.  1 For the purpose of comparing to fiscal 2019, comparable stores are defined as restaurants open a full 30 months before the beginning of the applicable period.2 For Non-GAAP reconciliations, please refer to the Reconciliation of GAAP-basis operating results to non-GAAP operating results section of this release. Fiscal 2021 Fourth Quarter Conference CallAs previously announced, the live broadcast of Cracker Barrel's quarterly conference call will be available to the public on-line at investor.crackerbarrel.com today beginning at 11:00 a.m. (ET). The on-line replay will be available at 2:00 p.m. (ET) and continue through October 5, 2021. About Cracker Barrel Old Country Store®Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. (NASDAQ:CBRL) provides a caring and friendly home-away-from-home experience while offering guests high-quality homestyle food to enjoy in-store or to-go and unique shopping — all at a fair price. Established in 1969 in Lebanon, Tenn., Cracker Barrel and its affiliates operate more than 660 company-owned Cracker Barrel Old Country Store® locations in 45 states and own the fast-casual Maple Street Biscuit Company. For more information about the Company, visit crackerbarrel.com. CBRL-F Except for specific historical information, certain of the matters discussed in this press release may express or imply projections of revenues or expenditures, statements of plans and objectives or future operations or statements of future economic performance. These, and similar statements are forward-looking statements concerning matters that involve risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual performance of Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. and its subsidiaries to differ materially from those expressed or implied by this discussion. All forward-looking information is subject to completion of our financial procedures for Q4 FY 2021 and is provided pursuant to the safe harbor established under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and should be evaluated in the context of these factors. Forward-looking statements generally can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as "trends," "assumptions," "target," "guidance," "outlook," "opportunity," "future," "plans," "goals," "objectives," "expectations," "near-term," "long-term," "projection," "may," "will," "would," "could," "expect," "intend," "estimate," "anticipate," "believe," "potential," "regular," "should," "projects," "forecasts," or "continue" (or the negative or other derivatives of each of these terms) or similar terminology and include the expected effects of COVID-19 on our business, financial condition and results of operations and of operational improvement initiatives, such as new menu items and retail offerings. Factors which could materially affect actual results include, but are not limited to: risks and uncertainties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, including the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic and its ultimate impact on our business, levels of consumer confidence in the safety of dine-in restaurants, restrictions (including occupancy restrictions) imposed by governmental authorities, the effectiveness of cost saving measures undertaken throughout our operations, disruptions to our operations as a result of the spread of COVID-19 in our workforce, and our level of indebtedness, or constraints on our expenditures, ability to service our debt obligations or make cash distributions to our shareholders or cash management generally, brought on by additional borrowing necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic; general or regional economic weakness, business and societal conditions, and weather on sales and customer travel; discretionary income or personal expenditure activity of our customers; information technology-related incidents, including data privacy and information security breaches, whether as a result of infrastructure failures, employee or vendor errors, or actions of third parties; our ability to identify, acquire and sell successful new lines of retail merchandise and new menu items at our restaurants; our ability to sustain or the effects of plans intended to improve operational or marketing execution and performance; uncertain performance of acquired businesses, strategic investments and other initiatives that we may pursue now or in the future; changes in or implementation of additional governmental or regulatory