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DeSantis Slams Senate Dress Code Changes, Attacks John Fetterman Whose Response Is Beyond Cool

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is miffed by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) decision to change the dress code to allow more casual attire in the chamber during sessions. read more.....»»

Category: blogSource: benzingaSep 18th, 2023

Sen. John Fetterman is selling "body double" T-shirts, leaning into the right-wing conspiracy theory

The Pennsylvania Democrat's decision to capitalize on a right-wing meme is reminiscent of the Biden campaign's embrace of "Dark Brandon." A mock-up of the "John Fetterman's Body Double" T-shirt.Fetterman for PA Sen. John Fetterman will begin selling "body double" T-shirts on his campaign website. It's a cheeky reference to the right-wing conspiracy theory about the Pennsylvania Democrat. Joe Biden's campaign made a similar move earlier this year, selling "Dark Brandon" merch. John Fetterman is leaning into the meme, selling T-shirts via his campaign website referencing the "body double" conspiracy theory about the Pennsylvania Democrat that has cropped up on social media from time to time, particularly in recent days.One T-shirt, emblazoned with the phrase "John Fetterman's Body Double," sells for $35 apiece.It's part of a broader line-up of new merchandise from the Pennsylvania senator's campaign, including references to the newly changed Senate dress code and the epithets lodged against him from the right.A mock-up of a T-shirt including various anti-Fetterman epithets.Fetterman for PA"John has loved having fun with the body double conspiracy theory and the new Senate dress code, and he loves trolling," said spokesman Joe Calvello. "This is an example of all those things meeting." —Shayan Sardarizadeh (@Shayan86) September 18, 2023 "It's all true," Fetterman joked to a reporter about the body double theory earlier on Tuesday, the audio of which was posted by the senator's own office on Twitter."I'm Senator Guy Incognito," Fetterman added, referencing a character from "The Simpsons" who's a doppelganger of the show's protagonist, Homer Simpson. —Senator John Fetterman (@SenFettermanPA) September 19, 2023 The Pennsylvania Democrat's decision to lean into the conspiracy theory — which claims that Fetterman has been replaced by a body double, owing to the senator's improved speech capabilities in the wake of his 2022 stroke — is perhaps unsurprising, given the senator's general posture towards the right."Go ahead and do it, I dare you," Fetterman recently said of the looming House GOP-led impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. "It would just be like a big circlejerk on the fringe right."And earlier on Tuesday, he tweeted about "vaping and grabbing the hog," referring to Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado's recent incident at a regional production of "Beetlejuice."It's also an echo of Biden's decision to embrace the "Dark Brandon" meme, which came about as an ironic response to the "Let's Go Brandon" epithet used by the right, as well as the "Dark MAGA" aesthetic employed by the online far-right. The Biden campaign now sells a variety of "Dark Brandon" merchandise on their campaign website. —John Fetterman (@JohnFetterman) April 18, 2023 In addition to the "body double" shirt, Fetterman's campaign will also be selling an "I Vote In This Hoodie" sweatshirt and another T-shirt that includes various insults lodged against the senator by figures on the right, including former President Donald Trump and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytSep 19th, 2023

Sen. Susan Collins says she"d "wear a bikini" to the Capitol in protest after the Senate loosened its dress code

GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said she believes the lack of a dress code "debases the institution." Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine.Al Drago for The Washington Post via Getty Images On Sunday, Axios reported that the Senate won't be enforcing its dress code any longer. In response, 70-year-old Sen. Susan Collins joked that she'd wear a bikini on the Senate floor. She said the lack of a dress code "debases the institution." GOP Sen. Susan Collins joked that she would come to the Capitol in a bikini after news broke that the Senate's previous dress code would no longer be enforced. On Sunday, Axios reported that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had quietly directed the Senate Sergeant at Arms to quit enforcing its informal dress code requiring lawmakers to wear business attire on the Senate floor. One day later, Collins, 70, teased that the change meant she'd wear a bikini to work on Tuesday."I plan to wear a bikini tomorrow to the Senate floor and Chris Coons is gonna wear shorts because there's no dress code anymore," Collins said before adding that doing "away with the dress code, to me, debases the institution." Collins wasn't the only Republican legislator unhappy with Schumer's decision. Democratic Sen. John Fetterman has made it his personal brand to wear sweatshirts and shorts both on and off Capitol Hill, frequently leading to sharp criticism from right-wing political commentators and lawmakers.On Tuesday, for example, Sen. Cynthia Lummis decried Fetterman's attire as "the very sloppiest that a person would dress even if they're going to a gym by themselves," saying it alone has "debased" the Senate.GOP firebrand Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene tweeted on Sunday that she thought the change in dress code was made simply "to appease Fetterman," which she said "is disgraceful."Fetterman and his team haven't seemed to mind the criticism.After a Fox News article documenting GOP backlash to his frequent attire, the Senator shot back on Twitter and said he believes if he takes "up vaping and grabbing the hog during a live musical," Republicans would make him "a folk hero," referencing recent news finding Rep. Lauren Boebert groped her date and vaped in the middle of a musical.Fetterman's not the only member of the Senate who's known for occasionally dressing down at the Capitol. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has voted on legislation while wearing sweaty gym clothes from his pickup basketball games. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytSep 19th, 2023

Sitting senators are tweeting about "grabbing the hog" now thanks to Lauren Boebert"s "Beetlejuice" fiasco

"I figure if I take up vaping and grabbing the hog during a live musical, they'll make me a folk hero," Sen. John Fetterman wrote on Twitter. John Fetterman and Lauren BoebertTom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images. Bill Clark and Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images Lauren Boebert has had quite the week. The Colorado congresswoman was kicked out of a play in Denver after vaping and groping her date. Sen. John Fetterman is now tweeting about 'grabbing the hog' as a result. Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado's rowdy behavior at a recent performance of "Beetlejuice" has inspired history in DC: For the first time*, a sitting senator has tweeted about "grabbing the hog."Sen. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania mocked the congresswoman in tweet Tuesday morning in response to a Fox News article about the Senate doing away with its dress code. "I figure if I take up vaping and grabbing the hog during a live musical, they'll make me a folk hero," Fetterman wrote, quote-tweeting the Fox News story. —Senator John Fetterman (@SenFettermanPA) September 19, 2023  Fetterman is referencing Boebert and her date getting handsy with each other during a performance of "Beetlejuice" in Denver earlier this month. Surveillance video footage of the audience during the show obtained by 9News shows Boebert grabbing the crotch of her date and being groped.The couple, who unfortunately are no more, were kicked out of the theater for their disruptive antics, which also included vaping and singly loudly during the performance. Boebert has since apologized for the fiasco, perhaps in part because of how it could doom her reelection bid next year as well as the GOP's hold over the House.Her soon-to-be ex-husband has also come to her defense after the incident.*we assume.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytSep 19th, 2023

Here"s The Climate Dissent You"re Not Hearing About Because It"s Muffled By Society"s Top Institutions

Here's The Climate Dissent You're Not Hearing About Because It's Muffled By Society's Top Institutions Authored by John Murawski via RealClear Wire, As the Biden administration and governments worldwide make massive commitments to rapidly decarbonize the global economy, the persistent effort to silence climate change skeptics is intensifying – and the critics keep pushing back.  This summer the International Monetary Fund summarily canceled a presentation by John Clauser, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist who publicly disavows the existence of a climate “crisis.” The head of the nonprofit with which Clauser is affiliated, the CO2 Coalition, has said he and other members have been delisted from LinkedIn for their dissident views.   Meanwhile, a top academic journal retracted published research doubting a climate emergency after negative coverage in legacy media. The move was decried by another prominent climate dissenter, Roger Pielke Jr., as “one of the most egregious failures of scientific publishing that I have seen” – criticism muffled because the academic says he has been blocked on Twitter (now X) by reporters on the climate beat.  The climate dissenters are pressing their case as President Biden, United Nations officials, and climate action advocates in media and academia argue that the “settled science” demands a wholesale societal transformation. That means halving U.S. carbon emissions by 2035 and achieving net zero emissions by 2050 to stave off the “existential threat” of human-induced climate change.  In response last month, more than 1,600 scientists, among them two Nobel physics laureates, Clauser and Ivar Giaever of Norway, signed a declaration stating that there is no climate emergency, and that climate advocacy has devolved into mass hysteria. The skeptics say the radical transformation of entire societies is marching forth without a full debate, based on dubious scientific claims amplified by knee-jerk journalism.   Many of these climate skeptics reject the optimistic scenarios of economic prosperity promised by advocates of a net-zero world order. They say the global emissions-reduction targets are not achievable on such an accelerated timetable without lowering living standards and unleashing worldwide political unrest.   “What advocates of climate action are trying to do is scare the bejesus out of the public so they’ll think we need to [act] fast,” said Steven Koonin, author of “Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters.”   “You have to balance the certainties and uncertainties of the changing climate – the risks and hazards – against many other factors,” he adds.  These dissenters don’t all agree on all scientific questions and do not speak in a single voice. Clauser, for example, is a self-styled “climate denialist” who believes climate is regulated by clouds, while Pielke, a political scientist at the University of Colorado in Boulder, and Bjørn Lomborg, the former director of the Danish Environmental Assessment Institute, acknowledge humans are affecting the climate but say there is sufficient time to adapt. The dissenters do, however, agree that the public and government officials are getting a one-sided, apocalyptic account that stokes fear, politicizes science, misuses climate modeling, and shuts down debate.   They also say it is a troubling sign for scientific integrity that they are systematically sidelined and diminished by government funding agencies, foundation grant-makers, academic journals, and much of the media. Delving into their claims, RealClearInvestigations reviewed a sampling of their books, articles, and podcast interviews. This loose coalition of writers and thinkers acknowledges that the climate is warming, but they typically ascribe as much, if not more, influence to natural cycles and climate variability than to human activities, such as burning fossil fuel.   Among their arguments:   • There is no climate crisis or existential threat as expressed in catastrophic predictions by activists in the media and academia. As global temperatures gradually increase, human societies will need to make adjustments in the coming century, just as societies have adapted to earlier climate changes. By and large, humans cannot control the climate, which Pielke describes as “the fanciful idea that emissions are a disaster control knob.”  • Global temperatures are increasing incrementally, and have been for centuries, but the degree of human influence is uncertain or negligible. Climate skeptics themselves don’t agree on how much humans are contributing to global warming by burning fossil fuels, and how much is caused by natural variability from El Niño and other cycles that can take centuries to play out. “The real question is not whether the globe has warmed recently,” writes Koonin, “but rather to what extent this warming is being caused by humans.”  • Rapidly replacing fossil fuels with renewables and electricity by mid-century would be economically risky and may have a negligible effect on global warming. Some say mitigation decrees – such as phasing out the combustion engine and banning gas stoves – are not likely to prevent climate change because humans play a minor role in global climate trends. Others say mitigation is necessary but won’t happen without capable replacement technologies. It’s unrealistic, they say, to force societies to rely on intermittent energy from wind and solar, or wager the future on technologies that are still in experimental stages.    • The global political push to kill the fossil fuel industry to get to “net zero” and “carbon neutrality” by 2050, as advocated by the United Nations and the Biden administration, will erase millions of jobs and raise energy costs, leading to a prolonged economic depression and political instability. The result would be that developing regions will pay the highest price, while the biggest polluters (China and India) and hostile nations (like Russia and Iran) will simply ignore the net-zero mandate. This could be a case where the cure could be worse than the disease.   • Despite the common refrain in the media, there is no evidence that a gradually warming planet is affecting the frequency or intensity of hurricanes, storms, droughts, rainfall, or other weather events. The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has expressed low confidence such weather events can be linked to human activities. Still, “it is a fertile field for cherry pickers,” notes Pielke.   • Extreme weather events, such as wildfires and flooding, are not claiming more human lives than previously. The human death toll is largely caused by cold weather, which accounts for eight times as many deaths as hot weather, and overall weather-related mortality has fallen by about 99% in the past century. “People are safer from climate-related disasters than ever before,” statistician and author Bjørn Lomborg has said.  • Climate science has been hijacked and politicized by activists, creating a culture of self-censorship that’s enforced by a code of silence that Koonin likens to the Mafia’s omerta. In her 2023 book, “Climate Uncertainty and Risk,” climatologist Judith Curry asks: “How many skeptical papers were not published by activist editorial boards? How many published papers have buried results in order to avoid highlighting findings that conflict with preferred narratives? I am aware of anecdotal examples of each of these actions, but the total number is unknowable.”  • Slogans such as “follow the science” and “scientific consensus” are misleading and disingenuous. There is no consensus on many key questions, such as the urgency to cease and desist burning fossil fuels, or the accuracy of computer modeling predictions of future global temperatures. The apparent consensus of imminent disaster is manufactured through peer pressure, intimidation, and research funding priorities, based on the conviction that “noble lies,” “consensus entrepreneurship,” and “stealth advocacy” are necessary to save humanity from itself. “One day PhD dissertations will be written about our current moment of apocalyptic panic,” Pielke predicts.   • The warming of the planet is a complicated phenomenon that will cause some disruptions but will also bring benefits, particularly in agricultural yields and increased vegetation. Some climate skeptics, including the CO2 Coalition, say CO2 is not a pollutant – it is “plant food.”   Curry, the former Chair of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, expresses a common theme among the climate refuseniks: that they are the sane, rational voices in a maelstrom of quasi-religious mania.   “In the 1500s, they used to drown witches in Europe because they blamed them for bad weather. You had the pagan people trying to appease the gods with sacrifices,” Curry said. “What we’re doing now is like a pseudoscientific version of that, and it’s no more effective than those other strategies.’  The climate change establishment occasionally concedes some of these points. No less an authority than the newly appointed head of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has urged the climate community to cool its jets: “If you constantly communicate the message that we are all doomed to extinction, then that paralyzes people and prevents them from taking the necessary steps to get a grip on climate change,” Jim Skea recently said to German media. “The world won’t end if it warms by more than 1.5 degrees [centigrade]. It will however be a more dangerous world.”   In testimony before the Senate Budget Committee in June, Pielke said human-caused climate change is real and “poses significant risks to society and the environment.” But the science does not paint a dystopian, catastrophic scenario of imminent doom, he added.   “Today, there is general agreement that our current media environment and political discourse are rife with misinformation,” Pielke testified. “If there is just one sentence that you take from my testimony today it is this: You are being misinformed.”  Still, the overwhelming impression conveyed is one of impending disaster, with the menace of global warming rhetorically upgraded in July by U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres to “global boiling.” Climate scientists announced in July that the planet is the hottest it’s been in 120,000 years, an old claim that gets recycled every few years. Meanwhile, three vice-chairs of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned of mass starvation, extinction, and disasters, saying that if the temperature rises 1.5℃ above pre-industrial levels, “children under 12 will experience a fourfold increase in natural disasters in their lifetime, and up to 14% of all species assessed will likely face a very high risk of extinction.”   Many of these predictions are based on computer models and computer simulations that Pielke, Koonin, Curry, and others have decried as totally implausible. Koonin’s book suggests that some computer models may be “cooking the books” to achieve desired outcomes, while Pielke has decried faulty scenarios as “one of the most significant failures of scientific integrity in the twenty-first  century thus far.” Curry writes in her book that the primary inadequacy of climate models is their limited ability to predict the kinds of natural climate fluctuations that cause ice ages and warming periods, and play out over decades, centuries, or even millennia.   Another critique is the use of computer models to correlate extreme weather events to multi-decade climate trends in an attempt to show that the weather was caused by climate, a branch of climate science called climate attribution studies. This type of research is used to bolster claims that the frequency and intensity of heat waves, floods, hurricanes, and other extreme weather events could not have happened without climate change. An example is research recently cited by the BBC in an article warning that if the global temperature rises another 0.9 centigrade, crippling heat waves that were once exceedingly rare will bake the world every two-to-five years.   One question looms: Does a warming climate contribute to heat records and heat waves, such as those that were widely reported in July as the hottest month on record and taken as overwhelming proof that humans are overheating the planet? The United States experienced extreme heat waves in the 1930s, and the recent spikes are not without precedent, climate dissenters say. Pielke, however,  concedes that IPCC data signal that increases in heat extremes and heat waves are virtually certain, but he argues that the societal impacts will be manageable.   Koonin and Curry say that the global heat spikes in July were likely caused by a multiplicity of factors, including an underwater Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcanic explosion last year that increased upper atmosphere water vapor by about 10%, a relevant fact because water vapor acts as a greenhouse gas. Another factor is the warming effect of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, which has shifted to an active phase recently.   Koonin says that greenhouse gas emissions are a gradual trend on which weather anomalies play out, and while it’s tempting to confuse weather with climate, it would be a mistake to blame July’s heat waves on human influence.   “The anomaly is about as large as we’ve ever seen, but not unprecedented,” Koonin explained on a podcast. “Now, what the real question is, why did it spike so much? Nothing to do with CO2 – CO2 is … the base on which this phenomenon occurs.”  Climate dissent comes with the occupational hazard of being tarred as a propagandist and stooge for “Big Oil.” Pielke was one of seven academics investigated by a U.S. Congressman in 2015 for allegedly failing to report funding from fossil fuel interests (He was cleared). A New York Times review of Lomborg’s 2020 book, “False Alarm,” described it as “mind pollution.”  Climate advocates see climate skepticism as so dangerous that Ben Santer, one of the world’s leading climate scientists, publicly cut ties with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory two years ago after the federal research facility invited Koonin to discuss his skeptical book, “Unsettled.” Santer, a MacArthur “genius” grant recipient, said allowing Koonin’s views to go unchallenged undermined the credibility and integrity of climate science research. For similar reasons, the IMF postponed Clauser’s July presentation so that it could be rescheduled as a debate.   Another critique: scientists arbitrarily forcing the facts to fit a prescribed catastrophic narrative, often by ignoring plausible alternative explanations and relevant factors. That’s what climate scientist Patrick Brown said he had to do to get published in the prestigious journal Nature, by attributing wildfires to climate change and ignoring other factors, like poor forest management and the startling fact that over 80% of wildfires are ignited by humans. Brown publicly confessed to this sleight-of-hand in a recent article in The Free Press.   “This type of framing, with the influence of climate change unrealistically considered in isolation, is the norm for high-profile research papers,” Brown wrote. “When I had previously attempted to deviate from the formula, my papers were rejected out of hand by the editors of distinguished journals, and I had to settle for less prestigious outlets.”  These frustrations serve as a reminder that the world has entered what the United Nations and climate advocates call the make-or-break decade that will decide how much the Earth’s temperature will rise above pre-industrial levels. This decisive phase is “unfolding now and will intensify during the next several years,” according to Rice University researchers. “Accordingly, what happens between now and the late 2020s, in all likelihood, will fundamentally determine the failure or success of an accelerated energy transition.”  In response to this call for global action, political leaders in Europe and North America are vowing to reengineer their societies to run on wind, solar, and hydrogen. In this country, California is among a dozen states that have moved to ban the sale of new gasoline-engine cars in 2035, while states like Virginia and North Carolina have committed to carbon-free power girds by mid-century.   In the most detailed net-zero roadmap to date, the International Energy Agency in 2021 identified more than 400 milestones that would have to be met to achieve a net-zero planet by mid-century, including the immediate cessation of oil and gas exploration and drilling, and mandated austerity measures such as reducing highway speed limits, limiting temperature settings in private homes, and eating less meat.   In the IEA’s net zero scenario, global energy use will decline by 8% through energy efficiency even as the world’s population adds 2 billion people and the economy grows a whopping 40%. In this scenario, all the nations of the world – including China, India, Russia, and Saudi Arabia – would have to commit to a net-zero future, generating 14 million jobs to create a new energy infrastructure. Nearly half the slated emissions reductions will have to come from experimental technologies currently in demonstration or prototype stages, such as hydrogen, bioenergy, carbon capture, and modular nuclear reactors. Reading this bracing outlook, one could almost overlook the IEA’s caveat that relying on solar and wind for nearly 70% of electricity generation would cause retail electricity prices to increase by 50% on average and destroy 5 million jobs, of which “many are well paid, meaning structural changes can cause shocks for communities with impacts that persist over time.”   A critique of the IEA’s scenario issued this year by the Energy Policy Research Foundation, a think tank that specializes in oil, gas, and petroleum products, warned of “massive supply shocks” if oil supplies are artificially suppressed to meet arbitrary net zero targets. The report further stated that “if the world stays committed to net zero regardless of high costs – the recession will turn into an extended depression and ultimately impose radical negative changes upon modern civilization.” (Disclosure: The report was commissioned by the RealClearFoundation, the nonprofit parent of RealClearInvestigations.)  Already, societies have fallen behind their emissions reduction targets, and it’s widely understood that fast-tracking net zero is an unattainable goal. Transforming existing energy infrastructures within several decades would require installing the equivalent of the world’s largest solar farm every day, according to the International Energy Agency. Carbon-free energy accounts for only 18% of total global consumption, and fossil fuels are still increasing, according to a recent analysis. The IEA reported this year that investments in oil exploration and drilling have rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, while global coal demand reached an all-time high last year. Globally nations are spending more on clean energy than on fossil fuels, but fossil fuels are still vital to economic growth; for instance, the IEA noted that 40 gigawatts of new coal plants were approved in 2022, the highest figure since 2016, almost all of them in China.   “We live in this world of exaggerated promises and delusional pop science,” Vaclav Smil, the University of Manitoba environmental scientist and policy analyst, told The New York Times last year. “People don’t appreciate the magnitude of the task and are setting up artificial deadlines which are unrealistic.”  A government push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by cutting back on livestock farming has led to public protests in the Netherlands, a conflict over resources that Time magazine predicts will spread elsewhere: “This may be just the beginning of much wider global unrest over agriculture. Scientists say dealing with climate change will require not just gradual reform, but a rapid, wholesale transformation of the global food system.”   Climate dissidents say what happened in the Netherlands is a foretaste of the political backlash that is inevitable when net-zero policies start becoming implemented and people have to travel across state lines to buy a gasoline-powered car.   “The urgency is the stupidest part of the whole thing – that we need to act now with all these made-up targets,” Curry said. “The transition risk is far greater than any conceivable climate or weather risk.”  To Koonin, these challenges indicate that the catastrophic climate narrative will collapse when put to the test of practicality and politics. The more sensible route, he said, is a slow-and-steady approach.   “There’s going to be a deep examination of science and the cost-benefit issues,” he said. “We will eventually do the right thing, but it’s going to take a decade or so.”  John Murawski reports on the intersection of culture and ideas for RealClearInvestigations. He previously covered artificial intelligence for the Wall Street Journal and spent 15 years as a reporter for the News & Observer (Raleigh, NC) writing about health care, energy and business. At RealClear, Murawski reports on how esoteric academic theories on race and gender have been shaping many areas of public life, from K-12 school curricula to workplace policies to the practice of medicine. Tyler Durden Sat, 09/16/2023 - 23:20.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytSep 17th, 2023

RFK Jr. Wants His Party Back: The American People "Are Tired Of Being Lied To By The Government & The Media"

