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Fathom Adds Woodhouse Group to Network

Fathom Realty recently announced that the Woodhouse Group has joined Fathom with the addition of approximately 50 agents in the Idaho market. Effective immediately, Woodhouse Group agents will operate under the Fathom Realty umbrella. Terms were not disclosed. Based in the Boise foothills of Eagle, Idaho, Woodhouse Group Real Estate is a full-service brokerage that […] The post Fathom Adds Woodhouse Group to Network appeared first on RISMedia. Fathom Realty recently announced that the Woodhouse Group has joined Fathom with the addition of approximately 50 agents in the Idaho market. Effective immediately, Woodhouse Group agents will operate under the Fathom Realty umbrella. Terms were not disclosed. Based in the Boise foothills of Eagle, Idaho, Woodhouse Group Real Estate is a full-service brokerage that is consistently ranked among the top-ten residential real estate companies in Boise by the Idaho Business Review. “We are thrilled to have the Woodhouse Group join the Fathom family,” said Josh Harley, CEO of Fathom, in a statement. “We are seeing more agents come to Fathom because of our company culture and flat-fee commission model, as well as our providing the highest level of support, technology and training that enables agents to be more successful and earn more money. With the addition of the Woodhouse Group and our acquisition of Epic Realty earlier this year, we have increased our market position in Idaho to almost 400 agents. By adding free services such as LiveBy, a hyperlocal data and technology platform, together with our mortgage, title, and insurance offerings, Fathom continues to disrupt the real estate market by providing everything a traditional brokerage offers, while helping our agents grow their businesses and enjoy higher incomes through significant savings on their commissions.” Fathom Holdings announced in June the completion of its acquisition of Epic Realty through Fathom Realty. Based in Meridian, Idaho, near Boise, Epic Realty has now fully integrated into the Fathom network and the agents are benefiting from the platform’s offerings. “The opportunity to become part of the Fathom family and their unique, extremely high level of technology, support and service for agents and clients is something about which we are way beyond excited,” said Orson Woodhouse, founder and CEO of Woodhouse Group Real Estate, in a statement. “The combination of Fathom’s agent-servant philosophy and service, along with our new construction and development expertise, will prove to be a powerful force in the Idaho market now and into the long-term future.” Fathom Realty also announced the appointment of Mary Smith as District Director, Boise, Idaho. In this role, Smith will join the existing local leadership team and will be responsible for continuing agent growth and support. Smith, an industry veteran with more than 16 years of real estate experience, previously served as designated broker and managing broker for Century 21 and Keller Williams, respectively. Smith also is a REALTOR® of the Year award recipient and currently serves as the president of Women’s Council of REALTORS® for the Boise Metro Network. For more information, please visit www.fathomrealty.com. The post Fathom Adds Woodhouse Group to Network appeared first on RISMedia......»»

Category: realestateSource: rismediaNov 25th, 2021

Linda Evangelista says CoolSculpting left her disfigured. Five women say it happened to them too

After supermodel Linda Evangelista filed a lawsuit saying CoolSculpting had left her disfigured, others say the thing thing happened to them. A doctor holds the instrument used in CoolSculpting.Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images CoolSculpting has been sold as a quick and easy route to a slimmer silhouette. Supermodel Linda Evangelista filed a lawsuit in September saying CoolSculpting left her disfigured due to an adverse reaction known as PAH. Sometimes called the "stick of butter effect," PAH may be more common than people think. Insider talked to women who experienced it.  For the last decade, CoolSculpting has been marketed as a noninvasive way to reduce love handles or a double chin that's quick and easy enough to schedule over your lunch break.More than 11 million treatments have been administered worldwide by dermatologists, plastic surgeons, and medical spas. In the last 12 months, CoolSculpting was the 5th most-searched procedure globally, according to plastic surgery reviews site, RealSelf.com.Khloe Kardashian and Kris Jenner are CoolSculpting fans. The actress and model Molly Sims became a spokeswoman after she credited CoolSculpting with helping her slim down following her pregnancy. Since CoolSculpting was cleared by the FDA in 2010, non-invasive body contouring has grown into a $992 million business. There are other similar devices, like EmSculpt Neo (which uses electromagnetic energy) or Sculpsure (which employs lasers). But CoolSculpting is the most popular and widely used procedure for getting rid of stubborn fat.So when supermodel Linda Evangelista, one of the most photographed women of the 1990s, announced via Instagram that the treatment left her "brutally disfigured," it came as a shock. Evangelista said she had developed an adverse reaction that's known as PAH, or paradoxical adipose hyperplasia. "To my followers who have wondered why I have not been working while my peers' careers have been thriving, the reason is that I was brutally disfigured by Zeltiq's CoolSculpting procedure which did the opposite of what it promised," Evangelista wrote. A post shared by Linda Evangelista (@lindaevangelista)  By many accounts, CoolSculpting has helped a lot of people get the body they want. The procedure has a 73% "worth it" rating (based on 4,377 reviews) on RealSelf.com.But like every medical procedure, cosmetic or not, there's a risk of adverse effects. CoolSculpting's marketing and safety materials say that PAH is a risk, but that it's rare and correctable with "surgical intervention, such as liposuction." PAH is often described as the "stick of butter effect" – an unnatural bulge that takes the rectangular shape of the CoolSculpting applicator. Others experience irregular shapes of lumpy deposits of tissue in the treated area or other side effects that they might mistake for gaining weight.A patient of Misbah Khan MD who, Khan said, developed PAH after getting CoolSculpting on the outer thigh.Misbah Khan MDInsider has interviewed five women who said that they developed PAH after CoolSculpting. Like Evangelista, four of the women had to have multiple corrective procedures, and none felt that the issue was fully fixed. The fifth patient plans to seek additional treatment, but had to delay it due to the pandemic."It felt like an apron of gelatin," said one woman, who Insider is calling Angela." It was very firm and thick and there was a difference in viscosity." A spokesperson from Allergan Aesthetics, which purchased Zeltiq in 2017, declined to respond to a detailed list of questions from Insider. AbbVie, the parent company of Allergan Aesthetics, also did not reply to a request for comment. The concept of CoolSculpting is that it uses cryolipolysis, or fat freezing, to kill fat cells underneath the skin for a slimmer, more sculpted body in a matter of one to three months. A technician pulls the flesh of the target area between two paddles to cool the tissue to below freezing temperatures. While multiple sessions might be required, the patient can be in and out within an hour. According to Paul M. Friedman, MD, a dermatologist and laser surgeon based in Houston and New York whose practice offers CoolSculpting and who has authored papers and case studies on PAH, said PAH "remains a rare adverse event," given the number of treatments overall."Cryolipolysis has a well established safety profile and is an effective noninvasive treatment option for patients who are the right candidate for this treatment," Dr. Friedman said. But some patients who've experienced PAH question whether patients are being adequately warned about the seriousness of the risks. There have been at least two class-action lawsuits filed in recent years against the companies behind CoolSculpting, and several hundred user accounts regularly share information about the procedure's side effects on Facebook."The biggest problem with the whole situation is the manufacturer is in charge of the reporting," said Louiza Tarrasova, a Florida-based personal injury attorney who has been litigating CoolSculpting claims since 2018. (Tarrasova is on the legal team behind the two class action suits. Two support groups for CoolSculpting patients have formed on Facebook with a total of around 600 members, and Tarrasova serves as the administrator of both.) When things go wrong patients simply reach out to their provider, who then reaches out to the manufacturer, Tarrasova said. The manufacturer then might reach a private agreement with the patient that the company will pay for a corrective procedure, like liposuction, and be released from liability, Tarrasova said.  A welcome fix for stubborn fatIn Evangelista's case, her dermatologist performed seven cycles of CoolSculpting on her abdomen, flanks, back and bra area, inner thighs, and chin between 2015 and 2016, according to her lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in New York and is unrelated to the class action cases. Within a few months of the treatments, her suit alleges, she had developed hard, painful masses underneath her skin in spots where the CoolSculpting applicators were applied, and she was eventually diagnosed with PAH. Evangelista says that Zeltiq agreed to pay for corrective liposuction, only to back out of the agreement 24 hours before the scheduled procedure when Evanglista refused to sign a waiver releasing the company from liability. She had the surgery anyway, but said the PAH masses were back within months.The same thing happened after her second liposuction procedure, which, she said, also left her with permanent scarring. Five patients interviewed by Insider said that Evangelista's story is unfortunately all too familiar. Two were able to provide thorough documentation related to getting the treatment and then corrective procedures for PAH, while three others offered evidence for key pieces of their stories. Angela, who asked that Insider conceal her real name but provided surgical notes from her corrective procedures, didn't think much about the small patch of flab on her lower abdomen. It was during a visit to a medical spa for laser hair removal in February 2017 that she said the technician recommended CoolSculpting. "I thought it would eliminate the 'extra' in that area," Angela says.Five months later, the tissue in the area had expanded, she said in an interview. Curiously, it had also become rubbery and tough, what she described as an "apron of gelatin."A patient of Misbah Khan, MD that was taken prior to corrective surgical treatment for PAH.Misbah Khan, MD"I couldn't get on a single dress I owned. I was horrified," she said.  That October, Angela found out it was PAH, and was told she needed surgery to correct it. When she reached out to the provider who performed her CoolSculpting, she was referred to the manufacturer, Zeltiq. In an interview, Angela said that she spoke to a representative from Zeltiq to say that she believed she had PAH and was offered reimbursement for corrective liposuction surgery.She also discussed her case with Tarrasova, the lawyer, but has not joined in any of the lawsuits.What concerns Angela more than the lingering physical effects, is the amount of mystery still surrounding PAH. It's unclear why some people develop it, and others don't. It's also not clear what exactly causes it."They make it seem like it's not a big deal, and it's not true," she said. "If it goes wrong, the results are so devastating."'A rare adverse event'When CoolSculpting was first cleared by the FDA in 2010, PAH wasn't on the FDA's radar. That's because among adults, it's a phenomenon that almost exclusively develops as a result of noninvasive body sculpting procedures like cryolipolysis, explains Misbah Khan, MD, a dermatologic surgeon based in New York. The first time PAH related to CoolSculpting was reported in the medical literature more broadly was 2014.Much of the existing research on the incidence of PAH is conflicting. In 2018, the manufacturer estimated one PAH case per 4,000 treatment cycles (it's standard for patients to receive more than one cycle of treatment).Zeltiq and its parent companies have received at least 7,798 reports of PAH since 2009, court documents say, though it's unclear if a single report represents one patient or just one treatment area and the manufacturer did not respond to questions about this. The company deemed 5,920 of those reports as confirmed and 1,878 as unconfirmed. "It's very hard to get the right number because people are very embarrassed to talk about it. For some patients it may go unnoticed at first. The problems are undiagnosed," said Dr. Khan, who authored a 2019 paper on treating PAH. "What's likely closer to reality is the higher number." Louiza Tarrasova, the lawyer, first started digging into CoolSculpting in 2018 after a man approached her about seeking damages related to a PAH diagnosis. Their case was not ultimately not successful – the judge ruled that the CoolSculpting provider had been adequately warned of the risks by the company. They have since filed an appeal. The experience convinced Tarrasova that there could be more to investigate about adverse effects related to CoolSculpting. Patients who have been through PAH talk about wanting their bodies to return to normal, but it's not clear whether that's a realistic outcome.  The inflammatory response that they experienced after CoolSculpting can result in fibrous scar tissue that is difficult to remove. A patient of Misbah Khan MD who, Khan said, developed PAH after getting CoolSculpting.Misbah Khan MDMoreover, the inflammatory response can be long-lasting, and when you add corrective surgical procedures to the mix, you're adding more trauma and damage to tissues that are already struggling to heal, Dr. Khan said. The tissue may never return to "normal.""You're also dealing with an altered metabolism overall," Dr. Khan said, noting that some patients with PAH will experience unexplained weight gain throughout the body as a response to the damaged areas of fat. "Fat is an organ. It stores excess calories. When you have damaged fat, other places in the body will begin to store that excess," Dr. Khan said. "You're dealing with a global response."Even when PAH is diagnosed appropriately it is hard to get it treated because it's a relatively new phenomenon. Many doctors and surgeons aren't sure how to treat it effectively. "They're shooting in the dark," Dr. Khan said. This adds another layer of frustration to an extremely painful process of serious surgeries, which themselves can give rise to complications. Damaged fatIn her Instagram post, Evangelista wrote about the shame of living with what she considered a "disfigured" body and said she had become a recluse. "PAH has not only destroyed my livelihood, it has sent me into a cycle of deep depression, profound sadness, and the lowest depths of self-loathing," she wrote. Diana, who also asked Insider to conceal her identity, is an MD dermatologist herself. She got CoolSculpting done four times between 2014 and 2015 on her flanks and abdomen. Her first treatment was done by one of the dermatologist's responsible for bringing CoolSculpting technology to market, she said. Another of her treatments was done at her workplace during training after her boss had bought a CoolSculpting machine. She says she has gone through the CoolSculpting training herself, seen the photos of PAH in a lecture from the technology's lead investigator during her residency training, and spoken to company reps directly. It still took nearly two years for her to be diagnosed with PAH, and only after she got more sessions of CoolSculpting done—which was recommended by her provider after it appeared at first not to work. "It doesn't always present the way they say it does in the training," Diana said. "In the photos, it looks like a shelf. Mine looked like a bulge." She's since had two liposuction procedures as well as an abdominoplasty that led to her losing sensation in her abdomen. The masses in her abdomen feel like they are growing back again, but at this point she can't fathom having another procedure. Diana believes many of her colleagues simply misdiagnose PAH as weight gain following the procedure. She said she's on a group chat with a number of dermatologists, who reacted to news of Linda Evangelista's lawsuit by ridiculing her with comments like "maybe she just started to eat lots of ice cream." Danielle, a nurse practitioner in South Carolina who is part of the class action suit in California but requested that she not be identified by her real name for fear of attracting harassment, describes her experience with PAH and the surgeries to correct it as "pure hell." After developing PAH in 2019, she had an abdominoplasty and a liposuction procedure in 2020. For both, the recoveries were painful. She got infections in her wounds. The stress of the experience caused a Shingles flare-up. She couldn't care for her family or work for months."Since then it feels like it's coming back," she said. "I don't know what to do anymore. Every day I have spasms in my abdomen. I can't stand up straight half the time." "Here I went in for a two hour procedure sold to me as noninvasive, and now I'm scarred from my flank area on one side to the flank area on the other side," she said. "I just want to warn people."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 22nd, 2021