rules, regulations and interpretations affecting tax, wage and hour matters, health and safety, pensions, insurance or other undeterminable areas; the effects of plans intended to promote or protect our brands and products; commodity price increases; the ability of and cost to us to recruit, train, and retain qualified hourly and management employees; the effects of increased competition at our locations on sales and on labor recruiting, cost, and retention; workers' compensation, group health and utility price changes; consumer behavior based on negative publicity or changes in consumer health or dietary trends or safety aspects of our food or products or those of the restaurant industry in general, including concerns about outbreaks of infectious disease, as well as the possible effects of such events on the price or availability of ingredients used in our restaurants; the effects of our indebtedness, including under our credit facility and our convertible senior notes, and associated restrictions on our financial and operating flexibility and ability to execute or pursue our operating plans and objectives; changes in interest rates, increases in borrowed capital or capital market conditions affecting our financing costs and ability to refinance all or portions of our indebtedness; the effects of dilution of our existing stockholders' ownership interest that may ensue from any conversions of our convertible senior notes or the related warrants issued in connection with our convertible note hedging transactions; the effects of business trends on the outlook for individual restaurant locations and the effect on the carrying value of those locations; our ability to retain key personnel; the availability and cost of suitable sites for restaurant development and our ability to identify those sites; our ability to enter successfully into new geographic markets that may be less familiar to us; changes in land, building materials and construction costs; the actual results of pending, future or threatened litigation or governmental investigations and the costs and effects of negative publicity or our ability to manage the impact of social media associated with these activities; economic or psychological effects of natural disasters or unforeseen events such as terrorist acts, social unrest or war and the military or government responses to such events; disruptions to our restaurant or retail supply chain, including as a result of COVID-19; changes in foreign exchange rates affecting our future retail inventory purchases; the impact of activist shareholders; our reliance on limited distribution facilities and certain significant vendors; implementation of new or changes in interpretation of existing accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America ("GAAP"); and other factors described from time to time in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, press releases, and other communications. Any forward-looking statement made by us herein, or elsewhere, speaks only as of the date on which made. We expressly disclaim any intent, obligation or undertaking to update or revise any forward-looking statements made herein to reflect any change in our expectations with regard thereto or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any such statements are based.   CRACKER BARREL OLD COUNTRY STORE, INC. CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED INCOME STATEMENT (Unaudited) (In thousands, except share and per share amounts, percentages and ratios)    Fourth Quarter Ended   Twelve Months Ended Percentage Percentage 7/30/21 7/31/20 Change 7/30/21 7/31/20 Change Total revenue $784,405 $495,065 58% $2,821,444 $2,522,792 12% Cost of goods sold, exclusive of depreciation and rent 235,754 150,778 56 865,261 779,937 11 Labor and other related expenses 268,702 187,785 43 983,120 924,994 6 Other store operating expenses 180,333 141,267 28 676,301 614,733 10 General and administrative expenses 36,948 40,950 (10) 147,825 146,975 1 Gain on sale and leaseback transactions 0 (69,954) (100) (217,722) (69,954) 211 Impairment 0 4,160 (100) 0 22,496 (100) Operating income 62,668 40,079 56 366,659 103,611 254 Interest expense 24,964 9,944 151 56,108 22,327 151 Income before income taxes 37,704 30,135 25 310,551 81,284 282 Provision for income taxes (income tax benefit) 1,341 5,069 (74) 56,038 (28,683) 295 Loss from unconsolidated subsidiary 0 0 0 (142,442) Net income (loss) $36,363 $25,066 45.....»»