RFK Jr. Wants His Party Back: The American People "Are Tired Of Being Lied To By The Government & The Media" Authored by Jeff Louderbeck via The Epoch Times, On a steamy summer morning, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. strode into a hotel conference room in Columbia, South Carolina, amid a barnstorming town hall tour of a state where Joe Biden won close to 49 percent of the vote in the 2020 Democratic primary. Mr. Kennedy spoke about his 2024 presidential campaign. Democrat pundits say he is a fringe candidate who spreads conspiracy theories. Polls show him with the highest favorability rating of any presidential candidate. There is no path for Mr. Kennedy to defeat President Biden, critics claim, despite questions about President Joe Biden's age and mental fitness, low approval ratings, and surveys showing that Americans are concerned about the economy. Earlier this year, the Democratic National Committee voted to give its full support to the president. Mr. Kennedy agrees that unseating an incumbent president in the same party is a daunting challenge but disagrees with doubters who say he has no chance of securing the nomination. The 2024 presidential nominee will be announced during the Democratic National Convention in Chicago next summer. Until then, Mr. Kennedy intends to continue to press his case. “The DNC has around $2 billion, and they're spending that money generously to try to marginalize me in many ways, but I think most Democrats care about one thing more than anything else, which is to beat Donald Trump,” Mr. Kennedy told The Epoch Times. “I think President Biden cannot do that. I can.” President John F. Kennedy saw his nephew, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. at the Oval Office on March 11, 1961. (Abbie Rowe. White House Photographs. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston) Mr. Kennedy is the nephew of President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1963; and the son of Robert F. Kennedy, who was shot and killed after a campaign speech while running for president in 1968. During his town halls and meet-and-greets, Mr. Kennedy tells stories from time spent with his uncle and father and connects them to his presidential campaign. He wants to continue his father’s legacy of uniting Americans from all economic classes and ethnic backgrounds. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (L) wants to continue his father’s (R) legacy of uniting Americans from all economic classes and ethnic backgrounds. “I think we do that by telling the truth to people. My dad did it that way. He talked about uncomfortable issues but talked about the truth. I think people are tired of being lied to by the government, by the media,” Mr. Kennedy said. “My dad ran against an incumbent president in his own party (Lyndon B. Johnson) during a divisive time. I’m running against a larger challenge because I am facing an entire infrastructure that is against me, from my own party and Big Tech and the pharmaceutical industry.” An environmental attorney and the founder of Children’s Health Defense, Mr. Kennedy is widely known for being outspoken about the health risks of vaccines. His stand on these and other issues has drawn support from voters who are not left-leaning. (Left) Then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy speaks to a crowd on racial equality outside the Justice Department on June 14, 1963. (Middle) Then-President John F. Kennedy speaks with his brother Robert F. Kennedy in 1963. (Right) (L–R) Brothers John, Robert, Ted Kennedy. (Public Domain) The candidate, however, has said that he won’t do that, reiterating that stance over the last month in town halls and meet-and-greets in South Carolina, Virginia, and New York City. “I’m a Democrat. This is my identity, but I want my party back,” Mr. Kennedy said. “I’m running for president because the Democratic Party has lost its way. I want to remind the Democratic Party of what we are supposed to represent.” “A focus on the middle class and labor, the well-being of minorities, a focus on the environment, civil liberties, and freedom of speech." He frequently talks about "unity" and “healing the divide.” “I intend to bridge this toxic polarization that is really destroying our country and tearing us apart,” Mr. Kennedy said. He called his campaign a “peaceful insurgency” that he hopes will appeal to conservative Republicans, independents, moderates, and liberal Democrats. “During the 35 years I spent as one of the leaders of the environmental movement in our country, I was the only environmentalist who was regularly going on Fox News. I went on Sean Hannity repeatedly—Bill O'Reilly, too,” Mr. Kennedy said. “I want to talk to media members and voters who share differing opinions than mine, because how else are you going to persuade? A supporter of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., awaits his 2024 presidential bid announcement in Boston on April 19, 2023. (Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images) “I think we have a lot more in common than what the media portrays. What keeps us apart are things that are rather trivial. We let them feed this toxic polarization. We need to talk. We need to have conversations with people from a wide range of views.” Days after a House hearing on censorship in July that saw Democrats attempt to block Mr. Kennedy from testifying, a Harvard-Harris poll showed that he has a higher favorability rating than any other 2024 presidential candidate. Mr. Kennedy saw a favorable rating of 47 percent and an unfavorable mark of 26 percent, according to a survey of 2,068 registered voters, conducted July 19–20 and released on July 23. Former President Trump carried a favorability rating of 45 percent compared with an unfavorability number of 49 percent. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had a 40 percent favorable rating and 37 percent unfavorable, and President Biden's rating was 39 percent favorable and 53 percent unfavorable. Mr. Kennedy also had the highest net favorability of all 2024 presidential candidates in a June poll from The Economist/YouGov. Kennedy campaign manager Dennis Kucinich is a former Democratic congressman from Ohio who ran for president in 2004 and 2008. He believes Mr. Kennedy can "rebuild and save" the country and that there is a path to victory over Biden. “He is the only Democrat who can reach across the political spectrum, which means he can win in 2024,” Mr. Kucinich told The Epoch Times. “Conservatives, liberals, independents, and libertarians are responding to this campaign because of the unique qualities of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and because there is an understanding he stands for unity, freedom, truth, and authenticity. That is what’s resonating with people.” When asked about President Biden and former President Trump, Mr. Kennedy is measured in his responses. “I’m not going to attack other people personally,” Mr. Kennedy said. “I don’t think it’s good for our country. And what I’m trying to do in this race is bring people together, is try to bridge the divide between Americans.” 'Poison, Hatred, and Vitriol' Mr. Kennedy stands for "de-escalating” what he called "poison, hatred, and vitriol." Mr. Kennedy has repeatedly expressed his disapproval of President Biden’s job performance, but he has refrained from personal attacks about the 80-year-old’s mental fitness. “If there’s a policy I disagree with—like the war, like censorship, the lockdowns—I’m going to criticize those, but I’m not going to attack him as a man,” Mr. Kennedy said. “I will say, whether he's up to it or not, whether he's making his own decisions—the decisions that are coming out of the White House are bad decisions.” President Biden is not scheduled to appear in Democrat primary debates, a decision Mr. Kennedy believes the president should reconsider. “I think it would be better if we have a democracy where every candidate debates,” Mr. Kennedy said. “I suppose he is making a strategic decision that's based upon his own interest, but I think we’re living in a period when people have lost faith in the democratic process, and they think the system is rigged.” President Joe Biden and President Trump should take the debate stage as a sign of respect for American voters, Mr. Kennedy said. Then-President Donald Trump and then-Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden participate in the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., on Oct. 22, 2020. (Jim Bourg/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) “Americans shouldn't feel like we live in the Soviet Union, where the party picks the candidates. I think it would be much better for our democracy, and we'd be a better example for the world and improve our credibility with the American people if we actually allowed democracy to function and all the candidates participated in debates, and town halls, and retail politics. “It is important for the Democratic Party that there is a primary debate. Ultimately, a Democrat will debate a Republican, and the Republican will likely be Trump. He is probably the most successful debater in this country since Lincoln Douglas,” said Mr. Kennedy, noting how President Trump defeated a crowded pool of Republican primary candidates in 2016. “He has his own technique that people like. It’s like going into a prize fight. You need practice, and that usually happens in the primary,” Mr. Kennedy said. “Asking the president to not debate in the primary is like asking a prizefighter to practice by sitting on the couch.” In South Carolina, Virginia, and New York City, Mr. Kennedy talked to voters about the economy and issues on which he disagrees with President Biden. In Charleston, he criticized the president for continued financial support to Ukraine. “One of the big problems we have in our federal government is the addiction to war,” Mr. Kennedy said. “President Biden went to Congress and asked for another $24 billion for the Ukraine War. “We’ve spent $8 trillion dollars on wars since 9/11. If we kept that money home, we would’ve had child care for every American. We would have free college education for every American. We’d be able to pay for our Social Security system.” He believes that he, and not President Biden, is the candidate who will best represent Democrats in 2024 and beyond. “I am the only choice that is going to end the war machine, that is going to really focus on rebuilding the American middle class, taming inflation,” Mr. Kennedy said. (Left) A man shows a Remington 700 hunting rifle and a Remington 1100 shotgun available for sale at Atlantic Outdoors gun shop in Stokesdale, N.C., on March 26, 2018. (Right) Syringes of Moderna COVID-19 vaccines at a vaccination site in Los Angeles on Feb. 16, 2021. (Brian Blanco/Getty Images, Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images) About gun control, Mr. Kennedy said, “I do not believe that, within that Second Amendment, there is anything we can meaningfully do to reduce the trade and the ownership of guns.” “Anybody who tells you that they’re going to reduce gun violence through gun control at this point, I don’t think is being realistic,” he said. “I think we have to think about other ways to reduce that violence.” Mr. Kennedy did note that he would sign an assault weapons ban if he were president and the legislation was placed on his desk. A vocal opponent of the pharmaceutical industry, Mr. Kennedy vowed at a town hall in Brooklyn on Sept. 1 that he would ban pharmaceutical advertising. He is outspoken about the dangers of the COVID-19 vaccine for some in the population who were coerced to take them, but he told the Epoch Times that he is not “anti-vaccine.” “I’ve never been anti-vaccine,” he said. “I’ve said that hundreds and hundreds of times, but it doesn’t matter because that is a way of silencing me. Using that pejorative to describe me is a way of silencing or marginalizing me.” Mr. Kennedy has said that, initially, he was not in favor of former President Trump’s border wall. But after seeing the border firsthand in Arizona in July, he changed his mind. He said there is a need for increased infrastructure and technology at the border, including more segments of a physical wall, and sensors in areas where a wall isn’t feasible. Until the United States can seal the border, he said he doesn’t think it is possible to get an immigration reform package through Congress. Illegal immigrants wait in line to be processed by the U.S. Border Patrol after crossing through a gap in the U.S.–Mexico border barrier in Yuma, Ariz., on May 21, 2022. (Mario Tama/Getty Images) Mr. Kennedy visited the Arizona–California border with Mexico in early June and met with illegal immigrants, Border Patrol agents, and other stakeholders. “The Democratic Party thinks our function should be welcoming all immigrants into the country no matter what, and to basically open the borders. And the experiment has been a disaster, a humanitarian catastrophe,” Mr. Kennedy said. “I watched it firsthand. I watched 300 people come across the border and then be processed and sent to locations all over the country with court dates seven years down the road.” “There’s now seven million people who have come across illegally and have no legal status in this country. Those people are very vulnerable now to unscrupulous employers who are paying them $5 and $6 an hour,” he said. Mr. Kennedy called the Biden administration’s open border policy “a way of funding a multibillion-dollar drug and human trafficking operation for the Mexican drug cartels.” “As president, I will secure the border, which will end the cartel’s drug trafficking economy. I will build wide doors for those who wish to enter legally so that the U.S. can continue to be a beacon to the world where diversity and culture make us great,” he said. “Immigration is good for our country, but this kind of immigration is unfair to everybody,” he said. Ending the Ukraine War Mr. Kennedy has called for de-escalating the war in Ukraine. He explained that he is sympathetic to the Ukrainian cause and added that Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded the country illegally, but he chastised the United States for its role in the conflict. “We have neglected many, many opportunities to settle this war peacefully,” he said. “We have turned that nation into a proxy war between Russia and the United States.” Ukrainian soldiers preparing U.S.-made MK-19 automatic grenade launcher towards at a front line near Toretsk, Ukraine, on Oct. 12, 2022. (Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP via Getty Images) Mr. Kennedy has urged President Biden to negotiate a peaceful end to the Russia-Ukraine war, which started when Russia invaded the neighboring nation in February 2022. “Russia is not going to lose this war. Russia can't afford it,” Mr. Kennedy said. “It would be like us losing a war to Mexico.” As part of his reasoning for ending the Ukraine war, Mr. Kennedy referenced his uncle, President John F. Kennedy. "My uncle Jack said that the primary job of an American President of the United States is to keep the country out of war. He kept out of Vietnam. He sent only 16,000 military advisers there—mainly Green Berets,” Mr. Kennedy said. “In October 1963, he learned that one of his Green Berets had died, and he asked his aide to give him a combat casualty list, and the aide came back and said 75 had died so far. He said: 'That's too many.'” The American Dream When it comes to supporting labor unions, Mr. Kennedy's ideas are similar to President Biden's. “In my administration, you can expect vigorous action by the Justice Department and the Department of Labor to enforce laws against union-busting and unfair labor practices,” Mr. Kennedy said. “We will also raise the minimum wage so that unions have a higher floor from which to bargain. We will negotiate trade treaties that don’t pit American workers against low-wage foreign workers in a race to the bottom.” At his campaign stops. Mr. Kennedy likes to talk about the flourishing economic period the nation experienced after World War II. “I grew up during the heyday of American economic prosperity. It was in the 1950s and 1960s that the archetype of the American Dream was born. It was not something available only to a lucky few; it was within the reach of most Americans,” he said. “A single wage-earner with a high school education at that time could own a home, raise a family, have vacations, and save for retirement. That is how it should be. If you work hard, you should have a decent life.” Mr. Kennedy said that, if elected president, he would create a 3 percent mortgage for Americans guaranteed by the government and funded by the sale of tax-free bonds. He would also work to make it less profitable for large corporations to own single-family homes in the United States. “If you have a rich uncle who co-signs your mortgage, you will get a lower interest rate because the bank looks at his credit rating. I’m going to give everyone a rich uncle, and his name is Uncle Sam,” Mr. Kennedy said at a recent town hall in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The first 500,000 of those 3 percent mortgages would be reserved for teachers, he said. “Both President Trump and President Biden are running on platforms that they’ve brought prosperity to this country. But when I travel around South Carolina and other states, I’m not seeing that,” Mr. Kennedy told an audience in Charleston. “I’m seeing people who are living at a level of desperation that I have not seen in this country—ever.” Corporations Killing the Dream Making it easier for Americans to buy single-family homes without competing against institutional investors is a priority, Mr. Kennedy said. A Wall Street Journal report in 2021 showed that 200 corporations were aggressively buying tens of thousands of single-family houses, including entire neighborhoods, and significantly increasing rental prices. According to data reviewed by Stateline, investors purchased 24 percent of the single-family homes bought in 2021. In 2022, the number climbed to 28 percent of single-family home purchases, according to the organization. A MetLife Financial Management study contends that institutional investors could own up to 40 percent of single-family homes by 2030 Calling the issue a "crisis," Mr. Kennedy put the blame on asset management behemoths like BlackRock, State Street, and Vanguard. A 2017 paper published by Cambridge University Press reported that the three firms constitute the largest shareholder in 88 percent of S&P 500 firms. “And now they have a new target, which is to gain ownership of all the single-family residences in this country. And they are on a trajectory to do that,” Mr. Kennedy told an audience in Greenville, South Carolina. “Usually, when a company buys a home with a cash offer, there is an LLC with an ambiguous name. It often can be traced back to one of those big companies,” he said. Mr. Kennedy noted that Larry Fink, the CEO of BlackRock, is a World Economic Forum (WEF) board member. “The WEF is a billionaire boys club that meets in Davos every year and has a plan, which is New World Order and what they have called the Great Reset,” Mr. Kennedy said. “Klaus Schwab, who wrote the book on that agenda, says that you will own nothing and you will be happy. They are well on their way to accomplishing that first part.” At every stop in South Carolina, Mr. Kennedy said that one of his first priorities as president would be to change the tax code so that “it will be less profitable for large corporations to own single-family homes.” Curbing credit card debt is another way to help more Americans achieve home ownership and become more financially comfortable. “Many Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. The average income in this country is $5,000 less than the average cost of living. What that means is people have to make up the difference by putting those expenses on credit cards,” Mr. Kennedy told a crowd in Richmond, Virginia. “We recently reached a milestone in this country with more than $1 trillion in personal credit card debt,” Mr. Kennedy said, adding that many creditors are charging interest rates of 22 percent and higher. “If it was the mafia, it would be loan sharking, and they would go to jail, but for banks and credit card companies, it is considered the cost of doing business.” Before concluding his remarks about credit card debt, Mr. Kennedy posed a question to the audience. “Who do you think owns many of those companies?" he asked. "BlackRock, State Street, and Vanguard. They are strip mining the wealth of the American public, and their political clout allows them to do that.” Primary Season Under a new format, South Carolina will hold the first Democratic presidential primary on Feb. 3. Earlier this year, encouraged by President Biden, the DNC voted to strip the Iowa caucus of its traditional lead-off spot in the party's presidential nominating process and replace it with South Carolina. In late August, as Mr. Kennedy traveled around South Carolina, he stopped in Orangeburg to officially open a statewide campaign office. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks at a town hall at a home in Spartanburg, S.C. on Aug. 22, 2023. (Jeff Louderback/The Epoch Times) New Hampshire has long been the country’s—and the GOP's—first primary after the Iowa caucuses. Under the Democrats' new calendar, which differs from the Republicans' primary calendar, it would vote with Nevada on Feb. 6. Because of the move, President Biden’s name might not appear on New Hampshire's Democrat primary ballot. The DNC rules panel gave New Hampshire and Iowa until Sept. 1 to comply with new rules or face possible sanctions. Republican and Democrat legislators in New Hampshire have said that they won't adhere to the schedule change, saying state law prohibits the move. If President Biden's name doesn't appear on the ballot, that would leave Mr. Kennedy to compete with author Marianne Williamson in the New Hampshire primary. New Hampshire’s Democratic party leaders have said that a longtime state law requires that their primary be scheduled ahead of any other primary. In 2020, candidate Joe Biden lost the Democratic caucus in Iowa and the primary in New Hampshire before winning decisively in South Carolina. He has said that South Carolina more accurately represents the party’s diverse voting base. “Everyone knows the real reason the DNC made the change. The people of South Carolina didn’t ask for it. No, it is simply another undemocratic attempt to rig the primary process in favor of their anointed candidate, Joe Biden,” he added. "The DNC seems to have forgotten the purpose of the modern primary system to begin with, which was to replace backroom crony politics with a transparent democratic process,” Mr. Kennedy added. "If the Biden campaign thinks they can win with administrative tricks and evasions, they will be in for a rude surprise in both New Hampshire and South Carolina. First Office in New Hampshire Mr. Kennedy opened his first office in New Hampshire in August. “New Hampshire plays an important role in American democracy because they have this history, and they have a cultural affinity for vetting candidates early on in the process, and they do a very good job of it,” Mr. Kennedy told The Epoch Times. “In many other states, politicians can fly over at 30,000 feet and carpet bomb the state with billions of dollars in advertising. It’s kind of a kabuki theater of democracy rather than real democracy,” he said. “In Iowa, you go to the farms and stock sales. In New Hampshire, you have to go to the barber shops and the nail salons and the diners, and you have to shake hands with people, and you have to answer difficult questions and then follow-up questions. You get to know people, and that is important.” Mr. Kennedy recalls campaign trips with his uncle and father in the 1960s. Supporters gather around then-presidential candidate John F. Kennedy during one of his campaigns at a shopping center in Maryland on May 12, 1960. (Library of Congress) “I remember the crowds and the enthusiasm. That is what we are seeing at our events. Enthusiasm. Intensity,” he said. “There’s nothing like meeting people face to face and hearing their concerns. When we were in New Hampshire, we had one event in a sparsely populated area in one of the most northern counties, and we drove down a long dirt road. I thought, ‘How is anyone going to show up at this event?’ and we had 500 people there. That is inspiring.” Mr. Kennedy supports abortion in the first three months of pregnancy. “I can argue there's nobody in this country that has worked harder for the rights of medical freedom and personal bodily autonomy than me," Mr. Kennedy said. “That applies to the vaccines and abortion. “I don't think the government should be telling us what to do with our bodies and dictating for Americans what we can and cannot do in the first three months of pregnancy. It’s a woman’s choice.” That stance could cost him potential support from conservatives, he conceded. “I've seen photos of late-term abortions, and they're horrifyingly troubling,” Mr. Kennedy said. “I respect people who have different points of view, and for people who say that ‘it's the only issue that I care about,’ they will likely vote for someone else because of my beliefs. “If you're a one-issue voter, and that's something that you deeply care about, I might not be the right candidate for you,” he added. “But I feel like there's a lot of people now who want authenticity in their political leadership, and they want somebody who's going to tell them the truth.” Censorship Also ranking high among issues Mr. Kennedy feels strongly about is censorship—from the government as well as Big Tech. He has filed legal action against the Biden administration and Google, among other entities, for alleged censorship. He has appeared before Congress to testify about the issue. “I was censored not just by a Democratic administration, I was censored by the Trump administration. I was the first person censored by the Biden administration, two days after he came into office,” Mr. Kennedy told the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government in July. Robert Kennedy Jr. (R), 2024 Presidential hopeful, is sworn in before testifying at the “Weaponization of the Federal Government” hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 20, 2023. (Jim WATSON / AFP) In February 2021, he was barred from Instagram, for what owner Meta described as breaking its rules regarding COVID-19. At the time, a company spokesperson said Instagram removed Mr. Kennedy's account for “repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines.” In June, Instagram restored the account. “As he is now an active candidate for president of the United States, we have restored access to Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s, Instagram account,” Andy Stone, a spokesperson for Meta, said in a June 4 statement. Mr. Kennedy’s Facebook account has remained active. Meta removed Instagram and Facebook accounts belonging to Children’s Health Defense (CHD), Mr. Kennedy’s non-profit. CHD, according to its website, advocates to “end childhood health epidemics by working aggressively to eliminate harmful exposures, hold those responsible accountable, and establish safeguards to prevent future harm.” Meta said that the CHD accounts were banned because they repeatedly violated the company’s COVID-19 policies. Mr. Kennedy still bristles at the move. “Silencing a major political candidate is profoundly undemocratic,” he said. “Social media is the modern equivalent of the town square. How can democracy function if only some candidates have access to it?” Allegations of Anti-Semitism What bothers Mr. Kennedy even more are accusations earlier this year that he is “anti-Semitic.” At a gathering in July, a secretly recorded video was leaked to the media where Mr. Kennedy can be heard describing research that reported that the COVID-19 virus disproportionately affected Caucasian and black people while being comparably mild for Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese people, whom Mr. Kennedy suggested had a stronger immune response to the virus. Democrats and other critics of Mr. Kennedy condemned the comments as “racist” and “anti-Semitic.” Mr. Kennedy has vehemently denied the allegations. At the July 20 House hearing on censorship, Democrats attempted to prevent him from testifying. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) introduced a motion to move the hearing into executive session, which would have closed the hearing from public view. “Mr. Kennedy has repeatedly made despicable anti-Semitic and anti-Asian remarks as recently as last week,” Ms. Wasserman Schultz said, citing a section of House rules that she said Mr. Kennedy’s comments violated. In a recorded vote, all 10 Republicans present at the hearing voted to shelve Ms. Wasserman Schultz’s motion. All eight Democrats present voted in favor of the motion. Mr. Kennedy testified that he has “never uttered a phrase that was racist or anti-Semitic,” and he continued to defend himself on July 25 in New York at a World Values Network presidential candidate series event. Just as he said in July, Mr. Kennedy pointedly refuted the claims that he is anti-Semitic. “I've been involved in controversial issues for most of my career. Usually, it doesn’t affect me,” he said. “The accusation of anti-Semitism cuts me and hurts me. It hurts Cheryl [Hines, Kennedy's wife]. It hurts our family, and so that was painful. “I've literally never said an anti-Semitic word in my life, but I believe they [Democrats on the House committee] probably thought whatever they were doing was right in one way or another,” he said. “There’s a way to censor people through targeted character assassination. You use vile accusations to marginalize them, and that is the kind of censorship I’m now dealing with,” Mr. Kennedy said. The Democratic contender concluded his comments about censorship with a message that reflects a key component of his campaign platform “If we're going to really heal the divide between Americans—which is one of the things that I'm trying to do with this campaign—we can’t react even to hatred with hatred. We have to react with forgiveness. React with kindness and react with generosity,” Mr. Kennedy stated. “Harboring resentment is like swallowing poison and hoping someone else dies. It corrodes our souls." Tyler Durden Sun, 09/10/2023 - 17:30.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytSep 10th, 2023

CrowdStrike Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:CRWD) Q2 2024 Earnings Call Transcript

CrowdStrike Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:CRWD) Q2 2024 Earnings Call Transcript August 30, 2023 CrowdStrike Holdings, Inc. beats earnings expectations. Reported EPS is $0.74, expectations were $0.56. Operator: Hello, and welcome to the CrowdStrike Fiscal Second Quarter 2024 Results Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. After the speaker presentation, there will […] CrowdStrike Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:CRWD) Q2 2024 Earnings Call Transcript August 30, 2023 CrowdStrike Holdings, Inc. beats earnings expectations. Reported EPS is $0.74, expectations were $0.56. Operator: Hello, and welcome to the CrowdStrike Fiscal Second Quarter 2024 Results Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. After the speaker presentation, there will be a question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions] Please be advised that today’s conference is being recorded. It is now my pleasure to introduce Vice President of Investor Relations, Maria Riley. alphaspirit/Shutterstock.com Maria Riley: Good afternoon, and thank you for your participation today. With me on the call are George Kurtz, President and Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of CrowdStrike, and Burt Podbere, Chief Financial Officer. Before we get started, I would like to note that certain statements made during this conference call that are not historical facts, including those regarding our future plans, objectives, growth and expected performance, including our outlook for the third quarter and fiscal year 2024 and any assumptions for fiscal periods beyond that are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements represent our outlook only as of the date of this call. While we believe any forward-looking statements we make are reasonable, actual results could differ materially because the statements are based on current expectations and are subject to risks and uncertainties. We do not undertake and expressly disclaim any obligation to update or alter our forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. Further information on these and other factors that could affect the company’s financial results is included in the filings we make with the SEC from time to time, including the section titled Risk Factors in the company’s quarterly and annual report. Additionally, unless otherwise stated, excluding revenue, all financial measures disclosed on this call will be non-GAAP. A discussion of why we use non-GAAP financial measures and a reconciliation schedule showing GAAP versus non-GAAP results is currently available in our earnings press release, which may be found on our Investor Relations website at ir.crowdstrike.com or on our Form 8-K filed with the SEC today. With that, I will now turn the call over to George. George Kurtz: Thank you, Maria, and thank you all for joining us today. I am pleased to report that in the second quarter, we exceeded our guidance across both top and bottom-line metrics, delivering strong, durable growth at scale and credible leverage and operating within our target model on every metric. Even with a challenging macro backdrop, we delivered an impressive quarter, highlighting CrowdStrike’s structural competitive moat, making Falcon the definitive cybersecurity platform for the cloud era. Financial highlights for the quarter include, ending ARR of $2.9 billion, up 37% year-over-year, with record contribution from cloud security, identity protection and LogScale Next-gen SIEM, together surpassing $500 million in ARR, record non-GAAP operating margin of 21.3%, record non-GAAP net income, which grew 109% year-over-year, GAAP profitability for the second consecutive quarter, record Q2 free cash flow of $188.7 million and an over 80% year-over-year increase in deals involving eight or more Falcon platform modules. Our commitment to operational excellence and the utilization of AI within our platform and across our entire organization is driving enviable leverage in our financial results, even as we aggressively invest in fueling growth. As Burt will discuss, we are raising our revenue outlook for the year and bringing in our timeline to sustainably achieve our non-GAAP target operating model. We now expect to exit Q4 within our target non-GAAP operating margin model and to remain within our target model on an annual basis starting in FY ’25. In an increasingly digital cloud-defined world, cybersecurity is becoming more important than ever. The SEC’s recently enacted cybersecurity disclosure requirements substantiate the growing gravity of cybersecurity threats, elevating the category from an operational concern to an urgent Board level and CXO spend priority. At CrowdStrike, we continue to build cybersecurity’s platform of choice, offering a simple and powerful promise. We stop breaches. Heading into the second half of the year, we see increased momentum in the business, driven by record levels of new logo and upsell pipeline, record deal registrations from our market-leading partner ecosystem and record levels of customers proudly trusting CrowdStrike to be their long-term security platform consolidator of choice. We are also observing substantial changes in the competitive landscape, uniquely benefiting CrowdStrike. With the business momentum we see and competitive market dynamics, we believe our second half performance will yield double-digit net new ARR growth. Working in cybersecurity for the past 30 years, I have recognized and created tectonic shifts in this industry and we are in the midst of one right now. Organizations need better, faster and more cost-effective protection for a digital society. Organizations need seamless, not stitched together automation to break down legacy data silos. Organizations need lower TCO and more efficient ROI-driven investment. The competitive battlefield of cybersecurity today reflects these realities, separating the wheat from the chaff. Those who have platforms versus those with point products masquerading as platform stories. What was a market littered with dozens of companies is quickly consolidating to several vendors. Smaller, narrower point product companies are being left behind. These companies are quickly going the way of legacy AV, already in the hands or looking for the safe hands of strategic or private equity buyers. Point products, single feature cloud security companies are learning the hard way that platforms built by design win at scale. Today’s competitive landscape solidifies CrowdStrike’s leadership position and turns what were once competitors into immediate shared donors. CrowdStrike is purpose-built for this market. We have the technology innovation, mission-driven team and sizable scale to lead cybersecurity platform consolidation. Shifting from competitive market dynamics to CrowdStrike, here are the reasons I see us winning in the second half and beyond. The Falcon platform enables real consolidation with best-of-breed outcomes, and we are flighting XDR transformations across cloud security, identity protection and LogScale Next-gen SIEM. Each of these three platform solutions are high-growth, sizable businesses. Each are examples of IPO worthy companies in their own right and each are seamlessly integrated components of the Falcon platform. Let me first provide commentary on CrowdStrike as cybersecurities consolidator, and then I’ll follow up with updates on our cloud, identity and Next-gen SIEM Falcon platform businesses. The Falcon platform has not only become the standard for delivering AI-powered cybersecurity, it has become the foundational cybersecurity platform for our customers. Our revolutionary cloud-native architecture consists of an AI-powered data platform and lightweight sensor form factor, which remains the easiest and fastest to deploy with no reboots. Our form factor was made for the digital anywhere enterprise, not bound by operating system or hardware-defined network perimeters. CrowdStrike has the visibility to detect and prevent attacks and the workflow integrations and automation to remediate. We have the prime enterprise real estate on devices and multi-cloud workloads to automate and consolidate cybersecurity. Customer after customer I met with at the Black Hat Security Conference wants to anchor their cybersecurity on the Falcon platform. These customers see us as their core partner in their security journey. With consolidation being a hot topic, let’s talk about what security outcomes really mean. Stopping the breach. This is the most important outcome. Companies need vendors who are trusted partners that can understand, prevent and respond to threat actors to stop breaches. CrowdStrike is uniquely positioned to stop breaches with our technology, threat intelligence and services. Saving time, delivering everything in a single modern console coupled with generative AI reduces dwell time and makes cybersecurity faster and easier. Saving money with most enterprises still buying north of 60 cybersecurity point products, there’s too much cybersecurity shelf wear. Individual products require learning and maintenance, building integrations and higher staffing costs. Eliminating the time managing, integrating, updating and operating superfluous tools represents real savings regarding product, people, process and cost. And finally, doing more. CrowdStrike’s Falcon unlocks new capabilities for organizations such as deploying their first code to cloud security, identity protection, exposure management, attack surface reduction, next-gen SIEM and more, all in one integrated platform. The breadth of native Falcon capabilities in our prime real estate within the enterprise and SMB technology stack is our advantage and creates significant customer expansion path. Our open XDR platform, the ability to take in first-party and third-party data is quickly becoming the enterprise data destination. We see data gravity for the management of cybersecurity, but also broader observability use cases as a competitive moat for CrowdStrike. Customers gain greater value with every module they adopt, reducing agents, security gaps, complexity and cost, enabling them to transform and consolidate their security stack with the Falcon platform. Let me share several recent new customer wins that speak to this. First is a major auto manufacturer that tried but failed to consolidate their security on Microsoft E5. This company’s security team quickly realized Microsoft’s complexity, multiple consoles, lack of integration, miss detections and complex deployments hampered their ability to defend themselves and consolidate. This customer is now consolidating on the Falcon platform with Falcon Complete for Endpoint, Identity and Cloud. Now with a single agent, single user interface and single platform, they have complete visibility across their end points, cloud and identities and the ability to stop threats in real time. By moving from expensive Microsoft E5 to CrowdStrike, organizations can save 50% plus per user per year on Microsoft licensing costs, adding up to millions of dollars of savings. Another seven-figure consolidation win was with a leading residential construction manufacturer who took their Falcon Complete subscription to the next level. Beyond the Endpoint, this customer purchased Falcon Cloud Security, Identity Protection, LogScale and Falcon Surface, our external attack surface management offering. Falcon has become the platform of consolidation and trust for this enterprise, reducing spend with three other vendors by more than 60% and wholly eliminating multiple vendors from their stack. Consolidation is not only fueling bigger new logo lands but also increased platform adoption, especially in the areas of cloud security, identity protection and LogScale, which, in aggregate, contribute well over $0.5 billion in ending ARR. Financial services, technology, retail and manufacturing industry verticals continue to demonstrate strong demand with large deal sizes. In Q2, we closed over 80% more deals involving eight or more modules than a year ago as customers increasingly look to CrowdStrike to consolidate their security stack. Let me now discuss our momentum in the platform areas of Cloud, Identity and LogScale, Next-gen SIEM, where we are setting new records. Let’s start with Cloud Security, where net new ARR growth accelerated meaningfully and reached a new record during the quarter. Ending ARR for Falcon modules deployed in a public cloud grew to $296 million, up 70% year-over-year, larger than almost every single vendor in cloud security today. Driving this inflection is our focused innovation on Falcon Cloud Security, our CNAPP suite offering, which unifies agent and agentless cloud-native security capabilities into a single offering, providing immediate time to value across all major cloud environments. Net new ARR growth for Falcon Cloud Security accelerated to 70% quarter-over-quarter. We have made it easier for customers to consume Falcon Cloud Security with a single SKU and customers are rapidly standardizing on CrowdStrike as their cloud security platform of choice. Customers are eager to move away from multiple point product vendors to Falcon’s unified best-of-breed platform. We added many new capabilities to our CNAPP offering, including infrastructure as code, site scanning and attack path analysis, creating the most comprehensive CNAPP solution on the market. Combined with Falcon Surface, our external attack surface monitoring solution that we acquired last year, we now provide a complete outside-in and inside-out view of a customer’s security posture. This past quarter, we executed a go-to-market emphasis on cloud security, hosting a virtual Cloud Security Summit with over 12,500 security and DevOp participants followed by cloud-focused partner and sales plays. Our integrated cloud suite, easy management and lower TCO value propositions are resonating at scale. We closed a record number of cloud customer wins in Q2, including multiple seven-figure cloud expansions with Fortune 500 customers, together in excess of $20 million in deal value. An iconic Fortune 50 retailer prioritized a full, not phased, Falcon Cloud Security purchase of $5 million in deal value, choosing CrowdStrike over a point product cloud security scanner and displacing their firewall vendor. Additionally, a major Fortune 500 manufacturer sought product superiority and a single-platform approach replacing Wiz with Falcon Cloud Security. Other cloud wins include [new wins] (ph), with financial, technology media and healthcare companies as well as public sector accounts. Finally, I want to highlight a cloud expansion with a Fortune 1000 retail brand facing increasing costs from their incumbent cloud security vendor and struggling with limited visibility over their cloud assets. This customer launched an initiative to unify their security stack and remove gaps between traditional endpoint, cloud runtime security and posture management. CrowdStrike is the only vendor that met these requirements and a unified platform and helped them drive down their overall operational costs. The cloud security market opportunity is massive and growing rapidly with the potential to reach $18 billion in calendar year 2026. Cloud exploitation by adversaries increased 95% year-over-year and the only way to stop threats at all time is with a fully-fledged agent and agentless cloud suite like Falcon. Only CrowdStrike delivers a fully integrated CNAPP solution that unifies cloud workload protection, cloud security posture management, cloud infrastructure entitlement management, threat intelligence and threat hunting in one platform across hybrid and multi-cloud environments. Our leadership in cloud security was recognized in Frost & Sullivan’s recently published 2023 Frost Radar, Cloud Workload Protection Platform report based on our impressive CWPP business growth, our comprehensive cloud visibility and our unrivaled cloud detection and response services. Identity Protection also stands out with over $200 million in ending ARR, up 194% year-over-year. Identity-based attacks represented 62% of all interactive intrusions we observed in the last 12 months. CrowdStrike’s Falcon Identity Protection delivers the best protection against identity attacks, recently winning the CRN Tech Innovator Award as the best solution on the market. The identity protection adoption rate for new customers grew more than 100% year-over-year and the total number of deals tied to identity increased 200%. Highlighting this in Q2 is a financial services firm that initially turned to CrowdStrike for incident response following a breach where an attacker used legitimate credentials to bypass the company’s existing security products and remain undetected for a week. Following remediation by CrowdStrike incident responders, this customer consolidated on the Falcon platform, adopting Falcon Complete, Falcon Identity Complete and Falcon Cloud Security Complete, displacing and consolidating four vendors in the process, Microsoft, SentinelOne, Arctic Wolf and Sophos. Moving to LogScale. Net new ARR from LogScale Next-gen SIEM reached a new record as customers increasingly adopt a solution to sell multiple use cases. The number of customers using LogScale grew more than 3x year-over-year. LogScale ending ARR grew over 200% year-over-year and is quickly approaching the $100 million ARR milestone, which we expect to achieve in Q3. A Fortune 500 manufacturing company expanded on the Falcon platform with a nearly $4 million deal value LogScale purchase after becoming frustrated with their legacy SIEM vendor due to its increasingly prohibitive costs, complex licensing and poor forced on-prem to cloud migration experience. Given LogScale’s unparalleled speed and flexibility and cost-effective licensing model, this customer is now leveraging the Falcon platform to transition away from legacy SIM, supercharging the speed of both their observability and security use cases. Falcon is a platform that brings the benefits of generative AI to life for every SOC, CISO, CXO and enterprise. We do it with proprietary threat data, and we do it with industry-leading AI expertise. Charlotte AI is the engine powering our portfolio of generative AI capabilities across the platform, utilizing CrowdStrike’s high-fidelity data advantage. Charlotte AI helps Falcon users of all skill levels to do more in the platform by automating workflows, which fuels module adoption and reduces the mean time to detect and respond. The net benefit to customers from our pioneering use of AI in a single platform is faster results, better security outcomes and lower overall cost, ushering in a new era of machine speed security. We showcased Charlotte AI earlier this month at Black Hat where we’re the only vendor of consequence to showcase a live, not PowerPoint, demo of generative AI in action. Public reception was fantastic, and we will release Charlotte AI pricing at Falcon. Moving to partners. 64% of new customers from large enterprises to SMBs were sourced from our partners in the quarter. Our industry-leading partner ecosystem is embracing the broader Falcon platform, building long-term differentiated businesses with CrowdStrike. CrowdStrike is AWS’ largest cybersecurity go-to-market partner. And we recently won their ISV Partner of the Year Award, validating our cloud security category leadership, commitment to innovation and go-to-market success, particularly in cloud security. Finally, the initial momentum we are building through our partnership with Dell is exciting, delivering eight figures in deal value in just a few months. As we highlighted previously, our resell agreement with Dell hit the market in Q1 delivering in-quarter new deals in every major geography region. In the second quarter, we went live with attached device sales globally and rapidly achieved industry-leading device attach rates. Demand in our markets has remained resilient. And even as we continue to operate at a time of macro uncertainty and increased deal scrutiny, our win rates remain high. The momentum we are building with consolidation deals specifically tied to Cloud Security, Identity Protection, Next-gen SIEM and increased partner engagement is driving our pipeline to record levels. Additionally, Fal.Con, our annual customer conference, is our biggest selling event of the year, and this year, registration is already up 80% from last year. The Falcon ecosystem will be on full display with over 70 technology go-to-market partner sponsors in attendance. I would like to invite our investors and analysts to join us at Fal.Com. Similar to last year, in conjunction with the event, we will hold an investor briefing featuring conversations with customers and partners. This year’s briefing will also include a financial discussion led by our CFO, Burt Podbere. Please note that customer sessions will not be available on the webcast, so please join us in person. And with that, I will turn the call over to Burt to discuss our financial results. Burt Podbere: Thank you, George, and good afternoon, everyone. As a quick reminder, unless otherwise noted, all numbers except revenue mentioned during my remarks today are non-GAAP. We delivered a strong second quarter amid a continued challenging macro environment. In Q2, we scaled the business to new heights and drove significant operating leverage. New milestones in the quarter included record operating margin, which was within our target operating model for the first time in company history, record non-GAAP net income attributable to CrowdStrike, which more than doubled year-over-year, and GAAP profitability for the second quarter in a row. The demand environment remained resilient, and we built record levels of new logo and upsell pipeline. We achieved Q2 net new ARR of $196.2 million, which was above stated assumptions as our relentless focus on sales execution enabled us to perform well even as we continue to see heightened deal scrutiny and elongated sales cycles. We ended the quarter with ending ARR reaching $2.93 billion, up 37% over last year. We continue to be very pleased with the success of our land-and-expand strategy with our dollar-based net retention rate effectively at our benchmark in Q2. Subscription customers with five or more, six or more and seven or more modules increased to 63%, 41% and 24% of subscription customers, respectively. Moving to the P&L. Total revenue grew 37% over Q2 of last year to reach $731.6 million. Subscription revenue grew 36% over Q2 of last year to reach $690.0 million. Professional services revenue was $41.7 million, setting a new record for the 12th consecutive quarter and representing 44% year-over-year growth. During the quarter, we also saw strength in Latin America, the Middle East and Japan. International revenue grew 43% year-over-year. Our second quarter non-GAAP gross margin performance remained strong. Total non-GAAP gross margin was 78%, and we achieved subscription gross margin of approximately 80% for the second consecutive quarter. We look forward to discussing the initiatives and investments we are making to drive subscription gross margin higher and beyond our target model in more detail at our Fal.Con Investor Briefing in September. Total non-GAAP operating expenses in the second quarter were $412.5 million or 56% of revenue versus $321.4 million last year or 60% of revenue. Q2 sales and marketing and R&D expenses grew 26% and 35% year-over-year, respectively. We expect sales and marketing and R&D expenses to fluctuate quarter-to-quarter due to the timing of in-person events, marketing and technology development programs. As a result of our dedication to operational excellence and profitable growth at scale, in Q2, we achieved multiple new milestones for the profitability of the business. These milestones included record non-GAAP operating income of $155.7 million, growing 78% year-over-year, achieving our target model range for non-GAAP operating margin for the first time in company history and a record 21% of revenue, well ahead of our planned timeline. More than doubling non-GAAP net income attributable to CrowdStrike, which grew to a record $180.0 million or $0.74 on a diluted per share basis. And finally, achieving GAAP profitability for the second consecutive quarter. These achievements speak to the power of our financial model and focus on running an efficient business. We are accelerating our timeline to reach the target model. As implied in our guidance, we now expect to exit Q4 within our target non-GAAP operating margin model and to remain within our target model on an annual basis starting in FY ’25. We ended the second quarter with a strong balance sheet. Cash and cash equivalents increased to $3.17 billion. Cash flow from operations grew 17% year-over-year to a Q2 record of $244.8 million. Free cash flow grew 39% year-over-year to a Q2 record of $188.7 million or 26% of revenue, achieving a rule of 63 on a free cash flow basis. Looking at the first half of fiscal year 2024, free cash flow grew 42% year-over-year to reach $416.1 million and 29% of revenue, putting us well on track to reach our stated goal of 30% free cash flow margin for the full fiscal year. Moving to our outlook. We are raising our revenue guidance for the fiscal year and maintaining our net new ARR assumptions for the second half and fiscal year, which call for in line to modestly up net new ARR for the full year. For the third quarter of FY ’24, we expect total revenue to be in the range of $775.4 million to $778.0 million reflecting a year-over-year growth rate of 33% to 34%. We expect non-GAAP income from operations to be in the range of $154.4 million to $156.3 million and non-GAAP net income attributable to CrowdStrike to be in the range of $179.8 million to $181.8 million. We expect diluted non-GAAP net income per share attributable to CrowdStrike to be approximately $0.74, utilizing a weighted average share count of 244 million shares on a diluted basis. We are raising our revenue and profitability guidance for the full fiscal year 2024. We currently expect total revenue to be in the range of $3,030.7 million to $3,042.9 million, reflecting a growth rate of 35% to 36% over the prior fiscal year. Non-GAAP income from operations is expected to be between $601.3 million and $610.5 million. We expect fiscal 2024 non-GAAP net income attributable to CrowdStrike to be between $680.4 million and $689.7 million. Utilizing 243 million weighted average shares on a diluted basis, we expect non-GAAP net income per share attributable to CrowdStrike to be in the range of $2.80 to $2.84. George and I will now take your questions. See also 30 Countries with Highest Rates of Emigration and 20 States that Produce the Most Craft Beer. Q&A Session Follow C2C Crowdfunding Inc. (OTCMKTS:CRWD) Follow C2C Crowdfunding Inc. (OTCMKTS:CRWD) We may use your email to send marketing emails about our services. Click here to read our privacy policy. Operator: [Operator Instructions] And our first question comes from the line of Saket Kalia with Barclays. Saket Kalia: Okay, great. Hey, George. Hey, Burt. Thanks for taking my question here. Burt Podbere: Great to hear your voice, Saket. Saket Kalia: Same here, Burt, and great to see the profitability, so much fun stuff to talk about in the quarter. But maybe I’ll just hit 1 topic head on, which is the scrutiny that I think all of us have on the second half net new ARR ramp. And listen, I think we’ve heard it from you and George for multiple quarters now that the multiproduct pipeline just looks strong. But I was wondering if either of you could help us maybe look at that ramp from another lens to maybe help us get a little bit more confidence, whether that’s based on things like net revenue retention or implied new logo business, any other lens that you’d have us look at — I guess, look through when kind of stress testing that second half net new ARR ramp that you’re guiding to? George Kurtz: Sure, Saket. Let me take the first part, and I will turn it over to Burt. So when we think about the back half of the year and our confidence, I think it starts with the product and the consolidation that we’re seeing. Customer after customer looking to consolidate on the platform and the product portfolio has never been stronger, particularly in the areas that I talked about, Cloud, LogScale, Identity. We gave you some great numbers around that. Then you look to our partners, our industry-leading partners in our ecosystem. We continue to grow that. We’ve got tremendous focus on that internally with a new leader, Dell, Pax8. I mean I can go down the list of our partners and certainly AWS that I called out, all contributing to our momentum. And then the pipeline, a record pipeline as we see this. The partners and CrowdStrike are delivering a record pipeline because the products are there. So that’s the way I look at it. Burt? Burt Podbere: Yes. I would just add a couple of things. One, I would add, we’re very happy with our retention rates. We think they’re best in class, as well as I think we’re seeing strength from multiple aspects of the business, right, from either our enterprise or SMBs. We see strength in both. So that’s why we get confidence in the second half. Operator: Thank you. One moment please for our next question. Our next question comes from the line of Sterling Auty with MoffettNathanson. Sterling Auty: Yeah, thanks. Hi, guys. I also want to drill in on that same topic, but specific, George, to one of the comments made about the sales pipeline. And wondering if you can just peel back the onion and talk about what you saw in this quarter and what is happening with the strength and maturity in the pipeline coverage, specifically to drive that acceleration? George Kurtz: Sure. I think you have to start with the ramp reps that we have. We did a lot of hiring last year. It takes a while to ramp rep. So we’re going into the back half of the year with ramp capacity, which we’re obviously excited about. And then a lot of it has to do with me being in the field and talking to customers and just what I’m hearing from them. I was recently on a call with a large Fortune 200 company. I was on with their CIO, their CTO and their CSO. And they said the reason we have all of these people together is because of the spend, which is eight figures, and two, we were so strategic. We’re actually handling their observability and their security use cases. So when I look at that and I look at the product portfolio and where we are, it’s just encouraging, combined with the sales ramp and the capacity we have as we go to the back half of the year. Operator: Thank you. One moment please for our next question. And our next question comes from the line of Andrew Nowinski with Wells Fargo. Andrew Nowinski: Great. Good afternoon and congrats on the quarter and I’d echo Saket’s comments about profitability, that is really an amazing outlook. I wanted to just ask another question on the back half of the year guidance. The way you described everything, George, with products, consolidation, partners growing, record pipeline, ramped reps, I know the back half does look fairly aggressive, but you also have easy comps, too. So maybe why not — what gives you caution about raising that guidance a little bit more coming off of a really good quarter and heading into with all those positive trends you have going for your business right now? Burt Podbere: Hey, Andy, it’s Burt. So when it comes to guidance, we take a very prudent approach. And we guide to basically what we see, not what we don’t see. We definitely don’t guide to running tables. And you’ve also got to still factor in that, it’s still — we’re still in a tough macro. We do see deals getting elongated and sales cycles taking longer. So I think those are the things why we guided to the way we guided. Operator: Thank you. One moment please for our next question. And our next question comes from the line of Rob Owens with Piper Sandler. Unidentified Analyst: Great. Thanks for taking my question. This is Ethan on for Rob here. George, I just wanted to touch on that observability point that just came up again. And highlighted the success you’re seeing with LogScale. So can you talk a little bit more about some of those observability use cases that you’re seeing success with and maybe where you’re seeing a little bit of differentiation? Thank you. George Kurtz: Sure. So when you look at LogScale, its capabilities are obviously Next-gen SIEM, but also in observability, and we have many customers that use it just for that use case, and we have an opportunity to go back and sell them security. Things like managing and monitoring the Kubernetes clusters, the cloud environment, their infrastructure, I mean we have a customer who manages like the train schedules on it. So it can manage a large set of data, and it does it extremely efficiently. And what we’re seeing right now is customers telling other customers about it. We have huge Fortune 25 referenceable customers in the space. And I think the success begets more success in that area. So that’s why we’re pretty excited about it. And you’ve seen the growth in that area and customers are looking for something that’s better and faster and gives them an outcome that is more contemporary than what they’re using today. Operator: Thank you. One moment please for our next question. Our next question comes from the line of Keith Bachman with BMO Capital Markets. Keith Bachman: Hi, many thanks for taking the question. I wanted to ask about the $500 million ARR run rate that you mentioned for LogScale and others. And, A, is that the same composition from the analyst event where you referenced it was $399 million in the January quarter. So it’s up 25% in only two quarters, so pretty healthy growth there? B, any comments on how you anticipate that continuing to scale over the next couple of quarters to help realize that back half of your guidance? C, any update on the thoughts on M&A that might contribute to the growth of that emerging portfolio? Thanks very much? Burt Podbere: Yeah, it’s a great question. So for us, the way we broke it out on this earnings call, it’s not the emerging category that we had talked about in the past. It’s different. And we wanted to give increased visibility into the specific business lines. And we thought that it would be very important for everybody to see how well they’re performing and how well [indiscernible] scale they’re performing. So you’ve got, obviously, our Cloud momentum. You’ve got our LogScale momentum and our Identity momentum. And we wanted to show everybody exactly how we’re doing in those areas, and that they’re taking flight at scale. I’ll pass the other questions over to George......»»