How Ryan Kaji Became the Most Popular 10-Year-Old in the World

In human years, Ryan Kaji is 10. In YouTube views, he’s 48,597,844,873. If, in our digital age, a person’s life can be measured by their online footprint, Ryan’s is the size of a brachiosaur’s, which, as a lot of Ryan’s fans know, is gargantuan. Another way of putting it is that even if every one… In human years, Ryan Kaji is 10. In YouTube views, he’s 48,597,844,873. If, in our digital age, a person’s life can be measured by their online footprint, Ryan’s is the size of a brachiosaur’s, which, as a lot of Ryan’s fans know, is gargantuan. Another way of putting it is that even if every one of Ryan’s YouTube views were just 30 seconds, he has been watched 4,500 times longer than he has been alive. There’s a sacred text that talks about an era of peace and harmony, where lions lie down with lambs. The kicker is that a child is in charge of it all. Except for the part about peace and harmony, we are in an age where a child does indeed rule a significant subsection of the Internet. Ryan has been the highest paid YouTube star for three years straight, partly because he has nine channels on the platform. His revenue last year, according to Forbes, was about $30 million. Most of that was from his far-flung merchandise empire: he (or his parents) has lent his name to 1,600 licensed products in 30 countries, including Skechers, pajamas, Roblox, bedding, watches, sporting goods, water bottles, furniture, toothpaste and, of course, toys. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] As well as a legion of YouTube videos, Ryan has shows on Nick Jr. (the Emmy-nominated Ryan’s Mystery Playdate) and Amazon Kids+ (Super Spy Ryan) and his own streaming channel. His animated superhero alter ego, Red Titan, will appear for the second time as a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon. “Ryan is bar none the crown prince of YouTube,” says Quynh Mai, founder of Moving Image & Content, a creative agency for digital content. (She does not represent him.) Yuki Iwamura—Sputnik/APThe Red Titan balloon will float in its second parade this Thanksgiving   How did we get to a place where a person can be the linchpin of a media empire before he has armpit hair? And of all the exuberant folks on YouTube, why has this kid raked in the most cash? Part of the answer is that this is no ordinary child, but another part is that Ryan’s rise speaks volumes about the way entertainment, business, technology and family life have changed in the past decade. Ryan’s prominence, and the existence of the genre of human known as “kidfluencer,” is a source of consternation to many parents, authorities and child-development experts. Four of the 10 U.S. YouTube channels with the most subscribers are geared toward young children. Legislation has recently been introduced in the Senate that may curtail the activities of Ryan and his fellow YouTube toycoons. But his ascent has also shown how profoundly childhood has been and is being reshaped, and that it may be too late to put the jack back in the box. One thing that everyone agrees on is that much of Ryan’s fame was a result of timing. He was about 3½ in 2015 when he asked his mom Loann Guan—the family changed its name to Kaji to preserve some anonymity as they got famous—if he could be on YouTube like other kids. Loann, 37, was a science teacher on spring break looking for kid-friendly activities. She and her husband Shion, 34, had watched YouTube in college and had a grasp of the format and how the algorithm worked. Read More: Meet TIME’s First-Ever Kid of the Year At the same time, technological changes were making online video more accessible to kids. “It was like a perfect storm when Ryan came in,” says Mai. Laptop prices had dropped enough that people were moving away from tablets. The YouTube Kids app had launched. “Parents gave their iPads to their children as entertainment devices, and that made it so easy for kids to navigate the Internet,” she says. Feeling stretched in terms of childcare, lots of parents needed to keep their kids occupied. “When young children see lots of colors and sounds and movement on a screen, it’s almost like a mobile above the crib,” says Dr. Jenny Radesky, a developmental behavioral pediatrician at the University of Michigan. “They calm down. They focus. Studies have shown that it often leads to less body movement.” The period after 2015 also marked a growth phase for the so-called creator economy. With the advance of digital ad technology, advertisers realized they could get more traction from microtargeting followers of a regular person—an influencer—than from a celebrity. Among the most popular figures when the Kajis began were the unboxers, people who filmed themselves opening shoes or makeup, or kids opening toys. So that’s what Loann and Ryan did. Ironically, Ryan had not really liked playing with toys as a baby, except one: a remote-control car, which, his dad says, he could more or less operate by the age of 6 months. This meant every relative gave him toy cars. When the unboxing trend spun off into the Giant Egg trend, Loann hid those cars in a papier-mâché egg she’d made. The resulting video, “GIANT Lightning McQueen Egg Surprise with 100+ Disney Cars Toys,” shot Ryan’s ToysReview, as the channel was then called, into the stratosphere. “That one video became his most popular video on our channel for the next two years,” says Shion. It currently has more than a billion views. At first, strange comments below the video alarmed them. “It was all gibberish,” says Shion. Then he saw Ryan typing random letters beneath videos and realized other kids were doing that too. Some of them may not have spoken English. “We noticed a huge percentage of the viewership coming from Asia,” says Shion. Ryan’s channel had launched just as YouTube was spreading to Asia, and videos like Ryan’s filled a void that TV had overlooked. Shion was born in Japan, and Loann in Vietnam. “For a lot of minorities,” says Mai, “YouTube was the place where you saw people like you.” Read More: I Raised Two CEOs and a Doctor. These Are My Secrets to Parenting Successful Children Ryan’s ToysReview quickly became one of YouTube’s most popular channels. By 2016, both parents had quit their jobs to make videos full time. Shion is a Cornell-educated structural engineer, which may be why he sensed the danger of having Ryan, just 5, carry the bulk of the show. He beefed up the production team to avoid burnout and had animators create characters based on Ryan’s personality for more content. Shion and Loann also appear in the videos and play with toys and games on their own channel. There may be a place in which one small family can produce so much intellectual property and be left in peace, but that place is not the USA, circa 2017. Ryan caught the eye of Chris Williams, who as a former Disney and Maker Studios executive had watched media habits change in real time. “I saw linear television’s ratings fall off a cliff,” he says. “I saw kids and family audiences flocking to YouTube.” His experience at Disney had also taught him about the power of building a franchise. “There are stars, characters and intellectual property on YouTube that have bigger audiences than the entire Disney Channel network. Why are we not thinking about them in the same way?” In 2017, he started Pocketwatch to do licensing deals with YouTube stars, and the Kajis, who had formed their own production company, Sunlight Entertainment, were among its first partners. Read More: How Dr. Becky Became the Millennial Parenting Whisperer The move came just in time. Merchandisers were not the only ones who noticed how much content was directed at the very young. Parents, child-development experts, media watchdogs and eventually legislators did too, and many didn’t love what they saw. There were videos of adults playing with toys in inappropriate ways. Some of the families on YouTube fell apart. Others seemed to be treating children badly to draw clicks. Advertisers pulled back. YouTube removed comments sections from and kept ads off some videos. It wasn’t enough. In 2019, YouTube and its parent company Google paid $170 million to settle allegations by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the New York State attorney general that it collected data about minors and violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. By 2020, YouTube required creators to specify whether their videos were for kids and stopped feeding personalized ads to those that were. Many kid-centric channels lost the bulk of their revenue. But thanks to the merch deals, the Kajis sailed on. Williams says the franchise is his company’s biggest earner. The reforms may have lessened the problem of advertising to children, but they did nothing to change the thorny fact that watching endless hours of a child opening toys is of dubious—at best—educational or social-development value. There’s not much definitive research on what that kind of media diet does to a developing brain, but the small amount out there is dismaying. In a study out of the University of Colorado, Boulder, 78% of parents reported their kids watched unboxing videos on a regular basis, with almost 17% estimating it at between three and nine hours per week. “The more time a child spends watching unboxing videos,” says Harsha Gangadharbatla, an associate professor of advertising, who presented the paper at a journalism conference in 2019, “the more likely they are to ask for things and throw tantrums if the parents weren’t purchasing those things.” Studies have shown that children form para-social relationships with the media figures they encounter. “They’re dealing with a developing brain that is figuring out the world,” says Dr. Michael Rich, a pediatrician and the director of the Boston Children’s Hospital’s Digital Wellness Lab. “And if one of the very powerful inputs into that developing brain is ‘Look at how happy Ryan is with his toy!’ of course they’re going to say, ‘I want that.’” Read More: I Was Constantly Arguing With My Child. Then I Learned the “TEAM” Method of Calmer Parenting Just before YouTube and Google paid the fine, the nonprofit Truth in Advertising (TINA) filed a complaint with the FTC against the Kajis—who then changed the name of their channel from Ryan’s ToyReview to Ryan’s World. The group had found that Ryan played with toys that would appeal to kids 5 years of age or younger in 90% of the channel’s 200 most popular videos. TINA claimed the sponsored videos were not clearly enough delineated. “Sometimes, they weren’t adequately disclosing such that an adult would know, and other times, it’s just the fact that this vulnerable population of toddlers cannot differentiate between organic content and ads,” says Bonnie Patten, TINA’s executive director. (The FTC does not talk about pending investigations.) Richard Drew—APRyan’s family made merchandising deals early and often, with 1,600 products to date Williams says the Kaji family has been unfairly singled out because they offer the biggest target. He points out that they have shifted to more educational content, with science experiments and travel videos. At the same time, he is open to greater research and regulation. “I worry about the effects of all of it. Not just what we see on YouTube and other platforms, but movies and TV,” he says. “Nobody wants to do the work around researching this stuff. They just want to make proclamations: ‘Hey, it’s different from what I grew up on. It must be bad.’” The Kajis maintain that they “follow the guidelines” for labeling their content, but, says Loann, “if I could do it over, I would try to incorporate more of the educational component right from the get-go.” A legal team screens their videos, but they do not have a child-development expert on staff. One solution would be to take down the old unboxing videos and stop putting up new ones. After all, Sunlight Entertainment releases 25 new videos a week across its channels. But surveys show that in the U.S., “the No. 1 thing for our channel is that they still want Ryan playing with toys,” says Shion. In August, however, YouTube announced that it would remove “overly commercial content” from the YouTube Kids app and mark sponsored videos more clearly. And on Sept. 30, as Congress began to take a closer look at social media companies, Democratic Senators Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut reintroduced the KIDS Act, which would force sites like YouTube to stop recommending unboxing videos for kids. YouTube declined to answer specific questions from TIME, but pointed to a raft of policies, developed with child-development experts, intended to keep young viewers safe. Nevertheless, Pandora has already completed her unboxing. Ryan’s branded toys are everywhere. And he’s not alone. There’s a new crop of stars coming, on Tik Tok, Instagram and YouTube. Vlad, 8, and Niki, 6, Russian-born brothers who live in Florida, released their first toy figures in June. Nastya, 7, also a Russian-born Floridian, launches her dolls Nov. 15. Kidfluencers no longer have to hawk toys; they can just become them. Any discerning viewer who watches Ryan’s videos notices within a minute that they don’t offer much in the way of entertainment. The production is amateurish. There’s no narrative arc. This is intentional. The Kajis are not artists; they’re parents. They started making videos, they say, because their kid wanted to and was good at it. “We don’t really do multiple takes,” says Loann. “What I get from him, that’s what I’m going to use.” The DIY nature of the videos also mimics, they hope, what it’s like to go on a playdate. “We don’t want the viewers to watch our videos one after the other,” says Shion. “What we ideally want is kids to watch our video and then that inspires them to have an idea for what they want to do and they put down their iPad.” At the onset of the pandemic, they put up several videos of Ryan doing homework, so kids could feel like they were studying with a friend. Brendan George Ko for TIMERyan-themed products generated about $250 million in retail sales in 2020, according to Pocketwatch It’s difficult to ascertain if kids do indeed go play after watching the videos. The fact that some Ryan’s World videos are hours long suggests that a certain amount of sedentariness is allowed, if not encouraged. Many parents loathe them; they overwhelmingly garner one-star reviews on sites like Common Sense Media. It was Ryan’s World that caused Mike Lutringer, in Houston, to swear off YouTube Kids forever. When his second daughter was born and he and his wife needed to attend to her, he’d put on an educational Ryan video for his older child. “But very rapidly it’ll transition over to marketing and sales and reviews,” he says. “You can see how they’ve designed it to really capture the attention of the child.” Dylana Carlson, in Galesburg, Ill., on the other hand, says that during the pandemic, her two children would watch Ryan or another kidfluencer and then try to play the way they did. Occasionally they’d ask for a playdate with their Internet friend. “I think that they assume that they can just go meet these kids,” she says. “I have thought about this stuff, like, Is that depressing? Or is that weird? But corporations pay to have a dress-up Spider-Man come to the grocery store. How is this different?” Quynh Mai, the marketer, thinks this is one of the secrets of Ryan’s success. “These kids, I think, are really lonely,” she says. “Ryan provides the emotional connection.” As online friends go, Ryan is a Hallmark-level cherub. He appears to have a bottomless vat of enthusiasm for any toy/room/situation he encounters. In interviews, he is cheerful and eager, with an age-appropriate inability to be self-reflective. He loves school, especially math! He swims, plays soccer, does tae kwon do, but gymnastics is his favorite! He hates when he can’t find his lunch box! If he could have any superpower, it would be super speed! When he grows up, he wants to be a “game developer or a comedian who is a YouTuber who makes funny videos!” During the pandemic, Loann homeschooled the kids, and when the Kajis tested Ryan to see if he had fallen behind, they found he was several grades ahead. One of the reasons they moved to Hawaii this year is for a more academically challenging school than his public school in Houston. The other, interestingly, is that they felt the kids were spending too much time on screens. In Hawaii, they take more walks, which Ryan at first found exhausting. He’s also learning piano and Japanese, but he’s not crazy about either. Bea Oyster for TIMEThe Kaji family—Loann, Emma, Shion, Ryan and Kate—moved to Hawaii during the pandemic, partly to get the kids off their screens There are two ways to look at the Kaji parents. One is that they have dragooned their offspring into living out their lives on camera to get rich. The other, the one they present, is that they stumbled into a world where their child became a star and they tried to keep up. Ryan’s onscreen ability, they say, is as big a surprise to them as to anyone. He often takes a video in a new direction during shooting, telling the editors what effects to add as he goes. “On or off camera he is the exact same way,” says Shion. “He genuinely connects with his viewers.” Lest anyone think that’s pure parental boasting, Loann says Ryan’s 5-year-old twin sisters also love making videos, but “it’s not as natural to them.” (Yes, they already have their own line of toys.) The journey hasn’t always been a thrill ride. In 2003, Loann spent a month in jail for shoplifting, and after Ryan got famous, her arrest record became public knowledge. The family did exactly one in-person event with Ryan, in Bentonville, Ark. Thousands of families turned out, and the resulting melee shook them up. They reject the accusation that Ryan is their workhorse. Loann cites an incident on the set of Playdate when Ryan hurt his ankle. The production adjusted the scenes he’d shoot so he could sit and, after a break, kept filming. Loann agreed with the decision, but adds that “if that happens at home, we would not be filming for the next week or two.” The Kajis also say that while the family will go to L.A. for a spell to shoot his shows, Ryan’s YouTube videos take just a few hours a week. He belongs to local sports clubs and goes to school like other kids. Read More: ‘What Do People Want Me to Do? Wear Black Every Day?’: How Child Star JoJo Siwa Built Her Sparkly Empire What most worries Shion are families who try to emulate the Kajis’ success more recklessly. Ryan is the public face of kidfluencers, so any YouTube parent who is less than exemplary might reflect badly on him. Pocketwatch and YouTube issue manuals on how to be both parent and programmer, and Shion hints that he’s trying to start a working group of YouTube families to set industry standards. He won’t go into details, but says he would like more input from YouTube, especially on how families manage their finances, their kids’ time and fame. After all, the platform is taking a healthy cut of the money, and the minors who have made their name on it have few legal protections. The Kajis say a portion of the revenue from the family business goes into trust accounts they’ve established for their children, and they have put all of Ryan’s TV earnings into another trust. There are children on YouTube now with more subscribers than Ryan. His parents seem somewhat relieved. “I don’t want YouTube to be his future career,” says Loann. “We really want him to do something else. We’re continuing right now because he’s enjoying doing it.” The question remains: having found the perfect platform for their child, can they persuade him to leave it? —With reporting by Simmone Shah and Nik Popli.....»»

Category: topSource: timeNov 12th, 2021

Shell (RDS.A) Signs Deal to Acquire Retail & Convenience Sites

With the acquisition, Shell (RDS.A) continues to expand its brand presence in the United States and expects its customers to gain from enhanced fueling options. Royal Dutch Shell plc (RDS.A) entered an agreement with the Landmark group of companies to acquire 248 of the latter’s fuel and convenience retail establishments.Per the terms of the deal, Shell will also acquire supply agreements with another 117 independently operated fuel and convenience sites. The deal is expected to close by the end of 2021.With the acquisition, Shell continues to expand its brand presence in the United States and leverage its current business network. The deal enables the company to increase its non-fuel sales via convenience retail sites. It expects customers to gain from the enhanced fueling options, which involve electric vehicle charging, hydrogen, biofuel and lower-carbon premium fuels.Over a decade ago, major energy companies, including Shell, exited the U.S. retail business as upstream profits outpaced downstream retail opportunities. In 2018, Shell jumped back to the retail business when it initiated its first Shell Select convenience store in Louisville. Hence, the latest acquisition reflects a far more assertive leap into convenience and fuel retailing.The agreement involves the acquisition of the remaining 50% stake in Texas Petroleum Group LLC, a 50/50 joint venture between Shell and Landmark Industries Holdings Ltd. The deal also involves additional retail gas stations and supply agreements.Shell commits to collaborate with wholesalers and dealers to serve its customers, create business value and thrive through the energy transition. The agreement adds more than 13,000 Shell-branded sites across the United States, owned and operated by wholesalers, dealers and joint venture partners. By 2025, Shell expects to globally service 40 million customers per day at its retail service stations, while having 55,000 Shell-branded retail service stations and 15,000 convenience stores.Company Profile & Price PerformanceShell is one of the primary oil majors — a group of the United States and Europe-based big energy multinationals. The company is fully integrated, as it participates in every aspect related to energy, from oil production to refining and marketing.Shares of the company have outperformed the industry in the past six months. The stock has gained 21.1% compared with the industry’s 19.2% growth. Image Source: Zacks Investment Research Zacks Rank & Stock to ConsiderShell currently carries a Zack Rank #3 (Hold).Some better-ranked players in the energy space are Pioneer Natural Resources PXD, EOG Resources EOG and Chevron Corporation CVX, each currently sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.Pioneer Natural’s earnings for 2021 are expected to surge 66.6% year over year.EOG’s earnings for 2021 are expected to increase 21.7% year over year.Chevron’s earnings for 2021 are expected to rise 19.5% year over year. 5 Stocks Set to Double Each was handpicked by a Zacks expert as the #1 favorite stock to gain +100% or more in 2021. Previous recommendations have soared +143.0%, +175.9%, +498.3% and +673.0%. Most of the stocks in this report are flying under Wall Street radar, which provides a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor.Today, See These 5 Potential Home Runs >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Chevron Corporation (CVX): Free Stock Analysis Report Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDS.A): Free Stock Analysis Report Pioneer Natural Resources Company (PXD): Free Stock Analysis Report EOG Resources, Inc. (EOG): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksNov 2nd, 2021

13 Years After Its "Birth", Bitcoin Adoption Continues To Accelerate

13 Years After Its 'Birth', Bitcoin Adoption Continues To Accelerate The 13th birthday of the Bitcoin white paper has crept up just as the world continues to deal with a global pandemic, inflation fears, an astounding memecoin mania trend and growing institutional adoption of the cryptocurrency space. image courtesy of CoinTelegraph As CoinTelegraph's Francesco Rodrigues details, on October 31, 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto released the Bitcoin white paper to a cryptography mailing list hosted by Metzdow. The Metzdow mailing list was run by a group of cypherpunks and was filled with ideas meant to create a form of digital currency: some of these have even been cited in the Bitcoin white paper. Satoshi’s white paper came in a message titled "Bitcoin P2P e-cash paper," in which Nakamoto explained that his digital currency is fully peer-to-peer (P2P) and requires no trusted third party for a transaction to occur. Through a peer-to-peer network, Bitcoin solved the double-spending problem. Bitcoin also allowed network participants to remain anonymous and was secured through a proof-of-work (PoW) consensus algorithm. At the time, the white paper wasn't received the way people would expect it to be, knowing what they know today. Only a handful of people saw Nakamoto’s email and replied with their thoughts and concerns surrounding Bitcoin. But as Jacques Chirac writes at Bitcoin Magazine, the Bitcoin network has come to dominate and even define the cryptocurrency space, spawning a legion of altcoin followers and representing an alternative to fiat government currencies such as the U.S. dollar and the Euro, and to metal currencies such as gold and silver coins. Global cryptocurrency usage has increased by 880% in the last year, particularly in Vietnam, India, Pakistan, and other developing countries. The 2021 Global Crypto Adoption Index, titled "Geography of Cryptocurrency," compared countries' cryptocurrency adoption based on three primary parameters: on-chain retail value transferred, on-chain cryptocurrency value received, and peer-to-peer exchange trade volumes According to specialists from these nations, many people utilize peer-to-peer cryptocurrency exchanges as their main on-ramp into cryptocurrencies frequently because they do not have access to centralized exchanges. Significant currency depreciation in many developing countries leads individuals to buy cryptocurrencies on peer-to-peer platforms to protect their investment value. International transactions are also prevalent in these areas, whether for individual remittances or business use cases like buying products to import and sell. The quantity of national currency that people may move out of the country is limited. Although China was ranked fourth and the United States was ranked sixth in last year's survey, their positions have dropped to 13th and eighth, respectively. What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Bitcoin? Advantages: Bitcoin users have comprehensive control over their reserves. Traditional fiat currencies are responsive to several restrictions and hazards. Banks, for example, are flashed to economic booms and busts. As has happened in the past, these circumstances may sometimes result in bank runs and crashes. This implies that consumers do not have complete control over their funds. There are no costs associated with Bitcoin transactions. Bitcoin users are not subjected to the invocation of conventional banking costs associated with fiat currencies. While fiat currency exchanges impose so-called "maker" and "taker" fees, as well as occasional deposit and withdrawal fees, Bitcoin users are not subject to these fees. This adds, amongst other things, no account sustaining or minimum balance fees, no overdraft costs, and no returned deposit penalties. For international payments, Bitcoin transactions offer minimal transaction costs. Fees and currency charges are expected in standard wire transfers and international transactions. Transacting via the Bitcoin network is typically cheaper than bank transfers since there are no intermediate organizations or governments involved. This may be an essential benefit for tourists. Furthermore, bitcoin transfers are instantaneous, bypassing the hassle of usual permission methods and delivery times. Bitcoin transactions are entirely safe. Bitcoin is not physical money. As a result, robbers will be unable to physically steal it. Hackers may steal a person's cryptocurrency if they have access to the wallet's private keys. However, stealing bitcoin is theoretically impossible with adequate protection and industry-standard practices. While there have been many other allegations of cryptocurrency exchange hacks, bitcoin transactions have remained unaffected. In conclusion, transactions offered out between two (or more) addresses are protected. Disadvantages: Bitcoin is not yet accepted across the nation Bitcoin is still only accepted by a limited number of internet businesses. As a result, relying only on bitcoin as a currency is near impossible. It's also possible that governments may compel firms to stop accepting bitcoin in order to monitor consumers' transactions. Wallets can be misplaced One’s bitcoin is dramatically "lost" if a hard drive fails or a virus corrupts data, and the wallet file is damaged. There is nothing that can get the money back. These coins will remain orphaned in the system. This has the potential to bankrupt a wealthy bitcoin investor in a matter of seconds, with no means of replacement. The investor's coins will be enduringly orphaned as well. There is no buyer protection. When things are purchased with bitcoin, and the vendor fails to deliver the goods, there is no way to reverse the transaction. The problem can be approached by utilizing a third-party escrow service such as ClearCoin. However, escrow services would then take on the role of banks, making bitcoin more like conventional currencies. Technical flaws that aren't known The Bitcoin system may have vulnerabilities that have yet to be discovered. Because this is a relatively new method, if bitcoin were extensively accepted and a vulnerability was found, it might result in enormous riches for the exploiter at the cost of the Bitcoin economy. How Is Bitcoin Used In Other Counties? Since its commencement in 2009, bitcoin and the other cryptocurrencies that followed have been fraught with contention and controversies. While bitcoin has been extensively attacked for its volatility, use in illicit activities, and the amount of energy required to mine it, some people, especially in developing countries, view it with great hope amidst economic storms. However, as many individuals turn to bitcoin as an investment, these problems have materialized in a slew of new limitations on how they may be used. The authoritative position of bitcoin varies significantly from nation to nation, with specific relationships still being established or changing often. While most governments do not make it unlawful to use bitcoin, its position as a payment method or a commodity differs, with different regulatory consequences. Some nations have imposed restrictions on how bitcoin may be used, with banks prohibiting their clients from transacting in cryptocurrencies. Other countries have explicitly outlawed the usage of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, imposing stiff fines on anybody who transacts in them. These are the nations where bitcoin and the state have a tense relationship. Despite this, it appears that the future may hold more countries continuing to look to bitcoin. This is a guest post by Jacques Chirac. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine. Tyler Durden Sun, 10/31/2021 - 17:40.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytOct 31st, 2021

Group Of 160 Republicans Urge Biden To Fix Supply Chain Crisis Before Considering More Social Spending