Category: earningsSource: benzingaSep 21st, 2021Related News

Operation "Go It Alone": Disenchanted Europeans May Build Their Own Army

Operation 'Go It Alone': Disenchanted Europeans May Build Their Own Army Authored by Doug Bandow via ResponsibleStatecraft.org, The chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal has renewed talk about striking out and leaning less on the U.S. But is it possible? German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen , Eric Trappier and Emmanuel Macron attend the 53rd International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport and the unveiling of the French-German-Spanish New Generation Fighter (NGF) model, June 17, 2019. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/PoolPhoto by Jacques Witt/Pool/ABACAPRESS.COM Photo by Jacques Witt/pool/ABACAPRESS.COM Europeans are a moody lot. Whenever they feel neglected by America - meaning most anytime Washington is busy elsewhere - there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth. And endless demands for “reassurance,” as in additional promises to spend and do even more to defend the continent. European unease again is on the rise. President Joe Biden’s chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal allegedly without even the pretense of consultation hit Europe particularly hard. There were charges that Biden didn’t coordinate with European governments, which had sizable groups of military personnel and civilians in Afghanistan (The NATO chief denies the alliance wasn’t consulted).  It would seem that the continental states have more reason than usual to be upset. While brickbats tossed Washington’s way aren’t likely to have much effect, Europe’s impotence has spurred renewed interest in expanding the continent’s military capabilities, which could become the most significant consequence of Europe’s involvement in Washington’s 20-year Afghan misadventure. When European defense ministers gathered in late August, their meeting was filled with complaints of a “fiasco” and “debacle.” They were frustrated that they had no ability to act independently but had to rely on America. Of course, none of this should have been a surprise. French President Emmanuel Macron previously called NATO “brain dead,” promoted “strategic autonomy,” and advocated a “true European army,” with no result. Grandiose ideas of an independent European military force have long circulated to no end. More than two decades ago plans were actually made for a 60,000 multinational force, which never appeared. Nor did later proposals for 1500-member “battle groups.” Now Josep Borrell, the European Union’s de facto foreign minister, wants to establish an “initial entry force” of about 5,000 soldiers.  He complained: “We Europeans found ourselves — not only for the evacuations out of the Kabul airport but also more broadly — depending on American decisions.” The Afghanistan experience was particularly painful, he observed, showing “that the deficiencies in our strategic autonomy come with a price.” He advocated “new tools like this entry force,” so “The only way forward is to combine our forces and strengthen our capacity and our will to act.”  With an equivalent combined economy and larger population than America, Europe has long had the resources necessary to create such a unit. However, the will was always lacking, even for what would be small ball for America. Has that finally changed? Significant barriers to action remain. Historically, Washington opposed such an independent European force. U.S. officials feared that separate units would cause penurious Europeans to reduce resources available to NATO. Moreover, past administrations worried that the continent would move toward a more independent foreign and military policy, which is anathema to Washington. The U.S. wants Europe to do more, but only under the former’s control. Nor has the continent shown any interest in doing more. Despite modest growth in military outlays by a number of European states since 2014, the continent continues to badly lag America’s effort. In a pitifully honest self-review, German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer admitted that “Without America’s nuclear and conventional capabilities, Germany and Europe cannot protect themselves.” She cited estimates that “the United States currently provides 75 percent of all NATO capabilities.” Only France and the United Kingdom possess capable armed forces of serious size. Germany, Italy, and