Category: topSource: insidermonkeyAug 31st, 2023

The wild life of billionaire Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, who is known for eccentricities like eating one meal a day, and taking ice baths

Jack Dorsey is famous for his unusual life of luxury. He's friends with Elon Musk and stepped down as Twitter CEO in 2021 but continues to lead Block. Jack Dorsey has led an interesting life.Joe Raedle/Getty Images Jack Dorsey cofounded Twitter in 2006 and the company made him a billionaire. He stepped down as Twitter CEO in 2021 and supported Elon Musk's takeover of the company.  Dorsey runs the financial services company Block and is famous for his unusual life of luxury. From his friendship with Elon Musk to quashing rumors about sending his beard hair to rapper Azealia Banks, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey leads an interesting life.Dorsey has had a turbulent career in Silicon Valley. After cofounding Twitter on March 21, 2006, he was booted as the company's CEO two years later, but returned in 2015 having set up his second company, Square — which he rebranded as Block in 2021.He led Twitter through the techlash that has engulfed social media companies, testifying before Congress multiple times and later stepping down as CEO of Twitter in 2021, as well as eventually encouraging Musk's Twitter acquisition the following year. Dorsey continues to lead Block, where in April 2022 he changed his title from "CEO" to "Block Head."The tech entrepreneur has provoked his fair share of controversy and criticism over the years and like some other billionaires, he owns a stunning house, dates models, and drives fast cars.Here's what we know about Dorsey's career rise and life outside of work.Rebecca Borison, Madeline Stone, Katie Canales, Bethany Biron, and Isobel Asher Hamilton contributed reporting to an earlier version of this story.Dorsey began programming while attending Bishop DuBourg High School in St. Louis.The Twitter cofounder was coding in high school.VineAt age 15, Dorsey wrote dispatch software that is still used by some taxi companies, according to a biography on Dorsey. When he wasn't checking out specialty electronics stores or running a fantasy football league for his friends, Dorsey frequently attended punk-rock concerts.Jack Dorsey used to have a punk rock hair style.@jackThese days Dorsey doesn't favour the spiky hairdo. Like many of his fellow tech billionaires, Dorsey never graduated college.Jack Dorsey is one of many tech founders to drop out of college.edyson / FlickrHe briefly attended the Missouri University of Science and Technology and transferred to New York University where he before calling it quits in 1999 one semester before graduation to focus on his idea for Twitter, according to the biography. In 2000, Dorsey built a simple prototype that let him update his friends on his life via BlackBerry and email messaging.Jack Dorsey built an early version of his idea for Twitter in 2000.joi / FlickrNobody else really seemed interested, so he put away the idea for a bit, according to a Stanford Blog. About two years later he became a licensed masseur.Getty Images/Bill PuglianoHe got his license in about 2002, before exploding onto the tech scene, the Journal reported. He got a job at a podcasting company called Odeo, where he met his future Twitter cofounders.Jack Dorsey with his Twitter cofounders.TwitterOdeo went out of business in 2006, so Dorsey returned to his messaging idea, and Twitter was born.On March 21, 2006, Dorsey posted the first tweet.Jack Dorsey's sent the first tweet in 2006.Twitter/@jackDorsey kept his Twitter handle simple, "@jack." He hasn't changed it since.Dorsey and his cofounders, Evan Williams and Biz Stone, bought the Twitter domain name for roughly $7,000.Dorsey became CEO of the company when they launched it.Khalid Mohammed / AP ImagesDorsey took out his nose ring to look the part of a CEO. He was 30 years old.A year later, Dorsey was already less hands-on at Twitter.Dorsey took a step back at Twitter shortly after it was launched.Wikimedia CommonsBy 2008, Williams had taken over as CEO, and Dorsey transitioned to chairman of Twitter's board.Dorsey immediately got started on new projects. He invested in Foursquare and launched a payments startup called Square that lets small-business owners accept credit card payments through a smartphone attachment. In 2011, Dorsey got the chance to interview US President Barack Obama in the first Twitter Town Hall.Twitter had its first Town Hall with President Barack Obama in 2011.ReutersDorsey had to remind Obama to keep his replies under 140 characters, Twitter's limit at the time. Twitter went public in November 2013, and within hours Dorsey was a billionaire.Twitter made Dorsey a billionaire.APIn 2014 Forbes pegged Dorsey's net worth at $2.2 billion and it has spiked as high as $12.5 billion in 2021.It was revealed in a 2019 filing that Dorsey earned just $1.40 for his job as Twitter CEO the previous year.The Twitter cofounder didn't take a large salary even when he was CEO.David Becker / GettyThe $1.40 salary actually represented a pay rise for Dorsey, who in previous years had refused any payment at all.He's far from the only Silicon Valley mogul to have taken a measly salary – Mark Zuckerberg makes $1 a year as CEO of Facebook. With his newfound wealth, he bought a BMW 3 Series, but reportedly didn't drive it often.Jack Dorsey owned a BMW Series 3 at one point.Alex Davies / Business Insider"Now he's able to say, like, 'The BMW is the only car I drive, because it's the best automotive engineering on the planet,' or whatever," Twitter cofounder Biz Stone told The New Yorker in 2013. He also reportedly paid $9.9 million for this seaside house on El Camino Del Mar in the exclusive Seacliff neighborhood of San Francisco.Jack Dorsey shelled out millions of dollars for a house in San Francisco.The Real Estalker via Sotheby'sThe house has a view of the Golden Gate Bridge, which Dorsey views as a marvel of design. Jack Dorsey told Kara Swisher in 2018 that Elon Musk is his favorite Twitter user.Elon Musk was a prolific tweeter, even before he bought the company.PewDiePie/YouTubeDorsey said Musk's tweets are, "focused on solving existential problems and sharing his thinking openly."He added that he enjoys all the "ups and downs" that come with Musk's sometimes unpredictable use of the site. Musk himself replied, tweeting his thanks and "Twitter rocks!" followed by a string of random emojis.Both Musk and Dorsey are crypto enthusiasts, and appear to have a friendship of sorts. Dorsey has also engaged with other tech entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg who once served him a goat that the Facebook cofounder had killed himself.Mark Zuckerberg served Jack Dorsey goat.Gene KimDorsey told Rolling Stone about the meal, which took place in 2011. Dorsey said the goat was served cold, and that he personally stuck to salad. Dorsey's eating habits have raised eyebrows over the years.Jack Dorsey says he fasts.Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for WIRED25In 2019, Dorsey appeared on a podcast run by a health guru who previously said that vaccines caused autism. Dorsey said during his interview that he eats one meal a day and fasts all weekend. He said the first time he tried fasting it made him feel like he was hallucinating."It was a weird state to be in. But as I did it the next two times, it just became so apparent to me how much of our days are centered around meals and how — the experience I had was when I was fasting for much longer, how time really slowed down," he said.The comments drew fierce criticism from many who said Dorsey was normalizing eating disorders.In a later interview with Wired, Dorsey said he eats seven meals a week, "just dinner." In the early days of Twitter, Dorsey aspired to be a fashion designer.Jack Dorsey's style has changed over the years.Cindy Ord / Getty Images, Franck MichelDorsey would regularly don leather jackets and slim suits by Prada and Hermès, as well as Dior Homme reverse-collar dress shirts, a sort of stylish take on the popped collar.More recently he favors edgier outfits, including the classic black turtleneck favored by Silicon Valley luminaries like Steve Jobs. He also re-introduced the nose-ring and grew a beard in more recent years.Jack Dorsey has a long beard and nose ring.GettyDorsey seems to care less about looking the part of a traditional executive these days.Singer Azealia Banks claimed to have been sent clippings of Dorsey's beard hair to fashion into a protective amulet, although Dorsey denied this happened.Azealia Banks claims Jack Dorsey sent her clippings from his beard.GettyIn 2016, Banks posted on her now-deleted Twitter account that Dorsey sent her his hair, "in an envelope." Dorsey later told the Huffington Post that the incident never happened. Dorsey has faced his share of controversy over the years. In 2018, a tweet about his vacation in Myanmar provoked an outcry.Jack Dorsey tweeted about his vacation in Myanmar.Shutterstock/Martin M303Dorsey tweeted glowingly about a vacation he took to Myanmar for his birthday in December 2018. "If you're willing to travel a bit, go to Myanmar," he said.This came at the height of the Rohingya crisis, and Dorsey was attacked for his blithe promotion of the country — especially since social media platforms were accused of having been complicit in fuelling hatred towards the Rohingya. Dorsey has said he doesn't care about "looking bad."Jack Dorsey has said he doesn't care how people perceive him.ReutersIn a bizarre Huffington Post interview in 2019, Dorsey was asked whether Donald Trump — an avid tweeter — could be removed from the platform if he called on his followers to murder a journalist. Dorsey gave a vague answer which drew sharp criticism.Following the interview's publication, Dorsey said he doesn't care about "looking bad.""I care about being open about how we're thinking and about what we see," he added.In September 2018, Jack Dorsey was grilled by lawmakers alongside Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Jack Dorsey were grilled in a Senate Intelligence Committee.Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesDorsey and Sandberg were asked about election interference on Twitter and Facebook as well as alleged anti-conservative bias in social media companies at the event.During the hearing, Dorsey shared a snapshot of his spiking heart rate on Twitter. He was in the hot seat for several hours and he showed his heart rate peaked at 109 beats per minute. Dorsey testified before Congress once again on October 28, 2020.Jack Dorsey tuned into the hearing with the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation/Handout via REUTERSDorsey appeared via videoconference at the Senate hearing on Section 230, a part of US law that protects internet companies from legal liability for user-generated content, as well as giving them broad authority to decide how to moderate their own platforms.In prepared testimony ahead of the hearing, Dorsey said stripping back Section 230 would "collapse how we communicate on the Internet," and suggested ways for tech companies to make their moderation processes more transparent.And during the hearing, Dorsey once again faced accusations of anti-conservative bias.The accusations from Republican lawmakers focused on the way Twitter enforces its policies, particularly the way it has labelled tweets from President Trump compared to other world leaders.Dorsey took the brunt of questions from lawmakers, even though he appeared alongside Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai.He appeared in another hearing a few weeks later with Zuckerberg, facing questions from Republicans who were displeased with how the platforms had dealt with then-President Donald Trump's social media accounts.  When he's not in Washington, Dorsey regularly hops in and out of ice baths and saunas.This is not Dorsey's sauna, but he enjoys regular saunas and ice baths.ShutterstockDorsey said in the "Tales of the Crypt" podcast that he started using ice baths and saunas in the evenings around 2016.He will alternately sit in his barrel sauna for 15 minutes and then switch to an ice bath for three. He repeats this routine three times, before finishing it off with a one-minute ice bath.He also likes to take an icy dip in the mornings to wake him up. Dorsey's dating life has sparked intrigue. In 2018, he was reported to be dating Sports Illustrated model Raven Lyn Corneil.Jack Dorsey (right) reportedly dated Raven Lyn Corneil (left) in 2018.Sports Illustrated Swimsuit / YouTube / GettyPage Six reported in September 2018 that the pair were spotted together at the Harper's Bazaar Icons party during New York Fashion Week. Page Six also reported that Dorsey's exes included actress Lily Cole and ballet dancer Sofiane Sylve. At the end of 2019 Dorsey said he would move to Africa for at least three months in 2020 and he almost lost his role as CEO.Jack Dorsey was almost ousted by an activist investor in 2020.AP Photo/Francois MoriDorsey's announcement followed a tour of Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa. "Africa will define the future (especially the bitcoin one!). Not sure where yet, but I'll be living here for 3-6 months mid 2020," he wrote on Twitter.But, then Dorsey came under threat of being ousted as Twitter CEO by activist investor Elliott Management.Both Bloomberg and CNBC reported in late February 2020 that major Twitter investor Elliott Management — led by Paul Singer — was seeking to replace Dorsey. Reasons given included the fact that Dorsey split his time between two firms by acting as CEO to both Twitter and financial tech firm Square, as well as his planned move to Africa.But Dorsey managed to strike a truce with Elliott Management.Jack Dorsey was able to reach a truce with the firm.AP Photo/Jose Luis MaganaTwitter announced on March 9, 2020 that it had reached a deal with Elliott Management which would leave Jack Dorsey in place as CEO.The deal included a $1 billion investment from private equity firm Silver Lake, and partners from both Elliott Management and Silver Lake joined Twitter's board.Patrick Pichette, lead independent director of Twitter's board, said he was "confident we are on the right path with Jack's leadership," but added that a new temporary committee would be formed to instruct the board's evaluation of Twitter's leadership.In July 2020, hackers compromised 130 Twitter accounts in a bitcoin scam.Dorsey had to deal with a major Twitter hack in 2020.TwitterThe accounts of high-profile verified accounts belonging to Bill Gates, Kim Kardashian West, and others were hacked, with attackers tweeting out posts asking users to send payment in bitcoin to fraudulent cryptocurrency addresses.As a solution, Twitter temporarily blocked all verified accounts — those with blue check marks on their profiles — but the damage was done.And Musk said during a July 2020 interview with The New York Times that he personally contacted Dorsey following the hack."Within a few minutes of the post coming up, I immediately got texts from a bunch of people I know, then I immediately called Jack so probably within less than five minutes my account was locked," said Musk. Twitter announced in 2021 that Dorsey had stepped down as CEO.Dorsey stepped down as CEO in 2021.Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesCNBC was the first to report on Dorsey's expected resignation, citing unnamed sources.Twitter confirmed the story the same day, announcing Chief Technology Officer Parag Agrawal would take over as CEO with immediate effect.Dorsey posted on his Twitter account saying: "Not sure anyone has heard but, I resigned from Twitter."In his tweet he included a screenshot of the email he sent to Twitter staff announcing his resignation.—jack⚡️ (@jack) November 29, 2021And in May 2022, his time on the board of directors officially came to an end, an anticipated move that coincides with the company's stockholder's meeting. Two days after Dorsey stepped down as Twitter CEO, Square changed its name to Block.Block's revamped its logo.Block"The name change creates room for further growth," the company said in a statement."Block references the neighborhood blocks where we find our sellers, a blockchain, block parties full of music, obstacles to overcome, a section of code, building blocks, and of course, tungsten cubes," it added.The line about tungsten cubes was an apparent reference to a craze among crypto enthusiasts of paying as much as $3,500 for novelty tungsten cubes.In April 2022, Dorsey changed his official title at Block from CEO to "Block Head."Jack Dorsey changed his title from CEO to "Block Head."BlockThe title change was made official in a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on April 20, 2022."There will be no changes in Mr. Dorsey's roles and responsibilities," the filing said.Block's website was also updated to list his new title as Block Head.Musk tweeted in response to the news using fire emojis to signal his approval for Dorsey's title.—Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 23, 2022 Musk officially added the title of "Technoking" to his role at Tesla in March 2021.The Block Head is also a big believer in cryptocurrency, frequently posting about its virtues.Jack Dorsey likes to post on social media about crypto.Teresa Kroeger/Getty ImagesIn particular, Dorsey is a fan of Bitcoin, which he described in early 2019 as "resilient" and "principled." He told the "Tales of the Crypt" podcast in March that year that he was maxing out the $10,000 weekly spending limit on Square's Cash App buying up Bitcoin.In October 2020 he slammed Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong for forbidding employee activism at the company, saying cryptocurrency is itself a form of activism.He's also said he hopes bitcoin can help bring about "world peace" in a panel alongside Musk and Ark Invest CEO Cathie Wood called "The B Word" on July 2021. He said he loves the bitcoin community because it's "weird as hell.""It's the only reason that I have a career — because I learned so much from people like who are building bitcoin today," Dorsey said.   Dorsey said in an April 2022 tweet his "biggest regret" was Twitter shutting down Vine.Dorsey has said he wishes he hadn't shut down Vine.Marco Bello/AFP/Getty ImagesDorsey replied to a Twitter user lamenting Vine's demise saying: "I know. Biggest regret," accompanied by a sad face emoji.Twitter acquired short-form video app Vine in 2012 but shut it down in 2016.In August 2022, Twitter's former head of security, Peiter Zatko, filed a whistleblower complaint with the SEC alleging the company participated in negligent security practices under Dorsey.Ex-Twitter security chief Peiter Zatko.Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty ImagesIn his 84-page report and subsequent testimony, Zatko made a number of allegations against the company, including claims it had "egregious deficiencies" around security protocol and that Dorsey experienced a "drastic loss of focus" in his last year as CEO of Twitter. In September 2022, Dorsey was deposed and questioned under oath as part of Elon Musk's legal battle with Twitter and his proposed $44 billion takeover.Dorsey was subpoenaed in Twitter's legal battle with Musk.APMusk's team accused Twitter of misleading investors and intentionally "miscounting" spam accounts, Insider reported. Later that month, private texts revealed Dorsey had tried to get Musk involved with Twitter a year prior to the Tesla CEO's $44 billion proposal.Text messages between Dorsey and Musk were uncovered as part of Twitter's lawsuit against Musk.Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue/Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesIn the texts, Dorsey explained why he left the company and said he previously pushed to get Musk involved with Twitter. "A new platform is needed. It can't be a company. That's why I left," Dorsey wrote to Musk, adding he thinks Twitter should be an "open-sourced protocol" and "cant have an advertising model." Dorsey also told Musk he had advocated for the Tesla CEO's addition to the Twitter board a year earlier, but the request was denied, which he said he thought "was completely stupid and backwards."In October 2022, as Musk was finalizing his Twitter deal, Dorsey quietly launched a beta for his new social-media company, Bluesky Social.In 2022, Dorsey launched a Twitter rival.Bluesky SocialThe blockchain-based company's beta launch raked in 30,000 signups in two days. According to Bluesky's website, the company is intended to support "a new foundation for social networking which gives creators independence from platforms, developers the freedom to build, and users a choice in their experience."As of July 2023, the site currently has over one million users, according to Gizmodo.More recently, Dorsey has apologized for some of the things that have taken place at Twitter since Musk took over.Dorsey apologized for the layoffs at Twitter.Jack Dorsey/TwitterAfter Musk ordered mass layoffs at Twitter after taking over in November 2022, Dorsey tweeted an apology: "I own the responsibility for why everyone is in this situation: I grew the company size too quickly. I apologize for that.""Folks at Twitter past and present are strong and resilient," he wrote on Twitter. "They will always find a way no matter how difficult the moment. I realize many are angry with me."He continued: "I am grateful for, and love, everyone who has ever worked on Twitter. I don't expect that to be mutual in this moment...or ever…and I understand." And despite initially supporting Musk's takeover, Dorsey hasn't always agreed with all of the Tesla CEO's decisions.AP/Getty ImagesLast year, Dorsey criticized Musk's decision to rebrand the social media site's Birdwatch feature to call it Community Notes, dubbing it the "most boring Facebook name ever."In April, the Twitter cofounder openly criticized Musk's leadership in a series of social media posts Friday, writing that "it all went south" and Musk "should have walked away" from the acquisition. Though in July, Dorsey said "running Twitter is hard" after Musk sparked a backlash by announcing "rate limits" on viewing tweets."I don't wish that stress upon anyone," Dorsey tweeted. "I trust that the team is doing their best under the constraints they have, which are immense. It's easy to critique the decisions from afar … which I'm guilty of … but I know the goal is to see Twitter thrive. It will."Dorsey also urged "calm" when Musk rebranded Twitter to X in July.Dorsey has also gotten more involved in politics in recent months.Jack Dorsey endorsed Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in June for his presidential campaign.John Lamparski/Getty ImagesHe endorsed Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who has made misleading claims about the COVID virus, in June for his 2024 presidential campaign.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderAug 29th, 2023

