Livability: Hiking the Appalachian Trail, ice cream, street-fighting mathematics: There’s a class for that

Rocket building, fermentation sciences and cow-to-cone ice cream are among the more unusual courses and degree programs you might encounter at various colleges......»»

Category: topSource: marketwatchSep 19th, 2023

Live: 170+ best Cyber Monday deals to shop before it"s too late

Black Friday might be over, but Cyber Monday deals are coming in fast. We're rounding up the best discounts from Amazon, Walmart, and more. Keep this page bookmarked as we'll be regularly updating this page with the latest deals.Nintendo; Amazon; Alyssa Powell/InsiderWhen you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.Cyber Monday officially starts today, and with it comes sales that are often better than Black Friday. Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart have some of the best discounts we've seen on products across every category.There are big savings on streaming services, Apple products, 4K TVs, and more. Check back regularly as our expert team of reporters and editors will be rounding up all of the very best deals through Cyber Monday.Top early Cyber Monday deals available right nowPeacock Premium plan: $0.99/month (80% off)Hulu x Disney+ bundle: $4.98 per month (55% off)Samsung 65-inch OLED 4K TV: $1,797 (40% off)Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation): $200 (20% off)Roku Streaming Stick 4K (2021): $25 (50% off)Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer: $25 (37% off)Hydro Flask 32 oz. Wide Mouth Bottle: $33 (26% off)Home Accents Festive Pine Christmas Tree: $50 (29% off)Kindle Paperwhite: $95 (32% off)Dyson v10 Absolute Cordless Vacuum: $400 ($200 off)22% off Dame FinDameOne of the best vibrators we've tested, Dame's Fin is an intuitive finger vibrator that's powerful enough to use on your own, but also minimal enough to use during penetrative sex. Dame is currently offering 22% sitewide, so if this won't suit your pleasure, there are plenty of diferent styles to choose from.Read our guide on the best vibrators$30 off Loftie Alarm ClockAmazonLoftie earned our recommendation for best alarm clock thanks to its two-phase alarm system, customizable alarm sounds, white noise features, and excellent integration with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The 25% Cyber Monday discount brings it to one of the best prices we've seen all year.Read our guide to the best alarm clocks$50 off RTIC 52-Qt Ultra Light CoolerRTICIn the battle of the best coolers, RTIC is a brand worthy of your attention. Remiscent to Yeti, RTIC coolers cost hundreds of dollars because of how they're constructed: they combine industry-leading insulation with extreme durability. An investment that'll pay off in the long run, RTIC's 52-quart cooler is the perfect size for most activities, and it's currently up to 25% depending on the color.20% off The Omsom BundleOmsomIf you're not familiar with Omsom, a company started by two AAPI women, you're missing out on one of the best Asian starter sauces you can buy.Omsom's range of sauces showcase the flavors of East and Southeast Asia, with flavors including Thai larb, Korean bulgogi, Filipino sisig, and more. Simply add a packet to your favorite vegetables or protein, and you're all set. While the packets are available on Amazon, Omsom is offering 20% off sitewide for Cyber Monday.Read our full review of Omsom$30 off Keychron K1 SE Mechanical KeyboardKeychronThis low-profile mechanical keyboard is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Android devices, with an option for Bluetooth wireless. The perfect starter mechanical keyboard, the K1 SE is made with aluminum to give it a sturdier feel than plastic competitors, and costs less than more popular brands like Logitech MX and Apple's Magic Keyboard. Read our review of the Keychron K1 SE mechanical keyboardJ.Crew Cascade BootJ.CrewThese classic hiking-inspired boots with bright red laces combines timeless with trendy. Constructed like vintage alpine boots, they feature rough-out suede uppers and a rubber outsole. They're currently 35% off, and you can save an additional 10% with the code CYBER.