Spain have sizeable economies but minimal militaries, in theoretical and practical strength. Indeed, the poor readiness of the Bundeswehr, the heir to the once mighty Wehrmacht, would be comical if not so serious. Even countries which claim to fear Russian revanchism, most notably the three Baltic states and Poland, spend little more than 2 percent of GDP, a miserly investment on behalf of their freedom. In the field, noted Rem Korteweg of the Dutch Clingendael Institute, Bosnia and Libya demonstrated “the inability of Europeans to do anything serious without the Americans.” Although most European leaders formally assent to NATO insistence that they spend more, there is no public support for doing so. Most Europeans do not fear Russia, the only plausible security threat. Those who do expect Washington to shield them. That is why the eastern-most members of NATO want the presence of an American military tripwire, to ensure U.S. deaths (not theirs) and trigger automatic American involvement in war on their behalf if attacked by Moscow. Fear of U.S. disengagement might cause more European countries to spend more on their militaries, but so far no one expects the American military to go home. As long as Washington’s security guarantee appears secure, few European nations are likely to make an added investment in a European “initial entry force.” Indeed, Europeans do not support going to war for their neighbors even while expecting Americans to go to war for them. Last year the Pew Research Center surveyed 14 NATO members. In Poland, which constantly demands more U.S. attention, only 40 percent of respondents agreed that “our country should use military force” in response to a Russian attack on a NATO ally. Just a third in Germany, which was loaded with allied troops during the Cold War. And a quarter in Greece and Italy. Although many governments are more supportive of NATO and military outlays than their publics, at a time of economic difficulty and fiscal stringency they are more likely to curb than expand spending on the armed forces. President Biden should strongly support European efforts to create more effective militaries, however they are organized. Indeed, he should go further and encourage the continent to move toward military independence. Although advocates of staying in Afghanistan forever pointed to U.S. deployments in Europe and Asia as precedent, foreign policy scholar Mark Sheetz noted that “the purpose of America’s ‘temporary’ intervention in Western Europe was to eliminate the need for ‘permanent’ intervention.” Similarly, Dwight Eisenhower, NATO supreme commander before becoming president, warned against acting like “a modern Rome guarding the far frontiers with our legions.” Instead, he advocated helping “these people [to] regain their confidence and get on their own military feet.” Of course, establishing a 5,000-member rapid deployment force would be only a small start to Europeans getting “on their own military feet.” The Center for American Progress recently reported: “European militaries have now experienced decades of decline. Today, much of Europe’s military hardware is in a shocking state of disrepair. … European forces aren’t ready to fight with the equipment they have, and the equipment they have isn’t good enough.” However, the crushing embarrassment of Afghanistan might help change that. Paolo Gentiloni, EU commissioner and former Italian prime minister, allowed that “It’s a terrible paradox, but this debacle could be the start of Europe’s moment.” Although only if Europe chooses to spend and do more. History is not promising, but reality might finally intrude. The Europeans lack credibility in criticizing Washington’s admittedly wretched performance in Afghanistan. Their insults will merely antagonize Americans tired of European cheap-riding. And defense subsidies for Europe will inevitably be targeted as Washington’s debt explodes, heading toward the post-World War II record and ultimately well beyond. The Afghanistan imbroglio provided Europe with a long overdue wake up call. The Biden administration should reinforce that message by warning that the U.S. will not forever provide defense welfare for a continent both prosperous and populous. If European governments don’t like being treated dismissively by Washington, they need the capability and will to act independently. Tyler Durden Tue, 09/21/2021 - 05:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 21st, 2021Related News