Group Of 160 Republicans Urge Biden To Fix Supply Chain Crisis Before Considering More Social Spending Authored by Katabella Roberts via The Epoch Times, A group of 160 Republican lawmakers have sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to “reevaluate his priorities” and address the supply chain and ports crisis in the United States before considering additional social spending. The letter was led and signed by Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), the ranking member on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and also signed by lawmakers including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, among others. McCarthy shared the letter on Twitter on Oct. 21, writing, “Mr. President, it’s time for you to reevaluate your priorities. We must address our supply chain and ports crisis before Congress considers any additional social spending and taxation legislation.” “As House Republicans, we write because we refuse to stand by and watch as your administration dilutes America’s ability to ensure the safe and efficient movement of goods, people, and services throughout our transportation network,” the letter reads. “House Republicans have repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to work on bipartisan solutions to improve our infrastructure. We regret that our efforts have been spurned as Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi, Majority Leader [Chuck] Schumer, and your Administration use infrastructure as a Trojan horse to push radical policies that make it more difficult and expensive for families to find or afford basic goods and for businesses to continue the long road to recovery from the pandemic,” it adds. Industries across the United States are facing acute bottlenecks in supply chains, such as material and worker shortages as well as the skyrocketing prices of materials, driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. These issues have also impacted consumers who are now faced with empty shelves and higher prices on top of rising inflation levels. About 250,000 containers of goods are currently stacked up on the docks due to delayed pickups, from chassis shortages and a lack of space in rail yards and warehouses, and that is causing dozens of ships to back up at anchor outside the port, Reuters reports. “We must address the global supply chain and ports crisis before Congress even considers additional social spending and taxation legislation. Our priority right now should be strengthening our nation’s economy and increasing our global competitiveness,” the letter continues. The Biden administration has been focused heavily on pushing through two major spending bills: a bipartisan infrastructure bill worth $1.2 trillion that was passed by the Senate in August. That bill is currently being held up in the House as some progressive Democrats said it will only be passed if the Senate approves the $3.5 trillion social and climate spending bill. The letter goes on to accuse the Biden administration of further fueling the current crisis by raising energy costs and triggering inflation through “reckless unchecked spending” and “attacking American businesses.” “Ironically it is now the private sector that you are calling on to ‘step up’ and fix the supply chain problems,” it adds. President Biden on Oct. 13 threatened to “call out” private companies who fail to assist his administration and step up to address the global supply chain bottlenecks. “If the private sector doesn’t step up, we’re going to call them out and ask them to act,” the president said in remarks at the White House. “All of these goods won’t move by themselves. For the positive impact to be felt all across the country and by all of you at home, we need major retailers who ordered the goods and the freight movers who take the goods from the ships to factories and to stores to step up as well,” Biden said. The White House says it has received confirmation from UPS, FedEx, Walmart, Target, Samsung, and other companies, as well as the Port of Los Angeles, to increase the number of shifts to deal with a backlog of container ships, labor shortages, and warehousing issues. “We urge you to call on your congressional allies to halt discussions on a budget reconciliation bill that aims to reshape the social fabric of this country and instead work on real infrastructure solutions that focus on moving goods and people safely and efficiently,” the letter adds. Tyler Durden Thu, 10/21/2021 - 12:45.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 21st, 2021

El Salvador Is Betting on Bitcoin to Rebrand the Country — and Strengthen the President’s Grip

Will the country's adoption of the digital currency help its people, or just its president? When Roman Martinez was growing up in El Zonte, a small coastal village in El Salvador, the American Dream loomed large. Beyond the local fishing industry, which Martinez’s parents worked in, there weren’t a lot of opportunities. “Young people just wanted to leave, to go to the U.S.,” he says. “But now we have a Salvadoran dream.” It’s a dream about Bitcoin. Two years ago an anonymous American donor sent more than $100,000 in the decentralized digital currency, or cryptocurrency, to an NGO that Martinez works for in El Zonte to pay for social programs. As the team began encouraging families and businesses to use Bitcoin, many of the town’s residents, most of whom had never had a bank account, began saving their money in the currency, making gains as its value surged. Curious tourists flooded into the town and foreign businesses set up shop. The project gave El Zonte the nickname “Bitcoin beach,” simultaneously a philanthropic endeavour and one of the world’s largest experiments in cryptocurrency. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] “People with little income, who didn’t have access to a financial system, with $5 worth of Bitcoin they can start building something that can be the legacy they leave to their children,” Martinez says, over video call, wearing a black T-shirt emblazoned with Bitcoin’s orange logo. It was partly El Zonte’s experiment that inspired El Salvador last month to become the first country in the world to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender—alongside the U.S. dollar, which El Salvador has used as its currency since 2001. The Bitcoin law, which came into force on Sept. 7, makes taxes payable in Bitcoin, obliges all businesses to accept it, and paves the way for the government to disburse subsidies in it. The government has built a network of 200 Bitcoin ATMs and a digital Bitcoin wallet app, called Chivo, through which it has distributed $30 worth of Bitcoin to every Salvadoran citizen in a bid to kickstart the Bitcoin economy. Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele claims 2.1 million Salvadorans have used Chivo so far, in a country of 6 million people. Bukele is touting Bitcoin as a way for Salvadorans to reduce the fees they pay to send and receive remittances—which make up 22% of El Salvador’s GDP, mostly from the U.S.—and as a way for the 70% of Salvadorans who are unbanked to access financial services. He’s not alone in advocating for cryptocurrencies as a way for developing economies to bypass a global financial system in which access to services and investment are geared towards the world’s richer countries and individuals. Crypto has achieved its highest penetration mostly in countries where banking systems are costly and complicated to use, or where local economies and currencies are unstable. But critics say making Bitcoin—notoriously volatile and not subject to controls by any central bank—into legal tender is an unjustifiable gamble for El Salvador’s already ailing economy. The $200 million of taxpayer money congress has devoted to the project equates to 2.7% of the government’s total budget for 2021, or almost three times the agriculture ministry’s budget for the year. The uncertainty introduced by the Bitcoin policy has sent the price of government bonds tumbling, and halted negotiations for a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that the country is seeking to plug a $1.5 billion hole in its public finances. ‘The coolest dictator in the world’ For the President, a 40 year-old with the casual wardrobe and cheeky communication style of a tech entrepreneur, Bitcoin is about more than its immediate economic impact, though. It’s a chance to rebrand El Salvador, from a country known primarily for gang violence and a sluggish economy that drives emigration to the U.S., to an independent, modern crypto pioneer. For young Salvadorans like Martinez, that means creating a Salvadoran dream. For the international community, it’s a rebuke to a world order that casts El Salvador as the backyard to the U.S.—which Bukele has increasingly railed against since taking power in 2019. Instead, he casts El Salvador as an independent hub of innovation, aligned with the anti-establishment crypto community, members of which have flooded and celebrated the country in recent months and will return for a large crypto conference in November. Envisioning the transformation he witnessed in El Zonte taking place across the country, Martinez is excited—despite doubts among the wider population. “We’re used to new things happening in the U.S. or Canada or Europe,” Martinez says. “Now we’ve changed the narrative about El Salvador and started moving forward. Michael Nagle—Bloomberg/Getty ImagesNayib Bukele, El Salvador’s president, speaks in a prerecorded video during the United Nations General Assembly via live stream in New York on Sept. 23, 2021. But there’s another narrative unfolding in El Salvador. Since Bukele’s party, New Ideas, won a landslide victory at parliamentary elections in February, he has moved rapidly to undermine the structures of El Salvador’s democracy. In May, parliament voted to replace opposition-linked judges on the supreme court with Bukele allies, bringing all levers of power under his control. In September—a few days before the Bitcoin launch—the same court ruled that Bukele can run for a second term in 2024, in defiance of El Salvador’s constitution, triggering sanctions from the U.S. He has also stepped up attacks on the media, including launching criminal investigations into news organizations and kicking critical journalists out of the country. Analysts say the Bitcoin experiment is part of Bukele’s proto-strongman trajectory. “He’s fallen in love with his own power and wants to nurture this cool millennial President image through this adventure into the Bitcoin world,” says Tiziano Breda, a Central America analyst at the International Crisis Group, a think tank. It’s working for him, largely. The Bitcoin law has sparked the first major protests of his presidency, with 8,000 people marching in San Salvador on Sept. 15— a significant number of people in a country where street protest is unusual. But the President’s approval ratings still stand above 85%. With that backing, Bukele is deeply dismissive of global concern about his leadership. On Sept 18, he changed his bio on Twitter to “Dictator of El Salvador,” clearly trolling the international press. Then, a couple of days later he changed it again, to “The coolest dictator in the world.” El Salvador’s rapid transformation On the night that Bitcoin launched in El Salvador, Nelson Rauda, a reporter for independent newspaper El Faro, went to a party. At a sleek hotel bar next to an infinity pool overlooking the pacific ocean in the department of La Libertad, crypto enthusiasts and internet celebrities from the U.S., including YouTuber Logan Paul, danced and let off fireworks to celebrate a major moment for the cryptocurrency. Some wore headdresses and carried orange signs featuring Bitcoin’s white B logo. Almost everyone was speaking English. ”The scenery, and the location was a beach in El Salvador, but it could have been anywhere else in the world,” Rauda says. “[The crypto community] want to portray themselves as bringing a future and development to El Salvador through Bitcoin— a kind of white saviorism in that sense. But most of them are not interested in the country, just business.” Bukele’s government welcomes their business. The President claims that if 1% of the world’s Bitcoin were invested in El Salvador, it would raise GDP by 25%. He has offered permanent residency to anyone who spends three Bitcoin (currently around $125,000). He has also highlighted the fact that, since Bitcoin is legal tender, rather than an investment asset, foreigners who move to El Salvador will not have to pay capital gains tax in the country on any profits made if the cryptocurrency’s value increases. To that he adds, in English, “Great weather, world class surfing beaches, beach front properties for sale” as reasons that crypto entrepreneurs should move to El Salvador. This pragmatic, salesman-like tone is something that Salvadorans appear to appreciate from their President. Though he served as mayor of the capital, San Salvador until 2018, Bukele ran for the presidency in 2019 as a political outsider. He used his direct link with millions of followers on social media to pit himself against the right and leftwing parties that had ruled the country since its civil war in the 1980s. That conflict, in which the U.S. played a decisive role by funding opponents of leftist rebels, sowed the seeds of many of El Salvador’s current problems: chronically low economic growth, weak institutions vulnerable to corruption, the world’s worst rates of gang violence and one of the lowest rates of direct foreign investment in Central America. Bukele argued, convincingly, that the postwar governments had failed to meaningfully address those woes over three decades. Since taking office, Bukele has projected an image of ruthless efficiency. In February 2020, he and a group of armed soldiers stormed into parliament in order to pressure lawmakers to pass his budget plan. He has slashed rates of gang violence, with the country’s homicide rate falling from 51 per 100,000 in 2018 to 19 per 100,000 in 2020 (Experts debate whether this is a result of Bukele’s security policy, gang trends independent of him, or a secretive quid pro quo deal he may have struck with gang leaders). He adopted a hardline response to COVID-19, ordering one of the world’s most stringent lockdowns and giving security forces the right to put any rule-breakers in detention centers, a move human rights watchdogs say led to violent repression. The unprecedented popularity Bukele has enjoyed has allowed him to move faster than Latin America observers expected to take anti-democratic steps, such as intervening in the judiciary, Breda says. “For many other sort of authoritarian governments in the region, it took [many] years to do the things that Bukele has done in such a sweeping way. The pace is definitely surprising.” Marvin Recinos—AFP/Getty ImagesIlluminated drones form figures inspired by the Bitcoin logo in El Sunzal Beach, El Salvador, on Sept. 7, 2021. ‘Bitcoin is costing the country dearly’ Those who are most sceptical of Bukele—conservative economists—see his Bitcoin law as new packaging for an old move for populist authoritarian leaders in Latin America. The policy was labelled a “Bitcoin scam” in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. “They’re always trying to pull a rabbit out of a hat,” says Steve Hanke, professor of applied economics at the John Hopkins University and director of the Troubled Currencies Project at the libertarian think tank, the Cato Institute. “They say: ‘We’ve had all these financial problems because of all these irresponsible leaders we’ve had in the past. And now here I am riding a white horse and I’ve got some new gimmick that’s going to solve it all. It’s called Bitcoin.’” Hanke helped advise the Salvadoran government on the country’s dollarization, when it adopted the U.S. dollar as its sole currency in 2001. From 1993 the Salvadoran colón had been pegged to the U.S. dollar on a fixed exchange rate, in a successful effort to keep previously rampant inflation under control. After eight years, the government opted to fully replace the colón with the dollar. That made the economy more stable and lowered the cost of borrowing, but limited Salvadoran governments’ freedom to spend money, particularly in times of financial crisis. Hanke and others have speculated that the Bitcoin move is a first step towards scrapping dollarization altogether and issuing a national digital currency. That would both enable looser public spending, and reduce the impact of U.S. sanctions. But for local economists, the immediate concern is how Bitcoin could complicate El Salvador’s path out of a deep pandemic recession. “Public finances in El Salvador are on a knife edge. Public debt stands at close to 90% of GDP and the government needs to find almost $1.5 billion to close the year and pay its obligations,” says Alvaro Trigueros Arguello, director of economic studies at FUSADES, a San Salvador-based development thinktank. Though El Salvador’s economy is growing—with the Central Bank saying Sept. 29 that GDP is on course to surge by 9% this year—Trigueros Arguello says this is mostly due to a temporary factors, including the reopening of businesses after COVID-19 restrictions and a surge in remittances after the disbursement of pandemic aid packages in the U.S. The Bitcoin rollout has complicated El Salvador’s relationship with the IMF, from which it is seeking a $1 billion assistance package. In June the fund denied a request by El Salvador to assist in its Bitcoin rollout. It cited the lack of transparency in cryptocurrencies, arguing that the difficulty of tracing who makes Bitcoin transactions has facilitated criminal activity elsewhere, as well as environmental concerns about widening the use of Btcoin, which requires vasts amount of energy to produce. Fears over the cryptocurrency’s impact on El Salvador’s macroeconomic stability have stalled negotiations between El Salvador and the IMF, Trigueros Arguello says. “The government needs international credit and because of Bitcoin, it’s not getting it,” Trigueros Arguello says. “Bitcoin is costing the country dearly.” Camilo Freedman—Bloomberg/Getty ImagesDemonstrators hold signs during a protest against President Bukele and Bitcoin in San Salvador on Sept. 15, 2021. The backdrop to El Salvador’s experiment hasn’t undermined the excitement for those who want crypto currencies to be more widely used. Bitcoin Twitter has filled with tweets celebrating how easy it is for Salvadorans to use the currency in places like Starbucks, and praising Bukele’s foresight. “I’m totally excited about what’s happening in El Salvador. [Particularly] the fact that it’s happening in Latin America,” says Cristóbal Pereira, CEO of Blockchain Summit LatAm, a regional conference covering the blockchain technology that underlies Bitcoin, which will host events at El Salvador’s own Bitcoin conference in November. “If people end up using it widely, there’s a good chance other countries and people will end up using it more too.” It’s too early to tell if the buzz will be matched by the significant investments Bukele is hoping for. Analysts say businesses will likely wait and see how the bitcoin rollout affects El Salvador’s economic stability before striking any major deals. Mike Petersen, an American who moved to El Zonte in 2005 and helped found the Bitcoin beach, says he’s received a “a huge flood of [enquiries from] businesses that want to set up shop here, because, for the first time they are realizing, hey, Salvador is a forward looking country.” Those include companies in the Bitcoin space, such as exchanges and ATM networks, but also real estate developers, manufacturing companies and “some lighting and architectural companies that are now outsourcing, hiring architectural students here to do design and and put together bids for them. Because they can pay them in Bitcoin.” Peterson says he doubts that concern about the political situation in El Salvador will have any impact on investors. “Elite media circles are the ones that are more focused on that. I think, in the business climate, people are more pragmatic and practical about things. And they see that Bukele is extremely popular.” What’s not necessarily popular, so far, is Bitcoin. Bukele claims that a third of Salvadorans are actively using Chivo, but it is unclear how many are only using the app to access the initial $30 gift from the government. Media outlets in El Salvador reported long queues for the ATMs, where most people were converting their Bitcoin to take dollars home with them. In the first week of the rollout, one of the country’s largest banks told The Financial Times that the cryptocurrency accounted for fewer than 0.0001 % of its daily transactions. Rauda, the El Faro reporter, says he knows “no one” who’s using Bitcoin on a regular basis. Teething troubles The government gave itself just three months after parliament approved its Bitcoin law in June to introduce the currency, leading to a series of technical issues with the Chivo wallet app. Crypto bloggers reported cash taking days to show up in their Chivo accounts after being transferred by other users, bugs making the app unusable, and an initial inability to transfer any sum below $5. Bukele, who took to Twitter throughout the launch to offer emoji-laden tech support messages, claimed most of the technical problems were resolved within a few days. The bumpy rollout helped trigger a 10% fall in the value of Bitcoin against the day it became legal tender, and further falls since. On Sept. 20 Bukele said his government had “bought the dip” and acquired 150 more coins, bringing the country’s total holding to 700 (around $22 million). Chaotic rollouts of new government programs are not unique to El Salvador. But some in the Bitcoin community have concerns about the structure of the country’s experiment, beyond the initial hiccups. Marc Falzon, a New Jersey-based Bitcoin YouTuber who visited San Salvador to document the rollout, says he became concerned about Salvadoran taxpayers footing the bill despite opposition to the policy, and about Article 6 of the Bitcoin law, which says that all economic actors in the country must accept Bitcoin if they have the technical capacity to do so. “Forcing people to accept a decentralized currency from a centralized authority ebbs away at the legitimacy of not just Bitcoin, but cryptocurrency in general,” he says. Supporters of the project point out that Salvadorans don’t have to keep their money in Bitcoin if they don’t want to, with the government guaranteeing their ability to transfer them into U.S. dollars via its national development bank and a range of services allowing businesses to make that transfer automatically. But Falzon says that the positive image of EL Salvador’s rollout generated by Bitcoin influencers on Instagram and Twitter didn’t reflect what he saw. In a health store near his hotel, for example, the shopkeeper said she couldn’t afford to restock because so many Bitcoin payments made by customers had simply never shown up in her Chivo app account. “For people in the Bitcoin and crypto community, El Salvador is a ‘told you so moment,’ proof that this isn’t just a fad. And I think that in that enthusiasm, we can lose sight of both the bigger picture—in how future countries may start to follow suit—and also of the individual experiences of the people that are in these countries.” Some individuals are happy though. Martinez, the community activist who grew up in El Zonte, says the town’s experience suggests hesitancy to use Bitcoin—and opposition to the Bitcoin law—will fade as Salvadorans become more used to the technology, and become widespread within a few years. He’s not concerned, he says, by how Bitcoin may play into Bukele’s larger political project. “As an NGO, we’re apolitical. We support anything that can make a better El Salvador. And I think we’re walking towards a better future.”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeOct 1st, 2021