$780 off Burrow Field 4-Piece Sectional LoungerBurrowThere are a lot of contenders when it comes to the "best couch," and Burrow is a popular option for a reason. Burrow's modular setups are easy to break down and can be assembled with zero tools. Added bonus: All Burrow couces come equipped with built-in USB ports. The brand's Cyber Monday sale sees up to 50% off with the code BF22 — we particularly love the Field sectional for its deeper seats and plusher cushions.Read our guide on the best places to buy a couch$30 off Brightland Artist CapsuleBrightlandBrightland makes quality olive oil and vinegar with pretty, sun damage-proof bottles and this particular set was one of Oprah's favorites this year. It's discounted 20% for Cyber Monday, an excellent deal that includes four cold-pressed infused olive oils. Read our full review of Brightland22% off Big Fig MattressBig FigThe Big Fig Mattress is constructed for heavier individuals with firm support and a high weight capacity for both the bed and the foundation that comes with it. Save $300 on the Big Fig Mattress when you use the promo code WORTHIT at checkout.20% off Beats Fit ProBeats by DreBeats Fit Pro are among our top-rated wireless earbuds, thanks to Apple's wireless technology, solid noise-canceling, and flexible wingtips that tuck into the ear for a secure fit. They are are excellent everyday buds, but even better for fitness activities. $160 is the lowest we've seen it all year.60% off Google Nest Mini (2nd Generation)Best BuyThe Google Nest Mini is a compact and effective smart speaker that's powered by the very useful Google Assistant. Right now, it's one of the best prices we've seen for the device.40% off Eufy RoboVac X8AmazonThe Eufy Robova X8 features the brand's top features, including twin turbines, intelligent laser navigation, and intuitive smartphone controls. Down to $300, this is a solid deal with a $100 discount.40% off AllModern Williams Two-Drawer NightstandAllModernClass-up your bedroom with this mid-century nightstand, complete with two drawers and minimalist accents. This nightstand comes in walnut, acorn, white and gray finishes. It's on sale for $243, but you can get another 25% off with the code GET25.15% off all-new 2022 KindleBlack Friday 2022 All-New KindleAmazonAmazon's newest Kindle is now on salw for $15 off. You can get it for just $85, which is a great deal if you're looking for a small, light-weight e-reader. The All-New Kindle is actually Amazon's lightest e-reader yet, weighing in at just over a third of a pound.25% off Jambys Long JambysJambysLong Jambys are sustainably made modal, which comes from tree fibers. The material is incredibly soft and comfortable. On sale for $55, this is a great deal on premium loungewear.30% off Nike Infinity ReactNikeDesigned to be lightweight and breathable, yet durable and responsive, the Infinity React 3 caters to the needs of most runners. Originally $160, they're currently on sale for $111.98.30% off Nomad Base One MaxNomadThe Nomad Base One Max is a compact but fast-charging wireless pad. It can support one smartphone and one smartwatch at the same time, and if you're charging a compatible iPhone, it has MagSafe features too. Nomad products are always expensive, but this model is more than $50 off today.20% off Goal Zero Lighhouse 600 Lantern & USB Power HubAmazonA reliable lantern is great in an emergency or an ordinary power outage. The Lighthouse 400 is one of our favorite lanterns, and the 600 provides even more lumens of adjustable light. You can charge the lantern in several ways, including via USB or a hand crank. Currently on sale for Cyber Monday, it's discounted 20%.33% off Corsair K70 RGB Cherry MX Mechanical KeyboardBest BuyMechanical keyboards give every keypress a satisfying sound and tactile response. Good mechanical keyboards can be expensive, but this weekend, this RGB-enabled model from CORSAIR — one of the best brands around — is $50 off.50% off Urban Decay Naked3 Eyeshadow PaletteSephoraFor creamy and pigmented neutrals, it's hard to beat Urban Decay's line of Naked eyeshadows. Urban Decay Naked eye shadow palettes can cost over $50, but for Cyber Monday, you can get the Naked3 palette for under $30. 15% off KitchenAid 3-Piece Pasta Roller & Cutter SetLily Alig/InsiderWith the KitchenAid 3-Piece Pasta Roller & Cutter Attachment Set, you turn your stand mixer into an all-inclusive homemade pasta maker. When you clip the coupon on the product page, you can save an extra $25, making it the lowest price we've seen in years. 