Vivek Ramaswamy, an "anti-woke" biotech millionaire and former Harvard rapper running against Trump, is outperforming expectations in the 2024 GOP race

The son of immigrants, Ramaswamy worked in biotech and was a rapper at college. Now he's challenging Trump for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy speaks during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on March 03, 2023.Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images Vivek Ramaswamy announced his candidacy for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination in February 2023. The biotech entrepreneur, who is the son of Indian immigrants, was Harvard and Yale-educated. He became a conservative firebrand after writing anti-woke books and regularly appearing on Fox News. Vivek Ramaswamy might not have a background in politics, but that didn't stop him from becoming one of the first candidates to announce their run for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024, behind only former President Donald Trump and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.The biotech millionaire, who was once the CEO of Roivant, has somewhat struggled for exposure in a crowded field for the Republican nomination, but his past shows he isn't afraid of a challenge.Ramaswamy is the son of immigrants from India, was an overachiever at school, and even had a short-lived rap career while at Harvard.Though his campaign is picking up a little steam, he's still a longshot for the GOP nomination. But the conservative firebrand says he has big plans to start a "cultural movement."Here's what there is to know about Ramaswamy.The son of Indian immigrants, he was born and raised in OhioThe skyline of Cincinnati, Ohio.Getty ImagesRamaswamy was born on August 9, 1985, in Cincinnati, Ohio, to parents who had immigrated to the US from Kerala, India.He was raised in a traditional Hindu family but attended a Catholic high school.Sources: The Times of India, The Harvard Crimson At school, he was considered an overachieverEugene Kim/WikiMedia CommonsRamaswamy graduated top of his class at St. Xavier High School, a private prep school on the outskirts of Cincinnati, where he was a nationally ranked junior tennis player.He also spent his time playing the piano for Alzheimer's patients.Sources: Forbes, The Times of IndiaRamaswamy has an Ivy League educationCharles Krupa/APHe attended Harvard College, where he graduated summa cum laude with a major in biology.While at Harvard, he was chair of the university's political union. He told The Harvard Crimson at the time that he considered himself to be a "contrarian" who liked to argue.Academically, he thrived. The summary of his senior thesis on the ethics of creating human-animal chimeras was published in The New York Times.Sources: The Harvard Crimson, Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New AmericansAt Harvard, he also moonlighted as a rapperGetty ImagesRamaswamy would dress entirely in black and take to the stage as his rapper alter ego "Da Vek" during his college days, according to The Harvard Crimson.The student publication said he rapped "libertarian prose with the utmost of ease."In an interview with the publication in 2006, Ramaswamy also said that Eminem's "Lose Yourself" was his life's theme song.Source: The Harvard Crimson When he wasn't rapping, he was setting up a businessLisa Lake/Getty ImagesIn 2007, Ramaswamy co-founded StudentBusinesses.com, a resource for college-age entrepreneurs. It was acquired by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in 2009.Source: Pitchbook Ramaswamy then became a successful Wall Street analystSpencer Platt/Getty ImagesHe worked at QVT Financial, a Wall Street hedge fund manager, from 2007 to 2014.Successful trades and his knowledge of the potential of certain drugs quickly impressed his bosses, leading to Ramaswamy becoming a partner at just 28 years old.Source: ForbesHe also attended Yale Law School on the side, befriending J.D. VanceGaelen Morse/Getty ImagesWhile working at QVT Financial, Ramaswamy attended Yale Law School for "the intellectual experience," a former professor of his told Forbes.At Yale, he became friends with J.D. Vance, the "Hillbilly Elegy" author turned senator for Ohio. He also met his future wife, Apoorva, with whom he now has two children.They got married in 2015.Source: The New YorkerRamaswamy left QVT Financial to start his own pharmaceutical firmLisa Lake/Getty ImagesHe decided to leave QVT Financial to set up Roivant, his pharmaceutical venture, in 2014.Ramaswamy raised approximately $93 million from investors, among them his former employer.The idea behind Roivant was to develop drugs that other pharmaceutical companies had abandoned.The company started with a modest 10 employees but it soon took off.  In 2017, it raised $1.1 billion from an investor group led by SoftBank Vision Fund — one of the largest funding rounds for a life sciences company. Ramaswamy would later be named by Forbes as one of America's richest entrepreneurs under 40, and would make it onto the publication's prestigious 30 under 30 list.Sources: Insider, The New YorkerHe canceled his honeymoon to ring the bell at the New York Stock ExchangeTayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty ImagesRamaswamy and his wife were meant to be honeymooning in the French and Swiss Alps in June 2015, but instead he brought his new bride with him to ring the fabled bell at the New York Stock Exchange.Ramaswamy led Roivant to a $315 million IPO in 2015, the biggest biotech IPO at that time.Source: ForbesBut the honeymoon period for his business ended with a 'humiliating' failureBRIAN SNYDER/ReutersRoivant acquired one of its first drugs, an experimental Alzheimer's medication called intepirdine, from GlaxoSmithKline in 2014 for $5 million.In 2017, the drug failed clinical trials, eventually leading to the discontinuation of its development.Ramaswamy told The New Yorker that the failure was "humiliating" and that he took it really hard.The company initially pivoted to gene therapies after the Alzheimer's drug tanked, and now appears to be focusing on medications for psoriasis and dermatitis.Ramaswamy stepped down as CEO in January 2021, saying he wanted to spend more time writing books and focusing on his political interests.Sources: The New York Times, The New Yorker, Insider, RoivantHe released "Woke, Inc," and another book slamming identity politicsFox NewsIn August 2021, Ramaswamy released a book, "Woke Inc," which became a New York Times bestseller.The book slammed the so-called "modern woke-industrial complex," which Ramaswamy describes as the mixing of morality with consumerism.He released another book in September 2022, "Nation of Victims: Identity Politics, the Death of Merit, and the Path Back to Excellence," which was a critique of identity politics in America.Sources: Center Street, The New Yorker And he also became a conservative firebrand, regularly appearing on Fox NewsFox NewsRamaswamy has appeared regularly on Fox News, has written op-eds for a variety of publications, and made speaking engagements; gaining him a reputation as a conservative firebrand.His controversial views on "wokeism" made him some enemies, with Ramaswamy telling The New Yorker that a family member and close friend no longer speak to him because of his conservative positions.Source: The New Yorker He's previously toyed with entering politics, and discussed with Kevin McCarthyMark Wilson/Getty ImagesRamaswamy said he once met with Rep. Kevin McCarthy, then the House Minority Leader, and spoke to him about getting involved in Republican Party politics.He told the New Yorker that McCarthy had advised him that could have more impact as a thought leader for the GOP than as a junior congressman.Ramaswamy considered running to be Ohio's senator in 2022 but ultimately decided against it.Sources: Cincinnati Business Courier, The New YorkerAnd now he's joined what is likely to be a crowded field of GOP candidates for president in 2024BRIAN SNYDER/ReutersRamaswamy announced that he's running for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination on February 21, 2023, while appearing on "Tucker Carlson Tonight."He said in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece that by running he was hoping to launch a "cultural movement to create a new American dream" based on the "pursuit of excellence."In response to his candidacy, the Democratic National Committee issued a statement saying that Ramaswamy's appearance on Tucker Carlson's show to announce his campaign showed that the "race for the MAGA base is getting messier and more crowded by the day."Sources: The New York Times, Wall Street Journal He got 1% in CPAC's straw poll of 2024 contenders. But said he was offered a second-place finish if he paid lots of money.Vivek Ramaswamy on Fox BusinessFox Business via @VivekGRamaswamy/TwitterAppearing on Fox Business on March 7, 2023, Ramaswamy alleged that a consultant called his campaign shortly after he declared his candidacy to make him an offer.Ramaswamy claimed that the consultant, who he did not name, said he could get him second place on the Conservative Political Action Conference's (CPAC) straw poll if he paid a "few hundred thousand dollars."Ramaswamy said he turned down the offer.He ultimately received just 1% of the vote in the unscientific straw poll of potential Republican primary candidates, with former President Donald Trump coming first.Source: InsiderIn April 2023, Ramaswamy took credit for the firing of CNN's Don LemonWin McNamee/Getty ImagesAfter CNN dismissed news anchor Don Lemon in April 2023, Ramaswamy took some credit for his firing.Ramaswamy had appeared on "CNN This Morning" to defend a controversial speech he made at a NRA event. The conversation quickly turned into a heated argument, with Lemon accusing Ramswamy of trying to explain Black history to him.According to The New York Times, the incident left several CNN leaders fed up, which contributed to Lemon's dismissal.Days later, Ramaswamy told SiriusXM host Megyn Kelly that he thought he played a part in getting Lemon fired."And I think that that's a net positive," he said.Sources: The New York Times, MediaiteThis summer, he performed a freestyle rap on TV. It didn't go too well.Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesAsked about his not-so-secret college rapping career, Ramaswamy entertained viewers of Fox News' "Fox & Friends" in July with a few bars of freestyle rap.He rapped: "My name's Vivek, it rhymes with cake. It ain't about thee, it isn't about me, it is about the, the United States is about liberty, so 'Fox & Friends' join us on the trail, we'll have some fun, I'll see you out the trail."As Insider's Madison Hall put it, it didn't go well.He also said China can invade Taiwan if the US gets semiconductor independence.Paul Sancya/AP PhotoIn August, Ramaswamy said he would let China invade Taiwan so long as the US had enough semiconductors.Speaking to conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, Ramaswamy said that if he becomes president he would ensure that the US is no longer reliant on Taiwan for its supply of the electrical component.Taiwan dominates the manufacturing of semiconductors, which are crucial to making smartphones and electric cars, with the Asian country producing about 60% of the world's supply."And after that, our commitments to Taiwan, our commitments to be willing to go to military conflict, will change after that, because that's rationally in our self-interest," he said. Ramaswamy added: "I am not going to send our sons and daughters to die over that conflict. And that's consistent with my position on Ukraine as well."Ramaswamy was condemned for his comments on 9/11. He then falsely denied he had been misquoted.Scott Olson/Getty ImagesRamaswamy made comments in a profile published by The Atlantic in August about the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, that were widely condemned."I think it is legitimate to say how many police, how many federal agents, were on the planes that hit the Twin Towers," he said in the Atlantic profile.Ramaswamy added: "Maybe the answer is zero. It probably is zero for all I know, right? I have no reason to think it was anything other than zero."He went on: "But if we're doing a comprehensive assessment of what happened on 9/11, we have a 9/11 commission, absolutely that should be an answer the public knows the answer to."The comments were equated by The Washington Post to "9/11 trutherism" and an "intellectually polished version" of former President Donald Trump's conspiracy theories.Questioned about his controversial remarks on CNN, he insisted that he was misquoted. But an audio recording of the interview later disproved this assertion.At the GOP debate, he got booed for calling climate change a hoax.Win McNamee/Getty ImagesThough former President Donald Trump skipped the first 2024 Republican presidential primary debate, Ramaswamy was one of eight candidates who took part.Ramaswamy was vocal throughout, getting into a notably heated back-and-forth with former Vice President Mike Pence.But perhaps the most memorable moment for Ramaswamy was when he got booed. Asked if he believes humans are contributing to the climate crisis, he responded: "Climate change is a hoax."The crowd jeered at him.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytAug 24th, 2023

Doug Casey On How Economic Witch Doctors Convince Everyone They"re Neurosurgeons

Doug Casey On How Economic Witch Doctors Convince Everyone They're Neurosurgeons Authored by Doug Casey via InternationalMan.com, International Man: The average person doesn’t care about economics. But to the extent that he does, he only reads mainstream publications like The Economist and editorials in The New York Times. In these publications, the average person will find so-called economists advocating upside-down and destructive concepts like negative interest rates, banning cash, debt-fueled consumption, government spending, and rampant money printing as the cures to economic ailments. And if those methods don’t work—or inflict damage—the establishment economists’ response is to simply call for more money printing, more debt, and even lower interest rates. What’s your take on conventional economic thinking and methods? Doug Casey: Frankly, most “economists” today are only political apologists masquerading as economists. An economist is somebody that describes the way the world works—how people go about producing, consuming, buying, selling, and living their lives. That’s not, however, what most of today’s PhD economists do. Instead, they prescribe the way they would like the world to work and tailor theories to help politicians demonstrate the virtue and necessity of their quest for more power. As a result, legitimate economics barely exists today. What passes for economics has a very bad reputation, and it’s well deserved. Economics has become degraded. It’s not quite a laughingstock like gender studies, but it’s on a level with political science—which isn’t a science at all. Every individual has vastly differing likes and dislikes and wants and needs. But these so-called economists like to treat people as if they were standardized atoms. They think they can manipulate people as if they were chemicals and treat the economy as something they can heat up or cool down. And they’re the ones who decide what the masses need. Economics has become an excuse for central planning, and economists have become social engineers. Economics is taught in colleges as if it were a subdivision of mathematics. It’s not. It has only a limited amount to do with mathematics. Rather, it’s a division of philosophy. It’s a moral study that looks at how people relate to one another in the material world. Economics has been turned into the handmaiden of government in order to give a scientistic justification for things that the government—which naturally seeks more power for itself—wants to do. In fact, every person should be his own economist. That’s because you owe it to yourself to understand the way the world works and to understand human action, to use Mises’ phrase. International Man: Mainstream economists are obsessed with complicated models and charts as they try to maximize GDP. By contrast, free-market Austrian economics is not focused on how to centrally plan the economy but rather on human action in the face of scarcity. Austrians aren’t concerned with complicated models because they believe it is impossible to quantify the actions and preferences of billions of individuals. Which do you think is more useful and why? Doug Casey: Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations at about the time of the American Revolution and really founded the study of economics. But the most influential economist of all time is Karl Marx. His giant three-volume work called Das Kapital includes some interesting observations. But Marx’s views lent themselves to the creation of totalitarian societies, like the Soviet Union, East Germany, and many others. One of his most interesting observations is the breakdown of all goods into either “means of production” or “consumer goods,” which is quite accurate. The problem lies in who Marx thinks ought to own them. He thinks the ideal system is communism, where the collective owns both the means of production and consumer goods. The means of production are things like factories, farms, and mines: things that create new wealth. Consumer goods are things like houses, cars, or clothing. There has never been a real communist society. North Korea, or China during the Cultural Revolution, probably came the closest. Marx posited socialism as a way station to pure communism. Socialism is a system where the State owns the means of production, but private goods are still owned by individuals. It’s theoretically possible to have your own house or car in a socialist country. Although many countries call themselves socialist today, that’s a misnomer. The terms “communist,” “socialist,” “fascist,” and “capitalist” are almost always misused, undefined, or misdefined in today’s parlance. There really aren’t any socialist countries left in the world. Every country that tried socialism failed, and the means of production wound up being privatized. Why? Because everywhere—including Russia and China—people found that the State runs wealth into the ground. Socialism died because, to use a popular word, it was unsustainable. The public likes the ideal of socialism, however—mainly free stuff. That’s understandable. For instance, they’ve heard Scandinavia is a socialist utopia. In fact, it’s neither a utopia nor socialist—its industries are all privately owned. The confusion comes from the fact it’s a welfare state; that’s what people really want. Things look free but are at the cost of huge taxes. There are no real capitalist countries in the world. Capitalism is a system where economic matters are regulated by the market, not by government fiat. That statement deserves further explanation, but this isn’t the place. Let me just say that practically every country in the world today follows the fascist model that Benito Mussolini laid out—where although both the means of production and consumer goods are privately owned, everything is controlled by the State. As a system, it makes a lot more sense than either communism or socialism but not nearly as much as capitalism. Because it allows private ownership, it’s often confused and conflated with capitalism. International Man: You have previously called mainstream economists “modern-day soothsayers.” You’ve said they’re “witch doctors who have convinced everyone they’re neurosurgeons.” Can you elaborate? Doug Casey: What passes for economics today isn’t science; it’s more like a religion, where dogma is handed down from on high. Economists write abstruse papers that are used as reasons for the government to “step in” and “do more.” Economists have actually become something of a secular priesthood who interpret the doctrines of various prophets. The dominant prophet for the last century has been JM Keynes. Mixing religion with government is always dangerous. Masses of people usually have to be sacrificed to make somebody’s idea of magic happen. International Man: It seems establishment economists are nothing more than overpaid government apologists and social engineers. They use complex but irrelevant mathematical models to help politicians show their necessity to society. They help politicians grab more power, which only helps the government grow. It brings to mind Frédéric Bastiat, the great French free-market economist, who once said: “When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.” What’s your take? Doug Casey: An example of this is the Federal Reserve. It started out as not much more than a formalized clearinghouse for banks to help them process transactions and organize the papering over of temporary bouts of illiquidity. It didn’t look overly dangerous to start with, but it’s morphed into the most dangerous and powerful part of the US government. Tax revenue now only constitutes about half of what the US government spends. The rest is basically printed money facilitated by the Fed. In essence, US government bonds are sold to the Fed, which then deposits dollars in the US government’s accounts at commercial banks. The Fed is theoretically independent of the US government, but at this point, they’re joined together like Siamese twins. International Man: How can the average person navigate the situation to get an accurate understanding of what is truly happening in the economy? Doug Casey: You have to educate yourself. And by that, I don’t mean you should misallocate four years of time and a couple hundred thousand dollars attending a college to be indoctrinated. Take some individual responsibility. Educating yourself amounts to reading and then applying critical thinking to what you read. Which means asking questions and insisting on logical explanations. Where to start? In my opinion, the best-done single book that you can read about economics is Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson. It’s only about 150 pages, and it’s a gem. Everybody should read it. After that, it’s just a question of how interested you are and how deep you want to go. Anything by Murray Rothbard, Thomas Sowell, or Walter Block is on the list. They’re all sound, clear, and cogent writers. I think you’ll find stuff by Larry Summers, Paul Krugman, or Joseph Stiglitz unhelpful in understanding how the world works. They’re only celebrities. I find Ludwig von Mises too dense. It’s as if a German academic—which he was, of course—was writing for other academics. His thoughts are great, but the presentation is hard to absorb. Start with Mises Made Easier by Percy Greaves. *  *  * The months and years ahead will be politically, economically, and socially volatile. What you do to prepare could mean the difference between suffering crippling losses and coming out ahead. That’s precisely why, legendary investor and NY Times best-selling author Doug Casey just released this urgent report on how to survive and thrive. Click here to download the PDF now. Tyler Durden Fri, 08/18/2023 - 07:20.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytAug 18th, 2023

Stella McCartney Is Changing Fashion From Within

The designer is fighting to make luxury fashion at LVMH sustainable. Stella McCartney doesn’t want you to feel bad. The British fashion designer understands it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the ways the products we eat, buy, and wear come with unintended consequences—for society, for animals, for the planet. And so even if she’s talking about the harrowing conditions workers suffer in fast-fashion factories or the devastating climate impact of animal agriculture, she’s eager to emphasize that the goal isn’t guilt. It’s hard work to be the best you can be, after all, especially when what many of us want is seemingly impossible: to live more sustainably without giving up the luxuries and conveniences of modern life. We want to look good, feel good, and still somehow do good. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] And so McCartney, 51, is trying to make that a little easier. Creator of the first ever vegan “It bag”—the slouchy faux-leather Falabella tote with a sleek silver-chain trim—McCartney has spent her career trying to show the world that ethical choices don’t have to mean compromising on glamour. Since the launch of her namesake label in 2001, she has created luxury clothing that celebrates modern femininity—her brand is a closet staple for countless celebrities—while eschewing leather, feathers, and fur. She also made a name for herself as one of the cool girls of the noughties, out with Kate Moss, Madonna, and Gwyneth Paltrow. (A 2000 Vogue profile called her “a girl who loves to make a little trouble, get a rise, stir things up.”) Two decades on, she remains a fixture on the high-fashion circuit, making clothing that is known as much for its sharp tailoring, minimal lines, and bold aesthetics as it is for its eco credentials. She’s also a pioneer, collaborating with startups on the cruelty-free, sustainable materials—like grape-based leather, forest-friendly rayon and recycled cashmere—that made up 90% of her latest two collections. “All I’m trying to show is that you don’t need to sacrifice,” she says when we meet in her London office in July. “You’re not being penalized for your choices.” Read More: See Intimate Family Photos of the McCartney Family McCartney had a running start: she’s the daughter of two prominent animal-rights activists who wrote protest letters to companies involved in animal abuse, lobbied against fur, and published vegetarian cookbooks. They also happen to be music royalty: Beatles legend Paul McCartney and the American photographer Linda (who died in 1998), who built a home in the countryside but also took their kids on the road with their band, Wings. “One side was this farm life, and the other side was the stage, with glittery boots and glamour,” McCartney recalls. “It was an early inspiration.” She has since established herself as a British fashion icon in her own right, designing the uniforms for Team GB Olympic athletes and Meghan Markle’s wedding-reception dress. “It was impossible for fashion to think of luxury and sustainability in the same breath before Stella changed that,” Anna Wintour, chief content officer of Condé Nast and global editorial director at Vogue, writes over email.  McCartney’s work increasingly extends beyond her own label: in the past few years, she has met world leaders at the G-7 and the U.N. Climate Change Conference and co-founded the $200 million Collab SOS fund for climate solutions. As sustainability became a business imperative, her brand became more desirable. In 2018, she bought back the 50% stake that Kering had held for 17 years—only to team up the following year with Kering’s chief rival, LVMH (Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton). There, she was appointed special adviser on sustainability to CEO Bernard Arnault, one of the world’s richest men, who said in a statement that “a decisive factor was that she was the first to put sustainability and ethical issues on the front stage, very early on.”  The minority stake provides both the freedom and the cash to continue innovations that might not turn a profit. Her namesake brand reported a loss of more than $40 million in 2021, the third consecutive year of a loss of more than $38 million, following the split from Kering and the business challenges of the pandemic. Now, as McCartney brings more eco-friendly materials into her own collections, she also collaborates with LVMH—Europe’s largest company by market value—to encourage its other maisons (among them Loewe, Dior, and Givenchy) to do the same.  Read More: Why the Staff of Europe’s Most Valuable Company Is Getting ‘Climate Training’ In an era when many make claims to sustainability, few have been doing it as well, as stylishly—or as long—as McCartney. “When I first started, I was definitely the eco weirdo in the room,” she says. “But why would I compromise what I believe in morally to go into an industry I’m passionate about?” Raised vegetarian, McCartney traces her connection with nature to her childhood, which she spent riding horses on a remote Scottish farm and hiking trails in Arizona. Her parents may have been icons, but Linda, who had rejected her Park Avenue life to tour with rock stars, and Paul, the working-class Liverpudlian who became a household name in his 20s, wanted to keep their family grounded. They chose to send their four children to local schools, opting against the private education favored by wealthy Brits. “They had to take a bit of flak for having a famous dad, but it toughened them up,” Sir Paul McCartney recalls, sitting in his office overlooking London’s Soho Square. A Wurlitzer jukebox glows in one corner, and he points out a pair of spectacles that once belonged to René Magritte, a present from Linda. “Now I’m just showing off,” the 81-year-old says, laughing. He and Linda always had “slightly offbeat tastes in fashion,” he adds, and from a young age, Stella would spend hours pulling together outfits from their shared closet. In 1997, just two years after graduating from Central St. Martins, the renowned art and design school in London, 25-year-old McCartney was appointed to succeed Karl Lagerfeld as creative director of Chloé in Paris. “More Clueless Than Couture,” a Vogue headline read at the time. “I think they should have taken a big name,” Lagerfeld sniped of his successor. “They did—but in music, not fashion.” “She had to prove herself,” her father says. “I said, if she doesn’t do well at the end of that year, then the name is not something to help, it’s a cudgel to beat her with. But she did well.” At Chloé, where McCartney worked with her former classmate Phoebe Philo, the pair injected a raunchy sensibility into a French house known for soft femininity, designing low-slung skintight pants, see-through gold-chain tank tops, and skimpy sequin dresses. McCartney also stuck to her values; no collection she’s ever designed has used animal products. She acknowledges that her ability to uphold her convictions comes partly from being the daughter of one of the most successful men on the planet. “As one of the first nepo babies,” she says wryly, “I had the privilege of choice. I’m very aware of how lucky I’ve been to be accepted to work in this way since day one.” Aja Barber, a stylist and author of Consumed: The Need for Collective Change: Colonialism, Climate Change, and Consumerism, commends how McCartney has used her platform to drive change. “The fashion industry runs on privilege and nepotism,” she says. “So why isn’t everyone making the same choices that Stella McCartney is making?” Read More: Stella McCartney Makes the Case that Animals Should Be Friends, Not Fashion Those choices are not always an easy sell to CEOs. “I’ve had moments where I’ve been challenged very heavily to change my morals for the success of the company,” McCartney says, recounting instances when she was urged to incorporate leather into her line for better margins. (She has appealed to leaders to review policies that may favor leather goods over synthetic ones.) But if fashion is meant to be about dreams and fantasy and escaping from reality, as McCartney says, that makes it hard to force a broader reckoning with its harms. The industry was responsible for more than 2 billion metric tons of greenhouse-gas emissions in 2018—equivalent to the output of the U.K., France, and Germany combined—according to McKinsey. Around 60% of all clothing winds up in landfills or incinerators within a year of production—the equivalent of a truckload of used clothing being dumped or burned every second. While cheap, accessible fast fashion drives much of the environmental degradation, luxury brands aren’t exempt: in 2017, Burberry notoriously destroyed $37 million worth of merchandise to maintain its reputation of exclusivity. (It has since stopped the practice.) Every year, the global leather industry—on which luxury fashion houses depend—is involved in slaughtering more than a billion animals, while tannery workers are exposed to toxic chemicals. “That is the glamorous industry of fashion,” McCartney says. Read More: Depop Made Sustainable Shopping Cool for Gen Z. What Happens When Parents Crash the Party? While concerns over animal cruelty were always front of mind, McCartney’s focus expanded after the publication of a 2006 U.N. report that stated that livestock production is responsible for more emissions than the entire global transport sector. In response, she launched the Meat-Free Monday campaign in the U.K. with her father and her sister Mary, encouraging the public to adopt a weekly meat-free day, and examining how to make her own lines more sustainable. Paul says Stella’s strategy of offering people better, ethical alternatives—rather than guilt-tripping them—was inspired by her mother, who launched a successful vegetarian-food business. “Linda was a pioneer and she was very strong, very ballsy, like Stella is,” he says. “It’s difficult. But she’s showing it’s not that difficult.” In the bright white lobby of the Stella McCartney offices in West London, scenes from her widely praised show at Paris Fashion Week in March play on loop. Dappled gray horses canter alongside models wearing her Winter 2023 collection: furry overcoats, checked blazers, sharply tailored jackets, silky asymmetric dresses. The models sport thigh-high boots and carry handbags that, though you could never tell, are made from grapes, apples, or other plant-based materials. Vegan fashion may not harm animals, but it can still harm the planet. Most vegan leathers are made from polyurethane (PU) or polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which can release microplastics into the environment. McCartney’s team hopes to minimize such effects by working closely with startups to find greener alternatives that can match the quality and durability of leather. It’s an incredibly complex, costly, and lengthy process: McCartney’s team starts by testing swatches of each new material, examining its feel, scent, resistance to scratching or tearing; they then make a prototype handbag to test its color retention and strength. Feedback is relayed to the scientists to refine the material over months and years. A major part of the work, McCartney says, is communicating their needs to scientists unfamiliar with the fashion industry. “I know the product needs to be tested in this way, to drape, to breathe,” she says, “to say ‘That color doesn’t work’ or ‘That fabric cracks.’” When the Stella McCartney team first met with NFW, the company that makes Mirum—a plant-based, plastic-free, and circular leather alternative—in March 2022, the material was too thick for anything other than firm, structured bags. But through working with them, a thinner, more flexible option is now available. These collaborations often involve startups in early stages of development, and scaling for wider uptake will likely take years. And even after all that, achieving 100% sustainability is challenging; with the exception of Mirum, bio-based leathers require a PU coating to prevent scratching. Working with small startups can also be unpredictable. In 2022, Stella McCartney produced the world’s first-ever Mylo luxury handbag made from mycelium, the rootlike system of fungi, but Mylo recently halted production because it wasn’t able to fundraise enough. Other materials can be impractical: her collaboration with startup Radiant Matter on biodegradable sequins led to Cara Delevingne wearing a Stella McCartney–designed BioSequin jumpsuit on Vogue’s April 2023 cover—but each fragile sequin had to be hand-stitched. And other non-PVC sequins lack the color range of traditional ones. “I get driven and angry,” McCartney says of the limitations she faces compared with her peers. “But these are the kinds of things that make me want to get up in the morning.” Read More: You Might Want to Think Twice About Clothing Brands That Push Rental, Resale, and Recycling The results, she feels, are worth it. Her Winter 2023 collection includes a version of the brand’s iconic Falabella made from Mirum, as well as over-the-knee boots made of Vegea, derived from wine-grape waste, and faux-crocodile handbags made from AppleSkin, a by-product of juice and jam production. There’s a particular thrill McCartney feels when customers have no idea that they’re buying shoes made from grapes, or a blouse made of regenerative cotton. “We can win if there’s no sacrifice on a dream,” she says, “on desirability, on luxury, on escapism.” Despite her success, McCartney still has her detractors. She tells me several times that she is not perfect and that her brand isn’t either. Though she has a focus on reusing stock and waste material, she’s still in the business of making new products—though it’s unlikely an $1,100 Mirum handbag would be thrown out quickly. “My solutions aren’t there price-point wise,” McCartney says, noting that she encourages her four children to buy second-hand clothing at charity shops over fast fashion. She also has a sportswear collaboration with Adidas. “I’m a firm believer in less is more. Buying luxury—something made well, that is a timeless design—is an investment, and now there are businesses that support resale and rental.” (Stella McCartney was the first official brand partner of luxury consignment site The RealReal.) [video] There’s also the question of how feasible it is for McCartney to really make change within LVMH. CEO Arnault may have praised McCartney’s values, but just a few months after their deal, he publicly criticized climate activist Greta Thunberg for “surrendering completely to catastrophism.” Ever since her early days at Kering, McCartney has been accused of getting into bed with the fur-wearing, leather-toting enemy—something she describes as “infiltrating from within.” She has a history of success: in 2010, she banned the use of the notoriously toxic PVC at her label, a move later adopted by all Kering brands, from Saint Laurent to Balenciaga. Industry norms may be stubborn, but McCartney says the work at LVMH has been exciting and rewarding. “If I can have a seat at that table—where the decisions are still made—I want to be there. I’m pleased to say it’s not just bullsh-t.” The partnership with LVMH, she says, is already yielding results. McCartney’s Summer 2023 collection includes a T-shirt made from 100% regenerative cotton, a first in luxury, emblazoned with a blue “Snog a Log” graphic—a classic example of what Wintour calls McCartney’s “wonderfully tongue-in-cheek sense of humor.” Since 2019, the brand has been working with Soktas, a family-owned cotton producer in Turkey, to help it transition away from conventional cotton farming, which uses harmful chemicals to control pests and boost production. The regenerative-cotton project started with 5 hectares and grew to 55 in 2022, her team says; LVMH has now taken over the Soktas funding, which will further expand the project. Read More: What Happened When I Realized My Cheap Clothes Were a Global Problem That helps keep McCartney going. But behind it all is a drive to connect with consumers through her clothes. She considers fashion a service industry. When she’s working on a collection, she’s thinking about how a Stella McCartney-designed piece should make you feel: confident, comfortable, alive, effortless, sensual. “I want to feel the best version of myself,” she says, her eyes lit up. “I want to feel f-cking fabulous.” —With reporting by Leslie Dickstein/New York and Armani Syed/London.....»»