BlackBerry Reports Second Quarter Fiscal Year 2022 Results

Revenue exceeds expectations and Company adds deep cybersecurity industry experience to drive growth - Total company revenue of $175 million. - IoT revenue of $40 million. - Cyber Security revenue of $120 million. - Licensing & Other revenue of $15 million. - Positive operating cash flow of $12 million. - Non-GAAP loss per basic and diluted share of $0.06; GAAP loss per basic and diluted share of $0.25. A non-cash accounting adjustment to the fair value of the convertible debentures, as a result of market and trading conditions, accounts for approximately $0.12 of GAAP loss per share. WATERLOO, ON, Sept. 22, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- BlackBerry Limited (NYSE:BB, TSX:BB) today reported financial results for the three months ended August 31, 2021 (all figures in U.S. dollars and U.S. GAAP, except where otherwise indicated). "Revenue for all businesses beat expectations this quarter.  The Cyber Security business unit delivered robust sequential billings and revenue growth and the IoT business unit performed well in the face of global chip shortage pressures," said John Chen, Executive Chairman & CEO, BlackBerry. "We are already seeing benefits from establishing the two key business units and are delighted to appoint John Giamatteo as President of Cyber Security.  Giamatteo, who was previously President and Chief Revenue Officer at McAfee, adds leading industry expertise. In IoT, design activity for our QNX products remains very strong, demonstrating both our industry leadership position and secular trends, such as ECU consolidation. In Cyber Security we received strong third-party validation of the effectiveness of our AI-driven, prevention-first suite of products, illustrating progress made with recent product launches." Second Quarter Fiscal 2022 Financial Highlights Total company revenue for the second quarter of fiscal 2022 was $175 million. Total company non-GAAP gross margin was 65% and GAAP gross margin was 64%. IoT revenue for the second quarter of fiscal 2022 was $40 million, with gross margin of 83% and ARR of $89 million. Cyber Security revenue for the second quarter of fiscal 2022 was $120 million, with gross margin of 59% and ARR of $364 million. Licensing and Other revenue for the second quarter of fiscal 2022 was $15 million as negotiations for the sale of a portion of the patent portfolio continue. Gross margin was 60%. Non-GAAP operating loss was $30 million. GAAP operating loss was $141 million, primarily due to a non-cash accounting adjustment to the fair value of the convertible debentures, resulting from market and trading conditions, of $67 million. Non-GAAP loss per share was $0.06 (basic and diluted). GAAP loss per share was $0.25 (basic and diluted). Total cash, cash equivalents, short-term and long-term investments were $772 million. Net cash generated from operating activities was $12 million. Business Highlights & Strategic Announcements BlackBerry has design wins with 24 of the world's leading 25 Electric Vehicle (EV) automakers. This has increased from 23 of the top 25 last quarter following an EV win with Daimler. BlackBerry IVY™ to deliver highly secure vehicle-based payments, leveraging direct access to vehicle sensor data and edge processing to create a "digital fingerprint". Delivered through a partnership with Car IQ. Nobo Technologies selects BlackBerry QNX® Neutrino® as foundation for new Digital Cockpit Controller for Great Wall Motors' Haval G6S SUV. Great Wall Motors is China's largest producer of SUV vehicles. sTraffic, Korea's leading solution developer for transportation infrastructure systems, selects QNX® OS for Safety as the foundation for their train traffic management system that includes unmanned train operations. BlackBerry launches BlackBerry® Jarvis 2.0® composition analysis tool. Delivered as a more user-friendly SaaS offering, Jarvis 2.0 empowers OEMs to validate and ensure the quality of their multi-tiered software bill of materials. BlackBerry awarded highest AAA rating by SE Labs in breach test of BlackBerry® Protect (EPP) and BlackBerry® Optics (EDR). The breach test adopted a range of real-world hacker tactics and BlackBerry's AI-driven products delivered complete prevention and detection with zero false positives. BlackBerry® UEM integrates with Microsoft 365, delivering BlackBerry's industry-leading security to Microsoft's productivity products. BlackBerry® AtHoc® critical event management platform used as foundation for autonomous flood risk and clean water monitoring solution. BlackBerry updates SecuSUITE capabilities to protect group phone calls and messages for governments and businesses from high risk eavesdropping. Appointment of New Cyber Security Business Unit PresidentBlackBerry has appointed John Giamatteo as President of the Cyber Security business unit.  With this strategic hire the company adds significant industry experience. Giamatteo will join the company on October 4th and report to Executive Chairman and CEO John Chen.  He will be responsible for business unit strategy, engineering, and go-to-market. Giamatteo brings to BlackBerry over 30 years of experience with technology companies. Most recently he served as President and Chief Revenue Officer of McAfee, where he was responsible for sales, marketing, and customer success.  During his time with McAfee, he delivered strong double-digit growth across its Enterprise, SMB and Consumer businesses as well as significant margin expansion across the portfolio.  Prior to that he served as Chief Operating Officer at AVG Technologies, a leading provider of Internet and mobile security. Giamatteo also held leadership positions with Solera Holdings, RealNetworks, Inc. and Nortel Network Corporation. "I'm excited to be joining BlackBerry and to be leading the Cyber Security business unit.  Never has the threat of cyberattacks been higher, nor more in the minds of management," said Giamatteo. "BlackBerry's AI-driven, prevention-first technology is well placed to scale to meet the constantly evolving cybersecurity needs of companies everywhere.  I'm very positive about the opportunities that we have as a company." Tom Eacobacci, BlackBerry's President and COO, has decided to pursue other opportunities and will leave the Company on October 29th.  BlackBerry thanks Tom for his hard work and contributions in his time at the Company. OutlookBlackBerry will provide fiscal year 2022 outlook in connection with the quarterly earnings announcement on its earnings conference call. The earnings call transcript will be made available on our website and on SEDAR. Use of Non-GAAP Financial MeasuresThe tables at the end of this press release include a reconciliation of the non-GAAP financial measures used by the company to comparable U.S. GAAP measures and an explanation of why the company uses them. Conference Call and WebcastA conference call and live webcast will be held today beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET, which can be accessed by dialing +1 (877) 682-6267 or by logging on at BlackBerry.com/Investors. A replay of the conference call will also be available at approximately 8:30 p.m. ET by dialing +1 (800) 585-8367 and entering Conference ID #6149337 and at the link above. About BlackBerryBlackBerry (NYSE:BB, TSX:BB) provides intelligent security software and services to enterprises and governments around the world. The company secures more than 500M endpoints including more than 195M vehicles.  Based in Waterloo, Ontario, the company leverages AI and machine learning to deliver innovative solutions in the areas of cybersecurity, safety and data privacy, and is a leader in the areas of endpoint security, endpoint management, encryption, and embedded systems.  BlackBerry's vision is clear - to secure a connected future you can trust. BlackBerry. Intelligent Security. Everywhere.  For more information, visit BlackBerry.com and follow @BlackBerry.   Investor Contact:BlackBerry Investor Relations+1 (519) 888-7465investor_relations@blackberry.com Media Contact:BlackBerry Media Relations+1 (519) 597-7273mediarelations@blackberry.com This news release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of certain securities laws, including under the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and applicable Canadian securities laws, including statements regarding BlackBerry's plans, strategies and objectives including its expectations with respect to increasing and enhancing its product and service offerings.  The words "expect", "anticipate", "estimate", "may", "will", "should", "could", "intend", "believe", "target", "plan" and similar expressions are intended to identify these forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are based on estimates and assumptions made by BlackBerry in light of its experience and its perception of historical trends, current conditions and expected future developments, as well as other factors that BlackBerry believes are appropriate in the circumstances, including but not limited to, BlackBerry's expectations regarding its business, strategy, opportunities and prospects, the launch of new products and services, general economic conditions, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, competition, and BlackBerry's expectations regarding its financial performance.  Many factors could cause BlackBerry's actual results, performance or achievements to differ materially from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements, including, without limitation, risks related to the following factors: BlackBerry's ability to enhance, develop, introduce or monetize products and services for the enterprise market in a timely manner with competitive pricing, features and performance; BlackBerry's ability to maintain or expand its customer base for its software and services offerings to grow revenue or achieve sustained profitability; the intense competition faced by BlackBerry; the occurrence or perception of a breach of BlackBerry's network cybersecurity measures, or an inappropriate disclosure of confidential or personal information; the failure or perceived failure of BlackBerry's solutions to detect or prevent security vulnerabilities; the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic; BlackBerry's continuing ability to attract new personnel, retain existing key personnel and manage its staffing effectively; BlackBerry's dependence on its relationships with resellers and channel partners; litigation against BlackBerry; network disruptions or other business interruptions; BlackBerry's ability to foster an ecosystem of third-party application developers; BlackBerry's products and services being dependent upon interoperability with rapidly changing systems provided by third parties; BlackBerry's ability to obtain rights to use third-party software and its use of open source software; failure to protect BlackBerry's intellectual property and to earn expected revenues from intellectual property rights; BlackBerry being found to have infringed on the intellectual property rights of others;  the substantial asset risk faced by BlackBerry, including the potential for charges related to its long-lived assets and goodwill; BlackBerry's indebtedness; tax provision changes, the adoption of new tax legislation or exposure to additional tax liabilities; the use and management of user data and personal information; government regulations applicable to BlackBerry's products and services, including products containing encryption capabilities; the failure of BlackBerry's suppliers, subcontractors, channel partners and representatives to use acceptable ethical business practices or comply with applicable laws; regulations regarding health and safety, hazardous materials usage and conflict minerals; acquisitions, divestitures and other business initiatives; foreign operations, including fluctuations in foreign currencies; the fluctuation of BlackBerry's quarterly revenue and operating results; the volatility of the market price of BlackBerry's common shares; adverse economic, geopolitical and environmental conditions. These risk factors and others relating to BlackBerry are discussed in greater detail in BlackBerry's Annual Report on Form    10-K and the "Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements" section of BlackBerry's MD&A (copies of which filings may be obtained at www.sedar.com or www.sec.gov). All of these factors should be considered carefully, and readers should not place undue reliance on BlackBerry's forward-looking statements. Any statements that are forward-looking statements are intended to enable BlackBerry's shareholders to view the anticipated performance and prospects of BlackBerry from management's perspective at the time such statements are made, and they are subject to the risks that are inherent in all forward-looking statements, as described above, as well as difficulties in forecasting BlackBerry's financial results and performance for future periods, particularly over longer periods, given changes in technology and BlackBerry's business strategy, evolving industry standards, intense competition and short product life cycles that characterize the industries in which BlackBerry operates. BlackBerry has no intention and undertakes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by applicable law.   BlackBerry Limited Incorporated under the Laws of Ontario (United States dollars, in millions except share and per share amounts) (unaudited) Consolidated Statements of Operations  Three Months Ended Six Months Ended August 31, 2021 May 31, 2021 August 31,2020 August 31, 2021 August 31, 2020 Revenue $ 175 $ 174 $ 259 $ 349 $ 465 Cost of sales 63 60 60 123 123 Gross margin 112 114 199 226 342 Gross margin % 64.0 % 65.5 % 76.8 % 64.8 % 73.5 % Operating expenses Research and development 58 57 57 115 114 Selling, marketing and administration 83 73 79 156 169 Amortization 45 46 46 91 92 Impairment of goodwill — — — — 594 Impairment of long-lived assets — — 21 — 21 Debentures fair value adjustment 67 (4) 18 63 19 253 172 221 425 1,009 Operating loss (141) (58) (22) (199) (667) Investment loss, net (1) (2) (5) (3) (5) Loss before income taxes (142) (60) (27) (202) (672) Provision for (recovery of) income taxes 2 2 (4) 4 (13) Net loss $ (144) $ (62) $ (23) $ (206) $ (659) Loss per share Basic $ (0.25) $ (0.11) $ (0.04) $ (0.36) $ (1.18) Diluted $ (0.25) $ (0.11) $ (0.04) $ (0.36) $ (1.18) Weighted-average number of common shares outstanding (000s) Basic 568,082 567,358 558,882 567,724 558,365 Diluted 568,082 567,358 558,882 567,724 558,365 Total common shares outstanding (000s) 566,995 566,248 556,468 566,995 556,468   BlackBerry Limited Incorporated under the Laws of Ontario (United States dollars, in millions) (unaudited) Consolidated Balance Sheets As at August 31, 2021 February 28, 2021 Assets Current Cash and cash equivalents $ 291 $ 214 Short-term investments 416 525 Accounts receivable, net of allowance of $9 and $10, respectively 121 182 Other receivables 23 25 Income taxes receivable 9 10 Other current assets 50 50 910 1,006 Restricted cash equivalents and restricted short-term investments 27 28 Long-term investments 38 37 Other long-term assets 13 16 Operating lease right-of-use assets, net 57 63 Property, plant and equipment, net 44.....»»

Category: earningsSource: benzingaSep 22nd, 2021

Circuit Clinical adds new local investors on its "pathway to scaling"

Circuit Clinical's new investment group includes a network led by businessman Charles Lannon......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsJan 28th, 2020

Catholic Health adds vascular practice into physician network

Trinity Medical WNY P.C., Catholic Health’s physician practice network, is expanding again with the addition of Vascular & Endovascular Center (VEC) of Western New York. The move brings five more physicians into the multi-specialty group and four pr.....»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsJan 24th, 2020

Tower Health Partners adds 26 area women"s health specialists

Tower Health Partners has added another group of area doctors to its expanding physician network. Axia Women's Health — which has its headquarters in Oaks, Montgomery County, and Voorhees, N.J. — has agreed to affiliate with Tower Health Partners.....»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsMar 20th, 2019

Co-Opted By Wall Street: Bitcoin"s Biggest Risk?

Co-Opted By Wall Street: Bitcoin's Biggest Risk? Authored by Rob Price via BitcoinMagazine.com, As bitcoin gains mainstream acceptance from centralized financial institutions, will Wall Street come to ruin what is most powerful about the asset? Bitcoin’s potential is immense — an independent global reserve asset, the foundation of a more ethical financial system, uncorrupted by centralized financial overlords. But what is the risk that bitcoin could become co-opted and corrupted by those centralized financial overlords? What if bitcoin loses its independence? What if bitcoin merely becomes another speculative Wall Street plaything? TLDR: Wall Street’s growing importance is unavoidable as bitcoin goes mainstream, but correlations will not rise indefinitely and bitcoin’s independence remains in the hands of everyday users like me and you. HOW BITCOIN’S TECHNICAL SECURITY ADVANCED IN 2021 The great bitcoin mining migration of 2021 further decentralized bitcoin mining, which enhanced its security and reduced the possibility of a technical attack on the network itself. Furthermore, bitcoin showed in 2017 that it is resistant to change. A group of miners and merchants alienated themselves from the community because they ignored the community and pushed for an increase to the blocksize. So, Bitcoin is technically secure and unlikely to change its underlying principles. The network is decentralized and principles enshrined. Users have vehemently defended those principles. However, technical risks are not the only risks to bitcoin. WHAT IF BITCOIN BECOMES BITCOINTM, A WALL STREET PLAYTHING? Ben Hunt outlined some of these softer, more philosophical fears around Bitcoin in his very thought-provoking article “In Praise Of Bitcoin,” in which he wrote about the prospect of BitcoinTM emerging: “What is Bitcoin!TM in abstracted form? It’s a securitization or representation of Bitcoin ownership that promises the price appreciation of Bitcoin without the hassle of Bitcoin ownership. It’s a casino chip that represents the price of Bitcoin. Michael Saylor, for example, is only too happy to sell you a MicroStrategy casino chip. Or maybe you’d prefer to play on the Canadian crypto ETF felt? Or try your luck at the wheel of a Morgan Stanley private fund?” This is a much more insidious risk than a technical attack or government regulation, in my opinion, and it warrants reflection. S&P 500 CORRELATION VS. BITCOIN RISING AGAIN: SHOULD WE BE WORRIED? I recently noticed that the one-year rolling correlation between bitcoin and the S&P 500 reached its highest levels on record, according to a chart accessed via Glassnode. This shows that there is a growing relationship between Wall Street and bitcoin, which could be a signal that our worst fears are coming to fruition. Should we be worried? Source: Glassnode and Sound Money CENTRAL BANK POLICY DOMINATES ALL ASSET CLASSES From a technical perspective, different asset classes can be driven by the same factors, even if the assets are fundamentally different in nature. For example, inflation can drive gold and equities higher simultaneously but it can also generate divergent outcomes under different circumstances. It is no surprise that bitcoin and equity markets are both being driven higher by excessively loose monetary policy, which debases the value of fiat currencies. Many other asset classes are caught in the same theme, including property and bonds. A rising trend in correlations does not imply that the trend will remain intact indefinitely. But it could… WHAT COULD CAUSE A RISING CORRELATION TO BECOME A PERMANENT FEATURE? If Wall Street creates numerous financial products and trade in these products starts to dominate relative to actual users of the technology, the rising correlation between the S&P 500 and bitcoin could become a permanent feature. What if regulators force users to comply with numerous KYC and AML measures, reducing its censorship-resistant qualities and rendering it less independent? A couple of responses to each scenario: 1) INSTITUTIONALIZATION IS INEVITABLE BUT THAT DOES NOT IMPLY WALL STREET MUST DOMINATE Take a look at the holders of bitcoin today: More than 35% of coins have not moved in at least two years, according to data from Glassnode, which is a strong indication of long-term investment behavior. Some percentage of these holders could be institutional investors. But the fact that they are not trading the asset implies that, for one, they do not view the asset as a speculative plaything and secondly, that they choose to expose themselves to the vagaries and eccentricities of this alternative monetary network for the long haul, i.e., they are investing on bitcoin’s terms, not Wall Street’s. Source: Glassnode and Sound Money Bitcoin has no central bank to enter the market during periods of turmoil. The buyers of last resort are everyday bitcoiners who believe in the project and store their long-term wealth in the asset. It's these bitcoiners who create the price floors during price crashes. On-chain research via Glassnode shows that the number of addresses with balances less than 1 bitcoin continues to rise in 2021, giving an indication that smaller holders remain a very important dynamic in the market. By contrast, the growth in the number of addresses with balances great than 100 bitcoin has been negative throughout 2021, also per data accessed on Glassnode. Source: Glassnode and Sound Money Conclusion: Yes, Wall Street is becoming important for bitcoin, but that does not imply Wall Street dominates bitcoin. 2) PRIVACY IS CRITICAL AND AVAILABLE TO THOSE WHO NEED IT I would like to remind readers that privacy is a human right and is required by all to live fulfilling human lives. You would not want someone peering into your bedroom every morning! Not only is the right to privacy enshrined in the constitution of numerous countries but also in Article 12 of the UN's “Declaration Of Human Rights” (UDHR), from 1948. The desire for privacy does not imply tax evasion or criminal activity. Numerous people require privacy to live due to targeted, government-mandated, financial exclusion. There are more obvious examples in autocratic governments like China, Venezuela and Afghanistan, but there are also more nuanced examples in the countries regarded as the “free world.” Increasingly stringent financial, travel, property and speech restrictions imposed in 2020 and 2021 implies that the number of people who may be forced into privacy will increase. Thankfully, numerous users across cryptocurrency markets remain focused on privacy, using techniques to protect their human rights, including privacy-focused altcoins and mixing services to protect fungibility . Conclusion: While greater government oversight of cryptocurrency is inevitable, greater privacy is also available to those who are willing to put in the effort to get it. Moreover, developers continue to work on technical upgrades which enhance privacy, like Taproot in bitcoin. CONCLUSIONS I am worried about bitcoin being co-opted by traditional financial markets and a rising correlation between bitcoin and the S&P 500 accentuates my fear. Practically speaking, a rising correlation between bitcoin and the S&P500 indicates less diversification potential for traditional investors investing into bitcoin. I do not think it will dramatically alter people's allocation decisions (0.4 is still a pretty low correlation), but it could because the optimal risk-adjusted portfolio could advocate for a slightly lower allocation based on mean-variance optimizations. However, a rising correlation should not be extrapolated higher indefinitely into the future. The reasons for the correlation, its persistence and its breakdown should be assessed. Ultimately, it is unsurprising that extreme central bank policies are driving all financial markets in 2021. If central banks were to remove their stimulus, even if only temporarily, it would have a negative impact on risk assets, including equity, like the S&P 500 and bitcoin. Investors should never get complacent about this tighter monetary policy risk despite the incredibly low probability that central banks will be able to implement prudent policies with higher real interest rates for any length of time. Despite all my worries about large players dominating bitcoin and government oversight negating the censorship resistant characteristics of bitcoin, grassroots bitcoiners continue to grow and access to privacy-preserving techniques is increasing. I continue to encourage all holders of bitcoin to use the technology. You may hold the asset as an investment and may not want to touch it for many years to come — that's great! But get a little bit of bitcoin in a wallet, send it to your friend and realize the value of decentralized, borderless value transfer and storage so that we continue to advocate for this independent system maintained by individuals, not institutions. Tyler Durden Sat, 12/04/2021 - 18:30.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nyt13 hr. 17 min. ago

Juniper Networks (JNPR) Gains As Market Dips: What You Should Know

Juniper Networks (JNPR) closed the most recent trading day at $31.27, moving +0.19% from the previous trading session. Juniper Networks (JNPR) closed at $31.27 in the latest trading session, marking a +0.19% move from the prior day. This change outpaced the S&P 500's 0.85% loss on the day. Elsewhere, the Dow lost 0.17%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq lost 0.05%.Prior to today's trading, shares of the computer network equipment maker had gained 0.45% over the past month. This has outpaced the Computer and Technology sector's loss of 0.5% and the S&P 500's loss of 0.97% in that time.Wall Street will be looking for positivity from Juniper Networks as it approaches its next earnings report date. In that report, analysts expect Juniper Networks to post earnings of $0.53 per share. This would mark a year-over-year decline of 3.64%. Meanwhile, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for revenue is projecting net sales of $1.27 billion, up 4.12% from the year-ago period.JNPR's full-year Zacks Consensus Estimates are calling for earnings of $1.71 per share and revenue of $4.71 billion. These results would represent year-over-year changes of +10.32% and +5.89%, respectively.Investors might also notice recent changes to analyst estimates for Juniper Networks. These recent revisions tend to reflect the evolving nature of short-term business trends. As a result, we can interpret positive estimate revisions as a good sign for the company's business outlook.Our research shows that these estimate changes are directly correlated with near-term stock prices. We developed the Zacks Rank to capitalize on this phenomenon. Our system takes these estimate changes into account and delivers a clear, actionable rating model.Ranging from #1 (Strong Buy) to #5 (Strong Sell), the Zacks Rank system has a proven, outside-audited track record of outperformance, with #1 stocks returning an average of +25% annually since 1988. Over the past month, the Zacks Consensus EPS estimate remained stagnant. Juniper Networks is holding a Zacks Rank of #3 (Hold) right now.Looking at its valuation, Juniper Networks is holding a Forward P/E ratio of 18.21. This represents a no noticeable deviation compared to its industry's average Forward P/E of 18.21.It is also worth noting that JNPR currently has a PEG ratio of 2.03. This metric is used similarly to the famous P/E ratio, but the PEG ratio also takes into account the stock's expected earnings growth rate. The Wireless Equipment industry currently had an average PEG ratio of 1.7 as of yesterday's close.The Wireless Equipment industry is part of the Computer and Technology sector. This group has a Zacks Industry Rank of 173, putting it in the bottom 32% of all 250+ industries.The Zacks Industry Rank gauges the strength of our individual industry groups by measuring the average Zacks Rank of the individual stocks within the groups. Our research shows that the top 50% rated industries outperform the bottom half by a factor of 2 to 1.You can find more information on all of these metrics, and much more, on Zacks.com. Infrastructure Stock Boom to Sweep America A massive push to rebuild the crumbling U.S. infrastructure will soon be underway. It’s bipartisan, urgent, and inevitable. Trillions will be spent. Fortunes will be made. The only question is “Will you get into the right stocks early when their growth potential is greatest?” Zacks has released a Special Report to help you do just that, and today it’s free. Discover 7 special companies that look to gain the most from construction and repair to roads, bridges, and buildings, plus cargo hauling and energy transformation on an almost unimaginable scale.Download FREE: How to Profit from Trillions on Spending for Infrastructure >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Juniper Networks, Inc. (JNPR): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksDec 4th, 2021