Donald Trump"s lawyer says he"s not worried prosecutors named Trump personally in the tax fraud indictment against his namesake company

Donald Trump's lawyer, Ronald Fischetti, said he's confident the Manhattan DA's office won't charge the former president as part of its investigation. Former U.S. President Donald Trump addresses supporters during a "Save America" rally at York Family Farms on August 21, 2021 in Cullman, Alabama. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images A tax fraud indictment against the Trump Organization and its CFO Allen Weisselberg personally named Donald Trump. Still, his lawyer Ronald Fischetti told Insider he doesn't believe the Manhattan DA will charge the ex-president. He said Trump's tax savings in the alleged fraud scheme would amount to "fucking pennies." See more stories on Insider's business page. An attorney representing Donald Trump said he isn't worried that the former president is personally named in the indictment against his namesake company, telling Insider he's confident Trump won't be charged in the Manhattan District Attorney's long-running investigation.Prosecutors named Trump in charging documents unsealed on July 1. They said he cut checks for family members of Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, who they also accused of tax crimes."Trump Corporation personnel, including Weisselberg, arranged for tuition expenses for Weisselberg's family members to be paid by personal checks drawn on the account of and signed by Donald J. Trump, and later drawn on the account of the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust," prosecutors alleged in the indictment.Trump's lawyer, Ronald Fischetti, told Insider that the mention had no bearing on the former president's personal legal exposure in the DA's investigation. He said that Trump paid the tuition bills personally, rather than through corporate accounts, and took "no deductions" on them."All that money paid for [Weisselberg's] grandson's tuition - to the same school that Donald Trump's son Barron goes to - was paid by Donald Trump personally, never from the company," Fischetti said. "No checks ever went from the company to pay for that tuition."Fischetti said Trump made the tuition payments because Weisselberg's son, Barry, was undergoing an acrimonious split from his wife, Jennifer Weisselberg. Trump wanted to make sure the grandchildren of a "trusted employee" could remain at their school, Fischetti said."Donald Trump, out of his generosity, paid for it personally," Fischetti said. "No deductions, no nothing."The Trump Organization is expected to face trial next yearWeisselberg and attorneys for the Trump Organization pleaded not guilty to a 15-count indictment, where prosecutors described a wide-ranging alleged tax scheme in which Weisselberg dodged taxes on $1.7 million of his income, much of which they said came in the form of perks like tuition payments, apartments, and cars.More than $359,000 of that untaxed compensation came in the form of tuition payments from 2012 to 2017, prosecutors said. They alleged the tuition payments were categorized as compensation in the Trump Organization's internal records, but not on Weisselberg's personal tax forms. The Trump Organization's Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg appears in State Supreme Court in Manhattan on Monday, Sept. 20, 2021 in New York. Jefferson Siegel/The New York Times via AP Fischetti said that Trump paying the tuition out of his own pocket, rather than corporate coffers, indicated that the ex-president had already paid all the appropriate taxes on his end."It's not taxable for that person," Fischetti said. "And it's not a deduction for the person who's giving it to them."Weisselberg's grandchildren have attended the Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School in Manhattan's Upper West Side, which was subpoenaed in the DA's investigation.Since last fall, Jennifer Weisselberg has been a cooperating witness and has given troves of documents to prosecutors. She told Insider in an interview earlier this year that the Trump Organization sometimes gave employees perks like apartments and tuition payments in lieu of monetary bonuses as a way to control their lives.In a court hearing Monday, New York State Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan said attorneys for Weisselberg and the Trump Organization had until January 2022 to review 6 million pages of documents in the case and submit pre-trial motions. Merchan told the attorneys to expect a trial to begin in August or September 2022.Fischetti said Trump's tax savings in the alleged fraud scheme would amount to 'fucking pennies'Bryan Skarlatos, an attorney representing Weisselberg in the case, said in court Monday that he expects more indictments from the grand jury investigation.Fischetti told Insider he doesn't expect Trump to be among the indicted. He said the tax savings prosecutors describe would amount to "fucking pennies" for the former president."This guy's a billionaire. What's he going to get out of this?" he said, adding: "It's fucking pennies! It's ridiculous. They have nothing on the president. Absolutely nothing."Fischetti said he met with prosecutors in June, and that they've brought no evidence that Trump had any personal knowledge of or involvement in the alleged tax scheme."They have said nothing about the president knowing about this," Fischetti said. "They have no tape recordings, they have no email, they have no text. They have no documents. They have nothing!" The Trump Organization's Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, center, awaits a car after leaving a courtroom appearance in New York, Monday, Sept. 20, 2021. AP Photo/Craig Ruttle Prosecutors typically meet with attorneys of people they plan to accuse of white-collar crimes shortly before indictments, but Fischetti said he's heard nothing from the district attorney's team since that summer meeting. Mark Pomerantz - Fischetti's former law partner and a leading member of the Manhattan DA's team - assured Fischetti he'd give him a chance to defend Trump in advance of bringing any charges.Attorneys for other witnesses who've testified before the grand jury said none of the clients had anything to say about Trump's personal involvement, according to Fischetti. He said that prosecutors' only hope of possibly indicting Trump was to "coerce" people to tell the grand jury that they acted at Trump's direction."The only thing they could possibly have are witnesses that would go into the grand jury and say, 'Yes, I got a free car and I got a free apartment, and he deducted it from my salary or would give it to me as a bonus so the company made money,'" Fischetti told Insider. "He needs witnesses! He has none! Zero!"A representative for the Manhattan DA's office declined to comment for this story.Prosecutors also were said to have been investigating whether the Trump Organization broke tax laws by keeping two sets of books in order to secure favorable tax, insurance, and loan rates, as well as whether the company broke campaign finance laws by facilitating hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels in advance of the 2016 election.Fischetti said he hasn't heard anything about charges related to those inquiries.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytSep 21st, 2021Related News

Shocking photos show Haitian migrants swimming across the Rio Grand into Mexico and being confronted by Border Patrol agents on horses