Category: topSource: timeAug 9th, 2023

AI is about to turn the internet into a total nightmare

From way more spam to sneakier scams, AI is going to make even the most basic online tasks more annoying — and unreliable. AI bots and AI-generated content are flooding the internet with spam, scams, and misinformation. And it's making it a nightmare to be online.Arantza Pena Popo/InsiderWhen logging on to HBO Max at the end of May, people noticed something strange.  Usually when someone logs into the site, HBO asks them to verify that they are human by solving a captcha — you know, the little "I am not a robot" checkbox or the "select all squares with stoplights" image grids that prove to the website that you are, in fact, a human. But this time, when users logged on they were asked to solve a complex series of puzzles instead. The bizarre tasks ranged from adding up the dots on images of dice to listening to short audio clips and selecting the clip that contained a repeating sound pattern. These odd new tasks, ostensibly to prove users were human, haven't been limited to HBO: Across platforms, users have been stumped by increasingly impossible puzzles like identifying objects — such as a horse made out of clouds — that do not exist. The reason behind these new hoops? Improved AI. Since tech companies have trained their bots on the older captchas, these programs are now so capable that they can easily beat typical challenges. As a result, we humans have to put more effort into proving our humanness just to get online. But head-scratching captchas are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how AI is rewriting the mechanics of the internet.Since the arrival of ChatGPT last year, tech companies have raced to incorporate the AI tech behind it. In many cases, companies have uprooted their long-standing core products to do so. The ease of producing seemingly authoritative text and visuals with a click of a button threatens to erode the internet's fragile institutions and make navigating the web a morass of confusion. As AI fever has taken hold of the web, researchers have unearthed how it can be weaponized to aggravate some of the internet's most pressing concerns — like misinformation and privacy — while also making the simple day-to-day experience of being online — from deleting spam to just logging into sites — more annoying than it already is."Not to say that our inability to rein AI in will lead to the collapse of society," Christian Selig, the creator of Apollo, a popular Reddit app, told me, "but I think it certainly has the potential to profoundly affect the internet."And so far, AI is making the internet a nightmare.Internet disruptionFor close to 20 years, Reddit has been the internet's unofficial front page, and that longevity is due in large part to the volunteers who moderate its various communities. By one estimate, Reddit moderators do $3.4 million worth of annual unpaid work. To do this, they rely on tools like Apollo, a near-decade-old app that offers advanced moderation tools. But in June, users were greeted with an unusual message: Apollo was shutting down. In the company's attempt to get in on the AI gold rush, third-party apps faced the chopping block. Apollo and other interfaces like it rely on access to Reddit's application programming interface, or API, a piece of software that helps apps exchange data. In the past, Reddit allowed anyone to scrape its data for free — the more tools Reddit allowed, the more users it attracted, which helped the app grow. But now, AI companies have begun to use Reddit and its vast reserve of online human interaction to train their models. In an attempt to cash in on this sudden interest, Reddit announced new, expensive pricing for access to its data. Apollo and other apps became collateral damage, sparking a month of protests and unrest from the Reddit community. The company refused to budge, even though that meant alienating the communities of people who make up its soul. A report from Europol expects a mind-blowing 90% of internet content to be AI-generated in a few years.As data-scraping cash cows undermine the quality of once-reliable sites, a glut of questionable AI-generated content is spilling out over the pages of the web. Martijn Pieters, a Cambridge-based software engineer, recently witnessed the decline of Stack Overflow, the internet's go-to website for technical questions and answers. He'd been contributing to and moderating on the platform for over a decade when it took a sudden nosedive in June. The company behind the site, Prosus, decided to allow AI-generated answers and began charging AI firms for access to its data. In response, top moderators went on strike, arguing that the low-quality AI-generated content went against the very purpose of the site: "To be a repository of high-quality question and answer content." NewsGuard, a firm that tracks misinformation and rates the credibility of information websites, has found close to 350 online news outlets that are almost entirely generated by AI with little to no human oversight. Sites such as Biz Breaking News and Market News Reports churn out generic articles spanning a range of subjects, including politics, tech, economics, and travel. Many of these articles are rife with unverified claims, conspiracy theories, and hoaxes. When NewsGuard tested the AI model behind ChatGPT to gauge its tendency to spread false narratives, it failed 100 out of 100 times. AI frequently hallucinates answers to questions, and unless the AI models are fine-tuned and protected with guardrails, Gordon Crovitz, NewsGuard's co-CEO told me, "they will be the greatest source of persuasive misinformation at scale in the history of the internet." A report from Europol, the European Union's law-enforcement agency, expects a mind-blowing 90% of internet content to be AI-generated in a few years. Though these AI-generated news websites don't have a significant audience yet, their rapid rise is a precursor to how easily AI-generated content will distort information on social media. In his research, Filippo Menczer, a computer science professor and director of Indiana University's Observatory on Social Media, has already found networks of bots that are posting large volumes of ChatGPT-generated content to social-media sites like X (formerly Twitter) and Facebook. And while AI bots have telltale signs now, experts indicate that they will soon get better at mimicking humans and evading the detection systems developed by Menczer and social networks. While user-run sites like Reddit and social-media platforms are always fighting back against bad actors, people are also losing a crucial place they turn to to verify information: search engines. Microsoft and Google will soon bury traditional search-result links in favor of summaries stitched together by bots that are ill-equipped to distinguish fact from fiction. When we search a query on Google, we not only learn the answer, but also how it fits in the broader context of what's on the internet. We filter those results and then choose the sources we trust. A chatbot-powered search engine cuts off these experiences, strips context like website addresses, and can "parrot" a plagiarized answer, which NewsGuard's Crovitz told me sounds "authoritative, well-written," but is "entirely false." Synthetic content has also swamped e-commerce platforms like Amazon and Etsy. Two weeks before a technical textbook from Christopher Cowell, a curriculum engineer from Portland, Oregon, was set to be published, he discovered a newly listed book with the same title on Amazon. Cowell soon realized it was AI-generated and the publisher behind it likely picked up the title from Amazon's prerelease list and fed it into software like ChatGPT. Similarly, on Etsy, a platform known for its hand-crafted, artisanal catalog, AI-generated art, mugs, and books are now commonplace. In other words, it's going to quickly become very difficult to distinguish what's real from what's not online. While misinformation has long been a problem with the internet, AI is going to blow our old problems out of the water.A scamming bonanzaIn the short term, AI's rise will introduce a host of tangible security and privacy challenges. Online scams, which have been growing since November, will be harder to detect because AI will make them easier to tailor to each target. Research conducted by John Licato, a computer science professor at the University of South Florida, has found that it's possible to accurately engineer scams down to an individual's preferences and behavioral tendencies given very little information about a person from public websites and social-media profiles. One of the key telltale signs of high-risk phishing scams — a kind of attack where the intruder masquerades as a trusted entity like your bank to steal sensitive information — is that the text often contains typos or the graphics aren't as refined and clear as they should be. But these signs won't exist in an AI-powered fraud network, with hackers turning free text-to-image and text generators like ChatGPT into powerful spam engines. Generative AI could potentially be used to plaster your profile picture in a brand's personalized email campaign or produce a video message from a politician with an artificially reworked voice, speaking exclusively on the topics you care about.The internet will increasingly feel like it's engineered for the machines and by the machines.And this is already happening: Data from a cybersecurity firm, Darktrace detected a 135% increase in malicious cyber campaigns since the start of 2023, and revealed criminals are increasingly turning to bots to write phishing emails to send error-free, longer messages that are less likely to be caught by spam filters.And soon hackers may not have to go through too much trouble to obtain your sensitive information. Right now, hackers often resort to a maze of indirect methods to spy on you, including hidden trackers inside websites and buying large datasets of compromised information off of the dark web. But security researchers have discovered that the AI bots in your apps and devices might steal sensitive information for the hackers. Since AI models from OpenAI and Google actively crawl the web, hackers can hide malicious codes — a set of instructions for the bot — inside websites and make the bots execute it with no human intervention. Say you're on Microsoft Edge, a browser that comes built-in with the Bing AI chatbot. Because the chatbot is constantly reading the pages you look at, it could pick up malicious code concealed in a website you visit. The code could ask Bing AI to pretend to be a Microsoft employee, prompt you with a new offer to use Microsoft Office for free, and ask for your credit-card details. That's how one security expert managed to trick Bing AI. Florian Tramèr, an assistant professor of computer science at ETH Zürich, finds these "prompt injection" attacks concerning, especially considering AI smart assistants are making their way into all sorts of apps such as email inboxes, browsers, office software, and more, and therefore, can easily access data. "Something like a smart AI assistant that manages your email, calendar, purchases, etc., is just not viable at the moment because of these risks," said Tramèr.'Dead internet' As AI continues to wreak havoc on community-led initiatives like Wikipedia and Reddit, the internet will increasingly feel like it's engineered for the machines and by the machines. That could break the web we're used to now, Toby Walsh, an artificial intelligence professor at the University of New South Wales, told me. It will also make things difficult for the AI makers as well. As AI-generated content drowns out human work, tech companies like Microsoft and Google will have less original data to improve their models. "AI today works because it is trained on the sweat and ingenuity of humans," Walsh said. "If the second-gen generative AI is trained on the exhaust of the first generation, the quality will drop drastically." Earlier this year in May, a University of Oxford study found that training AI on data generated by other AI systems causes it to degrade and ultimately collapse. And as it does, so will the quality of information found online.Licato, the University of South Florida professor, likens the current state of the web experience to the "dead internet" theory. As the internet's most-visited sites like Reddit become flooded with bot-written articles and comments, companies will deploy additional counter-bots to read and filter automated content. Eventually, the theory goes, most of the content creation and consumption on the internet will no longer be done by humans. "It's a weird thing to imagine, but it seems increasingly likely with how things are going," said Licato.I can't help but agree. Over the past few months, the places I used to frequent online are either overrun with AI-generated content and faces or are so occupied with keeping up with their rivals' AI updates that they've crippled their core services. If it goes on, the internet will never be the same again.Shubham Agarwal is a freelance technology journalist from Ahmedabad, India whose work has appeared in Wired, The Verge, Fast Company, and more.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderAug 8th, 2023

Austin is copying Houston"s playbook for making housing more affordable

"If we don't turn this ship around, the very thing that is driving the exodus from California I think will beset Texas," one housing advocate said. General view of atmosphere during the Austin FOOD & WINE Festival at Auditorium Shores on November 05, 2022 in Austin, Texas.Rick Kern/Getty Images Demand for housing in Austin, Texas has outstripped even its relatively rapid housing production.  But the city council recently passed a resolution that would allow more dense housing construction.  Pro-housing advocates say it's a big step in the right direction and could be part of a larger shift in Texas. Austin is suffering from a rapidly worsening housing crisis, but a recent move by the city's government to push for denser building could finally bring relief from skyrocketing costs.Demand for housing in Austin has surged over the last decade, fueled in large part by the movement of major tech companies, including Apple, Amazon, and Tesla, into the city. Median home prices in Austin more than doubled between 2011 and 2021 and the city is now among the least affordable in the country. The capital city has built a significant amount of new housing in recent years, but its restrictive land use laws have prevented it from building enough, said Jenny Schuetz, an expert on urban economics and housing policy at the Brookings Institute."They've also had just huge amounts of in-migration in the last couple of years, and so the population growth has overwhelmed the supply response," Schuetz told Insider. But the city government is making a new push for building even more housing. The Austin city council last month approved a resolution that cuts the minimum lot size for a single-family home from 5,750 square feet to 2,500 square feet and allows at least three homes on a single lot. Austin's upzoning measures are designed to incentivize "gentle density" — also known as infill housing or missing-middle housing. They would allow townhomes, duplexes, and triplexes to be built on single-family lots, offering denser, more diverse housing options. Reducing minimum lot sizes has worked elsewhere in Texas to boost housing construction. Houston has significantly increased its housing supply since cutting its minimum home lot size from 5,000 to 1,400 square feet in 1998. The policy change has allowed almost 80,000 new homes to be built on these smaller lots."The Austin resolution draws important lessons from the Houston case that small lot single-family is something that's proven to work well for homebuyers and home builders," Emily Hamilton, a housing researcher at the  Mercatus Center at George Mason University, told Insider."You can feel the changing tides here," Nicole Nabulsi Nosek, board chair of Texans for Reasonable Solutions, told Insider. "People have come around to the fact that they're either leaving or they know that their own kids aren't going to be able to buy a home if things don't change. And even if you don't care about housing policy, you are feeling this in a very intimate way."Austin's pro-housing lawmakers have had a few other recent wins, including ending the city's mandates requiring a certain amount of parking spots be built with every new home, and cut back on some limits on taller buildings being constructed next to single-family homes."It would have been great if this had happened many years ago, but it's definitely better late than never," Greg Anderson, director of community affairs at Austin Habitat for Humanity, told Insider."This is definitely going to move the needle and allow for a lot more folks to live in high-opportunity areas." Still, the work's not over yet. Austin's city manager has to review the resolution's details, including building heights and how much green space there needs to be surrounding homes. And there's always the threat of lawsuits. Last year, an appeals court sided with a group of homeowners that sued the city, arguing that it didn't properly notify landowners about code changes that would have allowed more housing. Aerial view of neighborhood outside of Austin Texas.Joe Sohm/Getty Images'Spreading like wildfire'State lawmakers are also starting to consider similar moves, but there's a rocky road ahead. In May, the Texas state senate passed bipartisan legislation to limit minimum lot sizes to 1,400 square feet. It later died in the state House, but advocates are hopeful it will pass in a future session. "There's an awakening of importance to the issue of housing at the Capitol," Anderson said. "Step one is to realize that there's a problem. Step two is to start looking for solutions. And that conversation is growing pretty fast." At the same time, both Democrats and Republicans squashed other pro-housing legislation, including a bill that would have loosened restrictions on the construction of accessory dwelling units, which are secondary units on the lot of a primary home.Still, Nosek argued that the bipartisan push behind the pro-housing efforts is a promising sign. She says state lawmakers are increasingly seeing the housing crisis as a threat to Texas' economy and ability to continue attracting new businesses and residents, many of whom were drawn to Texas by its affordability. "There's a very tangible economic cost — that I think that the legislature is understanding — by not adjusting their land use laws," Nosek said. "If we don't turn this ship around, the very thing that is driving the exodus from California I think will beset Texas." Most recently, Dallas city Council member Chad West is leading the charge to consider cutting minimum lot sizes in his city. "It feels like good policy is catching on — it's spreading like wildfire here in Texas," Nosek said. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytAug 6th, 2023

The Jokes Write Themselves

The Jokes Write Themselves By Benjamin Picton of Rabobank It’s important to maintain a sense of humor in the markets. Here at Rabobank we occasionally get accused of being perma-bears but I think that’s a little unfair because, like any team, we have a diversity of views and some of us are actually quite upbeat! Nevertheless, we have been fairly negative on the global outlook for a while. I prefer to think of this as cheerful pessimism, which Charlie Munger assures us is the best way to be, and he ought to know. Indeed, there is much cause for mirth because funny things happen in the markets all the time. A case in point is the news over the weekend that the Bank of England will be leaning on the expertise of Ben “sub-prime is contained” Bernanke to lead a review into the Bank’s forecasting performance. We’re not suggesting that a bit of navel-gazing wouldn’t be justified for the Bank given its recent forecasting performance, but if you’re going to take advice on a subject wouldn’t it make sense to ask somebody with more of a track record of success? Another famous Bernanke clanger was his assurances to Congress that the United States would not enter recession in 2008. I don’t want to jinx it, but that sounds eerily similar to the prognostications of another former Fed Chair, Janet Yellen, who has also been telling us pretty much the same thing recently. Yellen isn’t alone in her view. Following the decision to increase the Fed Funds rate last week Jerome Powell told us that Fed staff no longer expect a recession in 2023. That probably invalidates my working theory that Yellen’s no recession call might just have been the magic mushrooms talking, but it still might be worth checking what was on the menu at the Bank of England when the Bernanke decision was made. Regular readers will know that our resident Fed expert, Philip Marey, has been cheerfully pessimistic for quite some time about the prospects for US growth later in the year. That is still the case, but the dataflow recently has been pretty good. Second quarter GDP last week beat the consensus forecast by miles, the core PCE deflator showed moderation, durable goods orders were strong and new jobless claims continue to outperform. Talk of a soft landing, or even “no landing” is creeping back into markets, but risks are legion! Commercial real estate jitters, deep losses on bank ‘hold to maturity’ portfolios, sky-high PE ratios and oodles of debt are all known-knowns (that we are ignoring for the time being), but what about the unknowns? For this, I turn to my colleague Michael Every: Saudi Arabia is to hold a peace summit over Ukraine, without Russia(!), and is potentially interested in a peace deal with Israel, with strings attached for the far-right Israeli government and the White House, which would have to offer a mutual defence treaty, against Iran, and backing for a Saudi civilian nuclear program - those who know the Middle East can see the upsides *and* the downsides of that potential dynamic. But ‘Peace now’, then, to match the ‘rate cuts soon’ vibe? Hardly! Consider: Kyiv may (or may not) have been behind new drone attacks on Moscow; Ukraine’s counter-offensive may finally be working; Russia’s Medvedev has stated Ukrainian success would require a Russian nuclear response; and, as the Financial Times (and others) warn, ‘Putin is looking for a bigger war, not an off-ramp, in Ukraine’, the Polish PM and senate suggest the Wagner group may soon stage a provocation at the Suwalki gap between Belarus and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad to test NATO unity. In short, far fatter tail risks than another 25bp hike from the Fed or ECB remain present. Even assuming we don’t get a bigger war, NATO defence spending needs to surge to keep pace with rising global threats just as some economists are talking about fiscal prudence again. Japan, which just tightened monetary policy, will see its military spending leap from $122.5bn to $310bn over the next five years. Meanwhile, the New York Times warns Chinese hackers placed malware in key US infrastructure, which logically may need to be replaced, alongside ongoing onshoring. In short, markets may like doves but there is no guarantee of either ‘peace now’ or ‘rate cuts soon’. It's hard not to see some black humor in staging peace talks that don’t include the main belligerent. Signs of further Russian aggression are particularly concerning given the position of relative weakness that Europe is starting from. The German manufacturing PMI released last week looks absolutely diabolical, as do the preliminary growth figures for the second quarter. The situation is sufficiently serious for Economy Minister Habeck to caution last week that the economy faces five difficult years of green industrial transition. Greeks and Italians who have been subject to more than a little finger-wagging from Berlin over the years may be enjoying the Schadenfreude for the time being, but a weak Germany in a time of geopolitical tensions is not in the broader interests of the EU. That is no laughing matter. Tyler Durden Mon, 07/31/2023 - 18:20.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJul 31st, 2023

Officials found suspected Chinese malware hidden in various US military systems. Its intended use is disruption rather than surveillance, a "disturbing" change in intent, experts say.

"China is steadfast and determined to penetrate our governments, our companies, our critical infrastructure," the deputy director of the National Security Agency, George Barnes, said. US Air Force airmen adjust propeller weight during pre-flight checks on an MQ-9 at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam in May 2022.US Air Force/Airman 1st class Christa AndersonSuspected Chinese malware has been identified in several US military systems. Unlike other surveillance malware from China, this malware seems intended to disrupt operations.The malware could also have the ability to disrupt normal civilian life and businesses.US officials found suspected Chinese malware across several military systems — and unlike previous attacks, experts say the intent is more likely to disrupt rather than to surveil, The New York Times reports.The attacks first came into the public eye in May after Microsoft identified malicious code in telecommunications software in Guam, where the US houses the Andersen Air Force Base.US officials told the Times that investigations into Chinese malware had been underway for several months and that the malicious code had infiltrated US military systems across the country and abroad. Previous cyberattacks typically aimed to surveil US operations, experts told the Times."China is steadfast and determined to penetrate our governments, our companies, our critical infrastructure," the deputy director of the National Security Agency, George Barnes, said at the Intelligence and National Security Summit earlier this month.Now, experts say this new wave of malicious code has the ability to disrupt US military and civilian operations.Last month, Rob Joyce, the director of cybersecurity at the NSA, called the nature of this malware "really disturbing." The Times reported that it could allow China to cut off power, water, and communications to military bases, and it could also affect personal homes and businesses across the country.The experts who spoke with the Times also said it was not clear whether the Chinese government knew about the malware or how well the software would actually work.US Secretary of State Antony Blinken raised the issue of Chinese hacking while meeting with Chinese diplomats earlier in July, CNN reported."We have consistently made clear that any action that targets US government, US companies, American citizens, is a deep concern to us and that we will take appropriate action to hold those responsible accountable and the secretary made that clear again," a senior State Department official told CNN.In response to questions posed by the Times to the White House about the issue, the National Security Council's spokesman, Adam Hodge, said: "The Biden administration is working relentlessly to defend the United States from any disruptions to our critical infrastructure, including by coordinating interagency efforts to protect water systems, pipelines, rail and aviation systems, among others."The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.Have a news tip? Contact this reporter at scahill@insider.com. backslashRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytJul 31st, 2023

White House Changes Course On MTG

White House Changes Course On MTG Authored by Philip Wegmann via RealClear Wire, Maybe President Biden and his aides didn’t want to elevate an opponent, or maybe they were saving their criticism for later, but either way, the White House has found a pitch-perfect foil in Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. Biden wants the country to hear what the Georgia Republican has to say. The Biden campaign posted a clip of Greene Tuesday from a recent conservative conference where the congresswoman blasted the president for his infrastructure and environmental spending, arguing that he “is actually finishing what FDR started, that LBJ expanded on.” Greene replied by posting a video of her more complete remarks, which included the exact quotes that Biden enjoyed but also less flattering condemnation about the state of the country. The zealous conservative, whose office did not respond to repeated requests for comment, tweeted, “Be honest Joe.” For a president who began his time in office by huddling with New Deal historians, her condemnation was his highest exultation. Biden once told historian Doris Kearns Goodwin in the East Room, “I’m no FDR” before trailing off midsentence. The ambition, now explicitly confirmed, is that he’d like to be. He spends like an old-school, big-government Democrat but holds new progressive priorities, a temperament perhaps best demonstrated by the Inflation Reduction Act, a $1.9 trillion bill Biden signed into law last summer chock-full of green energy tax credits. Historians may quibble that Biden’s massive spending spree is hardly on par with transformative change on the scale of Franklin Roosevelt’s Social Security Act of 1935 or Lyndon B. Johnson’s Civil Rights Act of 1964. That kind of debate is for the classroom, though. As a political question, Greene, better known as MTG, handed Biden exactly what he wanted: a comparison with beloved heroes. Not long ago, he and his advisers believed that even responding to comments made by the Georgia firebrand was beneath the office of the presidency. When asked if the administration had a response to Rep. Greene in January of 2021, newly minted White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki deferred. “We don’t,” Psaki said. “And I’m not going to speak further about her, I think, in this briefing room.” A senior Biden adviser told RealClearPolitics the president didn’t want to inadvertently boost a critic’s profile when offering a rebuttal. Two years later, though, Psaki has left the White House to join MSNBC as a pundit, and the administration now loves to publicly excoriate MTG. The adviser told RCP that they aren’t boosting Greene so much as they are addressing an emerging voice in the GOP. Biden’s team takes her influence on the political right seriously, though. After Speaker Kevin McCarthy rewarded her for her loyalty with choice committee assignments, sources say Biden felt he had no choice but to begin responding more frequently, particularly when they could portray her as offering tacit approval for political violence. When Greene said last December that if she led the January 6, 2021 riots at the U.S. Capitol, “We would have won” and “It would’ve been armed,” the White House condemned her remarks as “dangerous” and “abhorrent.” MTG insisted she had been joking, saying Biden needed “to learn how sarcasm works.” Other times, Democrats merely see an opportunity they can’t resist. Biden plans to make the most of Greene’s LBJ and FDR comparison by traveling to Georgia to tout the agenda she rejects. His administration, meanwhile, sees in MTG a wedge to goad more centrist Republicans to their side. “President Biden knows what his values are: he will never apologize for delivering life-changing economic opportunity to rural areas, and he will never apologize for strengthening our military and supporting military families,” said Deputy White House Press Secretary Andrew Bates. “Unfortunately, mainstream Republicans in Congress haven’t yet found the guts to stand up to either member in a real way, even as Marjorie Taylor Greene tries to kill high-paying Bidenomics jobs coming to her district,” he added, before calling on Republicans to “find their voice: are they with the President and military families and rural economic growth, or will they keep caving to the most radical elements of their party?” Greene, a favorite of the conservative base, has forged strong alliances within Republican leadership, particularly in the speaker’s office. McCarthy reportedly gushed to a friend that the two had become close, promising, “I’ll never leave that woman.” In the time since, MTG has gone from outspoken gadfly to the GOP’s one-woman trial balloon, leading the still-nascent charge to impeach Biden and regularly railing that the president’s son, Hunter Biden, should be drug tested. “Should we be displaying this in committee?” Democratic Rep. Democrat Jamie Raskin protested on Wednesday in the House Oversight Committee when Greene held up several graphic photos of the president’s son taken from his infamous laptop. They showed Hunter Biden “making pornography,” she said, with prostitutes, and how he had flouted the law without consequence. Stunts to prove a point are not out of the ordinary for Greene. At the State of the Union, it was MTG who interrupted Biden by shouting “liar.” And while some of her colleagues are more muted about their opponents across the aisle, Greene often slams Democrats as “communists.” Occasionally, she wins headlines without comment, like when she tied a white balloon to her wrist before Biden’s speech to draw attention to the Chinese spy balloon that drifted across the continent a week earlier.  Those kinds of barbs have gotten the president’s attention. The White House has moved on from rolling their eyes at MTG’s attacks to keeping her quotes on file. In the last five months, as NBC News recently noted, Biden has gone out of his way to reference Greene by name or simply as the “gentlelady from Greene.” At a dinner hosted by the White House Correspondents Association earlier this summer, he went a step further.  “I want everybody to have fun tonight, but please be safe. If you find yourself disoriented or confused,” he joked, “it’s either you’re drunk – or Marjorie Taylor Greene.” If the White House was hesitant before, Biden World now sees in Greene a target of opportunity, especially as the election looms and as the president touts his economic agenda across the country. “We knew her feelings about Medicare and Social Security since the Republican Study Committee she belongs to just proposed even more cuts to earned benefits,” a senior Biden adviser explained. “Attacking us for trying to end ‘rural poverty’ was more of a surprise.” “Then again, she has been trying to deprive her constituents of the high-paying Bidenomics jobs that just arrived,” the adviser continued. “So, I guess we should have seen that coming. Maybe next week, she’ll be coming after our insulin price cap.” “Wait, she already is,” the adviser added. Tyler Durden Fri, 07/21/2023 - 15:25.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytJul 21st, 2023