40% off REI Co-Op Men's Trailbreak 30 Sleeping BagREITo find a premium sleeping bag that costs less than $100 is often a fool's errand but the REI Co-op Trailbreak 30 is the exception. With a temperature rating of 30 degrees, this bag is great for shoulder season camping and its 3-panel hood makes it easy to get nice and cozy when the temps get especially cold. This is just $60 during REI's Cyber Monday sale — you won't find a better deal.43% off Bissell SpinWave Robot VacuumJames Brains/InsiderThe Bissell SpinWave Robot Vacuum picked up all the pet hair on carpet in our tests and has a great assortment of mop attachments and accessories. The company is also committed to helping homeless pets and helps them find loving homes. During Cyber Monday, it's at an all-time low price.40% off Lego Classic 90 Years of Play Building Set (11021)WalmartThe Lego Classic 90 Years of Play Building Set (11021) comes with 15 mini builds, including a golden dragon and sphinx. During Cyber Monday, it's 40% off.45% off Hasbro Connect 4 GameWalmartThe gameplay is simple in this classic strategy game: take turns dropping discs into the grid, and the first person to get four discs in a row wins. During Cyber Monday, it's at an all-time low price.37% off Topo Designs Women's Dirt CoverallsREIAvailable in two colors, these coveralls feature a belnd of organically grown cotton and spandex for a broken-in feel and the right amount of stretch. It also has two spacious front pockets and a pair of back pockets for all your essentials.33% off Animal Crossing: New HorizonsAmazonAnimal Crossing: New Horizons is one of the best life simulation games around. Customize your island, collect fish and fossils to donate to the museum, or run around with friends — it's all up to you. And right now, you can pick up a copy of the game from Best Buy for only $40, which matches one of the lowest prices we've seen.30% off Outerknown Men's Blanket ShirtOuterknownOuterknown's famed Blanket Shirt comes in a wide range of flannel patterns, from neutral prints to bright colors, but the real sell is its sustainability: It's made from 100% organic cotton, with corozo buttons made from tagua palm nuts to replace plastic ones. Right now, you can snag it for 30% off.30% off MVMT Men's Legacy SlimMVMTMVMT makes some of our favorite affordable luxury watches, and all versions of this model are currently on sale for under $90. It features a minimalist analog design with different variations of watchbands, from brown leather to gold mesh.25% off Rhone Session 1/4 ZipRhoneRhone's Session 1/4 Zip is the perfect layer for pre or post-workout. It's a breahtable, lightweight pullover that also offers UPF50+ sun protection, and it's currently 25% off for Cyber Monday.20% off Ooni Koda 12 Gas Powered Pizza OvenOoniFor making restaurant-quality pizza at home, you can't go wrong with Ooni. The Kodak 12 can reach up to 950 degrees Fahrenheit and cook your pie in 60 seconds. Currently, you can score it for 20% off.35% off Mophie 3-in-1 15W Wireless Charging StandAmazonA stand built to charge your iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods at the same time, this 3-in-1 charger from Mophie gives you "super-fast" charging with 15W charging speed. It's currently priced the lowest we've ever seen, and makes a great addition to any desk or workspace.28% off LG 75-inch LED 4K Smart TVBest BuyWith $230 off, this is a fantastic deal for such a large TV. This LG 75-inch comes with everything you need — 4K, ultra high-definition, access to 300+ free LG channels, as well as WebOS compatbility with all the top streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, and more.24% off Apple iPhone 14 Leather Case with MagSafeAmazonApple's leather iPhone cases are designed to perfectly hug and protect your device without adding too much extra bulk. They're also MagSafe compatible, super stylish, and sleek, with a variety of different available colors — some of which are currently down to only $45 for the iPhone 14.33% off Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. BrainAmazonBig Brain Academy is Nintendo's premiere brain-training game series. This entry includes hundreds of math, logic, and visualization puzzles to test your knowledge, all for only $19.99 — the best price we've seen for it.30% off OXO Brew Gooseneck Electric KettleAmazonDurable, fast, and cord-free, the OXO Brew Gooseneck Electric Kettle is a full-featured option to keep on your countertop. It includes adjustable temperature control, a built-in timer, and a 30-minute keep warm cycle. Down to only $73, this is a rare drop on a premium kettle.45% off Hamilton Beach Smoothie Electric BlenderWalmartThe Hamilton Beach Smoothie Electric Blender performs low-lift blending jobs at a budget price. This Cyber Monday deal puts it at an all-time low price.60% off JLab Go Air Pop Bluetooth EarbudsJLabJLab Go Air Pop Bluetooth Earbuds give you the true wireless experience without breaking the bank. During Cyber Monday, they're 60% off, the lowest price we've seen.