The estimated 14,000 mainly Haitian migrants that ended up in Del Rio, Texas, are now heading back to Mexico to avoid being deported by the US. CIUDAD ACUNA, MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 20: Haitian immigrants cross the Rio Grande back into Mexico from Del Rio, Texas on September 20, 2021 to Ciudad Acuna, Mexico. As U.S. immigration authorities began deporting immigrants back to Haiti from Del Rio, thousands more waited in a camp under an international bridge in Del Rio while others crossed the river back into Mexico to avoid deportation. John Moore/Getty Images Some 14,000 mostly-Haitian migrants settled under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, on Friday. The Biden administration is using Title 42 to deport the migrants and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Photos show the migrants' journey as they seek asylum. See more stories on Insider's business page. Photos captured between Friday, September 17, and Monday, September 20 show Haitian migrants trying to navigate the humanitarian crisis at the US and Mexico border.Some of the estimated 14,000 mainly Haitian migrants that ended up in Del Rio, Texas, seeking asylum following a massive earthquake and the assassination of the Haitian president, began heading back to Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, on Monday, to avoid being deported by the US.Thousands of migrants had settled underneath a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, in the heat where essentials such as food, water, and restrooms were scarce.President Joe Biden, who had discontinued some of Trump's immigration policies, leading migrants to believe the US was more open to migrants, has begun deporting migrants back to Haiti, The New York Times reported. The mayor of Del Rio, Texas declared a state of emergency on September 17 following the settlement of thousands of mostly Haitian migrants underneath a bridge in Del Rio. Haitian migrants use a dam to cross to and from the United States from Mexico, Friday, Sept. 17, 2021, in Del Rio, Texas. Eric Gay/AP Photo Del Rio Mayor Bruno "Ralphy" Lozano is working alongside Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and the Chief of the US Border Patrol Raul Ortiz to find a solution at the border and to deport migrants, the mayor said in a tweet on Sunday. Some Haitian migrants were spotted moving back towards Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, on September 20, to prevent being deported back to Haiti. Migrants, many from Haiti, wade across the Rio Grande river from Del Rio, Texas, to return to Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, Monday, Sept. 20, 2021. The US is flying Haitians camped in a Texas border town back to their homeland and blocking others from crossing the border from Mexico. Felix Marquez/AP Photo Desperate to not return back to Haiti, some migrants have begun moving from Texas back into Mexico. CNBC reported that at least 100 migrants were heading back to Mexico.As of Sunday, September 19, the US had flown 3,300 Haitians back to Haiti.  Haitian migrants were captured on photo wading through the Rio Grande. Haitian immigrants cross the Rio Grande back into Mexico from Del Rio, Texas on September 20, 2021 to Ciudad Acuna, Mexico. As US immigration authorities began deporting immigrants back to Haiti from Del Rio, thousands more waited in a camp under an international bridge in Del Rio while others crossed the river back into Mexico to avoid deportation. John Moore/Getty Images Some migrants also crossed the Rio Grande in search of food and other resources. Haitian migrants cross the Rio Grande to get food and supplies near the Del Rio-Acuna Port of Entry in Ciudad Acuña, Coahuila state, Mexico on September 18, 2021. PAUL RATJE/AFP via Getty Images US Customs and Border Patrol agents were photographed using whips to prevent Haitian migrants from joining the other Haitian migrants in Del Rio, Texas. United States Border Patrol agents on horseback try to stop Haitian migrants from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande near the Acuna Del Rio International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas on September 19, 2021. PAUL RATJE/AFP via Getty Images Those who tried to return with resources on Sunday were met by US Customs and Border Patrol agents on horseback who were armed with whips."I have seen some of the footage," Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, said to reporters during a news briefing on Monday, referring to video of the CBP agents scattering migrants. "I don't have the full context. I can't imagine what context would make that appropriate, but I don't have additional details. … I don't think anyone seeing that footage would think it was acceptable or appropriate."According to The Washington Post, the Border Patrol agents eventually let the migrants in through the border. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said in a tweet on Monday that the current "immigration system is designed for cruelty towards and dehumanization of immigrants." "This is a stain on our country," she continued."Video and photos coming out of Del Rio showing US Border Patrol's mistreatment of Haitian migrants along the border are horrific and disturbing," Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, told The Post."This mistreatment runs counter to our American values and cannot be tolerated," he added. The Department of Homeland Security responded to the footage on Monday. United States Border Patrol agents on horseback tries to stop Haitian migrants from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande near the Acuna Del Rio International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas on September 19, 2021. PAUL RATJE/AFP via Getty Images The Department of Homeland Security said that CBP is currently investigating the crisis, according to PBS anchor Yamiche Alcindor."Secretary Mayorkas visited Del Rio today and witnessed the extraordinary work of DHS personnel," DHS spokesperson said in the statement. "The footage is extremely troubling and the facts learned from the full investigation, which will be conducted swiftly, will define the appropriate disciplinary actions to be taken.""We are committed to processing migrants in a safe, orderly, and humane way. We can and must do this in a way that ensures the safety and dignity of migrants," the statement concluded.DHS and CBP did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.  The Biden-Harris Administration will continue invoking Title 42 - an order issued by Trump. Migrants, many from Haiti, board a bus after they were processed and released after spending time at a makeshift camp near the International Bridge, Monday, Sept. 20, 2021, in Del Rio, Texas. The US is flying Haitians camped at Texas border town back to their homeland and trying to block others from crossing the border from Mexico. Eric Gay/AP Photo The Biden-Harris administration has challenged courts for the ability to invoke Title 42 and despite activists' cries to end it."If you come to the US illegally, you will be returned," said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas at a Monday news conference. "Your journey will not succeed."Title 42 is an immigration policy issued by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention during Trump's presidency that allows the swift deportation of migrants as a measure to keep COVID-19 from spreading.Steven Forester, an immigration policy coordinator at the US-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, told Al Jazeera that the order is entirely "unconscionable.""There's no way Haiti can handle the people that are in Haiti now given the conditions there. It can't provide for these people," he added. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytSep 21st, 2021Related News