US Spy Planes Conducted Record Number Of Missions Near China, Beijing Think-Tank Says

US Spy Planes Conducted Record Number Of Missions Near China, Beijing Think-Tank Says Reconnaissance aircraft operated by the USAF carried out a record number of flights over the South China Sea in November, according to data compiled by a Beijing-based think tank. The South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative (SCSPI) said U.S. spy planes carried out 94 sorties last month, a 25% increase from the February record of 75 flights. The think tank reported 80% of the flights were conducted by P-8A anti-submarine patrol aircraft, and the rest were MQ-4C surveillance drones and 8C air-to-ground surveillance aircraft. SCSPI's data shows the most move active day was on Nov. 04, when the U.S. deployed ten spy planes across the region. The same day, the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group sailed through the South China Sea.  A Navy P-8A anti-submarine patrol aircraft flew over the Taiwan Strait on Nov. 29, an area where Beijing continues to unleash wave after wave of warplanes into Taiwan's defense identification zone. The spy plane "was only about 15.91 nautical miles [29.46km] from the baseline of the Chinese mainland's territorial waters," the SCSPI report said, adding that the aircraft may have had their transponder turned off.  Last year, Beijing blasted the U.S. for concealing spy planes' identities as commercial passenger planes. They said it's common for USAF spy planes to impersonate the transponder code of civilian aircraft from other countries -- calling it dangerous.  At the time, SCSPI said, "this undoubtedly added up to great risk and uncertainty to international flight safety, which could lead to misjudgment (by ground air defense systems) and probably bring danger to civilian aircraft especially those being impersonated." Bloomberg spoke with a spokesperson for the U.S. 7th Fleet who said, "U.S. Navy ships and aircraft routinely operate within the international waters of the South China Sea, and are committed to supporting its network of alliances and partners and upholding a free and open Indo- Pacific."  On Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian urged the U.S. to stop "severely infringing on China's territorial security." He said, "this is aimed at creating tensions and will drive the risk of regional conflict." The last thing the U.S. and China need is a major foreign policy crisis. President Biden and President Xi Jinping don't want conflict ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing and ahead of next year's 20th Party Congress in China and the U.S. midterm elections. Tyler Durden Fri, 12/03/2021 - 19:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 4th, 2021

Leapfrogging Legacy Banking To A Bitcoin Standard

Leapfrogging Legacy Banking To A Bitcoin Standard Authored by Mitch Klee via BitcoinMagazine.com, How looking at the history of technological adoption can give us insights into where Bitcoin could be embraced the fastest... INTRO Throughout time, technology has proven to change our lives by leveraging efficiencies in energy. New ways in how we hunt have saved time and energy for innovation and to live more intentionally. Currently, Bitcoin presents an immense opportunity to change the lives of those who are burdened by old forms of manipulated money and preserve their time and energy. It is the first self-sovereign, programmable money that is proving to destroy expectations of every “expert” imaginable. At the intersection of money and technology, Bitcoin's network effect is spreading like a mind virus to all corners of the globe. This is not a coincidence but the manifestation of a zero to one moment; a radical new technology that will change nearly everything it touches. This article explores the idea that some regions and nations have a higher susceptibility to adoption in new monetary networks. Specifically, I will outline how the unbanked populations of emerging countries can leapfrog legacy systems, straight into a new monetary standard. But first, let's lay the groundwork for understanding how this can happen with some concepts. DEMOCRATIZATION OF TECHNOLOGY To understand leapfrogging, let’s first look into something that naturally happens when humans produce technology: the democratization of technology. As we make technology, the cost reduces, while the ease of production increases. Our tools get better, people’s skills improve, securing the material for production gets easier, logistics improve, and everything is less costly as humans continue increasing the output/yield over time. Simply put, cost goes down, while production goes up. Figure 1. A great example is the printing press. Before this innovation, each book had to be typed out or written one by one and distributed almost by osmosis. This means books were more expensive and were only in the hands of the few. After the printing press, people were able to automate a portion of the process by creating blueprints of the books. This cut down labor costs, and there was a huge explosion in printed material. This may have put people out of work; but it also introduced better dissemination of information to a wider group of people and new opportunities to produce more books for less cost and effort. Another example is photography. Historically, taking photos on film took hours to produce in a dark room. The film had to be brought to a local expert and it would take several days to get back the finished product. Smartphones and photoshop technology made this essentially free. It was then possible to download an app or use the built-in app on smartphones, take pictures, and immediately process them. Democratization of technology has been happening across every single aspect of human society since the beginning of time. Humans create tools to make it easier and cheaper to survive. Each tool becomes better, we then expand and evolve with less energy improving the quality of life. Fast-forward to the internet age. Emerging countries are just now tapping into the power of the internet. Although there are many factors underlying the reasons for expansion, one thing that is known is that technology builds on itself, making each successive technology easier to produce. Not only is there growth, but there is exponential growth. Certain times throughout history, technology has made such a large leap forward that it allows extremely poor countries to skip the legacy technology and quickly adopt the new one. This is called leapfrogging. LEAPFROGGING EXPLAINED Leapfrogging is when the cost to produce one technology is too great for a population, so when a new, drastically cheaper technology is created it’s quickly adopted and the old tech is skipped. This is the coexistence and benefit of separate populations within society. Let's look at the mobile phone revolution as a way to explain leapfrogging. Some societies did not have the wealth or infrastructure to adopt landlines and phone communication when it was brand new, but when the mobile phone was introduced, this gave mostly everyone around the world the ability to opt-in. Figure 2. Landlines in the U.S., 1900–2019. Figure 2 shows the number of landlines in the U.S. population from the 1900s to 2019. Throughout the entirety of the 20th century, the landline was being adopted in the U.S. Consequently it only took a decade to dethrone this old technology. The decline started when the benefit of cell phones outweighed the cost compared to landlines. This is where democratization hit the tipping point and we saw a huge jump from one technology to the next. Now it’s extremely cheap to use technology that is 100 times or even 1,000 times more advanced than the previous. Mobile phones usurped landlines because they were more affordable, easier to use and more mobile. Figure 2 shows how quickly a society can adopt a technology that has significantly more benefits than the previous, even in an advanced society. A similar thing is happening with television and the internet. Netflix came out and disrupted how people consume media on the television. As more platforms emerged, and people realized they could pay a fraction of the cost for a Netflix subscription rather than $100 for cable and a bunch of commercials, the switch was easy. Legacy systems were bogged down by all of the brick-and-mortar stores and overhead costs. They could not compete and pivot quickly enough, so they lost their seat at the table. Figure 3. Number of telephone subscriptions in the U.S. versus worldwide. When comparing fixed telephone subscriptions to other countries, the U.S. was way ahead of most. Many factors were contributing to this. Wealth played a huge part, but much of it was the production and first movers’ advantage. The U.S. was the first country to set up telephone lines from Boston to Somerville Massachusetts and expanded from there. Other countries did not have this opportunity, so they were laggards in the technology simply by default. It also made it easy to have a grid to run on top of, being a technologically advanced country with a power grid. Because it was so resource-heavy to set up this grid, this took over 30 years to build up the infrastructure. Figure 4. Landline subscriptions compared to GDP per capita, 2019. One of the main reasons why it was so hard to increase telephone subscriptions in other countries is because of the initial cost. You can’t just tap into a telephone line, there needs to be a large grid, infrastructure and companies/governments willing to build out this grid. Figure 4 shows that there is a rough line at a GDP per capita of $5,000 to get off zero and start communicating via landline. As the GDP per capita grows in a country, it is more likely they adopt fixed landlines. This is a huge barrier to entry as they try and compete to be a part of the 21st century. With telephones, it brings an easier flow of information across long distances quickly. These are important technologies that helped first-world countries advance quicker than their counterparts. This technology could mean the difference between surviving and thriving in the modern era. Figure 5. Mobile phone subscriptions versus GDP per capita, 2019. Things get much different when you start looking at mobile phones in Figure 5. To have a mobile phone is drastically cheaper than having a landline, all costs considered. Before, you needed the infrastructure and everything that came with installing a landline phone. But with mobile phones, even at a GDP per capita of less than $1,000, you get ~50% penetration of adoption within the population. All of the countries that were left out of communication with landlines, now have leapfrogged the old technology, right into a new standard of mobile phones. People benefit, businesses benefit and countries benefit immensely from these technologies. With mobile communication, people have higher leverage over their energy output. Businesses and life in general are more efficient, in turn creating a higher GDP for the country. It is a feedback loop that is good for all of humanity. When one group of people creates new technology, everyone benefits at one point or another. FROM LANDLINES TO MOBILE PHONES TO INTERNET-CONNECTED SMARTPHONES Not only are poorer countries leapfrogging into mobile phone communication, but they are, in turn, jumping right into the internet age. On top of that, (Android) smartphone costs are dropping significantly every year, with the average cost down by 50% from 2008 to 2016. With the growing ability to connect with the rest of the world comes more opportunities to learn and grow with the rest of the world. An incredible amount of information is available on the internet, and the benefit of being on the network is immeasurable. Figure 6. Mobile versus landline subscriptions, worldwide, 1960–2019. When comparing the numbers of mobile phone users to the numbers of landlines, you get a huge disparity in the pace at which they were adopted. Fixed landlines were around for almost 50 years before they started to see some real competition. Thinking back to our Figure 5, this makes sense, because the cost to build infrastructure is drastically higher than that of mobile phones. The opportunity a landline brought to civilization was immense, but the cost-effective mobility of cell phones transcends previous communication technology by a longshot. As of September 2021, the world’s population was ~7.89 billion people. Of that, there are 10.5 billion cell phones with network connections. That is 2.52 billion more activated phones than there are people. This becomes thought-provoking when adoption data starts to reveal where mobile phones are headed next. As people adopt mobile phones, smartphones are becoming cheaper and more abundant. The cost of production for smartphones is less and less each year, and soon there will be little reason to have a cell phone without internet connection because the cost difference will be so minuscule. Smartphone abundance is allowing people around the world to tap into the internet and it is estimated that “by 2025, 72% of all internet users will solely use smartphones to access the web.” Figure 7. Share of the population using the internet, 1990–2019. Currently, the world is in a transitionary period of communication. Not all of the world has access to the internet, only 65%, with an increasingly rapid pace of adoption. Because it is so inexpensive to get a mobile phone, and the benefits are immense, the world is being onboarded at an incredible rate. To answer the question “What is Leapfrogging?” we can look directly at mobile phones. But it’s not just one leapfrog, it’s more of a continuous onboarding to the digital revolution for the entire human population. Things are getting cheaper, and technology is moving exponentially forward, toward a more connected future. Soon, everyone will have access to the internet and will bring about new and exciting opportunities for the world to grow. With the high rate of adoption in communication technology, mobile phones swept across low-GDP countries allowing information to spread. Smartphones are a small hop away from mobile phones. With smartphones comes all sorts of opportunities not to mention the connection to the world's internet. In developing countries, the internet is starting to hit its hockey stick moment. Adoption continues to grow and as smartphones get cheaper, more people in the world have access to the internet, connecting them to their local and global economies and new innovations will come about in unforeseen ways. This begs the question, what monetary network will they use to transact in the digital age? It's taken years to get the legacy banking system up to speed. We’ve bootstrapped and “Frankensteined” many different ways to connect the internet to a centuries-old banking infrastructure, but these newly onboarded countries have the opportunity to skip that altogether. With no legacy banking infrastructure rooted within the nation, this leaves the door wide open for a new legacy. LEAPFROGGING ONTO A BITCOIN STANDARD It seems the stage is set for a paradigm shift. A perfect storm is brewing in populations that lack bank accounts and access to store their wealth. Coupling this with connection to the internet, and 21st-century e-commerce and monetary system, it is impossible for countries not to adopt it. Because bitcoin is a global asset with no intermediaries, its infrastructure is inherently global. Any improvements to the network, the entire world will benefit automatically without having to update the old tech. Unlike landlines, there is no infrastructure to build, and the barrier to entry is almost zero. You just opt in with a bit of hardware and an internet connection. As of 2017, according to the World Bank, there are 1.7 billion adults in the world without a basic transacting account. Most of these countries with higher rates of unbanked are poor, have high rates of inflation and lower currency stability, not to mention a disconnected state government ripe with problems. This is extremely common when looking at currencies in other low-GDP countries. So, what are some of the biggest factors in which people would want or need to adopt Bitcoin? If we can answer this question, then maybe we can quantify and pinpoint which countries have the biggest opportunity and most to gain from adopting a Bitcoin standard. Figure 8. World’s most unbanked countries (Source). Figure 8 shows the top-10 most unbanked countries as of February 2021. The Oxford dictionary defines “unbanked” as “not having access to the services of a bank or similar financial organization.” Much like building the infrastructure for landlines, it’s expensive to build banks and serve the local economy. Not to mention, many of the people living in these countries don't have the amount of money that would warrant the cost of owning a bank account. Some even share bank accounts with members of their families to save on costs. There is a huge opportunity to solve the problem of banking in low-GDP countries, but many of the digital banking companies around the world are constrained by regulation and geographical jurisdiction. It may be hard to grasp the importance of a bank account having never lived without one, but without a bank, citizens cannot secure funds safely. Without secure funds, the future is uncertain. This is where Bitcoin can solve some of the problems in these less developed and emerging countries. There are three specific ways in which these problems could be solved. 1. Bank the Unbanked Bitcoin gives everyone the ability to be their own bank with something as little as a cell phone. All that's needed is to be connected to the network and accept funds. The smartphone does all of this. It allows people to download a bitcoin wallet, connect to the internet and start transacting. There are many ways in which one can use this wallet. Coincidentally, the countries above who have low banking numbers within their population, also have mobile phones and high internet penetration. This is an open door from a technological standpoint, allowing people to opt into Bitcoin and secure their funds digitally. In addition to using the Bitcoin network to transact on your phone, you can also use it as a cold storage solution. Cold storage is similar to a savings account. This savings account or cold storage is disconnected from the internet, making it harder for people to steal your funds. With the old technology of banks, you would have to pay for this solution, but with Bitcoin, it's free, just download the software and/or buy a hardware wallet. There are some cold storage solutions where you can pay for a hardware device, but creating a phone wallet and securing your keys, gives the people an entry point and on-ramp to storing their wealth in a digital bank. 2. Securely Store Value Over Time The second opportunity is the store of value function. Many of the countries that have unbanked populations and poverty issues are a result of a currency problem. In my previous article, “Bitcoin As A Pressure Release Valve,” I wrote that certain countries have hyperinflated currencies with no option but to turn to the black market. Most of the time, these countries use the U.S. dollar to transact since it holds its value better relative to their currency. Strictly from a monetary standpoint, bitcoin is scarce. It is the most scarce form of money there is. There will only ever be 21 million bitcoin in existence and when the value rises, the production does not increase. This is called elasticity or the lack of elasticity in bitcoin’s case. Unlike fiat money, no government, central bank or agency can print more. And unlike gold, silver or any other commodity, when the demand rises, the amount that is mined stays the same. The first completely inelastic asset in existence is a result of preprogrammed architecture, with consensus in the network that’s default is to not change the protocol. People that live in countries where the money is known to be manipulated, understand Bitcoin almost immediately. When the idea of something that can't be manipulated is presented, the concept of scarcity and 21 million is understood. With the reality of incorruptible money, the current regime in power can't stuff their pockets without alienating the population through force. These people understand this idea because they have experienced it firsthand. When food prices rise faster than people can spend a weekly budget on groceries, it is immediately apparent the importance of a completely scarce, un-manipulatable asset. In developed countries with low levels of unbanked, people have ways of storing their wealth. They have a 401k and IRA, and most people own property. This is a way of storing value over time. It may not be completely efficient, but it is sufficient enough to escape some level of inflation. The alternative would be to keep your dollars in a savings account, and the real yield of that is negative and not a smart way to store money. These countries put money in financial devices, because it is the smart thing to do and it preserves time and energy. Unbanked countries have no way of storing long-term value. It is degraded and evaporated through manipulation and high levels of money printing. Emerging countries cannot store time and value into financial instruments. There is no Apple stock or S&P 500 to put money into. They are stuck with low levels of wealth that are stolen away on an ever-moving treadmill. There is no way of truly saving value or energy spent over time. For the first time, Bitcoin gives the world, particularly those in emerging countries, the ability to hold their value in a closed system that cannot be inflated. Much like the opportunity the mobile phone brought to change communication, bitcoin is the first “store of value'' that is available for low-GDP countries to buy and hold. It allows them to securely transfer their wealth over time, without fear of inflation or confiscation. Add on top of that, if they need to transfer wealth out of the country and flee an oppressive regime, bitcoin is the first asset that gives the ability to do so. Large amounts of gold cannot be taken on a plane or property and homes cannot be transferred to another country. Bitcoin gives people the freedom to do what they want with their earned value, without fear of a centralized power removing it. Bitcoin preserves the fundamental human right of property. 3. Connection to the Digital Economy The third problem Bitcoin solves is connecting and transacting digitally. Being a digitally native asset, bitcoin smooths the rails of commerce allowing low-GDP countries to join the 21st century of commerce. This is huge, and what cell phones did for communication, digital commerce will do the same. It immensely increases our ability to transact and exchange value. Bitcoin allows anyone, anywhere, to join a digital transacting network and exchange value natively over the internet, whether in person or without knowing them at all. Digital economies move at the speed of light, while old-school economies move at the speed of osmosis. This brings more time and efficiency for people on both ends of the transaction. Businesses spend less time on transactions, widen their addressable market, and start putting more time and effort into other things that can improve their work. It is the difference between transacting daily in cash and using a preprogrammed point of sales system. It is simply better. Not only does Bitcoin make things easier and frees up more time, but it is programmable money. Like the internet, Bitcoin can be built in layers. Each layer brings a new way to use it that widens the possibilities and use cases. What the internet did for communication, Bitcoin will do for money. Combining all three of these factors, you get a massive magnetic pull toward adoption of the new technology. It is hard to slow the movement of technological adoption and impossible to stop. Like throwing a match on a tinder-filled hillside, years of opportunity build up in countries that lack technology where innovation and adoption prepare to explode at the right moment. QUANTIFYING BITCOIN ADOPTION IN LOW-GDP COUNTRIES Figure 9. LocalBitcoins and Paxful Vietnamese dong (VND) combined volume in Vietnam (Source). Looking at every one of the top-10 countries from Figure 8, they all have meaningful adoption in Bitcoin and it is growing every week. Not only is Vietnam number two on the unbanked list, but it is also number one on the “Chainalysis 2021 Global Adoption Ranking.” In fact, looking at Figure 10 of adoption through LocalBitcoins and Paxful, USD volume shows that every one of the countries in the top-10 list of unbanked have meaningful adoption. Figure 10. LocalBitcoins and Paxful Vietnamese dong (VND) combined volume. What does this tell us about Bitcoin adoption in unbanked countries? It tells us that it's working. Continuing to see these trends improve will be good for Bitcoin adoption and not to mention the countries in which they are adopting it. All the ingredients are there. Most are unbanked with high internet access and an unreliable currency that isn't natively digital. All you need is time for the adoption to take hold. There are also some concerns that come up when thinking about Bitcoin adoption. Like, “How can they adopt bitcoin when it is so volatile?” Well, there are a few solutions to this problem. The first is that when a population has no choice, something as volatile as bitcoin could mean the difference between losing 30% or losing 90% over the span of one year. Keep in mind that bitcoin is already solving three of the major problems listed above, we are just remedying the problem of volatility. First, look at just bitcoin and its use cases today. For some countries, their currency is just as volatile if not more volatile than bitcoin. Not only that, but it is volatile to the downside, continuing to lose value as the government steals and prints away spent time and energy. If bitcoin were to be used, sure it might be volatile, but this volatility is either short lived, or it’s to the upside. Now look at bitcoin while using it for everyday transactions through Strike, as a more technical solution. This solution is currently available now in El Salvador as a test case and is starting to roll out to more and more countries. People use the Bitcoin and Lightning rails every single day but transact in USD, choosing to either save in bitcoin or not. This solution gives the best of both worlds. One, a population has the ability to transact short term in a currency that isn't volatile, like other emerging countries. Two, this gives access to the payment rails of Bitcoin and the ability to save in the most scarce asset in existence. Looking back historically, bitcoin has grown at a 200% compound annual growth rate and this has the opportunity to conserve and grow wealth immensely. For someone in a developing world, this is life changing. As this trend of adoption in underbanked countries continues, new and exciting ways where Bitcoin is used will emerge. For the first time in history, countries have the ability to store wealth in something that cannot be stolen. It gives the opportunity to transact freely without the permission of the state or government, and it allows people to break free from imposed serfdom. Bitcoin is here and it is only getting bigger. There is a change in the tides of time, and Bitcoin is a once-in-a-millennia technology that is pulling the shores. Tyler Durden Fri, 12/03/2021 - 18:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 3rd, 2021