$100 off LG 42-inch C2 OLED 4K TVAmazonThe C2 is one of the best OLEDs you can buy and it comes in a small 42-inch size that's perfect for gamers who want to use it as a monitor and TV. This $900 sale price is the best deal we've seen so far.54% off Amazon Blink Mini (2-Pack)BlinkAffordable and user friendly, the Amazon Blink Mini home security camera is an indoor security for first timers. It has both 1080p camera footage quality and a black-and-white night mode. Save 54% with an all-time low price on the security system this Cyber Monday.30% off BioLite Firepit+BioLiteAn elegant marriage of technology and design, the BioLite FirePit+ not only excels at grilling but comes equipped with an onboard battery and an airflow design that keeps smoke at a minimum. It's so good at keeping fumes at bay that we named it the best smokeless fire pit in our guide. Right now, you can save 30%, which is one of the best prices we've seen for it.52% off Roku PremiereAmazonWalmart is offering an exclusive deal on the Roku Premiere streaming player, offering 52% off the usual price. While we generally prefer the Roku 4K Streaming Stick thanks to its portability and small form factor, the Roku Premiere is good for people who prefer a traditional set-top box near their TV.28% off Tile Mate Bluetooth Tracker (2022)AmazonThe Tile Mate is designed to help you find easily misplaced items and attaches to keys, pet collars, and other important items. During Cyber Monday, it's at the lowest price we've seen this year.$40 off OXO Brew 8-Cup Coffee MakerAmazonSleek and minimal, Oxo's 8-cup-capacity coffee maker reliably delivers a great cup. Its double-wall, vacuum-insulated thermal carafe keeps the contents warm for hours, but it can also accommodate taller mugs if you're taking yours to go. Right now, you can save $40 with this Cyber Monday sale.$20 off Cosori 5-quart 9-in-1 Air FryerAmazonCosori makes reliable and affordable small kitchen appliances. This air fryer has a nonstick basket and, holding enough food for up to four people, it's perfect for small groups and spaces. You can get a 15% discount for Cyber Monday, plus an extra $5 off using the on-page coupon.40% off Lego Classic 90 Years of Play Building Set (11021)WalmartThe Lego Classic 90 Years of Play Building Set (11021) comes with 15 mini builds, including a golden dragon and sphinx. During Cyber Monday, it's 40% off.31% off Osprey Men's Skarab 18 Hydration PackAmazonOsprey's Skarab 18 hydration pack is perfect for trail runners and cyclists, featuring a 2.5-liter water reservoir and a comfortable design. It's on sale for $70 during REI's Cyber Monday sale.$10 off Tramontina Primaware 18 Piece Non-stick Cookware SetWalmartWhether you're replacing some old cookware or need to furnish your new kitchen, this 18-piece set has all of the essentials you need. It comes with three saucepans, two saute pans, a griddle, a Dutch oven, a foldup steamer, three spoons, and two turners for only $40.30% off Igloo 60 qt. EcoCool Roller CoolerIglooOwning a cooler with wheels is the definition of true outdoor luxury and this Igloo roller cooler is one of our favorites. It features a rugged design, an easy-to-use telescoping handle, and a pair of oversized wheels that can take on a variety of terrain. Pick one up for just $65 during REI's Cyber Monday sale.55% off Razer DeathAdder Gaming MouseAmazonDon't let the edgy name fool you — the Razer DeathAdder is a fantastic mouse for gamers, programmers, and even regular users. With rubber grips, eight programmable buttons, and an ultra-sensitive 20,000 DPI sensor, the DeathAdder is one of the best gaming mice around. And during Cyber Monday, the price has come down to about $31, which is a fantastic deal.20% off Baggu Standard BagguCara CaraBaggu is the gold standard in reusable bags. Not only are they cute as can be, but they can hold up to 50 pounds, are made of ripstop nylon, and come in over 40 fun colors and patterns. Right now, everything on the Baggu website is 20% off.$400 off LG 3.1.3 Channel Soundbar with Wireless SubwooferBest BuyIf you're setting up a home theater, the one thing you need above all else is a good subwoofer. And this LG soundbar comes with a sturdy wireless subwoofer so you can feel every explosion and bass note. Best Buy is selling it for $400 off right now, which is a fantastic deal for this model.$30 off Closca Helmet LoopCloscaFor bikers who commute to work (or just hate lugging around a bulky helmet), this one folds up to nearly half its size to be stashed away when not in use. Select colors are now available for under $50 on both the Closca website and retailers like Amazon.25% off The North Face Hydrenalite Down HoodieREIThe North Face Hydrenalite Down Hoodie is both stylish and functional, and is available in six different colors to match anyone's personal style. For REI's Cyber Monday sale, it's discounted to $150, which is $50 off its normal price.