A member of the CIA director"s team experienced symptoms of the mysterious "Havana Syndrome" on a trip to India, report says

The incident took place on a September trip to India, CNN reported. At least 130 US personnel have reported the symptoms since 2016. CIA Director Bill Burns. Graeme Jennings/Pool via AP A member of CIA director Bill Burns team reported symptoms of Havana Syndrome this month, CNN said. The incident happened on Burns' trip to India and left him "fuming," sources told CNN. At least 130 US personnel have reported symptoms, including in China, Vietnam, the US, and Russia. See more stories on Insider's business page. A colleague of CIA Director Bill Burns experienced symptoms consistent with the mysterious "Havana Syndrome" during a recent trip to India, CNN reported.The incident happened earlier this month and left Burns "fuming" with anger, a source told CNN. Employees of the CIA told the outlet that the episode was perceived internally as a direct threat to Burns.The individual who reported the symptoms was returned to the US and recieved immediate medical attention, CNN reported. The CIA did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.The first instance of the so-called "Havana Syndrome" was reported in late 2016 by US officials and employees in Cuba who reported headaches, vertigo, hearing loss, and noticed buzzing or clicking sounds.At least 130 US personnel have reported symptoms following other incidents in China, Russia, Germany, and the US.Marc Polymeropoulos, who experienced the symptoms in December 2017 while working for the CIA in Moscow, told Insider's Aylin Woodward in a story published earlier this year: "I couldn't drive. I lost my long distance vision. I had brain fog. And honestly, the headaches that I developed, I still have to this day."Last month, Vice President Kamala Harris' trip to to Vietnam was delayed after American officials in Hanoi reported symptoms of the illness. Two people were medevaced.In June, President Joe Biden backed the formation of two panels to investigate the cause of the illness and, in early September, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin sent a note to 2.9 million military service members and contractors telling them to make themselves known if they had experienced any symptoms.The cause of the syndrome is unknown, but theories include microwave energy, ultrasound, and infectious toxins.The US intelligence community is conducting its own investigation into the mysterious illness, with a report due by the end of the year, CNN reported.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytSep 21st, 2021Related News

SEC investigating Activision Blizzard over workplace practices, disclosures

The agency is asking for records including minutes from Activision board meetings since 2019, personnel files of six former employees, separation agreements the company has reached this year with staffers, and CEO Bobby Kotick's communications with other senior executives regarding complaints of sexual harassment or discrimination by Activision employees or contractors......»»