How Migrant Surge At The Border Fuels Massive American OD"s From Tiny Grains of This Killer Drug

How Migrant Surge At The Border Fuels Massive American OD's From Tiny Grains of This Killer Drug By Vince Bielski, published originally in RealClearInvestigations.com On a September afternoon, Allyssia Solorio wondered why her energetic young brother hadn’t emerged from his bedroom in their Sacramento, Calif., home. When she opened his door, she saw 23-year-old Mikael leaning back on his bed with his legs dangling over the side. She rushed to her brother and shook him, but to no avail. He was dead. A counterfeit pharmaceutical pill laced with illicit fentanyl had killed him. Mikael Tirado was one of an estimated 93,331 overdose fatalities in the United States last year – an all-time high. Nearly five times the murder rate, the deadly overdose toll was primarily caused by fentanyl, a highly lethal synthetic opioid. It’s manufactured mostly by Mexican cartels with ingredients imported from China, and then smuggled over the southwestern U.S. border. Fentanyl has been arriving in larger quantities each year since at least 2016. The cartels are taking advantage of law enforcement weaknesses and policy failures to smuggle record amounts of the lethal drug into the United States, according to interviews with half a dozen current and former drug and immigration agents. While a lack of screening technology to find contraband at ports of entry and an inept U.S-Mexico campaign to cripple the cartels are longstanding issues, there’s also a new one: the flood of migrants across the border that the Biden administration has done little to stop. Former law enforcement officials say the cartels are orchestrating the surge, overwhelming the capacity of agents to pursue drug smugglers. They can freely enter Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California carrying fentanyl while agents are diverted to the time-consuming duty of apprehending and processing migrants. Frustrated border agents and their union have been calling on Congress to send reinforcements. But help is not on the way. The administration’s upcoming budget request doesn’t include funding for more Customs and Border Protection agents. In September, tensions boiled over after President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris lashed out at agents on horseback in response to videos showing them blocking Haitians crossing the border. Harris compared the incident to the mistreatment of slaves, an inflammatory accusation that the union strongly denied, saying no migrants were hit or hurt. The administration is pivoting away from law enforcement and embracing a public health approach to the fentanyl crisis. It has proposed spending $11.2 billion – a huge increase over last year – to expand substance abuse prevention, treatment and recovery services. Fewer addicts would mean fewer deaths from fentanyl. But curbing opioid addiction is very challenging. The vast majority of substance abusers avoid treatment, according to researchers, and only about one-third of those receiving long-term medical care fully recover. These success stories, however, will be offset if the supply of fentanyl continues to boom and fuel more addiction. “Drug treatment is very important, but you can’t treat someone in the morgue who just died from fentanyl poisoning. It’s too late,” says Derek Maltz, the former director of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s special operations division, which primarily targets cartels. “We have to vigorously attack the production labs in Mexico and increase border security on our side.” Cartels have turned to fentanyl because the super-potent powder is cheap to produce, making it more profitable than heroin, says Eric Triana, an assistant special agent in charge at the DEA division in New York. Two of Mexico’s most powerful crime groups – the Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation cartels – manufacture the synthetic drug in rustic clandestine labs. In the U.S., the powder is mixed with heroin to stretch supplies. To boost sales, cartels have more recently increased production of counterfeit pharmaceuticals. They are made with fentanyl but labeled to look exactly like legitimate medications such as Percocet, Vicodin and Xanax. Cartels are increasing production of counterfeit pharmaceuticals. Above, a seized pill press. Flickr/DEA The fake pills, which are promoted and sold on social media platforms as real pharmaceuticals, are priced to sell at a discounted rate of about $20 each. They have brought the dangers of fentanyl to mainstream America, with victims belonging to every age, class and racial group. Nationwide, DEA agents seized an unprecedented 9.5 million fake pills -- some portion of that total in every U.S. state in the first nine months of 2021, or more than the last two years combined. That prompted the agency to issue a rare public safety alert in September. Fentanyl’s potency – at 50 times the strength of heroin – is what makes it so deadly. Two milligrams, which can fit on the tip of a pencil, can kill. But cartels don’t take precautions to make sure the pills aren’t lethal. DEA analysis found that 40% of the seized pills had a potentially deadly dose. “I saw the devastation that heroin brought to Baltimore as a young police officer,” Triana says. “But fentanyl is a more potent deadly threat. It’s frightening.” Crime groups have gained complete control of the Mexican side of the 1,950-mile border, directing the flow of both migrants and drugs. The Gulf Cartel runs the region around Brownsville, Texas, and moving west to California, the Cartel of the Northeast, Juarez Cartel and the Sinaloa Cartel have staked out turf, says Victor Avila, a former supervisory special agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement who specialized in human and narcotics trafficking. Diversion Game at the Border They operate openly as if they were the Mexican military. Jalisco New Generation Cartel, which has recently expanded operations, even slaps a “CJNG” logo in big letters on its military-style trucks and uniforms as part of a show of force. The Jalisco cartel increasingly operates like a military force. (Above, a purported convoy.)  Twitter/@jaeson_jones The surge of migrants that began in 2019 and accelerated after Biden took office has been a boon to these violent enterprises. The migrants are coming from Eastern Europe and Africa as well as Central and South America, lured partly by the administration’s policy that allows unaccompanied children and families to stay in the states while they apply for asylum, according to border agents who have interviewed them. In addition to paying cartels between about $2,000 and $9,000 each to cross, migrants are also used as decoys in drug smuggling operations. Equipped with encrypted communications and satellite technologies, crime organizations are precisely orchestrating the timing and location of the border crossings of large migrant groups as part of a diversion tactic, several officers say. Dozens of agents are forced to leave their posts guarding many miles of the border and at checkpoints on roads to assist with apprehensions of the groups. The cartels work with spotters in the Halcon network to identify these wide security gaps along the border and send drug smugglers on foot through them undetected. A Call for More Agents “The illegal alien flows are so big that the Border Patrol has to leave hundreds of miles of border unprotected,” says Avila. “This absolutely means more fentanyl has been entering the country in the last few years.” The smugglers make their way across tough terrain to one of hundreds of stash houses located near roads in the border region. The drugs are then placed in cars and driven through often unguarded checkpoints and across the country. Rather than pursue these smugglers, many Border Patrol agents are handling the crush of migrants entering the U.S. They apprehended more than 1.7 million this fiscal year, or six times the 2017 number. (That doesn’t include the hundreds of thousands who got away, according to Border Patrol estimates.) Agents deport most of the single adults. But they have to assist in transporting, processing, housing and feeding the unaccompanied children and families who are placed in border patrol facilities for weeks before they are released into the U.S. to pursue asylum claims. In the busiest border areas, such as Texas’ Rio Grande Valley and Del Rio, as many as 30% of agents are pulled from the frontlines to deal with the migrant overflow, says Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council. Texas is trying to fill the security void by deploying hundreds of state troopers and the National Guard in Operation Lonestar, a $1.8 billion effort. They have seized 127 pounds of fentanyl this year through early September. The Trump administration was able to tamp down the number of migrants crossing the border by forcing them to remain in Mexico while they applied for asylum. Biden ended that program, calling it inhumane, and the administration is now fighting a court order to reinstate it. Judd says as long as Biden’s asylum policy is in place, the Border Patrol, which has about 14,000 field agents covering both coasts and both land borders, needs thousands more to help secure the Southwest flank. Pleas to congressional leaders for help, made by Judd’s union and former Border Patrol chiefs, have gone unheeded.   “If you are not going to change the policy, then give me more manpower to stop the drugs,” Judd says. “But Democrats control Congress, and while some of them are fairly good on border security, it isn’t a priority for a majority of them.” So far this year, CBP has redeployed 400 agents from the northern and coastal areas to the southern border – not nearly enough to fill the gaps, Judd says. In a statement to RealClearInvestigations, a CBP spokesperson said the agency continues to evaluate the need for more agents and pointed to drug busts as evidence of strong enforcement. Border and customs agents seized 10,000 pounds of fentanyl this fiscal year, according to agency data. That’s five times the catch in 2018. But agents say more seizures actually indicates that more of the deadly drug is entering the country since they have only been capturing an estimated 10% to 15% of the total. Most of the fentanyl is pouring over the Southwest border at the U.S. ports of entry, particularly in California, a favorite route for smugglers. The challenge for customs agents at the controlled inspection ports in four states is very different than the cat-and-mouse pursuits of the Border Patrol: How to find illegal contraband in vehicles without slowing trade with Mexico worth hundreds of billions of dollars each year. The San Ysidro port in California between San Diego and Tijuana is the busiest land border crossing in the Western Hemisphere. The 70,000 vehicle passengers headed north every day through the port have to wait in long lines of traffic for an hour, on average. Nearby, the thousands of commercial trucks that go through the Otay Mesa port daily have even longer waits. Legal trade and travel occupy patrols at ports of entry like San Ysidro (above), which smugglers exploit. AP Photo/Gregory Bull Customs agents are in a fix. They are under pressure to efficiently clear trucks from Mexico carrying fruits, vegetables, electronics and other goods for entry into the U.S. But that priority to avoid costly commercial delays is in constant conflict with the need to stop and search the vehicles for illicit goods. More often than not, smugglers get waved through without a search. “Transnational criminal organizations take advantage of the chaos and clutter at the ports of entry that are dealing with so much legitimate trade and travel,” says Victor Manjarrez, a former Border Patrol supervisor and now a security expert at the University of Texas at El Paso. Cartels have the confidence to go big at the border. In August, a Mexican tractor-trailer driver attempted to cross at Otay Mesa with 2.8 tons of methamphetamine and fentanyl hidden among plastic household goods. Agents scanned the cargo using an X-ray-like machine and saw what they described as “anomalies” inside the trailer. Then a canine team sniffed out narcotics worth $13 million. It was the largest ever meth bust along the border. Customs agents would arrest more smugglers if they were equipped with basic scanning technology used in the huge Otay Mesa seizure. It helps them quickly make better decisions about which vehicles to inspect manually, a process that can take hours. CBP says it has been deploying more large-scale scanners at ports of entry in the last two years. Remarkably, only 15% of trucks were scanned at Southwest ports of entry in 2019, according to a CBP report. And less than half of them received any formal inspection because customs agents have to move too rapidly through the snarl of waiting traffic, says Manjarrez. Many of the 328 U.S. ports also need to be expanded and modernized to reduce wait times to allow for more inspections. The Biden administration is asking Congress for $660 million for upgrades, or enough to improve only a handful of the old ports. Otay Mesa’s $144 million expansion plan alone would absorb almost a quarter of this new funding. “It’s really only a down payment for what is needed,” Manjarrez says. ‘Hugs, Not Bullets’ in Mexico More agents and technology would “absolutely make a bigger dent” in the flow of fentanyl over the border, Manjarrez says, but not stop it. Agents say Mexico also has to begin targeting the hundreds of cartel production labs to further cut the supply. “Destroying the labs has to be a top priority because, without them, the cartels can’t continue to kill our kids,” says Maltz, the former DEA organized crime specialist. But President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador ended Mexico’s military campaign against cartel leaders two years ago. Soldiers captured and killed many kingpins, but the crackdown also unleashed a reign of violence that Lopez Obrador pledged to blunt. The populist president is pushing his “hugs, not bullets” agenda to reduce poverty in the hope that it will eventually curb the appeal of drug smuggling. Meanwhile, the cartels, facing little government resistance, have continued to expand their hold on territory and corrupt lawmakers, according to Vanda Felbab-Brown, a scholar focusing on nonstate armed actors at the Brookings Institution. The clout of the cartels was made clear in 2020 when U.S. agents arrested a former Mexican defense secretary for taking bribes to protect the ultraviolent H-2 Cartel. Outraged officials pressured the U.S. to return Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda to Mexico where prosecutors promptly exonerated him. The more lasting damage to drug enforcement came when Mexico passed a law in response to Cienfuegos’ arrest. Maltz says it froze DEA’s operations in Mexico by requiring agents to pass sensitive intelligence through a central foreign affairs office that they believe is corrupt.   “The cartels control Mexico. All of it,” says Avila, the former ICE agent who survived gunshot wounds in an ambush with a cartel. “They are running a parallel government.” The U.S. Plays Nice With the U.S. drug enforcement imperiled, Felbab-Brown has called on the Biden administration to “get tough” with Mexico. In January she urged the administration to use financial support as leverage to compel Mexico to target mid-level cartel operatives and their corrupt government protectors to avoid the bloodshed that comes with taking down bosses. But the State Department is taking a conciliatory position, essentially backing Lopez Obrador’s economic development strategy in an agreement between the two countries announced in early October. The Biden administration has been conciliatory toward Mexico, but not its own mounted agents. AP Photo/Felix Marquez At a joint press conference, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the countries had relied too much on security forces to try to weaken the cartels. Over the past decade the U.S. has spent $3 billion to arm and train the Mexican military and police as part of the Merida Initiative. During that time, drug trafficking into the U.S. increased. A new agreement will replace Merida, making job creation in poor communities and drug treatment and prevention top priorities, Blinken said. The countries did agree to pursue the cartels, particularly by curtailing the illegal supply of U.S. arms into Mexico and money laundering activities. But the prosecution of cartel members isn’t the priority. Mexico Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said the success of the agreement won’t be measured by how many drug lords go to jail.   The administration’s strategy has plenty of backers in the criminal justice and public health professions. “I'm sympathetic to the argument that Mexico is on the border with the largest consumer of fentanyl and cocaine in the world,” says Bryce Pardo, a drug policy specialist at Rand Corp. “We could do more to reduce our insatiable appetite for drugs.” In the meantime, more fentanyl smuggled into the U.S. means more deaths. Triana, the DEA special agent, estimates that the number of overdose fatalities this year will either be on par with or exceed 2020’s. Allyssia Solorio, the sister of the Sacramento man who died from fentanyl, has become an activist to raise awareness of the dangers of the illicit drug. The former postal worker says law enforcement must play a larger role. “President Biden can do a lot more to shut down the smuggling of fentanyl over the Mexican border,” she says. Tyler Durden Thu, 12/02/2021 - 23:20.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytDec 3rd, 2021

How to watch the NFL without cable — the Bills and Patriots face off for the AFC East lead on Monday Night Football