Meet Jesse Watters, the Fox News host replacing Tucker Carlson in primetime

Jesse Watters was once Bill O'Reilly's attack dog. As he steps into Tucker Carlson's old primetime slot, is Watters the man to win back Fox News viewers? Jesse Watters on "The Five" on September 27, 2022.Steven Ferdman/Getty ImagesJesse Watters was once Bill O'Reilly's attack dog. As he steps into Tucker Carlson's old primetime slot, is Watters the man to win back Fox News viewers?(Update: One June 26, 2023, Fox News announced that "Jesse Watters Primetime" will debut on July 17 in the 8pm primetime slot. Tucker Carlson's show Tucker Carlson Tonight was taken off the air in April. This story first appeared on June 16.) Jesse Watters seemed to be enjoying himself.Dressed to impress in a black tux, the Fox News host puffed on a cigarette as he chatted with a small circle of Fox News colleagues. Following the 2016 White House Correspondents' Dinner, ideological foes now stood elbow to elbow, drinks in hand, at MSNBC's swank after-party.At the time, Watters was best known for pulling off elaborately planned ambush interviews on "The O'Reilly Factor," then Fox News' top-rated show. Standing nearby was Ryan Grim, then the DC bureau chief for Huffington Post, and Grim's friend and colleague, the liberal blogger Amanda Terkel. Five years earlier, Terkel had landed in O'Reilly's crosshairs after she criticized a victims'-rights organization for having O'Reilly speak at a fundraiser. Watters had followed her from her home in Washington, DC, to a small beach town in Virginia where she was vacationing. There, on camera, he'd accosted her with angry questions about "why I was causing 'pain and suffering' to rape victims and their families," Terkel would later recall.Grim thought the incident with Terkel crossed a line. When someone mentioned Watters' presence at the party, Grim saw an opportunity to flip the script and get Watters to apologize to Terkel on camera. "I thought he was an obnoxious frat boy who just went around bullying people," Grim would later explain to Insider. "So I wanted to give him a dose of his own medicine."Grim turned on his phone camera and zeroed in on Watters. For a few minutes, Watters played along. "Oh yeah, she loves me!" Watters said. "Bring her over, bring her over." (Terkel, it was clear, had no interest in Grim's shenanigans and had shrunk back into the crowd.) "You went all the way out to, like, the middle of fucking nowhere," Grim shot back, leading Watters in Terkel's direction. "You can go five feet over there. Come on." The rest of the exchange is by now as infamous as it is embarrassing. Still smiling but clearly getting fed up, Watters swatted the phone out of Grim's hand. When Grim picked his phone up and trained it again on Watters, the smile was gone from Watters' face. After some bluster from both parties, things got physical. No one came out of it looking great. The next day, the Drudge Report wrote it up as a "brawl." The Washington Post called it a "nerdy fight" and allowed Grim one last dig: "Ambush guy can't take getting ambushed." At Fox, there was less concern about the fight itself than the fact that Watters had attended an MSNBC party at all. "Hey Champ, don't go into the other team's locker room after the game and spike the football," Fox CEO Roger Ailes told Watters, according to Watters' 2021 memoir, "How I Saved the World."But the most revealing thing about that night was the explanation Watters gave for why he'd gone after Terkel in the first place. "I ambushed her 'cause O'Reilly told me to get her," he'd said during the fracas.  Jesse Watters likes picking fights. And he is fiercely loyal to Fox News, his professional home of two decades, starting when he was 24. Though best known as O'Reilly's attack dog until O'Reilly was pushed out of the network in 2017, Watters was also key to the launch of the right-wing Fox Nation blog. As cohost of "The Five" and on his own 7 p.m. show, Watters delivers the network's talking points with a grin and a touch of levity. Now, as Fox prepares to relaunch its prime-time lineup following Tucker Carlson's abrupt ouster in April, Watters seems to be on everyone's shortlist to take on a bigger role at the network — and perhaps one of the network's most coveted slots. "He's able to laugh at himself, which takes the edge off a little bit," said Erik Wemple, the longtime media critic for The Washington Post. "The message he got under O'Reilly was that here we have a reward system, a license for being a jackass, and he has ridden that idea the whole way along."'A lack of a moral compass, honey'Jesse Watters has much in common with Tucker Carlson, the man whose shoes he would no doubt love to fill. They both come from prominent media families. Watters' great-grandfather published The Saturday Evening Post, and his maternal grandfather was the publisher of Better Homes & Gardens. Carlson's father, a local TV reporter, would go on to manage Voice of America.Both men attended exclusive private schools on the East Coast. Carlson, who's nine years older than Watters' 44, went to St. George's, a prep school in Middletown, Rhode Island. Watters attended exclusive Quaker schools in suburban Philadelphia and Long Island. Both went to college at Trinity, a liberal-arts school outside Hartford, Connecticut. Watters stands between Donald Trump's sons, Don Jr., left, and Eric at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, NJ.Julio Cortez/APFrom there, their trajectories part ways. Carlson's family fractured when he was young. His mother left when he was 6 to pursue a more bohemian life as an artist, befriending the likes of David Hockney, and later cut her sons out of her will. But Carlson remained close with his father and even helped out on his unsuccessful bid to become the Republican mayor of San Diego. Watters' upbringing verged on crunchy, with mandatory summer stints in outdoor-leadership programs, he writes in his memoir. He describes his political "awakening," while at Trinity, rather literally: Waking up from a nap, Watters found the TV tuned to C-Span and something suddenly clicked."I was listening to the Senate floor speeches and realized the Republicans believed in the same things the Founding Fathers fought for: limited government and individual freedom," he writes.From there, he became a devoted listener of Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, the dominant right-wing shock jocks of the day, and discovered a love of provocation that would later become his bread and butter: triggering the libs. At first, this meant triggering his own family — introducing them to Limbaugh's show during breaks from Trinity."My dad could handle it, but it gave my mom road rage," Watters writes in his memoir. "She swerved into oncoming traffic once during a monologue about welfare reform. Limbaugh literally drives liberals crazy."Watters has found a far larger pool of libs to trigger since then, but he continues to delight in the consternation his politics provoke in his mom. He's known to occasionally read aloud the texts sent by his mom on "The Five." "You end up presenting a lack of a moral compass honey," Watters quoted her saying in response to a 2018 segment on the Mueller investigation. "We all know you are a Trumpet — you need not scream it."Watters and Carlson also took very different routes in their respective quests for right-wing stardom.Carlson got his start writing political profiles for glossy magazines and then brought his bow-tied, preppy conservatism to CNN as the cohost of "Crossfire" in 2001. Three years later, "Crossfire" got canceled after a notorious appearance by "The Daily Show" host Jon Stewart, who used the invitation to lambast the show for fueling partisan rancor and "hurting America." After a period of mid-career doldrums that included the cancellation of another show, this time on MSNBC, for low ratings, and an appearance on "Dancing With the Stars," Carlson arrived at Fox News in 2009. For the next eight years, he gradually built a name for himself at the network, until 2017, when O'Reilly's dismissal gave him the chance to take the prime-time throne.Watters, on the other hand, has been a company man at Fox since the age of 24. And while Tucker seized Fox's top bully pulpit to push the bounds of acceptable political discourse far to the right, popularizing the so-called "Great Replacement Theory" that was once relegated to the extreme backwaters of white-nationalist thought, it's not clear how invested Watters is in bucking orthodox political boundaries."He's a follower," Wemple said. "It's astonishing to me how little originality there is in the stuff that he says."Through a Fox spokesperson, Watters declined to comment for this story. The network also declined to comment about its coming programming decisions. Andrew Lawrence, who monitors Fox News as the deputy director of rapid response for the liberal watchdog Media Matters, agreed with Wemple's assessment of Watters. Carlson, by contrast, used the power of his plum prime-time slot to act as an "assignment editor" for right-wing discourse, aggressively pushing the envelope, while Watters has been content to follow the lead, Lawrence said."I don't think he really understands how to use that type of influence in the way that O'Reilly and Tucker did," Lawrence said. "He's just some guy who's been groomed to be a cable-news host, he has no expertise on anything. He just says the right words."A 'heat-seeking missile'Back in 2002, Watters spent his first days at Fox in a dungeon-like basement room labeling cassette tapes of news segments for $12 an hour, with no benefits, he writes in his memoir. When an opening for a production assistant came at "The O'Reilly Factor," which at the time was sometimes pulling in as many as 6 million viewers in a night, Watters leapt at the opportunity and got it.Watters' first on-air opportunity came in 2003. An Alabama judge had recently sentenced a child sex offender to just 60 days in jail, and O'Reilly dispatched Watters to confront him on camera. As the judge tried to read from a prepared statement, Watters let loose with a rapid-fire stream of questions until the judge, shaken, disappeared back into his office. "I felt rude but righteous," Watters wrote. "It was an emotional octave that I cultivated professionally for years to come."O'Reilly loved it, and the telegenic young producer quickly began to serve as the show's "heat-seeking missile," as Watters would later put it. He honed his shock-and-awe tactics to catch a subject off guard and make them look as foolish, villainous, or incompetent as possible.  "The best way to handle me is to go totally mute," Watters writes in his memoir. "Don't give me anything to work with. What you say can be used against you in the court of public opinion."Watters has always justified his ambushes as a tactic or last resort, an aggressive pursuit of the truth. Watters in Chinatown.Fox NewsBut in reality, "The O'Reilly Factor" staff would sometimes make only a cursory effort to reach a subject for comment, according to Joe Muto, who joined "The Factor" in 2007 as a producer and worked alongside Watters on the show for five years."It makes for good television to have Jesse chasing someone down the street and the guy slams the door in his face," Muto said.  Muto, who would become infamous in 2012 when he was fired for leaking unaired Fox News footage to Gawker, was much more liberal than Watters but still speaks fondly of him. "Jesse was conservative, and he'd talk about that openly," Muto said. "But he wasn't as ideological as some other people. He was always focused on what was gonna make good television. He always knew it was a game."Watters stood out as a favorite among the other junior staff and was the only one who consistently made it on camera, Muto recalled. While most of the staff wore jeans and T-shirts, Watters nearly always showed up to work in a suit, and often earlier than anyone else."Jesse was always sort of first among equals," said Muto. "It always struck me that he had his eye on the brass ring. He looked the part of a person who should be on air."By 2011, Watters had his own recurring segment called "Watters' World." Watters would head to Ivy League colleges, or to protests in left-leaning cities, or to festivals in progressive enclaves like Telluride to produce heavily edited videos that highlighted the goofy, outrageous, or dumb things people would say on camera. Sometimes, as with Terkel, he would face blowback. In 2016, he faced a storm of controversy for a segment shot in New York's Chinatown that many critics called racist, prompting a rare apology from Watters. A rising starClowning on college kids and sticking cameras in the faces of people who irked O'Reilly made Jesse Watters famous. Less well known is the role Watters played in the birth of Fox Nation, a blog that helped signal and urge along the network's rightward drift.Launched in 2009 with Watters as managing editor, Fox Nation was a clearinghouse for interesting links that might not reach the level of a television segment but that could still get a rise out of the network's fan base and generate ad revenue. It was nakedly partisan, playing on every cultural and political flash point it could to stoke — and capitalize on — the grievances of an increasingly embittered right.As managing editor, Watters was in charge of the site's tone and content. On a given day, the site would serve up rage-bait stories with headlines like "Obama Dishonors Medal of Honor Winners with Horrible Gaffe," "Transgender Mayor Takes Heat for Skimpy Outfits," and "Lefties Complain CIA Doctors Violated Al Qaeda's 'Medical Privacy.'""I remember watching in astonishment," Wemple said. "That was all a precursor to what Fox News has become day in and day out now."Fox Nation was designed to expose the cravenness of liberals, with a heavy emphasis on culture-war issues — a tendency that has mutated over the years into even more extreme fare. In retrospect, Fox Nation was a "mask-off moment" for the network, which at the time still clung to its "Fair and Balanced" slogan, said Muto, the former O'Reilly producer."The guys who ran the website were old-school hard-news guys and tried to run the site traditionally, with at least a hint of neutrality," Muto told Insider. "I think Fox Nation arose out of people's frustration that the website wouldn't go more like Breitbart."Watters' own star also continued to rise. In 2015, his "Watters' World" segment became its own monthly show. According to a source who interacted with Watters at Fox before and after he got his own show, the success could go to Watters' head. He became, the source said bluntly, a "total douchebag.""Fox News is the créme de la créme of people who have some kind of complex, a need for popularity, but deep down inside, they're not cool," the source told Insider, speaking on condition of anonymity to avoid retaliation from Fox. "And so when he got his show, he started acting like he was really cool. Just really smug."Then everything changed. In July 2016, CEO Roger Ailes left the network in the wake of numerous sexual-harassment claims, including from stars like Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly.The revelations hit Fox News like an earthquake, and prompted an explosion of new accusations against prominent men at the network — and the aggressive efforts the network undertook to keep those accusations from the public. Among the men who came under the microscope was Watters' mentor, Bill O'Reilly.An advertisement for "The O'Reilly Factor" at News Corp's New York headquarters on April 5, 2017.Spencer Platt/Getty ImagesOn April 1, 2017, The New York Times revealed that O'Reilly, Fox News, and its parent company had settled sexual-harassment claims brought by five women, totaling $13 million. Within weeks, O'Reilly was forced out of the network where he had reigned supreme for more than 20 years. (A sixth settlement came to light later, bringing the total to $45 million paid to O'Reilly's accusers.)Watters maneuvered well through this chaotic period. Back in January, "Watters' World" had gone from monthly to weekly, airing on Saturday nights. That April, O'Reilly's exit overshadowed more good news for Watters, who debuted just days later on Fox's roundtable show, "The Five."Chopping it up with cohosts who over the years have included Kimberly Guilfoyle, fellow funnyman Greg Gutfeld, and token liberal Juan Williams, Watters mixed an increasingly strident conservatism with wit and a good-natured affect. "His job on 'The Five' was basically to attack Juan Williams, and he did it with gusto," Wemple said, calling Watters the "cackling court jester."But that sense of humor has also gotten him in trouble: Just two days after his debut as a cohost on "The Five," Watters abruptly went off the air for a few days after catching flak for a lewd comment he made about Ivanka Trump. In 2019, Watters briefly became tabloid fodder when it emerged that his wife, with whom he had twin daughters, had dumped him a year prior because of his reported affair with a Fox News producer, Emma DiGiovine. His personal life faded from the gossip pages after he settled down with DiGiovine, whom he married that year and with whom he now has two children.Watters on the set of his show "Jesse Watters Primetime."John Lamparski/Getty ImagesDespite these bumps in the road, Watters has been a staple of Fox News programming. "Jesse Watters Primetime" debuted in in early 2022. Within a year, Watters was drawing upward of 3 million viewers a night, occasionally even beating Carlson's ratings. As part of the Fox News prime-time slate, he has remained well ahead of his competitors at CNN and MSNBC but rarely captured the level of attention given to Sean Hannity at 8 p.m. and Carlson at 9. Since Carlson's departure in April, various hosts have tried their hand at his slot. But thus far, none have managed to stem the exodus of viewers from the network. Happy warriorOn his nightly show, Watters serves up right-wing red meat to an increasingly polarized audience while softening the delivery. "He still is kind of that happy warrior, always going for the joke, always has a smile on his face — or a smirk if you're being less charitable," Muto said. "I think he learned that from O'Reilly, that you have to be judicious in your anger and always mix in a bit of levity."His shows are densely littered with culture-war signifiers: "illegals" are overrunning the country, the "Biden crime family" is a virtual mafia clan, Democrat-run cities like New York and Los Angeles are violent wastelands populated by drug-addled unhoused people (who chose to be on the streets, by the way), and drag queens are coming for your kids — if critical-race theory doesn't get them first. In one painfully drawn-out bit, Watters and a guest joked at length at the idea of teenage boys unwittingly masturbating to a transgender model on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.In the balancing act between outright denial of the results of the 2020 presidential election and alienating Fox's conservative base by accepting the results, Watters has proven flexible indeed. "Right now, there's evidence out there," he said on "The Five" on November 16, 2020, more than a week after Biden had been declared victorious. "You've seen the affidavits. You've seen the irregularities. And this will be administered in court, and we'll find out what the result is."He took a more careful approach on his own show, "Watters' World," bringing on guests like Newt Gingrich to sow doubt as Watters nodded along in concern, rarely pushing back on baseless claims of fraud. And it paid off: Amid the media frenzy surrounding Fox's $787.5 million settlement with Dominion Voting Systems, Watters managed to keep a low profile, though a tranche of leaked texts offered a glimpse into how he was maneuvering behind the scenes. In one exchange with Carlson obtained by The Daily Beast, Watters argued that hosts like Neil Cavuto and Chris Wallace, whom he deemed to be insufficiently pro-Trump, should be canned. Watters looks on as then-Vice President Mike Pence greets Emma DiGiovine, Watters' wife and producer, following a June 2020 interview.Tom Brenner/Reuters"Need some fresh blood," Watters wrote, according to The Daily Beast. "Should hire some trump people." (Cavuto remains at the network. Wallace left Fox News in late 2021.)It remains to be seen if Watters can live up to the role for which he has been gunning for so many years, and win back the millions of viewers who have abandoned Fox since Carlson's exit. The source familiar with Watters' position within Fox News during the 2010s cited Watters' long years of service to the network as the key to understanding his rise to stardom."There's a supertight network of people who are part of the 'OG crew,'" the source told Insider. "There's not many of them left."And that could be just what Fox News is looking for. Carlson's show did a lot to build up Carlson's personal brand, but his racist, xenophobic, and misogynistic rhetoric became toxic to many advertisers. Watters, whose entire career has been at Fox News, might be a safer bet, according to Muto, the former O'Reilly producer."He's not a total ideologue, and he's malleable enough that he can fill any role you want," Muto said. "Goofy ambush guy? Yeah! Angry cohost on 'The Five'? Yep! He learned from Bill that the No. 1 rule is to get viewers and keep your advertisers happy."(Additional reporting by Jack Newsham and Katherine Long.)Correction: June 16, 2023 — An earlier version of this story erroneously described Watters appearing temporarily in the time slot vacated by Tucker Carlson. Watters is not among the hosts who have filled in for that time slot. The story also mistakenly asserted that Watters graduated a year late from Trinity College. He graduated in four years.  Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 26th, 2023

Turley: Who Is Lying - Merrick Garland Or The Whistleblowers?

Turley: Who Is Lying - Merrick Garland Or The Whistleblowers? Authored by Jonathan Turley, op-ed via The Hill, “I’m not the deciding official.” Those five words, allegedly from Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss, shocked IRS and FBI investigators in a meeting on October 22, 2022. This is because, in refusing to appoint a special counsel, Attorney Garland Merrick Garland had repeatedly assured the public and Congress that Weiss had total authority over his investigation. IRS supervisory agent Gary A. Shapley Jr. told Congress he was so dismayed by Weiss’s statement and other admissions that he memorialized them in a communication to other team members. Shapley and another whistleblower detail what they describe as a pattern of interference with their investigation of Hunter Biden, including the denial of searches, lines of questioning, and even attempted indictments.  The only thing abundantly clear is that someone is lying. Either these whistleblowers are lying to Congress, or these Justice Department officials (including Garland) are lying.  The response from both Hunter Biden’s counsel and the attorney general himself only deepened the concerns. Christopher Clark, an attorney for Hunter Biden, responded to a shocking Whatsapp message that the president’s son had allegedly sent to a Chinese official with foreign intelligence contacts who was funneling millions to him. “I am sitting here with my father,” the younger Biden wrote, “and we would like to understand why the commitment made has not been fulfilled. Tell the director that I would like to resolve this now before it gets out of hand, and now means tonight. And, Z, if I get a call or text from anyone involved in this other than you, Zhang, or the chairman, I will make certain that between the man sitting next to me and every person he knows and my ability to forever hold a grudge that you will regret not following my direction. I am sitting here waiting for the call with my father.” President Biden has repeatedly told the public that he had no knowledge or involvement in his son’s dealings. He maintained the denial despite audiotapes of him referring to business dealings, photos and meetings with his son’s business associates, as well as an eyewitness account of an in-person meeting. Clark did not deny that the above-quoted message had been sent. He only said that it was “illegal” to release the text (he did not explain why) and then added that “[a]ny verifiable words or actions of my client in the midst of a horrible addiction are solely his own and have no connection to anyone in his family.” Most of us expected a simple denial. Yet, after five years, Hunter has never even denied that the laptop was his. His team has continued with the same non-denial denials. The transcript also details how investigators wanted to confirm the authenticity of the Whatsapp message through the company. The Justice Department reportedly shut down that effort. If Hunter Biden was evasive, Garland was irate. He denounced the allegations as “an attack on an institution that is essential to American democracy, and essential to the safety of the American people.” The statement bordered on delusion. Polls show that a majority of the public now views the Justice Department as politically compromised and even engaged in election interference. The level of trust in the department under Garland is now lower than it was under his predecessor, Bill Barr.  These questions are not an attack on the institution, but on what some are doing with it. Garland’s reaction is akin to doctors responding to malpractice lawsuits as attacks on medicine itself. As in the past, Garland continued to insist that the public must trust him and his department, because “You’ve all heard me say many times that we make our cases based on the facts and the law.”  Once again, he reminded citizens that “these are not just words. These are what we live by.”  For those us who once supported Garland’s nomination as Attorney General, it was another maddening moment. Garland has done little to change the view of his department or to address  the political bias that has plagued it and the FBI for years. That record has resulted in blistering reports from the Inspector General and most recently Special Counsel John Durham.  Garland does have a motto. Yet, as these allegations pile up it is becoming more and more of a meaningless mantra. The attorney general has a growing problem. For years, many of us have criticized him for his inexplicable refusal to appoint a Special Counsel on the Biden influence peddling scandal. Indeed, I have written over a dozen columns on why such an appointment seemed unavoidable, given the references to the president under various code names as a possible recipient of money and other benefits from foreign deals. Even after a respected FBI source detailed allegations of a bribery scheme involving Ukrainian figures, Garland still refused to make the appointment. Such an appointment would not only expose Joe Biden to high-risk interviews, but would also allow the Special Counsel to issue a report on influence peddling by his family. Garland was willing to appoint a Special Counsel to look into classified records found in Biden’s various offices, yet he continues to bar an appointment on major corruption allegations implicating the president. It was impossible to investigate these matters without tripping over the president and other family members. The whistleblowers detailed repeated occasions in which they were told to back off. Even the narrow tax issues addressed in Hunter’s recent plea bargain relate to those broader issues, given the source of these funds. Influence peddling may be lawful, but it is also corrupt. Indeed, it is the favorite form of corruption in Washington and a virtual family legacy of the Bidens.  It is the concealment of the corruption that often results in crimes, from false statements to tax evasion to unlawful financial transactions to unlawful work as an unregistered foreign agent. The whistleblowers allege that the Justice Department consistently cut them off in seeking searches or answers related to President Biden. However, the line that stood out the most was this: “U.S. Attorney Weiss stated that he subsequently asked for special counsel authority from Main DOJ at that time and was denied that authority.” If true, that means that Garland was not just hearing from experts and members of Congress calling for an appointment, but that Weiss himself also saw the need for such an appointment. Moreover, the report indicates that others in the investigation believed that there was a need to create such separation from the Justice Department in light of what they viewed as the special treatment given the president’s son. These accounts could explain why the Justice Department took five years to secure a guilty plea to two misdemeanors that could have been established in the first month of the investigation. It would explain why there is no evidence of serious investigation into the influence peddling or a charge under FARA. It would explain why Hunter’s lawyer cannot recall ever being asked about the laptop. It would explain why the problem is not the Justice Department’s motto, but the man who is tasked with fulfilling it. Tyler Durden Sun, 06/25/2023 - 15:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 25th, 2023