Category: topSource: foxnewsSep 21st, 2021Related News

China Expands Influence In Africa By Building Government Facilities, West Starting To Counter

China Expands Influence In Africa By Building Government Facilities, West Starting To Counter Authored by Alex Wu via The Epoch Times, In mid-May, China invested $35 million in Kenya to build a new foreign ministry building. It’s the latest in a series of investments and grants given by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to African countries, which allows the regime to expand its political and economic influence in the continent. China’s investment offers, mainly through its Belt and Road Initiatives (BRI), have been widely criticized for setting up debt traps for recipient countries, along with accusations of espionage and infiltration. The facade of the headquarters of the African Union (AU) is pictured in Addis Ababa on March 13, 2019. (Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images) The West has now started to take counter measures. Southern China Morning Post noted on May 23 that the CCP has been focusing on funding and building government buildings for African countries, which has aroused suspicion from the international community. Currently, the $80 million new headquarters for the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is funded by China, is under construction in the south of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. Despite the U.S. government’s warning in February 2020 that a China-funded and constructed CDC will be used by the regime to steal “African genetic data,” construction started in December 2020. According to The Heritage Foundation, China was involved in the building of more than 186 government buildings across 40 of 54 African countries. Even the African Union (AU) headquarters, located in Ethiopia, was fully financed and built by China. In 2018, French newspaper Le Monde first revealed that AU technicians discovered that between 2012 and 2017, the Chinese-built African Union headquarters had been transmitting AU’s confidential data to Shanghai daily through the building’s IT network using servers provided by Chinese company Huawei. Despite that, in 2019, AU signed deals with Huawei to expand the use of its technology and equipment in building 5G networks, artificial intelligence and cloud computing, and others. China has developed 70 percent of Africa’s 4G networks, and even built sensitive intra-governmental communications networks for 14 African countries. In recent years, China’s communist regime has lent billions of dollars to African states while building roads, railways, ports, power stations, internet networks, government buildings in an effort to bring the continent under its influence, according to UK media reports. The regime has also been building military bases in Africa, such as in Djibouti. Chinese People’s Liberation Army personnel attend the opening ceremony of China’s new military base in Djibouti on Aug. 1, 2017. (STR/AFP via Getty Image) The Chinese loans are mostly offered through BRI, which is Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s grand foreign policy project that he launched in 2013. It aims to extend the CCP’s economic and political influence to countries in Asia, Europe, and Africa by recreating ancient China’s silk road and maritime silk road for trading in the 21st century. The BRI invests Chinese capital in the construction of various high-cost infrastructure projects in more than 60 participating countries. At least 28 African countries have signed a BRI agreement with China, according to Chinese state-run media Xinhua. Recently, the United States and its allies have started to take measures to counter China’s expansion in Africa. In a Group of Seven (G7) meeting of foreign ministers in early May, Western countries highlighted the CCP’s ambitions and security threats for the nations of Africa and Latin America, and suggested that the West extend partnerships to the countries with “concrete offers of cooperation.” On May 22, a group of telecommunications companies funded by a U.S. foreign-aid agency and led by the U.K.’s Vodafone Group won the contract to build 5G network for Ethiopia, beating Chinese state-owned companies Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp. Tyler Durden Wed, 05/26/2021 - 03:30.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytMay 26th, 2021Related News

Bridge update: Contractor named for repair work; governors visit Memphis

TDOT said Kiewit will start work today, May 18, on the bridge project, and that Kiewit was selected based on the firm’s “qualifications, experience, and availability of personnel and equipment.”.....»»

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The Campus Roundup: May 13, 2021

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US officials believe Russia may be behind the suspected directed-energy attacks that are getting government employees sick around the world, report says

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Category: personnelSource: nytMay 11th, 2021Related News

The US military dropped off its last batch of artillery shells carrying deadly VX nerve agent to be destroyed

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Cybersecurity firm ExtraHop names former FBI agent to senior role

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Player Personnel: Colorado"s top tech and startup hires in April

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Category: topSource: bizjournalsMay 4th, 2021Related News

CIA says there is a "security situation" just outside headquarters in Langley, Virginia

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Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 3rd, 2021Related News

Report: Layoffs are decreasing as arts institutions prepare to reopen

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CBRE promotes St. Louis leader, will oversee multiple markets

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The Campus Roundup: March 18, 2021

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State to have all teacher-vaccine clinics up and running on weekend

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Category: topSource: bizjournalsMar 12th, 2021Related News

: Neera Tanden is out as Biden’s OMB nominee

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