The 2021 NFL season kicked off September 9; you can watch select games live on streaming services like Sling and Fubo TV all season long. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.You can watch the NFL on various live TV streaming services.Mark J. Terrill/AP Photo; Mark LoMoglio/AP Photo; Alyssa Powell/Business Insider Week 13 of the 2021 NFL season includes the Bills and Patriots on Monday Night Football. NFL games are spread across several channels, including NFL Network, ESPN, NBC, Fox, and CBS. HD antennas and streaming services offer select NFL games without the need for a cable subscription. The 2021 NFL season enters the home stretch in week 13, with a single loss separating the top six teams in the AFC and more than 10 NFC teams in the playoff hunt. The 7-4 Buffalo Bills will host the 8-4 New England Patriots in a high-profile Monday Night Football game that will have serious ramifications on the AFC East division race. Buffalo beat New England twice in 2020 after losing seven straight games to the Patriots dating back to 2016. This season New England is led by rookie quarterback Mac Jones, who has outperformed the league's other rookie signal-callers after being taken 15th overall in the draft. Bills quarterback Josh Allen is a candidate for most valuable player this year, with more than 3,000 passing yards and 25 touchdowns so far this season.Throughout the season, NFL games are spread across five primary channels: ESPN, NBC, Fox, CBS, and the NFL Network. Meanwhile, the next Super Bowl will be broadcast on NBC.To help ensure you get access to every game you want to watch, we broke down the ins and outs of streaming the NFL season without a cable subscription.NFL Week 13 scheduleWeek 13 of the NFL regular season begins with a Thursday Night Football matchup between the Cowboys and Saints on Fox, NFL Network, and Amazon Prime Video. This week's Sunday Night Football game will feature the Broncos and Chiefs on NBC and Peacock.Primetime games are shown nationally, but local broadcasts for afternoon games are determined by your area. GameDate and timeChannelDallas Cowboys at New Orleans SaintsDecember 2, 8:20 p.m. ETFox, NFL Network, Amazon PrimeNew York Giants at Miami DolphinsDecember 5, 1 p.m. ETFoxIndianapolis Colts at Houston TexansDecember 5, 1 p.m. ETCBSMinnesota Vikings at Detroit LionsDecember 5, 1 p.m. ETCBSPhiladelphia Eagles at New York JetsDecember 5, 1 p.m. ETCBSArizona Cardinals at Chicago BearsDecember 5, 1 p.m. ETFoxLos Angeles Chargers at Cincinnati BengalsDecember 5, 1 p.m. ETCBSTampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta FalconsDecember 5, 1 p.m. ETFoxJacksonville Jaguars at Los Angeles RamsDecember 5, 4:05 p.m. ETFoxWashington Football Team at Las Vegas RaidersDecember 5, 4:05 p.m. ETFoxBaltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh SteelersDecember 5, 4:25 p.m. ETCBSSan Francisco 49ers at Seattle SeahawksDecember 5, 4:25 p.m. ETCBSDenver Broncos at Kansas City ChiefsDecember 5, 8:20 p.m. ETNBC, PeacockNew England Patriots at Buffalo BillsDecember 6, 8:15 p.m. ETESPN, ESPN2How to watch NFL games without cableYou can access select NFL games without a cable subscription via streaming services like Hulu + Live TV, Sling TV, FuboTV, YouTube TV, Paramount Plus, Amazon Prime Video, Peacock Premium, and NFL Sunday Ticket. You can also watch local NFL games with an HDTV antenna.The 2021 NFL regular season began on September 9. During the regular season, Sunday afternoon games with an NFC home team will typically air on Fox, and Sunday afternoon games with an AFC home team will typically air on CBS.Meanwhile, Sunday Night Football airs on NBC, and Thursday Night Football is broadcast on NFL Network all season long. Select Thursday Night Football games are also shown on Fox and streamed via Amazon Prime and Twitch. Finally, Monday Night Football is on ESPN. Additionally, you can stream all your local in-market games on your mobile device for free using the Yahoo Sports app or the NFL app.Here's a full roundup of all the services you can use to stream NFL games without cable.HDTV AntennaBen Blanchet/InsiderYou can purchase an antenna, like this Channel Master model, to add to your TV for about $25, giving you access to local channels within a certain distance. For more recommendations, check out guide to the best digital antennas.What you get:Hooking up an HD antenna to your TV gives you access to local over-the-air (OTA) signals in your location. This means that you will be able to access the local affiliates of major broadcast networks, like Fox, CBS, and NBC.This lets you watch all the regional games broadcast from wherever you're located. You also get the Sunday Night Football matchup that airs on NBC. Because it's only a one-time payment, this is a great option if you're solely interested in watching the team in your area. However, you will not get access to any out-of-market games or games that air on ESPN or the NFL Network.Channel Master FLATenna 35 Duo$25.00 FROM WALMART$10.00 FROM CHANNEL MASTERSling TVAlyssa Powell/Business InsiderIf you're looking for a live TV streaming service to watch football, Sling TV is a great budget option that gives you most of the channels you need at a cheaper price than Hulu or FuboTV.There are three different plans, depending on what channels you prioritize. Sling Orange and Sling Blue each cost $35 a month, while the combined Sling Orange + Blue plan costs $50 per month. Additionally, you can purchase the Sports Extra package to add NFL RedZone to your plan for $11 per month.What you get:Sling Orange has ESPN, while Sling Blue has Fox and NBC in select markets as well as the NFL network. CBS is not currently offered by Sling. While there is a Sports Extra package, it does not include any channels that air live NFL games. Your best bet to get access to the most NFL games via Sling is to sign up for the Sling Orange + Blue plan and cash in on Sling's current promotional offer of a free antenna for local channels. The free antenna requires that you prepay for two months of the Sling service. Plus, if you want RedZone you can add the Sports Extra package to the Orange + Blue Plan for a total of $61 a month.If you don't want it all, you can just sign up for Sling Blue to gain access to Sunday afternoon games on Fox and Sunday Night Football games on NBC, or just Sling Orange to gain access to Monday Night games on ESPN, in addition to the local offerings included with the antenna. As with all streaming services, game availability is subject to blackouts.With Sling's channel listings, add-ons, and the fact that they provide a free antenna, you can gain access to all local channels, the NFL Network, ESPN, and NFL RedZone, making it one of the most cost-effective ways to watch the NFL without cable. Sling TV $10.00 FROM SLINGOriginally $35.00 | Save 71%Hulu with Live TVBusiness InsiderIn addition to all of its other offerings, Hulu + Live TV has nearly everything you need to stream NFL games for $65 per month. What you get: Like an HD antenna, Hulu + Live TV gets you access to all the local affiliates of the major broadcasts, meaning Fox, CBS, and NBC. These will show the games that are within your regional broadcast map with the exception of any blackouts. In addition, you also get ESPN, which gives you access to all Monday Night Football games, and NFL Network for Thursday Night Football.You can also add the Sports add-on package to get NFL Redzone for an extra $10 a month. Hulu + Live TV$64.98 FROM HULUFubo TVFuboTVAt $65 a month for the Starter Plan, Fubo TV is one of the most comprehensive live streaming options for NFL football. You can also spend an extra $11 a month to add the Sports Plus with NFL RedZone package.What you get:In terms of NFL games, the Starter Plan includes access to local CBS, NBC, and Fox stations (regional availability and blackout restrictions apply). Fubo TV's Starter Plan also grants you access to ESPN to watch Monday Night Football, and NFL Network to stream Thursday Night Football all season long. Fubo TV (Starter Plan)$64.98 FROM FUBOTVYouTube TVYouTubeWith a base price of $65 a month, YouTube TV is another service that offers access to most NFL games. Additionally, the service announced an agreement with the NFL to offer NFL Redzone as an add-on included in their Sports Plus package for an additional $11 a month. What you get:Like other services at this price range, YouTube TV offers access to all the local channels you need to watch NFL games, including CBS, Fox, and NBC. YouTube TV also offers ESPN and NFL Network in their base package, so you'll be able to watch all Monday Night Football and Thursday Night Football games. And with the news of the new Sports Plus package, you can also watch NFL Redzone for an additional $11 per month.Youtube TV$54.99 FROM YOUTUBEOriginally $64.98 | Save 15%NFL Sunday TicketREUTERS/Carlo AllegriNFL Sunday Ticket lets NFL fans watch every out-of-market Sunday afternoon game. That said, the service is only available in select areas.There are two separate plans available: The NFL Sunday Ticket To Go plan costs $73.49 per month for four months, which is $293.96 total. There is also the NFL Sunday Ticket Max plan for $93.99 per month for four months, adding up to $387.96 total.What you get:Both plans give you access to all out-of-market Sunday afternoon games. This means that you do not get access to Thursday, Sunday, or Monday night games. You also won't be able to stream locally televised games with only an NFL Sunday Ticket subscription. However, this is the only way for people hoping to watch full live games of their favorite teams out of market. A fun feature included in both plans is that you can watch four games at once on your screen.In addition to the normal features, NFL Sunday Ticket Max adds in NFL RedZone and the DirecTV Fantasy Zone, which is a new channel solely dedicated watching games through the lens of fantasy football. DirecTV NFL Sunday Ticket$73.48 FROM DIRECTVParamount PlusCBSIf you're just interested in watching locally televised AFC home games, then a Paramount Plus subscription could be all you need. The service lets you stream live CBS television, as well as a growing library of on-demand shows and exclusive titles. Paramount Plus is available for $5 a month with commercials or $10 a month with ad-free on-demand streaming. With that said, all live broadcasts, including NFL games, still feature commercials with the ad-free plan.What you get:Paramount Plus offers live streaming for every NFL game that airs on the regular CBS channel in your local market. However, since Paramount Plus only offers CBS content you won't be able to watch any games that air on other networks or any out of market matches. You can see a full schedule of NFL games set to air on CBS here.Paramount Plus Essential Monthly Plan (ad-supported)$4.99 FROM PARAMOUNTParamount Plus Premium Monthly Plan (ad-free)$9.99 FROM PARAMOUNTPeacock PremiumPeacockPeacock won't be streaming any exclusive games during the 2021 season, but Premium subscribers can stream all the NFL games being broadcast on NBC.What you get:For $5 a month, Peacock Premium will give you streaming access to NBC's Sunday Night Football games, as well as Super Bowl LVI, the Thanksgiving game between the Buffalo Bills and New Orleans Saints, and the 2021 kick-off game between the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.The NFL's flex scheduling gives NBC the option to change the Sunday Night Football game of the week, which typically guarantees that the primetime game will be one of the week's best matchups.Peacock Premium (Monthly Plan)$4.99 FROM PEACOCK TVAmazon Prime VideoAmazonThough yon won't get local channels, NFL Network, or in-depth analysis, Amazon Prime Video members can watch select Thursday Night Football games with their subscription for no additional cost. A standalone Amazon Prime Video membership costs $9 a month, and the service is included as part of an Amazon Prime subscription for $119 per year or $13 a month.What you get:Amazon Prime Video will stream 11 Thursday Night Football games starting week five of the season. These game will also be broadcast on NFL Network and Fox. Since Amazon won't be streaming any additional games, Prime Video on its own is really only suitable for casual football fans who just want to stream a few games this season. Amazon Prime Video Monthly Subscription$8.99 FROM AMAZON PRIME VIDEOAmazon Prime Monthly Subscription$12.99 FROM AMAZONYahoo Sports app and NFL appYahooIf you're only interested in watching in-market games without cable or an antenna, then you can stream live local and primetime games on a mobile device using the Yahoo Sports or NFL app. Both options are free and each app is available on iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. What you get:These apps provide live streaming for regular season local and primetime games, playoffs, and the Super Bowl. With that said, you can only watch the games on a mobile device. You'll also need to ensure that your location services are activated on your phone or tablet.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytDec 2nd, 2021

Even Jack Dorsey"s rebranded crypto company is getting in on the craze for tungsten cubes, the super-heavy metal blocks that cost up to $3,500

For a few weeks in October, a small manufacturer near Chicago saw tungsten sales surge as crypto enthusiasts flocked to buy the strangely heavy metal. Midwest Tungsten Service Square's rebranding announcement as Block contained a strange reference to tungsten cubes. The mention was a signal to crypto enthusiasts, who were recently in a frenzy to buy the novelty objects. A small tungstent manufacturing company shared what it has been like to ride the surge of attention. In its rebranding announcement as Block, the digital financial company Square contained an odd reference."Not to get all meta on you… but we're going to!" the company tweeted. "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."—Square (@Square) December 1, 2021Last October, tungsten cubes were thrust into the national spotlight after a few viral tweets inspired a quasi-obsessive fixation among crypto enthusiasts with the unique tactile experience of the objects — and their extraordinary weight-to-size ratio.—Neeraj K. Agrawal (@NeerajKA) October 12, 2021Most of the cubes were sold by a small industrial manufacturer outside Chicago, Midwest Tungsten Service.MTS had seen sales spikes before and would occasionally experience a flutter of activity after a science blog or YouTube video featured one of its metallic novelty cubes, spheres, or fidget spinners.But the surge in the second half of October was like nothing they had dealt with before, MTS ecommerce director Sean Murray told Insider."By the third day, it was like, 'Oh, wow, this is completely different,'" he said.Tungsten is a high-density metal — comparable to gold — that is used in a wide array of industrial applications. Even small volumes of the element are strangely heavy, with 1.5-inch cubes weighing 2.2 pounds ($199), or 3-inch cubes at 17.6 pounds ($1,599)."We actually had what we thought at the time was multiple years worth of inventory of some of those different sizes," Murray said.On October 13, cube sales spiked 300% and Coindesk jumped on the story, followed by Bloomberg, Vice, and The Wall Street Journal.Nic Carter, a VC and an early cube collector, told the Journal that the cube's density offered a pleasing sensory contrast to the intangibility of digital currency."We're just deprived of physical totems of our affection, and so tungsten fills that hole in our hearts," Carter said.One thing that differentiated the crypto crowd from previous buyers was the greater share of interest in the larger cube sizes."We thought nobody would buy our 17.6 lb, 3-inch tungsten cube. We were so, so wrong," the company says on its Amazon listing for a new 4-inch, 41.6-pound cube ($3,499).Murray said the company was surprised by the sudden interest, but well prepared to make the most of it, since they tend to carry more inventory than other "just-in-time" manufacturers and had a well-established, rapid-order-fulfillment process."We had people who normally come in at 6:30 a.m. coming in at 1:30 a.m.," he said."We had spouses and children of people come in to help out at various times."In addition to traditional ecommerce responses like pulling staff from other areas of the company to help process orders or dealing with Amazon's fulfillment network, Murray said he also underwent a crash-course in crypto."I'm just someone who, if there's a new thing, I like to check it out," he said.MTS began accepting bitcoin payments on its website, and on October 22 announced it was auctioning an NFT for the largest Tungsten cube ever, measuring 14.5 inches and weighing in at a whopping 2,000 pounds.Due to the sheer logistical difficulty of shipping an item with those specs, the cube will remain at MTS' facilities where its owners can schedule one visit per year to touch and photograph it. The winner was a crypto group known as TungstenDAO that paid nearly 57 ETH (worth about $247,000 at the time).Murray said the crypto-fueled peak has passed, but that holiday sales are starting to pick up as customers shop for stocking stuffers. He also said that bulk orders are starting to pick up from companies that want engraved cubes to give to employees."In this case, cryptocurrency-related firms are a large part of it," Murray said.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 2nd, 2021