Top 30 S&P 500 Stocks by Index Weight

In this article, we discuss the top 30 S&P 500 stocks by index weight. If you want to skip our detailed discussion on the stock market and the S&P 500 index, head over to Top 5 S&P 500 Stocks by Index Weight.  The S&P 500 Index, as well as the tech-heavy NASDAQ, edged higher after […] In this article, we discuss the top 30 S&P 500 stocks by index weight. If you want to skip our detailed discussion on the stock market and the S&P 500 index, head over to Top 5 S&P 500 Stocks by Index Weight.  The S&P 500 Index, as well as the tech-heavy NASDAQ, edged higher after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell commented that interest rate hikes are not over yet, but the Fed would be more considerate in its monetary policies this time. As per CME’s FedWatch tool, Wall Street forecasts a 77% probability of a 25 basis point interest rate hike by the end of July. In light of Powell’s latest comments, the S&P 500 gained 16.2 points, with its consumer discretionary sector performing the best. Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist of CFRA Research in New York, told Reuters on June 22:  “The market believes the Fed will raise rates one more time, not two more times as implied by the post FOMC meeting summary. In addition, yesterday and today’s, Powell reiterated that they will be data dependent and Wall Street expects inflation to cool faster, and unemployment will start to creep higher which is what the Fed has intended with its rate increases.” Don’t Miss: 20 Worst Performing S&P 500 Stocks in 2023 The S&P 500 index is highly concentrated this year, with the highest weightage of the five largest holdings since 1990. The index weighs stocks based on their market value, so more valuable companies automatically rise to the top. This is also a safer approach as huge corporations are usually more reliable, especially during economic turmoils and market upheavals. This year, the S&P 500 is riding market highs primarily due to the tech stocks that are experiencing an AI-led rally.  AJ Bell, a British online provider of investment platforms and stockbroker services, observed that AI champions like Nvidia, Microsoft, Alphabet, Apple, Amazon, and Meta have collectively gained $3.1 trillion in market cap during 2023. However, if their massive contribution to the S&P 500 is excluded, the benchmark index has lost $286 billion in 2023 as of June 3. Investors are pouring their money into top-notch low risk tech giants, and they are now treated like traditional safe haven assets. Financial Times cited Thomas Mathews, markets economist at Capital Economics, who noted that historical bull markets by the end of 1990s and between 2019 and 2021 had similar indicators. A couple of huge companies were leading the market rallies. However, keeping in mind the previous stock market bubbles that eventually burst, Matthews commented:  “If we’re right that growth will falter later this year . . . we suspect some pain is on the way for the S&P 500, and global equities generally.” Investors are looking for safe haven stocks in the midst of economic chaos, and they are leaning towards the top S&P 500 constituents like Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), and Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN). Investors can also check out 10 Undervalued S&P 500 Stocks Billionaires Are Buying and S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats List: Sorted By Hedge Fund Popularity.  Our Methodology  For this list, we chose the top 30 S&P 500 constituents in terms of index weight. The list is ranked in ascending order of the index weight. We have also mentioned the hedge fund sentiment around these stocks as of Q1 2023.  Image by Sergei Tokmakov Terms.Law from Pixabay Top S&P 500 Stocks by Index Weight 30. Salesforce, Inc. (NYSE:CRM) Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 136 Index Weight: 0.579798% Salesforce, Inc. (NYSE:CRM) ranks 30th on our list of the top S&P 500 stocks by index weight. The California-based company is focused on customer relationship management software, marketing automation, data analytics, and application development. On June 12, Salesforce, Inc. (NYSE:CRM) launched AI Cloud which can generate customized emails, chat replies, case summaries, and write code. AI Cloud will incorporate other Salesforce technologies as well, including Einstein, Data Cloud, Tableau, Flow, and MuleSoft. AI Cloud starter pack can be availed on a yearly subscription for $360,000 by businesses. According to Insider Monkey’s first quarter database, 136 hedge funds were bullish on Salesforce, Inc. (NYSE:CRM), compared to 117 funds in the prior quarter. Harris Associates is the largest position holder in the company, with a stake worth $1.5 billion.  Like Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), and Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), Salesforce, Inc. (NYSE:CRM) is one of the premier S&P 500 stocks to invest in.  Harding Loevner Global Equity Strategy made the following comment about Salesforce, Inc. (NYSE:CRM) in its Q1 2023 investor letter: “It also signaled lower capital expenditures and increased share repurchases. Other tech companies, including Salesforce, Inc. (NYSE:CRM), similarly benefited from plans to lower costs and increase profitability. Meanwhile, NVIDIA, the graphic-chips designer, surged amid investor enthusiasm over the potential commercial applications of artificial-intelligence technologies, such as ChatGPT, which requires the use of many chips.” 29. McDonald’s Corporation (NYSE:MCD) Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 64 Index Weight: 0.585109% McDonald’s Corporation (NYSE:MCD) ranks 29th on the S&P 500 list in terms of index weight. McDonald’s Corporation (NYSE:MCD) is on its way to become a dividend king, with 47 annual dividend increases under its belt. The latest quarterly dividend of $1.52 per share was distributed to shareholders on June 20. In Q1 2023, global comparable sales were up 12.6% for McDonald’s Corporation (NYSE:MCD), compared to a consensus growth estimate of 8.2%. All segments achieved double-digit growth during the first quarter of 2023.  According to Insider Monkey’s first quarter database, 64 hedge funds were bullish on McDonald’s Corporation (NYSE:MCD), compared to 57 funds in the prior quarter. Paul Marshall and Ian Wace’s Marshall Wace LLP is the largest stakeholder of the company, with 1.64 million shares worth $459.2 million.  28. Walmart Inc. (NYSE:WMT) Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 91 Index Weight: 0.589363% Walmart Inc. (NYSE:WMT), the American retail giant, ranks 28th on our list of the top 30 S&P 500 stocks measured by index weight. On May 18, Walmart Inc. (NYSE:WMT) reported a Q1 non-GAAP EPS of $1.47 and a revenue of $152.3 billion, topping Wall Street consensus by $0.15 and $4.39 billion, respectively. Walmart’s global advertising business grew more than 30% during the March quarter. On June 16, Walmart announced that it is opening its biggest fulfillment center in Indianapolis, which will leverage robotics and automation to facilitate higher efficiency and provide express delivery services.  According to Insider Monkey’s first quarter database, 91 hedge funds were bullish on Walmart Inc. (NYSE:WMT), up from 66 funds in the earlier quarter. D E Shaw is the largest stakeholder of the company, with 4.8 million shares worth nearly $710 million.   In its Q2 2021 investor letter, ClearBridge Investments, an asset management firm, highlighted a few stocks and Walmart Inc. (NYSE:WMT) was one of them. Here is what the fund said: “The pandemic has created challenges for businesses large and small; one major challenge for large essential retailers such as ClearBridge holdings Home Depot, Walmart Inc. (NYSE:WMT) and Costco have been ensuring adequate staffing to meet demand under trying conditions. All three instituted enhanced pay practices during the pandemic, with raises, unplanned bonuses and other benefits helping compensate employees for their efforts in a difficult environment. In September 2020 Walmart raised wages for 165,000 employees, including a number of entry positions to $15 an hour. It followed this in February with a raise for 425,000 workers that moved its average pay above $15 an hour.” 27. Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 73 Index Weight: 0.606184% Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE), an American multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology company, ranks 27th on the S&P 500 list by index weight. On June 22, Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) declared a $0.41 per share quarterly dividend, in line with previous. The dividend is payable on September 5, to shareholders of record on July 28. The company has reiterated a quarterly dividend of $0.41 per share for three consecutive quarters.  According to Insider Monkey’s first quarter database, 73 hedge funds were bullish on Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE), compared to 75 funds in the prior quarter. Cliff Asness’ AQR Capital Management is the biggest stakeholder of the company, with 9.3 million shares worth $380.2 million.  Diamond Hill Capital made the following comment about Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) in its Q3 2022 investor letter: “Also among our bottom contributors were health care products manufacturer Abbott Labs, global pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE), media and technology giant Alphabet, and insurance company American International Group (AIG). Although Pfizer continues to report strong performance of its core drugs, sales of its COVID vaccine and treatment have likely peaked and sales are expected to decline going forward. We remain optimistic about the company long term as we believe management is taking the company in the right direction, focusing R&D, and making strategic acquisitions with profits generated from COVID vaccine sales.” 26. Adobe Inc. (NASDAQ:ADBE) Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 99 Index Weight: 0.608314% Next on our list of the top S&P 500 stocks is Adobe Inc. (NASDAQ:ADBE), with an index weight of 0.60%. Adobe Inc. (NASDAQ:ADBE), an American multinational computer software firm, announced its Q2 2023 financial results on June 15. The company reported a non-GAAP EPS of $3.91 and a revenue of $4.82 billion, outperforming Wall Street estimates by $0.12 and $50 million, respectively.  According to Insider Monkey’s Q1 database, Adobe Inc. (NASDAQ:ADBE) was part of 99 hedge fund portfolios, with collective stakes worth $7.3 billion. Ken Griffin’s Citadel Investment Group is the largest position holder in the company, with a stake valued at $731.5 million.  Polen Focus Growth Strategy made the following comment about Adobe Inc. (NASDAQ:ADBE) in its Q1 2023 investor letter: “One area we are watching regarding Alphabet and Adobe Inc. (NASDAQ:ADBE) is AI systems and their capabilities, including generative AI. Interestingly, both Adobe and Alphabet could see benefits or threats from the emergence of generative AI and large language models (LLMs). Both companies already use generative AI to the benefit of their users in anticipating how content creators edit their work (Adobe) and in how search results are anticipated and generated (Google). At the same time, breakthrough technologies like AI can open the door to additional competition and/or impact a company’s profitability levels. We now see AI systems others are developing, including LLMs and generative AI offerings, that could be more competitive in the future. While we think it remains early days for ChatGPT and the capabilities of these types of LLMs and generative AI programs like DALL-E, the technology seems to be progressing at a fast rate and will at least require a strong response from incumbents. As of now, we believe Alphabet and Adobe are leaders in their own right in these areas and have a clear path to improving their existing offerings with AI advancements, which would allow them to be net beneficiaries of AI. There are also significant barriers to building leading AI offerings in these areas. As a result, our position sizes in Adobe and Alphabet remain sizable. For Adobe, the status of its pending $20 billion-plus Figma acquisition is also uncertain. There is a good chance, in our view, that it will be blocked by regulators, which would mean the future opportunity to expand its offerings to the developer community (beyond designers) may not occur.” 25. Costco Wholesale Corporation (NASDAQ:COST) Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 63 Index Weight: 0.628673% Costco Wholesale Corporation (NASDAQ:COST) is the 25th stock in the S&P 500 index, ranked by index weight. On May 25, Costco Wholesale Corporation (NASDAQ:COST) reported an FQ3 non-GAAP EPS of $3.43, beating market consensus by $0.12. The revenue of $53.65 billion, however, fell short of Wall Street estimates by $930 million. Net sales for the quarter grew 1.9% to $52.60 billion, up from $51.61 billion in the prior-year quarter. According to Insider Monkey’s first quarter database, 63 hedge funds were long Costco Wholesale Corporation (NASDAQ:COST), compared to 66 funds in the preceding quarter. Ray Dalio’s Bridgewater Associates is a prominent stakeholder of the company, with 861,306 shares worth about $428 million.  Madison Funds made the following comment about Costco Wholesale Corporation (NASDAQ:COST) in its fourth-quarter 2022 investor letter: “Costco Wholesale Corporation (NASDAQ:COST) stock fell after November sales results showed a slowing consumer. The slower November sales were followed by a slight first quarter miss with lower-than-expected margins. Costco commented that they are not seeing trade-down but private label penetration has increased modestly. Traffic continues to be positive, and Costco remains well-positioned in a more challenging macro environment due to its strong value proposition.” 24. The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO) Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 61 Index Weight: 0.650008% The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO) ranks 24th on the S&P 500 index based on index weight. 2023 marks the 61st consecutive annual dividend increase by The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO). On April 26, the company declared a quarterly dividend of $0.46 per share, in line with previous. The dividend is distributable on July 3, to shareholders of record on June 16.  According to Insider Monkey’s first quarter database, 61 hedge funds were bullish on The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO), compared to 58 funds in the preceding quarter. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway is the biggest stakeholder of the company, with 400 million shares worth $24.8 billion.  Rowan Street Capital mentioned The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO) in its Q4 2022 investor letter. Here is what the firm has to say: “Let’s take The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO) for example. Its dividend yield is 2.8%, earnings are estimated to grow at only 3.6% rate per year over next 4 years, and its earnings multiple is currently at 24x (based on next year’s forecasted earnings). KO has an anemic growth, so we can argue that paying 24x earnings is not very attractive. Let’s assume that the multiple will stay constant over the next 3-5 years, thus our expected annual returns will be 2.8%+3.6% = 6.4% (that is below the current reported inflation rate and only slightly above the risk-free rate of 4%).” 23. AbbVie Inc. (NYSE:ABBV) Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 75 Index Weight: 0.664454% AbbVie Inc. (NYSE:ABBV) is an American pharmaceutical company that ranks 23rd on the S&P 500 index based weight. On April 27, AbbVie Inc. (NYSE:ABBV) reported a Q1 non-GAAP EPS of $2.46, falling short of Wall Street estimates by $0.03. The revenue of $12.23 billion came in line with market consensus.  According to Insider Monkey’s first quarter database, 75 hedge funds were bullish on AbbVie Inc. (NYSE:ABBV), compared to 73 funds in the preceding quarter. Ken Griffin’s Citadel Investment Group is the biggest position holder in the company.  Harding Loevner Global Equity Strategy made the following comment about AbbVie Inc. (NYSE:ABBV) in its Q1 2023 investor letter: “One of our two new additions to the portfolio is AbbVie Inc. (NYSE:ABBV), a US drugmaker best known for Humira, a medicine used to treat a variety of autoimmune diseases. AbbVie is building upon its maturing blockbuster Humira business by expanding its stable of autoimmune-disorder treatments with launches such as Skyrizi and Rinvoq, which have been well received and should support continued growth. Separately, we believe the slowdown in venture capital funding may foster more collaboration between biotechnology companies with promising, early-stage pipelines and large pharmaceutical companies. This may allow AbbVie to supplement its own pipeline at cheaper valuations than biotechs had commanded in recent years.” 22. PepsiCo, Inc. (NASDAQ:PEP) Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 70 Index Weight: 0.695779% PepsiCo, Inc. (NASDAQ:PEP) is one of the top S&P 500 stocks, with an index weight of 0.69%. On May 2, PepsiCo, Inc. (NASDAQ:PEP) declared a $1.265 per share quarterly dividend, a 10% increase from its prior dividend of $1.150. The dividend is payable on June 30, to shareholders of record on June 2. 2023 marks the company’s 51st consecutive annual dividend increase, making it a reliable dividend king.  According to Insider Monkey’s first quarter database, 70 hedge funds were bullish on PepsiCo, Inc. (NASDAQ:PEP), with combined stakes worth $4 billion. Terry Smith’s Fundsmith LLP is the biggest stakeholder of the company, with 6.65 million shares worth $1.2 billion.  Madison Sustainable Equity Fund made the following comment about PepsiCo, Inc. (NASDAQ:PEP) in its Q1 2023 investor letter: “PepsiCo, Inc. (NASDAQ:PEP) announced that it will commit $3.3 million in funds toward water replenishment projects across North America. These projects aim to reduce absolute water use and replenish back into the local watershed more than 100% of the water used at company-owned and third-party sites in high water-risk areas.” 21. Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX) Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 64 Index Weight: 0.730999% The American oil and gas giant, Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX), ranks 21st on the S&P 500 index based on index weight. On April 28, Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX) reported a Q1 non-GAAP EPS of $3.55 and a revenue of $50.79 billion, outperforming Wall Street consensus by $0.14 and $1.3 billion, respectively.  According to Insider Monkey’s first quarter database, 64 hedge funds were bullish on Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX), compared to 57 funds in the prior quarter. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway is the largest stakeholder of the company, with a position worth $21.60 billion.  Carillon Tower Advisers made the following comment about Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX) in its Q4 2022 investor letter: “Energy performed well during the fourth quarter, with the sector up about 23%. Investors returned to the sector after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) signaled it would reduce production. Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX) reported strong quarterly results while buying back stock, paying a healthy dividend, and maintaining a strong balance sheet.” 20. Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 75 Index Weight: 0.763442% Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) is an American healthcare company that provides pharmaceutical products for oncology, hospital acute care, immunology, neuroscience, virology, cardiovascular, and diabetes. Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) also specializes in animal health products. The stock ranks 20th on the S&P 500 index based on weight. On May 23, Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) declared a $0.73 per share quarterly dividend, in line with previous. The dividend is payable on July 10, to shareholders of record on June 15.  According to Insider Monkey’s first quarter database, 75 hedge funds were long Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK), compared to 77 funds in the earlier quarter. Cliff Asness’ AQR Capital Management is the largest stakeholder of the company, with 2.8 million shares worth $298.4 million.  Aristotle Value Equity Strategy made the following comment about Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) in its Q4 2022 investor letter: “Founded in 1891 and headquartered in New Jersey, Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) is one the world’s largest pharmaceutical firms. The company’s drugs are used to treat conditions in a variety of areas, including oncology (~38% of revenue), vaccines (~19%), diabetes (~11%), animal health (~11%) and other (~21%). Merck produced over $48 billion in sales in 2021, just under half of which were generated in the United States. Within oncology, the firm’s immuno-oncology platform is becoming a major contributor to overall sales, driven by the blockbuster drug Keytruda. The company’s vaccine business is also significant and includes Gardasil for the prevention of HPV (the disease that can lead to cervical cancer in women), as well as vaccines for hepatitis B, pediatric diseases and shingles. In recent years, Merck has been shifting its focus toward unmet medical needs in specialty-care areas. As part of this shift in focus, in June 2021, Merck received $9 billion from the spinoff of its women’s health, established brands, and biosimilars businesses into the now independent, publicly traded company Organon…” (Click here to read the full text) 19. The Home Depot, Inc. (NYSE:HD) Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 65 Index Weight: 0.833117% The Home Depot, Inc. (NYSE:HD) ranks 19th on the S&P 500 index, with a weight of 0.83%. On May 16, the home improvement retailer reported a Q1 GAAP EPS of $3.82, beating market consensus by $0.03. The revenue of $37.3 billion, however, fell short of Wall Street estimates by $1.05 billion. The Home Depot, Inc. (NYSE:HD) also paid a $2.09 per share quarterly dividend to shareholders on June 15.  According to Insider Monkey’s first quarter database, 65 hedge funds were bullish on The Home Depot, Inc. (NYSE:HD), compared to 62 funds in the prior quarter. Ric Dillon’s Diamond Hill Capital is a prominent stakeholder of the company, with 1 million shares worth $317 million.  Madison Sustainable Equity Fund made the following comment about The Home Depot, Inc. (NYSE:HD) in its Q1 2023 investor letter: “The Home Depot, Inc. (NYSE:HD) provided an update on reducing the environmental impact of its stores. Since 2010, the company has reduced U.S. store electricity use by 50% by implementing LED lighting across all of its stores, buying electricity from large-scale commercial solar farms, and installing rooftop solar farms. The company is now applying its experience to other parts of its operations, including reducing electricity use in its supply chain and water use in store irrigation. Home Depot was also recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for being one of the nation’s largest green power users.” 18. Mastercard Incorporated (NYSE:MA) Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 138 Index Weight: 0.855603% Mastercard Incorporated (NYSE:MA), the American multinational fintech corporation, ranks 18th on the S&P index based on weight. On April 27, Mastercard Incorporated (NYSE:MA) reported a Q1 non-GAAP EPS of $2.80 and a revenue of $5.7 billion, outperforming Wall Street estimates by $0.09 and $60 million, respectively.  According to Insider Monkey’s first quarter database, 138 hedge funds were bullish on Mastercard Incorporated (NYSE:MA), compared to 139 funds in the prior quarter. Charles Akre’s Akre Capital Management is the largest stakeholder of the company.  Polen Global Growth Strategy made the following comment about Mastercard Incorporated (NYSE:MA) in its Q1 2023 investor letter: “We trimmed Mastercard Incorporated (NYSE:MA) and Visa to equal weights of the Portfolio. Mastercard and Visa operate as a duopoly in a large and growing market. Over the last 50 years, global personal consumer expenditures (PCE) has grown 7-9% annualized. We expect 4-5% long-term PCE growth going forward. Additionally, the shift from cash to credit continues unabated, with a total credit penetration of only approximately 50% globally.3 This shift provides Visa and Mastercard with another ~4-6% of growth. When combined with PCE, this gives both companies high-single-digit to low-double-digit revenue growth opportunities. This growth estimate is before accounting for growth amplifiers like the acceleration of e-commerce, the shift from offline to online, and additional services. Both companies enjoy extremely strong network effects that provide strong competitive advantages. We have trimmed Visa and Mastercard because their combined weight grew to over 12% of the Global Growth Portfolio because of their recent performance and to fund our increase in Amazon’s position size. We added to both positions when their prices were depressed due to cross-border transactions deteriorating materially from the pandemic. Cross-border volumes came roaring back when travel corridors reopened, and although we are several quarters removed from the cross-border nadir, Visa still grew volumes >30% in 1Q23. Total cross-border volumes are now 132% of 2019 levels. At 4.5% each, both companies remain high conviction positions for Global Growth.” 17. The Procter & Gamble Company (NYSE:PG) Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 75 Index Weight: 0.952893% The Procter & Gamble Company (NYSE:PG) provides branded consumer packaged goods worldwide, operating through Beauty, Grooming, Health Care, Fabric & Home Care, and Baby, Feminine & Family Care segments. On April 21, The Procter & Gamble Company (NYSE:PG) reported a FQ3 Non-GAAP EPS of $1.37 and a revenue of $20.07 billion, outperforming Wall Street estimates by $0.05 and $750 million, respectively. The stock ranks 17th on the S&P 500 based on index weight of 0.95%.  According to Insider Monkey’s first quarter database, 75 hedge funds were bullish on The Procter & Gamble Company (NYSE:PG), compared to 74 funds in the preceding quarter. Ray Dalio’s Bridgewater Associates is the largest stakeholder of the company, with 4.94 million shares valued at $735.2 million.  Rowan Street Capital made the following comment about The Procter & Gamble Company (NYSE:PG) in its Q4 2022 investor letter: “Let’s look at The Procter & Gamble Company (NYSE:PG). Dividend yield is 2.4%. Earnings are forecasted to grow at 5.9%, and its current earnings multiple is at 25x. Now, let’s say over the next 3-5 years the market loses interest in the “safe”, mature companies that grow at anemic rates and gets an appetite for growth again. It’s very unlikely that Mr. Market will be paying 25x for 5.9% earnings growth. Let’s assume that multiple declines to the market average of 18x — that would be ~6.9% drag per year on the total expected return over next 3-5 years. If we get 2.4% (dividend) + 5.9% (earnings growth) – 6.9% (decrease in earnings multiple) = 1.4% (annual return we can expect on average from this stock).” 16. Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE:LLY) Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 72 Index Weight: 0.971716% Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE:LLY) develops and commercializes human pharmaceuticals worldwide. The stock ranks 16% on the S&P 500 based on index weight. On April 27, Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE:LLY) reported a Q1 non-GAAP EPS of $1.62, missing analysts’ estimates by $0.11. The revenue of $6.96 billion exceeded Wall Street consensus by $90 million.  According to Insider Monkey’s first quarter database, 72 hedge funds were bullish on Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE:LLY), compared to 76 funds in the earlier quarter. Rajiv Jain’s GQG Partners is the largest stakeholder of the company, with approximately 3 million shares worth over $1 billion.  Baron Health Care Fund made the following comment about Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE:LLY) in its Q1 2023 investor letter: “In pharmaceuticals, our largest investment continues to be in Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE:LLY). Lilly’s new diabetes drug Mounjaro is likely to be approved for obesity in 2023. Lilly has two new obesity drugs advancing into Phase 3 trials. Lilly also has a drug in late-stage development for Alzheimer’s disease. Lilly is not facing any significant near-term patent expirations, and we think the company should be able to grow revenue and earnings at attractive rates through the end of the decade and beyond.” 15. Broadcom Inc. (NASDAQ:AVGO) Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 72 Index Weight: 0.983675% Broadcom Inc. (NASDAQ:AVGO), an American semiconductor corporation, is one of the top S&P 500 stocks by index weight. On June 1, Broadcom Inc. (NASDAQ:AVGO) declared a $4.60 per share quarterly dividend, in line with previous. The dividend is distributable on June 30, to shareholders of record on June 22. The company also reported a Q2 non-GAAP EPS of $10.32 and a revenue of $8.73 billion, outperforming Wall Street estimates by $0.18 and $20 million, respectively.  According to Insider Monkey’s first quarter database, Broadcom Inc. (NASDAQ:AVGO) was part of 72 hedge fund portfolios, and William Von Mueffling’s Cantillon Capital Management is a prominent stakeholder of the company, with 985,157 shares worth $632 million.  Aristotle Core Equity Strategy made the following comment about Broadcom Inc. (NASDAQ:AVGO) in its Q4 2022 investor letter: “Broadcom Inc. (NASDAQ:AVGO) contributed to performance in the quarter following the company’s solid fourth quarter 2022 results. This was driven by better-than-expected results in both its semiconductor solutions, networking and storage segments. The company also provided first quarter guidance that was ahead of consensus as well as 2023 commentary that expects earnings momentum to continue due to a strong product cycle.” 14. Visa Inc. (NYSE:V) Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 173 Index Weight: 1.000301% With an index weight of 1%, American financial giant Visa Inc. (NYSE:V) ranks 14th on the S&P 500 list. On April 25, Visa Inc. (NYSE:V) reported a Q1 non-GAAP EPS of $2.09 and a revenue of $8 billion, outperforming Wall Street estimates by $0.10 and $210 million, respectively.  According to Insider Monkey’s first quarter database, 173 hedge funds were bullish on Visa Inc. (NYSE:V), compared to 177 funds in the earlier quarter. Chris Hohn’s TCI Fund Management is the biggest stakeholder of the company, with 19.3 million shares worth $4.3 billion.  Baron FinTech Fund made the following comment about Visa Inc. (NYSE:V) in its Q4 2022 investor letter: “Shares of global payment network Visa Inc. (NYSE:V) increased after reporting strong quarterly results, with 19% growth in revenue and EPS despite currency headwinds and the suspension of operations in Russia. Payment volume grew 16% in local currency (excluding Russia and China) with notable strength in cross-border volumes driven by rebounding international travel. Management also provided encouraging guidance for the next fiscal year. We continue to own the stock due to Visa’s long runway for growth and significant competitive advantages.” 13. Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 73 Index Weight: 1.133553% Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) ranks 13th on the S&P 500 index. On April 28, Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) reported a Q1 non-GAAP EPS of $2.83, beating market estimates by $0.23. The revenue of $86.56 billion missed Wall Street consensus by $3.51 billion. The company also raised and extended its share repurchase program up to $35 billion in 2023-2024. According to Insider Monkey’s first quarter database, 73 hedge funds were long Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM), compared to 79 funds in the prior quarter. Rajiv Jain’s GQG Partners is the biggest stakeholder of the company, with 19.5 million shares worth $2.14 billion.  Here is what First Eagle Investments said about Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) in its Q2 2022 investor letter: “Integrated oil and gas giant Exxon Mobil performed well in the second quarter as continued high prices for energy products supported the stock. As the largest refiner in the US, the company has benefitted from wide “crack spreads,” or the margin between the cost of crude oil and the petroleum products extracted from it. Exxon continues to invest in refining capacity in the US, which industry wide has been in steady decline since 2019. We are pleased that Exxon has been using its strong cash flows to reduce debt and to return cash to shareholders through dividends and stock repurchases.” 12. JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 112 Index Weight: 1.136872% JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) is a financial services company that operates through four segments – Consumer & Community Banking, Corporate & Investment Bank, Commercial Banking, and Asset & Wealth Management. JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) ranks 12th on the S&P 500 index based on weight. On May 15, the company declared a $1 per share quarterly dividend, in line with previous. The dividend is payable on July 31, to shareholders of record on July 6.  According to Insider Monkey’s first quarter database, 112 hedge funds were bullish on JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM), compared to 100 funds in the earlier quarter. Ken Griffin’s Citadel Investment Group is the largest position holder in the company.  Mairs & Power Growth Fund made the following comment about JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) in its first quarter 2023 investor letter: “Financials were roiled in the quarter thanks to the Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank failures. Even though the Fund has a similar weight to Financials as the index, our bank stocks—US Bank (USB), JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM), Wells Fargo (WFC), and Charles Schwab (SCHW)—fell more than the Financials sector and hurt relative performance. We have performed a thorough analysis of our banking stocks and believe that they will exit this banking event intact, and a few may even benefit from the sector turmoil. For example, JP Morgan, one of the banks deemed “too-big-to-fail,” has benefited from an inflow of deposits from smaller institutions. As such, the Fund took advantage of the volatility in the quarter and added to its position. With the selloff in the quarter, we have added to US Bank selectively, but more so to JPMorgan as it appears better positioned to gather deposits in the current environment.” 11. Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 86 Index Weight: 1.164214% Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), the American multinational healthcare corporation, is one of the top S&P 500 stocks by index weight. On April 18, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) reported a Q1 non-GAAP EPS of $2.68 and a revenue of $24.7 billion, outperforming Wall Street estimates by $0.18 and $1.09 billion, respectively.  According to Insider Monkey’s first quarter database, 86 hedge funds were bullish on Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), compared to 84 funds in the prior quarter. D E Shaw is a significant position holder in the company, with 3.9 million shares worth $608.7 million. In its Q2 2022 investor letter, Mayar Capital, an asset management firm, highlighted a few stocks and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) was one of them. Here is what the fund said: “Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) is currently our largest position and a long-standing holding. The majority of the group’s sales comes from its collection of pharmaceutical franchises, but a large majority (~45%) comes from its collection of medical device businesses and its consumer brands. Here’s how JNJ makes and spends a dollar of revenues: As of 2021, about 55 cents of that dollar comes from its pharmaceutical sales – sales of drugs to pharmacies and distributors – while 30 cents come from the sale of medical devices, such as surgery equipment and orthopedics. The rest of that dollar in sales comes from sales of JNJ’s consumer brands such as Listerine mouthwash, Nicorette nicotine tablets and Neutrogena cosmetics (…read more) 10. UnitedHealth Group Incorporated (NYSE:UNH) Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 116 Index Weight: 1.192834% UnitedHealth Group Incorporated (NYSE:UNH) is a diversified healthcare company that operates through four segments – UnitedHealthcare, Optum Health, Optum Insight, and Optum Rx. UnitedHealth Group Incorporated (NYSE:UNH) ranks 10th on the S&P 500 index. On June 7, the company declared a quarterly dividend of $1.88 per share, a 13.9% increase from its prior dividend of $1.65. The dividend is payable on June 27, to shareholders of record June 19.  According to Insider Monkey’s first quarter database, 116 hedge funds were bullish on UnitedHealth Group Incorporated (NYSE:UNH), compared to 110 funds in the earlier quarter. Andreas Halvorsen’s Viking Global is a prominent stakeholder of the company, with 2 million shares worth $992.4 million.  Mairs & Power Growth Fund made the following comment about UnitedHealth Group Incorporated (NYSE:UNH) in its first quarter 2023 investor letter: “The largest detractors from relative performance in the quarter were US Bank, Charles Schwab, UnitedHealth Group Incorporated (NYSE:UNH), and Hormel (HRL). UnitedHealth Group was hurt in the quarter as initial rate proposals for Medicare Advantage managed care were more negative than hoped. Fortunately, the final reimbursement rates announced after the quarter are not nearly as ominous.” 9. Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK-B) Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 108 Index Weight: 1.648476% Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK-B) operates insurance, freight rail transportation, and utility businesses worldwide. It ranks 9th on the S&P 500 index. In Q1 2023, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK-B)’s operating earnings increased 13% year-over-year as insurance underwriting and investment income skyrocketed. The company also repurchased approximately $4.4 billion of its common stock during the first quarter, up from $2.6 billion in Q4 2022.  According to Insider Monkey’s first quarter database, 108 hedge funds were bullish on Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK-B), compared to 110 funds in the preceding quarter.  Here is what Black Bear Value Fund has to say about Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK-B) in its Q3 2022 investor letter: “Going forward I expect Berkshire to compound at above average returns from this price. BRK is a collection of high-quality businesses, excellent management, and a good amount of optionality in their cash position. If the cash were to be deployed accretively, the true value would be greater than an 8% premium (as mentioned above). The combination of a pie that is growing, an increasing share of said pie due to stock buybacks, upside optionality from cash and a tight range of likely business outcomes that span a variety of economic futures gives me comfort in continuing to own Berkshire. 8. Meta Platforms, Inc. (NASDAQ:META) Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 220 Index Weight: 1.7168% With an index weight of 1.71%, Meta Platforms, Inc. (NASDAQ:META) ranks 8th on the S&P 500. On April 26, the tech giant reported a Q1 GAAP EPS of $2.20 and a revenue of $28.65 billion, outperforming Wall Street estimates by $0.23 and $990 million, respectively.  According to Insider Monkey’s first quarter database, 220 hedge funds were bullish on Meta Platforms, Inc. (NASDAQ:META), compared to 194 funds in the prior quarter. Philippe Laffont’s Coatue Management is a prominent stakeholder of the company, with 8 million shares worth $1.70 billion.  Here is what Baron Durable Advantage Fund has to say about Meta Platforms, Inc. (NASDAQ:META) in its Q1 2023 investor letter: “Shares of Meta Platforms, Inc., the world’s largest social network, were up 76.0% this quarter due to decisive cost discipline actions, improving adoption of new advertising products, the company’s work in generative artificial intelligence (AI), and the broader rally in technology stocks. Meta is the mega-cap technology company most focused on profitability through cost cutting, including layoffs of more than 20% of its staff and reductions in its data center and office footprint. On the top line, Meta continues growing its user base with daily average users up 5% year-over-year in the last quarter. Engagement remains healthy with impressions up 23% year-over-year, and newer advertising formats (like Instagram Reels) are reportedly picking up steam with 40% of advertisers now using Reels. Longer term, we believe Meta will utilize its leadership in mobile advertising, massive user base, innovative culture, and technological scale to sustain durable growth for years to come, with further monetization opportunities ahead in newer areas such as WhatsApp.” 7. Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 155 Index Weight: 1.727553% Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG), with an index weight of 1.72%, ranks 7th on the S&P 500 list. These are class C shares, and shareholders have no voting rights. On April 25, Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) reported a Q1 GAAP EPS of $1.17 and a revenue of $69.79 billion, topping Wall Street consensus by $0.10 and $950 million, respectively.  According to Insider Monkey’s first quarter database, 155 hedge funds were bullish on Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG), compared to 152 funds in the preceding quarter. Harris Associates is the biggest stakeholder of the company, with 36.90 million shares worth $3.8 billion.  Mairs & Power Growth Fund made the following comment about Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) in its first quarter 2023 investor letter: “As we have mentioned in previous months, we have slowly reduced our underweight position in the Technology sector over the past several years, as we have added a number of names that fit our investment strategy. Many of these investments had impressive returns in the quarter and our relative performance in the tech sector was a bright spot. Four out of our top 5 performing names in the quarter were either Technology or Technology-related names, including: NVIDIA (NVDA), Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG), Littelfuse (LFUS), and Microsoft (MSFT). The stocks all benefited from a positive shift in investor sentiment in the quarter toward growth stocks, reversing last year’s trend. NVIDIA, Alphabet, and Microsoft also all benefited from their exposure to artificial intelligence and the headlines garnered from the widespread launch of ChatGPT a large language model developed by Microsoft partner, OpenAI. In the current tight labor market, there is a lot of enthusiasm around the efficiency this technology could bring to many industries. Alphabet and Microsoft are working furiously to build it into their products and NVIDIA has benefited as it currently has the best hardware to train and run large AI algorithms.” 6. Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 204 Index Weight: 1.996184% Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) ranks 6th on the S&P 500 index, with an index weight of nearly 2%. GOOGL shares are class A shares and allow one vote per share. According to Insider Monkey’s first quarter database, 204 hedge funds were long Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL), compared to 209 funds in the last quarter.  In addition to Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), and Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), elite hedge funds are piling into Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL).  Here is what Crescat Capital has to say about Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) in its Q1 2023 investor letter: “It is very clear to us that Artificial Intelligence is in the speculative froth stage. Just like the Internet bubble in 2000, from an investment standpoint, we think the biggest threat from AI is to investors in the abundance of hyped-up overvalued technology businesses that are all perceived to be big future winners, even perhaps among the biggest past AI market share winners and perceived juggernauts. At current valuations, the tech stock leaders of the unprecedented prior 14-year cycle, who all claim AI as a key driver of their future business model, collectively have much more to lose than to gain in the ultimate reordering. Too many of these past tech winners are perceived to be big future winners once again in the emerging AI battle, which is simply not how it works. The really big future winners in AI are likely to be the much earlier-stage businesses that are highly successful in applying AI technology in totally new and disruptive ways. The truth is that the investing world at large has absolutely no clue who these companies are going to be yet. As historical evidence to support this thesis, two of the biggest disrupters from the Internet era were Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) and Facebook (META). Both these companies did not even emerge until AFTER the tech bust.” Click to continue reading and see Top 5 S&P 500 Stocks by Index Weight.    Suggested articles: 10 Largest Rare Earth Companies in the World 15 Best Places to Retire in Texas 11 Best Asian Stocks to Buy   Disclosure: None. Top 30 S&P 500 Stocks by Index Weight is originally published on Insider Monkey......»»