Futures Rebound Fizzles On Slowing iPhone Demand, Omicron Fears

Futures Rebound Fizzles On Slowing iPhone Demand, Omicron Fears U.S. index futures regained some ground alongside Asian markets while European stocks slumped to session lows in a delayed response to yesterday's late Omicron-driven US selloff, as markets remained volatile following the biggest two-day plunge in more than a year, spurred by concern about the omicron coronavirus variant and Federal Reserve tightening. Investors await data for unemployment claims, as well as earnings from companies including Dollar General and Kroger. Tech is the weakest sector, dropping in sympathy after Apple warned its suppliers of slowing iPhone demand. Nasdaq futures pared earlier gains of up to 0.8% to trade down 0.1% while S&P futures are only 0.2% higher after rising as much as 0.9%. While the knee-jerk reaction of stock investors may “continue to be to take profits before the end of the year,” there is “plenty of liquidity available to drive stock prices higher as dip-buyers enter the market,” Ed Yardeni wrote in a note. The U.S. economy grew at a modest to moderate pace through mid-November, while price hikes were widespread amid supply-chain disruptions and labor shortages, the Federal Reserve said in its Beige Book survey Tuesday. Cruise-ship operator Carnival jumped 3.8% in premarket trading, while Pfizer and Moderna fell as the World Health Organization said that existing vaccines will likely protect against severe cases of the variant. Boeing contracts gained 3.4% after a report that the flagship 737 Max aircraft has regained airworthiness approval in China. With lots of uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and Fed policy, the size of potential market swings is still considerable.  Here are some other notable premarket movers today: Apple (AAPL US) shares fell 1.8% in premarket trading after the iPhone maker was said to tell suppliers that demand for its flagship product has slowed. Wall Street analysts, however, remained bullish. U.S. stocks tied to former President Donald Trump rise in premarket trading following a report his media group is in talks to raise new financing. Digital World Acquisition (DWAC US) +24%, Phunware (PHUN US) +38%. Katapult (KPLT US) shares sink 14% in premarket after the financial technology firm said its gross originations over a two-month period were lower than 2020 levels. Vir (VIR US) shares jump 8.1% in premarket trading after its Covid-19 antibody treatment, co-developed with Glaxo, looked to be effective against the new omicron variant in early testing. Snowflake (SNOW US) is up 17% premarket following quarterly results that impressed analysts, though some raise questions over the data software company’s valuation. CrowdStrike (CRWD US) shares jumped 5.1% in premarket after it boosted its revenue forecast for the full year. Square’s (SQ US) shares are 0.4% higher premarket. Corporate name change to Block Inc. indicates “a symbolic rebirth,” according to Barclays as it shows a broader set of possibilities than those of a pure payments company. Okta’s (OKTA US) shares advanced in postmarket trading. 3Q results show the cybersecurity company is well- positioned to deliver growth, even if some analysts say its guidance looks conservative and that its growth was not as strong as in prior quarters. The Omicron variant also hurt risk appetite, making the safe-haven bonds more attractive to investors, pushing yields down - although yields picked up again in early European trading. Volatility in equity markets as measured by the Vix hit its highest since February on Wednesday, before easing on Thursday, but remained well above this year’s average and almost twice as high as a month ago. Investors are braced for volatility to continue through December, stirred by tightening central-bank policies to fight inflation just as the omicron variant complicates the outlook for the pandemic recovery. The recent market turmoil may offer investors a chance to position for a trend reversal in reopening and commodity trades, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. "Investors will need to maintain their calm during a period of uncertainty until the scientific data give a clearer picture of which scenario we face," said Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management in Zurich. “This, in turn, will help shape the reaction of central bankers." Also weighing on stock markets, and flattening the U.S. yield curve, were remarks by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, who said that he would consider a faster end to the Fed's bond-buying programme, which could open the door to earlier interest rate hikes. In his second day of testimony in Congress on Wednesday, Powell reiterated that the U.S. central bank needs to be ready to respond to the possibility that inflation does not recede in the second half of next year. read more "In this past what we’ve seen is central banks using COVID as an excuse to remain dovish, and what we're seeing is central banks turn hawkish despite rising concerns around COVID, so it is a bit of a shift in communication," said Mohammed Kazmi, portfolio manager at UBP.  That said, the market is now so oversold, this is where we usually see aggressive dip-buying. In Europe, tech companies were the worst performers after Apple warned its component suppliers of slowing demand for its iPhone 13, the news dragged index heavyweight ASML Holding NV more than 4%. Meanwhile, travel shares were among the worst performers as the omicron variant continued to pop upin countries around the world, including the U.S., Norway, Ireland and South Korea. The Euro Stoxx 50 dropped as much as 1.7% while the Stoxx 600 Index fell 1.5%, extending declines to trade at a session low, with all sectors in the red and led lower by technology and travel stocks. The Stoxx 600 Technology Index slumped as much as 3.9%, the most in two months. Vifor Pharma surged by a record 18% following a report that Australia’s CSL is in advanced talks to acquire Swiss drugmaker. Here are some of the biggest European movers today: Vifor Pharma shares rise as much as 18% on a report that Australia’s CSL is in advanced talks to acquire the Swiss-based drug maker and developer while working with BofA on a A$4 billion funding package. Argenx jumps as much as 9.5% after Kepler Cheuvreux upgrades the stock to buy, saying the biotech company is on the brink of launching its first commercial product. Duerr gains as much as 7.2%, most since Aug. 10, after Deutsche Bank upgrades to buy and sets aa Street-high PT of EU60 for the German engineering company, citing the digitalization of the industry. Daily Mail & General Trust rises as much as 3.9% after Rothermere Continuation raised its bid for all DMGT’s Class A shares by 5.9% to 270p a share in cash. Klarabo surges as much as 54% as shares start trading on Nasdaq Stockholm after the Swedish property company raised SEK750m in an IPO. Eurofins Scientific declines for a fourth session, falling as much as 3.2%, as Goldman Sachs downgrades the company to neutral from buy “following strong outperformance YTD.” Deliveroo drops as much as 6.4% after an offering of 17.6m shares by CEO Will Shu and CFO Adam Miller at a price of 278p a share, representing a 4.2% discount to the last close. M&S falls as much as 3.4% after UBS cut its rating to neutral from buy, citing limited upside to its new price target as well as “little room for meaningful upgrades.” Earlier in the session, Asian stocks erased an earlier loss to trade slightly up, as traders continued to assess the potential impact of the omicron virus strain and the Federal Reserve’s efforts to keep inflation in check.  The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.2% after falling 0.4% in the morning. South Korea led regional gains, helped by large-cap chipmakers, while Japan was among the worst performers after the government dropped a plan for a blanket halt to all new incoming flight reservations. Asia’s equity benchmark is still down about 4% so far this year after rebounding in the past two sessions from a one-year low reached earlier this week. Despite the region’s underperformance against the U.S. and Europe, cheap valuations and foreign-investor positioning have prompted brokerages including Credit Suisse Group AG and Nomura Securities Co. Ltd. to turn bullish on Asia’s prospects next year. “Equity markets continue to play omicron tennis and traders looking for short-term direction should just wait for the next virus headline and then act accordingly,” said Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst at Oanda Corp. “Volatility, and not market direction, will be the winner this week.” Chinese technology shares including Alibaba Group Holding slid after Beijing was said to be planning to close a loophole used by the sector to go public abroad, fueling concern over existing overseas listings. Japanese equities declined, following U.S. peers lower after the first American case of the omicron coronavirus variant was confirmed. Electronics makers and telecoms were the biggest drags on the Topix, which fell 0.5%. SoftBank Group and TDK were the largest contributors to a 0.7% loss in the Nikkei 225.  The S&P 500 posted its worst two-day selloff since October 2020 after the first U.S. case of the new strain was reported. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell reiterated that officials should consider a quicker reduction of monetary stimulus amid elevated inflation. “Truth is, there’s probably a lot of people who are wanting to buy stocks at some point,” said Naoki Fujiwara, chief fund manager at Shinkin Asset Management. “But, with omicron still an unknown, people are responding sensitively to news development, and that’s keeping them from buying.” India’s benchmark equity index climbed for a second day, led by software exporters, on an improving economic outlook and as investors grabbed some beaten-down stocks after recent declines. The S&P BSE Sensex Index rose 1.4% to close at 58,461.29 in Mumbai, the biggest advance since Nov. 1. Its two-day gains increased to 2.5%, the most since Aug. 31. The NSE Nifty 50 Index also surged by a similar magnitude. All of the 19 sector sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. were up, led by a gauge of utilities companies. “India underperformed the global markets in recent weeks. Investors are now going for value buying in stocks at lower levels,” said A. K. Prabhakar, head of research at IDBI Capital Market Services. The Sensex gained in three of the past four sessions after plunging 2.9% on Friday, the biggest drop since April. The rally, however, is in contrast to most global peers which are witnessing volatility on worries over the spread of the omicron variant. High frequency indicators in India, such as tax collection and manufacturing activities, have shown robust growth in recent months, while the country’s economy expanded 8.4% in the quarter ended in September, according to an official data release on Tuesday. Mortgage lender HDFC contributed the most to the Sensex’s gain, increasing 3.9%. Out of 30 shares in the index, 27 rose and three fell. In rates, trading has been relatively quiet as bunds and gilts bull steepen a touch with risk offered, while cash TSYs bear flatten, cheapening ~5bps across the curve.Treasuries retraced part of yesterday’s rally that sent the benchmark 30-year rate to the lowest since early January. A large buyer of 5-year U.S. Treasury options targets the yield dropping around 17bps. 5s10s, 5s30s spreads flattened by ~1bp and ~2bp to multimonth lows; 10-year yields around 1.43%, cheaper by more than 3bp on the day while bunds and gilt yields are richer by ~1bp. Front-end and belly of the curve underperform vs long-end, while bunds and gilts outperform Treasuries. With little economic data slated, speeches by several Fed officials are main focal points. Peripheral spreads tighten with 10y Spain outperforming after well received auctions, albeit with a small size on offer. U.S. economic data slate includes November Challenger job cuts (7:30am) and initial jobless claims (8:30am) In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell to a day low in the European session and the greenback traded mixed versus its Group-of-10 peers as most crosses consolidated in recent ranges. Two-week implied volatility in the major currencies trades in the green Thursday as it now captures the next policy decisions by the world’s major central banks. Euro- dollar on the tenor rises by as much as 138 basis points to touch 8.22%, highest in a year; the relative premium, however, remains below parity as realized has risen to levels unseen since August 2020. The pound rose along with some other risk- sensitive currencies following the British currency’s three-day slump against the dollar. Long-end gilts underperformed, leading to some steepening of the curve. The yen fell for the first day in three while the Swiss franc fell a second day. The Hungarian forint rose to almost a three-week high after the central bank in Budapest raised the one-week deposit rate by 20 basis points to 3.10%. Economists in a Bloomberg survey were evenly split in predicting a 10 or 20 basis point increase. The Turkish lira resumed its slump after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan abruptly replaced his finance minister amid deepening rifts in the administration over aggressive interest-rate cuts that have undermined the currency and fueled inflation. Poland’s central bank Governor Adam Glapinski sent the zloty to a three-week high against the euro on Thursday with his changed rhetoric on inflation, which he no longer sees as transitory after prices surged at the fastest pace in more than two decades. Currency market volatility also rose, with euro-dollar one-month volatility gauges below Monday's one-year peak but still at elevate levels . "Liquidity in some areas of the market is still quite poor as people grapple with this news and as we head towards year-end, a lot of it is really liquidity driven, which is leading to some volatility," said UBP's Kazmi. "Even in the most liquid market of the U.S. treasury market we've seen some fairly large moves on very little newsflow at times." In commodities, crude futures extend Asia’s gains. WTI adds 2.2% near $67, Brent near $70.50 ahead of today’s OPEC+ meeting. Spot gold finds support near Tuesday’s, recovering somewhat to trade near $1,774/oz. Base metals are mixed: LME aluminum drops as much as 1.1%, nickel, zinc and tin hold in the green Looking at the day ahead now, and central bank speakers include the Fed’s Quarles, Bostic, Daly and Barkin, as well as the ECB’s Panetta. Data releases include the Euro Area unemployment rate and PPI inflation for October, while there’s also the weekly initial jobless claims. Lastly, the OPEC+ group will be meeting. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.7% to 4,540.25 STOXX Europe 600 down 1.0% to 466.37 MXAP up 0.2% to 192.07 MXAPJ up 0.7% to 629.36 Nikkei down 0.7% to 27,753.37 Topix down 0.5% to 1,926.37 Hang Seng Index up 0.5% to 23,788.93 Shanghai Composite little changed at 3,573.84 Sensex up 1.3% to 58,436.52 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.1% to 7,225.18 Kospi up 1.6% to 2,945.27 Brent Futures up 2.4% to $70.53/bbl Gold spot down 0.6% to $1,771.73 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 96.03 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.35% Euro little changed at $1.1320 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland President Loretta Mester said she’s “very open” to scaling back the Fed’s asset purchases at a faster pace so it can raise interest rates a couple of times next year if needed A United Nations gauge of global food prices rose 1.2% last month, threatening to make it more expensive for households to put a meal on the table. It’s more evidence of inflation soaring in the world’s largest economies and may make it even harder for the poorest nations to import food, worsening a hunger crisis Germany is poised to clamp down on people who aren’t vaccinated against Covid-19 and drastically curtail social contacts to ease pressure on increasingly stretched hospitals Some investors buffeted by concerns about tighter monetary policy are turning their sights to China’s battered junk bonds, given they offer some of the biggest yield buffers anywhere in global credit markets Pfizer Inc. says data on how well its Covid-19 vaccine protects against the omicron variant should be available within two to three weeks, an executive said GlaxoSmithKline Plc said its Covid-19 antibody treatment looks to be effective against the new omicron variant in early testing A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asian equity markets traded tentatively following the declines on Wall St where all major indices extended on losses and selling was exacerbated on confirmation of the first Omicron case in the US, while the Asia-Pac region also contended with its own pandemic concerns. ASX 200 (-0.2%) was subdued amid heavy losses in the tech sector and with a surge of infections in Victoria state, although downside in the index was cushioned amid inline Retail Sales and Trade Balance, as well as M&A optimism after Woolworths made a non-binding indicative proposal for Australian Pharmaceutical Industries. Nikkei 225 (-0.7%) weakened after the government instructed airlines to halt inbound flight bookings for a month due to fears of the new variant and with auto names also pressured by declines in monthly sales amid the chip supply crunch. KOSPI (+1.6%) showed resilience amid expectations for lawmakers to pass a record budget today and recouped opening losses despite the record increase in daily infections and confirmation of its first Omicron cases, while the index also shrugged off the highest CPI reading in a decade which effectively supports the case for further rate increases by the BoK. Hang Seng (+0.6%) and Shanghai Comp. (-0.1%) were choppy following another liquidity drain by the PBoC and with tech pressured in Hong Kong as Alibaba shares extended on declines after recently slipping to a 4-year low in its US listing. Beijing regulatory tightening also provided a headwind as initial reports suggested China is to crack down on loopholes used by tech firms for foreign IPOs, although this was later refuted by China, and the CBIRC is planning stricter regulations on major shareholders of banks and insurance companies, as well as confirmed it will better regulate connected transactions of banks. Finally, 10yr JGBs were higher as prices tracked gains in global counterparts and amid the risk aversion in Japan, although prices are off intraday highs after hitting resistance during a brief incursion to the 152.00 level and despite the marginally improved metrics from 10yr JGB auction. Top Asian News Asia Stocks Swing as Investors Weigh Omicron Impact, Fed Views Apple Tells Suppliers IPhone Demand Slowing as Holidays Near Moody’s Cuts China Property Sales View on Financing Difficulties Faith in Singapore Leaders Hit by Record Covid Wave, Poll Shows Bourses across Europe have held onto losses seen at the cash open (Euro Stoxx 50 -1.4%; Stoxx -1.2%), as the region plays catchup to the downside seen on Wall Street – seemingly sparked by a concoction of hawkish Fed rhetoric and the discovery of the Omicron variant in the US. Nonetheless, US equity futures are firmer across the board but to varying degrees – with the cyclical RTY (+1.1%) and the NQ (+0.3%) the current laggard. European futures ahead of the cash open saw some mild fleeting impetus on reports GlaxoSmithKline's (-0.3%) COVID treatment Sotrovimab retains its activity against Omicron variant, and the UK MHRA simultaneously approved the use of Sotrovimab – but caveated that it is too early to know whether Omicron has any impact on effectiveness. Conversely, brief risk-off crept into the market following commentary from a South African Scientist who warned the country is seeing an exponential rise in new COVID cases with a predominance of Omicron variant across the country – with the variant causing the fastest ever community transmission - but expects fewer active cases and hospitalisations this wave. Back to Europe, Euro indices see broad-based losses whilst the downside in the FTSE 100 (-0.7%) is less severe amid support from its heavyweight Oil & Gas sector – the outperforming sector in the region. Delving deeper, sectors see no overarching theme nor bias – Food & Beverages, Autos and Banks are towards the top of the bunch, whilst Tech, Telecoms, and Travel &Leisure. Tech is predominantly weighed on by reports that Apple (-2% pre-market) reportedly told iPhone component suppliers that demand slowed down. As such ASML (-5.0%), STMicroelectronics (-4.4%) and Infineon (-3.6%) reside among the biggest losers in the Stoxx 600. Deliveroo (-5.3%) is softer following an offering of almost 18mln at a discount to yesterday's close. In terms of market commentary, Morgan Stanley believes that inflation will remain high over the next few months, in turn supporting commodities, financials and some cyclical sectors. The bank identifies beneficiaries including EDF (-1.5%), Engie (-1.2%), SSE (-0.2%), Legrand (-1.3%), Tesco (-0.5%), BT (-0.8%), Michelin (-1.6%) and Sika (-0.9%). Top European News Shell Kicks Off First Wave of Buybacks From Permian Sale Omicron Threatens to Prolong Pain in Bid to Vaccinate the World Apple, Suppliers Drop Premarket After Report Demand Slowed Valeo, Gestamp Gain After Barclays Raises to Overweight In FX, currency markets are still in a state of flux, or limbo bar a few exceptions, and the Greenback is gyrating against major peers awaiting the next major event that could provide clearer direction and a more decisive range break. Thursday’s agenda offers some scope on that front via US initial jobless claims and a host of Fed speakers, but in truth NFP tomorrow is probably more likely to be influential even though chair Powell has effectively given the green light to fast-track tapering from December. In the interim, the index continues to keep a relatively short leash around 96.000, and is holding within 96.138-95.895 confines so far today. JPY/CHF - Although risk considerations look supportive for the Yen, on paper, UST-JGB/Fed-BoJ differentials coupled with technical impulses are keeping Usd/Jpy buoyant on the 113.00 handle, with additional demand said to have come from Japanese exporters overnight. However, the headline pair may run into offers/resistance circa 113.50 and any breach could be capped by decent option expiry interest spanning 113.60-75 (1.5 bn). Similarly, the Franc has slipped back below 0.9200 on yield and Swiss/US Central Bank policy stances plus near term outlooks, and hardly helped by a slowdown in retail sales. GBP/CAD/NZD - All firmer vs their US counterpart, though again well within recent admittedly wide ranges, and the Pound perhaps more attuned to Eur/Gbp fluctuations as the cross retreats to retest 0.8500 and Cable rebounds to have another look at 1.3300 where a fairly big option expiry resides (850 mn). Indeed, Sterling has largely shrugged off the latest BoE Monthly Decision Maker Panel release that in truth did not deliver any clues on what is set to be another knife-edge MPC gathering in December. Elsewhere, the Loonie is straddling 1.2800 with eyes on WTI crude ahead of Canadian jobs data on Friday and the Kiwi is hovering above 0.6800 after weaker NZ Q3 terms of trade were offset to some extent by favourable Aud/Nzd headwinds. AUD/EUR - Both narrowly mixed against US Dollar, with the Aussie pivoting 0.7100 in wake of roughly in line trade and retail sales data overnight, but wary about the latest virus outbreak in the state of Victoria, while the Euro is sitting somewhat uncomfortably on the 1.1300 handle amidst softer EGB yields and heightened uncertainty about what the ECB might or might not do in December on the QE guidance front. In commodities, WTI and Brent front-month futures are firmer intraday as traders gear up for the JMMC and OPEC+ confabs at 12:00GMT and 13:00GMT, respectively. The jury is still split on what the final decision could be, but the case for OPEC+ to pause the planned monthly relaxation of output curbs by 400k BPD has been strengthening against the backdrop of Omicron coupled with the coordinated SPR releases (an updating Rolling Headline is available on the Newsquawk headline feed). As expected, OPEC sources have been testing the waters in the run-up, whilst yesterday's JTC/OPEC meetings largely surrounded the successor to the Secretary-General position. Oil market price action will likely be centred around OPEC+ today in the absence of any macro shocks. WTI Jan resides around USD 66.50/bbl (vs low USD 65.41/bbl) whilst Brent Feb briefly topped USD 70/bbl (vs low USD 68.73/bbl). Elsewhere, spot gold has eased further from the USD 1,800/oz after failing to sustain a break above the 50, 100 and 200 DMAs which have all converged to USD 1,791/oz today. LME copper is on the backfoot amid the cautious risk sentiment, with the red metal back under USD 9,500/t but off overnight lows. US Event Calendar 7:30am: Nov. Challenger Job Cuts -77.0% YoY, prior -71.7% 8:30am: Nov. Initial Jobless Claims, est. 240,000, prior 199,000; 8:30am: Nov. Continuing Claims, est. 2m, prior 2.05m 9:45am: Nov. Langer Consumer Comfort, prior 52.2 DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap With investors remaining on tenterhooks to find out some definitive information on the Omicron variant, yesterday saw markets continue to see-saw for a 4th day running. Following one of the biggest sell-offs of the year on Friday, we then had a partial bounceback on Monday, another bout of fears on Tuesday (not helped by the prospect of faster tapering), and yesterday saw another rally back before risk sentiment turned sharply later in the day as an initial case of the Omicron variant was discovered in the US. You can get some idea of this by the fact that Europe’s STOXX 600 (+1.71%) posted its best daily performance since May, whereas the S&P 500 moved from an intraday high where it had been up +1.88%, before shedding all those gains and more to close -1.18% lower. In fact, that decline means the S&P has now lost over -3% in the last two sessions, marking its worst 2-day performance in over a year, and this heightened volatility saw the VIX index close back above 30 for the first time since early February. In terms of developments about Omicron, we’re still in a waiting game for some concrete stats, but there was positive news early on from the World Health Organization’s chief scientist, who said that they think vaccines “will still protect against severe disease as they have against the other variants”. On the other hand, there was further negative news out of South Africa, as the country reported 8,561 infections over the previous day, with a positivity rate of 16.5%. That’s up from 4,373 cases the day before, and 2,273 the day before that, so all eyes will be on whether this trend continues, and also on what that means for hospitalisation and death rates over the days ahead. Against this backdrop, calls for fresh restrictions mounted across a range of countries, particularly on the travel side. In the US, it’s been reported already by the Washington Post that President Biden could today announce stricter testing requirements for arriving travellers. Meanwhile, France is moving to require non-EU arrivals to show a negative test before arrival, irrespective of their vaccination status. The EU Commission further said that member states should conduct daily reviews of essential travel restrictions, and Commission President von der Leyen also said that the EU should discuss the topic of mandatory vaccinations. There was also a Bloomberg report that German Chancellor Merkel would recommend mandatory vaccinations from February 2022, according to a Chancellery paper that they’d obtained. That came as Slovakia sought to incentivise vaccination uptake among older citizens, with the cabinet backing a €500 hospitality voucher for residents over 60 who’ve been vaccinated. As on Tuesday, the other main headlines yesterday were provided by Fed Chair Powell, who re-emphasised his more hawkish rhetoric around inflation before the House Financial Services Committee. Notably he said that “We’ve seen inflation be more persistent. We’ve seen the factors that are causing higher inflation to be more persistent”, though yields on 2yr Treasuries (-1.4bps) already had the shift in stance priced in. New York Fed President Williams echoed that view in an interview, noting it would be germane to discuss and decide whether it was appropriate to accelerate the pace of tapering at the December FOMC. 10yr yields (-4.1bps) continued their decline, predominantly driven by the turn in sentiment following the negative Omicron headlines. That latest round of curve flattening left the 2s10s slope at its flattest level since early January around the time of the Georgia Senate race that ushered in the prospect of much larger fiscal stimulus. In terms of markets elsewhere, strong data releases helped to support risk appetite earlier in yesterday’s session, with investors also looking forward to tomorrow’s US jobs report for November that will be an important one ahead of the Fed’s decision in less than a couple of weeks’ time. The ISM manufacturing release for November saw the headline number come in roughly as expected at 61.1 (vs. 61.2 expected), and also included a rise in both the new orders (61.5) and the employment (53.3) components relative to last month. Separately, the ADP’s report of private payrolls for November likewise came in around expectations, with a +534k gain (vs. +526k expected). Staying on the US, one thing to keep an eye out over the next 24 hours will be any news on a government shutdown, with funding currently set to run out by the weekend as it stands. The headlines yesterday weren’t promising for those hoping for an uneventful, tidy resolution, as Politico indicated that some Congressional Republicans would not agree to an expedited process to fund the government should certain vaccine mandates remain in place. An expedited process is necessary to avoid a government shutdown at the end of the week, so one to watch. After the incredibly divergent equity performances in the US and Europe, we’ve seen a much more mixed performance in Asia overnight, with the KOSPI (+1.09%), Hang Seng (+0.23%), and CSI (+0.23%) all advancing, whereas the Shanghai Composite (-0.05%) and the Nikkei (-0.60%) are trading lower. In terms of the latest on Omicron, authorities in South Korea confirmed five cases, which came as the country also reported that CPI in November rose to its fastest since December 2011, at +3.7% (vs +3.1% expected). Separately in China, 53 local Covid-19 cases were reported in Inner Mongolia, whilst Harbin province reported 3 local cases. Looking forward, futures are indicating a positive start in the US with those on the S&P 500 (+0.64%) pointing higher. Back in Europe, sovereign bonds lost ground yesterday, and yields on 10yr bunds (+0.5bps), OATs (+1.1bps) and BTPs (+4.2bps) continued to move higher. Interestingly, there was a continued widening in peripheral spreads, with the gap between both Italian and Spanish 10yr yields over bunds reaching their biggest level in over a year, at 135bps and 77bps, respectively. Another factor to keep an eye on in Europe is another round of increases in natural gas prices, with futures up +3.42% to their highest level since mid-October yesterday. Lastly on the data front, the main other story was the release of the manufacturing PMIs from around the world. We’d already had the flash readings from a number of the key economies, so they weren’t too surprising, but the Euro Area came in at 58.4 (vs. flash 58.6), Germany came in at 57.4 (vs. flash 57.6), and the UK came in at 58.1 (vs. flash 58.2). One country that saw a decent upward revision was France, with the final number at 55.9 (vs. flash 54.6), which marks an end to 5 successive monthly declines in the French manufacturing PMI. One other release were German retail sales for October, which unexpectedly fell -0.3% (vs. +0.9% expected). To the day ahead now, and central bank speakers include the Fed’s Quarles, Bostic, Daly and Barkin, as well as the ECB’s Panetta. Data releases include the Euro Area unemployment rate and PPI inflation for October, while there’s also the weekly initial jobless claims. Lastly, the OPEC+ group will be meeting. Tyler Durden Thu, 12/02/2021 - 07:57.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytDec 2nd, 2021

Suncity, the biggest junket operator in Macau, has shut gaming rooms after its CEO was arrested, sending shares down to record lows

Former CEO and chairman Alvin Chau was arrested with 10 others on Sunday over alleged links to cross-border gambling and money laundering. Booth of Macau junket operator Suncity Group at a gaming fair.Bobby Yip/Reuters Suncity said its gaming rooms have closed as of December 1. The company confirmed former CEO and chairman Alvin Chau had resigned from all positions at Suncity Group. Authorities have accused Chau and 10 others of using Macau as a base for an illegal "live web betting platform" in the Philippines that attracted mainland Chinese gamblers. Shares in Macau's Suncity Group Holdings Ltd tumbled in resumed trade on Thursday after gaming rooms linked to the group were shut following the arrest of its former CEO and chairman, Alvin Chau.Chau, also the founder of Macau's biggest junket operator which brings in high rollers to play at casinos, was arrested with 10 others on Sunday over alleged links to cross-border gambling and money laundering.In a statement released late on Wednesday, Suncity said that gaming rooms operated by a business wholly owned by Chau had closed as of December 1. It also confirmed that Chau had resigned from all positions at Suncity Group but did not announce a new CEO or chairman.Suncity Group's stock was down 10% in Thursday morning trade, albeit off a record low marked earlier in the day, after being suspended on Wednesday. The shares have now halved in value since Chau's arrest.Macau authorities have accused Chau and 10 others of using the former Portuguese colony as a base for an illegal "live web betting platform" in the Philippines that attracted mainland Chinese gamblers.A warrant for Chau's arrest has also been issued by the mainland Chinese city of Wenzhou, accusing him of forming a junket agent network that helps citizens engage in gambling activities and setting up a company that helps gamblers make cross-border fund transfers.Macau's Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau said in a late Wednesday statement it would not comment on recent gambling crime cases as they have entered judicial proceedings.It added it will supervise Macau's gaming industry in accordance with the law.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 2nd, 2021

Facebook Parent Meta Removes China-Based Network Pushing COVID-19 Misinformation

Meta said it removed a China-based network of more than 500 Facebook accounts Meta Platforms Inc. said it removed a China-based network of more than 500 Facebook accounts that sought to push a false narrative about the U.S. government’s attempts to blame the Covid-19 pandemic on China. The campaign involved the fake persona of a Swiss biologist named Wilson Edwards, who in July posted on Facebook and Twitter Inc. that the U.S. was pressuring World Health Organization scientists to blame the virus on China, according to Meta’s monthly report on coordinated influence operations on its social networks. Within days of the first post, hundreds of social media accounts and a handful of Chinese state media sources amplified the story about alleged American intimidation, Meta said on Wednesday. But the following month the Swiss Embassy in Beijing said there was no Swiss citizen by the name of Wilson Edwards, the company said. Facebook investigated and removed the account the same day. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Meta said it took down 524 Facebook accounts, 20 pages, four Groups and 86 Instagram accounts involved in the campaign, according to the report. The Menlo Park, California-based company said it found connections between the network and individuals in China, including employees of Sichuan Silence Information Technology Co. Chinese government officials also appeared to interact with the content posted by the network. The social network also removed a group of accounts based in Italy and France linked with an anti-vaccination movement that targeted journalists, medical professionals and politicians. Meta, formerly known as Facebook Inc., said bad actors continue to change their tactics to evade detection and enforcement action. One such strategy is known as “brigading,” where adversarial accounts work together to post or comment en masse in an attempt to harass or silence particular users. Another tactic these networks employ involves submitting a deluge of reports on an account or piece of content to get Meta to take it down. “What we have seen consistently is that the threat actors behind these harms are evolving their techniques,” said Meta Head of Security Policy Nathaniel Gleicher. “We build our defense with this expectation in mind: they are not going to stop. They are going to shift their tactics.”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeDec 1st, 2021