Category: topSource: insidermonkeyJun 24th, 2023

Jesse Watters" rise at Fox, from Bill O"Reilly"s ambush man to Tucker Carlson wannabe

Jesse Watters was once Bill O'Reilly's attack dog. Is he the man to win back Fox viewers after the network's acrimonious split with Tucker Carlson? Jesse Watters on "The Five" on Sept. 27, 2022 at FOX Studios in New York.Steven Ferdman/Getty ImagesJesse Watters was once Bill O'Reilly's attack dog. Is he the man to win back Fox viewers after the network's acrimonious split with Tucker Carlson?Jesse Watters seemed to be enjoying himself.Dressed to impress in a black tux, the Fox News host puffed on a cigarette as he chatted with a small circle of Fox News colleagues. Following the 2016 White House Correspondents' Dinner, ideological foes now stood elbow to elbow, drinks in hand, at MSNBC's swank after-party.At the time, Watters was best known for pulling off elaborately planned ambush interviews on "The O'Reilly Factor," then Fox News' top-rated show. Standing nearby was Ryan Grim, then the DC bureau chief for Huffington Post, and Grim's friend and colleague, the liberal blogger Amanda Terkel. Five years earlier, Terkel had landed in O'Reilly's crosshairs after she criticized a victims'-rights organization for having O'Reilly speak at a fundraiser. Watters had followed her from her home in Washington, DC, to a small beach town in Virginia where she was vacationing. There, on camera, he'd accosted her with angry questions about "why I was causing 'pain and suffering' to rape victims and their families," Terkel would later recall.Grim thought the incident with Terkel crossed a line. When someone mentioned Watters' presence at the party, Grim saw an opportunity to flip the script and get Watters to apologize to Terkel on camera. "I thought he was an obnoxious frat boy who just went around bullying people," Grim would later explain to Insider. "So I wanted to give him a dose of his own medicine."Grim turned on his phone camera and zeroed in on Watters. For a few minutes, Watters played along. "Oh yeah, she loves me!" Watters said. "Bring her over, bring her over." (Terkel, it was clear, had no interest in Grim's shenanigans and had shrunk back into the crowd.) "You went all the way out to, like, the middle of fucking nowhere," Grim shot back, leading Watters in Terkel's direction. "You can go five feet over there. Come on." The rest of the exchange is by now as infamous as it is embarrassing. Still smiling but clearly getting fed up, Watters swatted the phone out of Grim's hand. When Grim picked his phone up and trained it again on Watters, the smile was gone from Watters' face. After some bluster from both parties, things got physical. No one came out of it looking great. The next day, the Drudge Report wrote it up as a "brawl." The Washington Post called it a "nerdy fight" and allowed Grim one last dig: "Ambush guy can't take getting ambushed." At Fox, there was less concern about the fight itself than the fact that Watters had attended an MSNBC party at all. "Hey Champ, don't go into the other team's locker room after the game and spike the football," Fox CEO Roger Ailes told Watters, according to Watters' 2021 memoir, "How I Saved the World."But the most revealing thing about that night was the explanation Watters gave for why he'd gone after Terkel in the first place. "I ambushed her 'cause O'Reilly told me to get her," he'd said during the fracas.  Jesse Watters likes picking fights. And he is fiercely loyal to Fox News, his professional home of two decades, starting when he was 24. Though best known as O'Reilly's attack dog until O'Reilly was pushed out of the network in 2017, Watters was also key to the launch of the right-wing Fox Nation blog. As cohost of "The Five" and on his own 7 p.m. show, Watters delivers the network's talking points with a grin and a touch of levity. Now, as Fox prepares to relaunch its prime-time lineup following Tucker Carlson's abrupt ouster in April, Watters seems to be on everyone's shortlist to take on a bigger role at the network — and perhaps one of the network's most coveted slots. "He's able to laugh at himself, which takes the edge off a little bit," said Erik Wemple, the longtime media critic for The Washington Post. "The message he got under O'Reilly was that here we have a reward system, a license for being a jackass, and he has ridden that idea the whole way along."'A lack of a moral compass, honey'Jesse Watters has much in common with Tucker Carlson, the man whose shoes he would no doubt love to fill. They both come from prominent media families. Watters' great-grandfather published The Saturday Evening Post, and his maternal grandfather was the publisher of Better Homes & Gardens. Carlson's father, a local TV reporter, would go on to manage Voice of America.Both men attended exclusive private schools on the East Coast. Carlson, who's nine years older than Watters' 44, went to St. George's, a prep school in Middletown, Rhode Island. Watters attended exclusive Quaker schools in suburban Philadelphia and Long Island. Both went to college at Trinity, a liberal-arts school outside Hartford, Connecticut. Neither was a great student and both graduated a year late.Watters stands between Donald Trump's sons, Don Jr., left, and Eric, right, at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.Julio Cortez/APFrom there, their trajectories part ways. Carlson's family fractured when he was young. His mother left when he was 6 to pursue a more bohemian life as an artist, befriending the likes of David Hockney, and later cut her sons out of her will. But Carlson remained close with his father and even helped out on his unsuccessful bid to become the Republican mayor of San Diego. Watters' upbringing verged on crunchy, with mandatory summer stints in outdoor-leadership programs, he writes in his memoir. He describes his political "awakening," while at Trinity, rather literally: Waking up from a nap, Watters found the TV tuned to C-Span and something suddenly clicked."I was listening to the Senate floor speeches and realized the Republicans believed in the same things the Founding Fathers fought for: limited government and individual freedom," he writes.From there, he became a devoted listener of Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, the dominant right-wing shock jocks of the day, and discovered a love of provocation that would later become his bread and butter: triggering the libs. At first, this meant triggering his own family — introducing them to Limbaugh's show during breaks from Trinity."My dad could handle it, but it gave my mom road rage," Watters writes in his memoir. "She swerved into oncoming traffic once during a monologue about welfare reform. Limbaugh literally drives liberals crazy."Watters has found a far larger pool of libs to trigger since then, but he continues to delight in the consternation his politics provoke in his mom. He's known to occasionally read aloud the texts sent by his mom on "The Five." "You end up presenting a lack of a moral compass honey," Watters quoted her saying in response to a 2018 segment on the Mueller investigation. "We all know you are a Trumpet — you need not scream it."Watters and Carlson also took very different routes in their respective quests for right-wing stardom.Carlson got his start writing political profiles for glossy magazines and then brought his bow-tied, preppy conservatism to CNN as the cohost of "Crossfire" in 2001. Three years later, "Crossfire" got canceled after a notorious appearance by "The Daily Show" host Jon Stewart, who used the invitation to lambast the show for fueling partisan rancor and "hurting America." After a period of mid-career doldrums that included the cancellation of another show, this time on MSNBC, for low ratings, and an appearance on "Dancing With the Stars," Carlson arrived at Fox News in 2009. For the next eight years, he gradually built a name for himself at the network, until 2017, when O'Reilly's dismissal gave him the chance to take the prime-time throne.Watters, on the other hand, has been a company man at Fox since the age of 24. And while Tucker seized Fox's top bully pulpit to push the bounds of acceptable political discourse far to the right, popularizing the so-called "Great Replacement Theory" that was once relegated to the extreme backwaters of white-nationalist thought, it's not clear how invested Watters is in bucking orthodox political boundaries."He's a follower," Wemple said. "It's astonishing to me how little originality there is in the stuff that he says."Through a Fox spokesperson, Watters declined to comment for this story. The network also declined to comment about its coming programming decisions. Andrew Lawrence, who monitors Fox News as the deputy director of rapid response for the liberal watchdog Media Matters, agreed with Wemple's assessment of Watters. Carlson, by contrast, used the power of his plum prime-time slot to act as an "assignment editor" for right-wing discourse, aggressively pushing the envelope, while Watters has been content to follow the lead, Lawrence said."I don't think he really understands how to use that type of influence in the way that O'Reilly and Tucker did," Lawrence said. "He's just some guy who's been groomed to be a cable-news host, he has no expertise on anything. He just says the right words."A 'heat-seeking missile'Back in 2002, Watters spent his first days at Fox in a dungeon-like basement room labeling cassette tapes of news segments for $12 an hour, with no benefits, he writes in his memoir. When an opening for a production assistant came at "The O'Reilly Factor," which at the time was sometimes pulling in as many as 6 million viewers in a night, Watters leapt at the opportunity, and got it.Watters' first on-air opportunity came in 2003. An Alabama judge had recently sentenced a child sex offender to just 60 days in jail, and O'Reilly dispatched Watters to confront him on camera. As the judge tried to read from a prepared statement, Watters let loose with a rapid-fire stream of questions until the judge, shaken, disappeared back into his office. "I felt rude but righteous," Watters wrote. "It was an emotional octave that I cultivated professionally for years to come."O'Reilly loved it, and the telegenic young producer quickly began to serve as the show's "heat-seeking missile," as Watters would later put it. He honed his shock-and-awe tactics to catch a subject off guard and make them look as foolish, villainous, or incompetent as possible.  "The best way to handle me is to go totally mute," Watters writes in his memoir. "Don't give me anything to work with. What you say can be used against you in the court of public opinion."Watters has always justified his ambushes as a tactic or last resort, an aggressive pursuit of the truth. Watters in Chinatown.Fox NewsBut in reality, "The O'Reilly Factor" staff would sometimes make only a cursory effort to reach a subject for comment, according to Joe Muto, who joined "The Factor" in 2007 as a producer and worked alongside Watters on the show for five years."It makes for good television to have Jesse chasing someone down the street and the guy slams the door in his face," Muto said.  Muto, who would become infamous in 2012 when he was fired for leaking unaired Fox News footage to Gawker, was much more liberal than Watters but still speaks fondly of him. "Jesse was conservative, and he'd talk about that openly," Muto said. "But he wasn't as ideological as some other people. He was always focused on what was gonna make good television. He always knew it was a game."Watters stood out as a favorite among the other junior staff and was the only one who consistently made it on camera, Muto recalled. While most of the staff wore jeans and T-shirts, Watters nearly always showed up to work in a suit, and often earlier than anyone else."Jesse was always sort of first among equals," said Muto. "It always struck me that he had his eye on the brass ring. He looked the part of a person who should be on air."By 2011, Watters had his own recurring segment called "Watters' World." Watters would head to Ivy League colleges, or to protests in left-leaning cities, or to festivals in progressive enclaves like Telluride to produce heavily edited videos that highlighted the goofy, outrageous, or dumb things things people would say on camera. Sometimes, as with Terkel, he would face blowback. In 2016, he faced a storm of controversy for a segment shot in New York's Chinatown that many critics called racist, prompting a rare apology from Watters. A rising starClowning on college kids and sticking cameras in the faces of people who irked O'Reilly made Jesse Watters famous. Less well known is the role Watters played in the birth of Fox Nation, a blog that helped signal and urge along the network's rightward drift.Launched in 2009 with Watters as managing editor, Fox Nation was a clearinghouse for interesting links that might not reach the level of a television segment but that could still get a rise out of the network's fan base and generate ad revenue. It was nakedly partisan, playing on every cultural and political flash point it could to stoke — and capitalize on — the grievances of an increasingly embittered right.As managing editor, Watters was in charge of the site's tone and content. On a given day, the site would serve up rage-bait stories with headlines like "Obama Dishonors Medal of Honor Winners with Horrible Gaffe," "Transgender Mayor Takes Heat for Skimpy Outfits," and "Lefties Complain CIA Doctors Violated Al Qaeda's 'Medical Privacy.'""I remember watching in astonishment," Wemple said. "That was all a precursor to what Fox News has become day in and day out now."Fox Nation was designed to expose the cravenness of liberals, with a heavy emphasis on culture-war issues — a tendency that has mutated over the years into even more extreme fare. In retrospect, Fox Nation was a "mask-off moment" for the network, which at the time still clung to its "Fair and Balanced" slogan, said Muto, the former O'Reilly producer."The guys who ran the website were old-school hard-news guys and tried to run the site traditionally, with at least a hint of neutrality," Muto told Insider. "I think Fox Nation arose out of people's frustration that the website wouldn't go more like Breitbart."Watters' own star also continued to rise. In 2015, his "Watters' World" segment became its own monthly show. According to a source who interacted with Watters at Fox before and after he got his own show, the success could go to Watters' head. He became, the source said bluntly, a "total douchebag.""Fox News is the créme de la créme of people who have some kind of complex, a need for popularity, but deep down inside, they're not cool," the source told Insider, speaking on condition of anonymity to avoid retaliation from Fox. "And so when he got his show, he started acting like he was really cool. Just really smug."Then everything changed. In July 2016, CEO Roger Ailes left the network in the wake of numerous sexual-harassment claims, including from stars like Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly.The revelations hit Fox News like an earthquake, and prompted an explosion of new accusations against prominent men at the network — and the aggressive efforts the network undertook to keep those accusations from the public. Among the men who came under the microscope was Watters' mentor, Bill O'Reilly.An advertisement for The O'Reilly Factor is displayed at News Corp's New York headquarters on April 5, 2017.Spencer Platt/Getty ImagesOn April 1, 2017, The New York Times revealed that O'Reilly, Fox News, and its parent company had settled sexual-harassment claims brought by five women, totaling $13 million. Within weeks, O'Reilly was forced out of the network where he had reigned supreme for more than 20 years. (A sixth settlement came to light later, bringing the total to $45 million paid to O'Reilly's accusers.)Watters maneuvered well through this chaotic period. Back in January, "Watters' World" had gone from monthly to weekly, airing on Saturday nights. That April, O'Reilly's exit overshadowed more good news for Watters, who debuted just days later on Fox's roundtable show, "The Five."Chopping it up with cohosts who over the years have included Kimberly Guilfoyle, fellow funnyman Greg Gutfeld, and token liberal Juan Williams, Watters mixed an increasingly strident conservatism with wit and a good-natured affect. "His job on 'The Five' was basically to attack Juan Williams, and he did it with gusto," Wemple said, calling Watters the "cackling court jester."But that sense of humor has also gotten him in trouble: Just two days after his debut as a cohost on "The Five," Watters abruptly went off the air for a few days after catching flak for a lewd comment he made about Ivanka Trump. In 2019, Watters briefly became tabloid fodder when it emerged that his wife, with whom he had twin daughters, had dumped him a year prior because of his reported affair with a Fox News producer, Emma DiGiovine. His personal life faded from the gossip pages after he settled down with DiGiovine, whom he married that year and with whom he now has two children.Watters on the set of his show "Jesse Watters Primetime."John Lamparski/Getty ImagesDespite these bumps in the road, Watters has been a staple of Fox News programming. In early 2022, "Jesse Watters Primetime" debuted, airing right before "Hannity." Within a year, Watters was drawing upward of 3 million viewers a night, occasionally even beating Carlson's ratings. As part of the Fox News prime-time slate, he has remained well ahead of his competitors at CNN and MSNBC but rarely captured the level of attention given to Sean Hannity at 8 p.m. and Carlson at 9. Since Carlson's departure in April, various hosts, including Watters, have tried their hand at his slot. But thus far, none have managed to stem the exodus of viewers from the network. Happy warriorOn his nightly show, Watters serves up right-wing red meat to an increasingly polarized audience while softening the delivery. "He still is kind of that happy warrior, always going for the joke, always has a smile on his face — or a smirk if you're being less charitable," Muto said. "I think he learned that from O'Reilly, that you have to be judicious in your anger and always mix in a bit of levity."His shows are densely littered with culture-war signifiers: "illegals" are overrunning the country, the "Biden crime family" is a virtual mafia clan, Democrat-run cities like New York and Los Angeles are violent wastelands populated by drug-addled unhoused people (who chose to be on the streets, by the way), and drag queens are coming for your kids — if critical-race theory doesn't get them first. In one painfully drawn-out bit, Watters and a guest joked at length at the idea of teenage boys unwittingly masturbating to a transgender model on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.In the balancing act between outright denial of the results of the 2020 presidential election and alienating Fox's conservative base by accepting the results, Watters has proven flexible indeed. "Right now, there's evidence out there," he said on "The Five" on November 16, 2020, more than a week after Biden had been declared victorious. "You've seen the affidavits. You've seen the irregularities. And this will be administered in court, and we'll find out what the result is."He took a more careful approach on his own show, "Watters' World," bringing on guests like Newt Gingrich to sow doubt as Watters nodded along in concern, rarely pushing back on baseless claims of fraud. And it paid off: Amid the media frenzy surrounding Fox's $787.5 million settlement with Dominion Voting Systems, Watters managed to keep a low profile, though a tranche of leaked texts offered a glimpse into how he was maneuvering behind the scenes. In one exchange with Carlson obtained by The Daily Beast, Watters argued that hosts like Neil Cavuto and Chris Wallace, whom he deemed to be insufficiently pro-Trump, should be canned. Watters looks on as then-Vice President Mike Pence greets Emma DiGiovine, Watters' wife and producer, following a June 2020 interview.Tom Brenner/Reuters"Need some fresh blood," Watters wrote, according to The Daily Beast. "Should hire some trump people." (Cavuto remains at the network. Wallace left Fox News in late 2021.)It remains to be seen if Watters can live up to the role for which he has been gunning for so many years, and win back the millions of viewers who have abandoned Fox since Carlson's exit. The source familiar with Watters' position within Fox News during the 2010s cited Watters' long years of service to the network as the key to understanding his rise to stardom."There's a supertight network of people who are part of the 'OG crew,'" the source told Insider. "There's not many of them left."And that could be just what Fox News is looking for. Carlson's show did a lot to build up Carlson's personal brand, but his racist, xenophobic, and misogynistic rhetoric became toxic to many advertisers. Watters, whose entire career has been at Fox News, might be a safer bet, according to Muto, the former O'Reilly producer."He's not a total ideologue, and he's malleable enough that he can fill any role you want," Muto said. "Goofy ambush guy? Yeah! Angry cohost on 'The Five'? Yep! He Learned from Bill that the No. 1 rule is to get viewers and keep your advertisers happy."(Additional reporting by Jack Newsham and Katherine Long)Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 16th, 2023

Tucker Carlson Takes Aim At "Wannabe Dictator" Joe Biden

Tucker Carlson Takes Aim At "Wannabe Dictator" Joe Biden After delivering an epic condemnation of the Deep State ('permanent Washington') in his previous episode - which has now been view over 90 million times - Tucker Carlson turns his acerbic eye first to his former employer - Fox News - and then to the "wannabe dictator" in The White House. On Tuesday this week, shortly after former President Trump's arrest, Fox News ran two video feeds (of Biden and Trump) simultaneously with the following chyron: "wannabe dictator speaks at The White House after having his political rival arrested." The words were on the screen less than 30 seconds but the effect was immediate inside Fox as Carlson notes "the women who run the network panicked... first they scolded the producer... less than 24 hours after that, he resigned (he'd been at Fox for more than a decade, considered one of the most capable people in the building." Then, the company issued a public apology: "the chyron was taken down immediately," adding ominously that the situation was "addressed." The rest of the media were 'outraged' - "suggesting Biden is a dictator crossed the line" remarked The Washington Post. Several members of the liberati called for the banning of any criticism of the President, laughingly demanding an action that only dictators would do, demanding actions against Fox News, such as banning it from military bases or revoking its broadcasting license. But here's the former Fox News host's first point: "Democrats were very very angry... but why were they angry? If the banner was false, why the hysteria? Lies don't seem to bother anyone anymore... if some cable news producer had called Biden a genius, or secretly Sudanese, would anyone be yallin gabout it?" So, calling Joe Biden a 'wannabe dictator' apparently crossed the line: "So, if you're being honest with yourself, you have to wonder if Joe Biden is a wannabe dictator?" The White House spokesperson's response was akin to 'of course, Joe Biden is not a dictator, just because he wants to put his political opponent in jail for a crime that he himself committed...doesn't mean he has a totalitarian impulse'. Carlson sarcastically questions whether Biden is actually a dictator by highlighting characteristics of dictators, such as enriching themselves, suppressing protests, censoring dissent, and surveillance. "It is not an easy thing to be a dictator" Carlson remarks, "there are a lot of steps." "...there's nothing the population can do about it in a dictatorship, it's no longer possible to fight injustice." None of that sounds like anything Biden would do right? Not-dictator-y at all... Watch the latest Tucker on Twitter episode below: Ep. 4 Wannabe Dictator pic.twitter.com/MDcs5g0gxB — Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) June 15, 2023 Full transcript below: (00:00) Hey it's Tucker Carlson. On Tuesday afternoon the Biden administration had Donald Trump arrested it was a pretty big news story you may have seen it. Just before 9 pm that night as part of its coverage Fox News ran two live video feeds next to one another on the right Donald Trump addressed his supporters in New Jersey on the left Joe Biden spoke at an event for the Secretary General of NATO in Washington beneath those videos at the bottom of the screen Fox's Banner read this way "wannabe dictator speaks at the (00:32) White House after having his political rival arrested." Those words are up for less than 30 seconds but the effect was immediate. Inside Fox the women who run the network panicked first they scolded the producer who put the banner on the screen. Less than 24 hours after that he resigned. He'd been at Fox for more than a decade he was considered one of the most capable people in the building. He offered to stay for the customary two weeks but Fox told him to clear out his desk and leave immediately Then the company issued a public apology (01:02) for the 27 second long wannabe dictator Line "the Chiron was taken down immediately" Fox's PR department said and then added ominously it was "addressed" That was all true but it was not enough to save Fox News from the ensuing scandal. For a time in the rest of the media Fox's assessment of Donald Trump's arrest seemed to overshadow Trump's arrest itself. "Suggesting that Biden is a dictator" declared the Washington Post quote "crossed the line". Alexander Vindman agreed strongly. Vindman is the perennial MSNBC (01:38) guest, and full-time Ukraine promoter you may remember from Russia gate. On Twitter he demanded that the Pentagon pulled Fox News from all military bases it is "absolutely unacceptable for American forces Network to carry programming that directly spuriously attacks the commander-in-chief of American armed forces". Vindman wrote in other words Joe Biden must ban all criticism of himself because that's what non-dictators do. John Cusack went further still "for the crime of calling Biden a dictator Fox should be shut down" wrote (02:12) the 80s era movie star. "The government has to take away their broadcasting license" and so on was all over the Internet. Democrats were very very angry but why were they angry if the banner on Fox was false why the hysteria lies don't seem to bother anyone anymore. If some cable news producer had called Joe Biden a genius or accused him of being secretly Sudanese would anyone be yelling about it would Fox News have apologized for it probably not but calling Joe Biden a wannabe dictator that stung. So you've got to wonder if you're being (02:50) honest with yourself is Joe Biden a wannabe dictator. That question came up yesterday at the White House briefing here's how it went "last night Fox News ran a Chiron that referred to the president as a wannabe dictator and I'm wondering if White House has any comment on so look there are probably about 787 million things that I can say about this that was wrong about what we saw last night but I don't think I'm gonna get into it there's no comments on White House I think I just commented." Oh no comment necessary of course Joe Biden is not a wannabe dictator just because he's trying to put the other candidate in prison for the rest of his life for a crime he himself committed doesn't mean he has a totalitarian impulse come on that's absurd. It takes a lot more than jailing your political Rivals to earn the title wannabe dictator that's the consensus in Washington tonight and in some ways for once the consensus may be right. It is not a small thing to be a wannabe dictator it's quite a (03:51) process there are a lot of steps. First off there is the money - the one thing that all dictators have in common is they enrich themselves and their families their tribe even as the countries they govern grow steadily poorer and more desperate.They take kickbacks from businesses and from other dictators they use the official functions of their government to funnel cash to themselves they don't bother to hide the fruits of this they live in garish mansions with big Lawns far from the teeming cities even as their own citizens languish in growing (04:25) poverty in some cases literally living in tents on the street. So they don't really hide it - it's all pretty blatant and Ordinary People resent it of course they do and want to be dictators know they resent it but they don't care there's nothing the population can do about it in a dictatorship it's no longer possible to fight Injustice in a system like that. People can't gather in large numbers to protest the rule of the dictator. If they try that they'll be arrested by a state Security Services even years after the (04:55) fact a visit for men in body armor at The Breakfast Table that happens and if citizens persist in believing they can gather in groups to protest they may be shot to death a bullet to the throat and then just to make the humiliation complete to make the lesson gin clear to everyone else watching their relatives can be arrested for daring to complain that their children were killed for complaining. That actually happens in some places ask Ashley Babbitt's mother. Here she is in handcuffs foreign 's mother much less like poor Ashley (05:45) Babbitt she's dead now that's the message you'll want to be dictator would send and by the way it's not just public protest that would be banned in a dictatorship you wouldn't be allowed to complain from your own home. Unauthorized opinions expressed on the internet would be censored. Go too far press too deep tell too much truth and they'll just erase your opinions. They have no choice really it's a matter as they say of trust and safety, you must trust the leader or else you will jeopardize his safety, not that you (06:15) really can jeopardize his safety at this point the leader has nuclear weapons and you don't he'll remind you of that from time to time In any case you're in the process of being disarmed anyway along with everyone else who has shown questionable loyalty to the leader those who support the regime can keep their weapons and use them freely including on public transportation. That's a core Civil Right for them but for those who dissent from the program self-defense is an unaffordable privilege turn in your (06:43) guns. Mr & Mrs peaceful opposition you're a danger to society and We Know Who You Are and in fact the wannabe dictator does know who they are because he knows everything technology has made him All-Seeing. A report in Wired Magazine just this week revealed that the highly non-dictatorial by demonstration is busy tracking the phones of millions of Americans without their knowledge and without bothering to get a warrant and at the same time the same non-dictatorial Administration is stockpiling a massive Trove of damaging (07:14) information about these same Americans to be used at some point we are sure for entirely Noble purposes. So the administration now knows everything: where you spend your days, who you talk to, what you think, your porn habits. Not a big deal the administration already knows what you buy of course because they've leaned on the big Banks to turn over your confidential credit card information not because anyone here is a wannabe dictator to be clear but just because it's nice to have that information just in case in the words of (07:45) the Fox News PR department a situation arises that needs to be quote addressed. It's all totally normal it's not a dictatorship okay. But in the end the main reason you know Joe Biden is not a wannabe dictator is because he just does not fit the profile. As a man dictators have that look you know one when you see one. Dictators build Cults of personality around themselves and they use those called to deny the glaringly obvious. In his later years named just one example North Korean dictator Kim il-sung developed an enormous (08:19) baseball-sized tumor on the back of his neck it was huge it was grotesque it was right there you couldn't ignore it you couldn't possibly not see it but in North Korea State media did ignore it - they pretended it didn't exist and so in some important sense it didn't if a tumor grows on a neck but no one acknowledges it is it really there. Thankfully nothing like that is happening in our country or ever will . If Joe Biden never developed some profound physical or medical problem that was obvious to everybody journalists would (08:51) say something, this is not North Korea. We don't have state media here if Joe Biden was say incapable of completing a full sentence or mistook his sister for his wife or suddenly started falling down in public for no reason the New York Times would report on that and then get to the bottom of what was actually happening. That would be its Duty in a free country like ours. It's not like they would cover it up the very idea of a cover-up sounds like a conspiracy theory a dangerous one actually so stop it and by the way if Joe Biden was a (09:22) wannabe dictator he'd have the family to match - all dictators do. Saddam Hussein had Uday and kuse they were princelings who lived Above the Law indulging their most decadent fantasies with total confidence they would be never held to account by the police. As the sons of a dictator they knew they could do exactly what they wanted and so that's what they did. There's no one like that around Joe Biden - he doesn't have weird sex scandals at the heart of his family that no one in the media will ever talk about; he doesn't have a near (09:52) do well former nightclub owning brother who's made a living for 30 years by being related to him. Not at all that's dictator stuff. Joe Biden doesn't award ridiculous inflated titles to his relatives that the media are then required to take seriously; he doesn't call people Doctor who didn't go to medical school and then force you to nod along like it's real when everyone knows it isn't - Nikolai chesco did that with his wife Elena. Joe Biden would never do that. Notice Joe Biden dressed like a dictator (10:19) he doesn't do photo ops and mirrored sunglasses driving a sports car to convince you that he isn't frail and senile; but instead powerful viral and wise, that's just not his style. If Joe Biden was a dictator he'd be wearing epaulettes and carrying a tasseled riding crop and he isn't yet so calm down if he was a dictator Biden's speeches would look like Nuremberg rallies a blood red backdrop armed Soldiers by his side screaming about crushing his eternal enemies honestly Biden did come close to that (10:50) one time last September at a speech in Philadelphia but it wasn't in any sense dictatory dictatory. It was necessary as MSNBC assures at the time quote Biden aimed to Showcase his faith in the military apparatus - in its ability to back the Democratic order see it was about democracy not dictatorship, no cause for alarm, he is not a dictator. A dictator would stockpile ammunition for his own bureaucrats including his tax collectors; he'd redefine the legal code to make disloyalty to the regime the most serious crime. He claimed dominion over (11:24) the most intimate parts of his citizens lives - he defined what attitudes they were allowed to have about sex and religion and how to raise their families. He would even in his final grandiose stage of dictatorship claim ownership of their children and Joe Biden wouldn't do that and to prove he would never do that Biden just this week released this video: "these are our kids these are our neighbors not somebody else's kids they're all our kids and our children are the kite strings that hold our national ambitions (11:56) aloft. - it matters a great deal how we treat everyone in this country, lgbtq Americans, especially children you're loved you're heard and this Administration has your back." See Joe Biden isn't saying your children belong to him like a dictator would he's saying something very different from that he's saying America's children are quote our children not his alone ours. You share your children with Joe Biden evenly right down the middle with alternating weekends you've got joint custody with Joe Biden and you can thank (12:30) heaven that you do. A nation is like a family every family has a head a father that's Joe Biden our nation's father and this ladies and gentlemen is now his Fatherland just don't call it a dictatorship or we'll have to issue a statement disavowing you know the death of Jeffrey. Tyler Durden Fri, 06/16/2023 - 07:11.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJun 16th, 2023