$35 off Lego Optimus PrimeAmazonLike its Transformers namesake, the Lego Optimus Prime can actually change from its robot form into a truck without needing to rebuild. This is a sought-after Lego set and it's at its lowest price ever on Amazon and Walmart.$22 off Super Mario OdysseyAmazonSuper Mario Odyssey has been called "the ultimate collect-a-thon," and one of the best games released for the Nintendo Switch. Right now it's down to $37, a rare and substantial discount for such a popular game.$63 off Furbo 360° Dog CameraFurboFurbo's newest dog camera rotates 360 degrees so you can keep an eye on your pet anywhere in the room. The 1080p camera has 4x zoom along with night vision. It's on sale for $147 during Cyber Monday which is an all-time low price.10% off Casper The Glow LightCasper/InstagramThe Casper Glow Light is a wireless, portable night light that uses intuitive gestures for a beautiful, streamlined experience. It's on sale for 10% off during the company's Cyber Monday event.25% off Dagne Dover Dakota Neoprene BackpackDagne DoverDagne Dover makes some of our favorite backpacks, beloved for their comfortable and sleek design. Right now, you can get 25% off with the code BFRIYAY25 for Cyber Monday.$44 off Everlane ReLeather Court SneakerEverlaneThe ReLeather Court Sneaker is a comfortable everyday sneaker made out of recycled leather. For the Cyber Monday sales event, they're priced down to $66, which is one of the best deals we've ever seen on these shoes.$100 off Vizio 70-inch MQ6 QLED 4K TVBest BuyVizio's latest MQ6 4K TV model uses quantum dots to deliver a wide range of colors. It doesn't support local dimming like some of the brand's more expensive models but $650 for a 70-inch QLED TV is a great price.$60 off WD BLACK SN850X 1TB Internal Gaming SSDAmazonIf you're in the market for an upgraded internal SSD, this already affordable and high-performing configuration is now available at an all-time low price of $99.$50 off Fitbit LuxeThe Fitbit Luxe with a classic wristband being heldLisa Eadicicco/InsiderThe Fitbit Luxe is a great option for the fashionistas in your life who don't like the look of a traditional smartwatch. For Cyber Monday, it's on sale for $80 — the lowest price we've seen.$250 off Vitamix 5200 BlenderThe VitaMix 5200 Series Blender.AmazonThe Vitamix 5200 is an easy-to-use, easy-to-clean blender with the power and speed variation to handle any task. This is a pricey blender, so any discount is welcome, and $300 matches the price we saw during Black Friday.56% off Amazon Halo ViewIsabel Fernández and Crystal Cox/InsiderThe Amazon Halo View is a basic fitness tracker that offers a comprehensive suite of features designed to help improve your overall health and wellness. At just $35 during Cyber Monday, you won't find a better deal on a wearable as good as this.43% off Chamberlain myQ Smart Garage Door OpenerBest BuyThe Chamberlain MyQ Smart Garage Door Opener is a useful device that lets you open and close your garage door from anywhere with the companion mobile app on your phone. It was a reader favorite during Prime Day last year, and now for Cyber Monday, it's offered at its lowest price in a year.$120 off Sony WH-1000XM4 noise-canceling headphonesSonySony's WH-1000XM4 is our go-to pair of headphones for balance, sound quality, noise-canceling performance, and price. They're on sale for $228 for Cyber Monday, which is the lowest price we've ever seen them discounted to.$70 off Meta Quest 2 Bundle (256GB)MetaThe Meta Quest 2 VR headset (256GB) is now on sale with two free games. This special holiday bundle includes Beat Saber and Resident Evil 4 for $430. You can usually get the 256GB headset for $500 with Beat Saber, so this package saves you $70 and adds another free game.$50 off Theragun MiniTherabodyTherabody's fourth generation of massage guns introduced the Theragun Mini, a portable device that packs a percussive punch in a much smaller package. It's our favorite entry-level massage gun and it's on sale for $150 for Cyber Monday which is around the lowest price we've ever seen.$60 off Ring Floodlight Cam Wired PlusThe Home DepotRing's Floodlight Cam Wired Plus combines the standard Spotlight Cam with a set of motion-activated floodlights for better lighting. The camera itself streams and records at 1080p resolution and is also motion-activated, and it includes a siren and two-way talk. This Cyber Monday deal matches the lowest price we've ever seen.$50 off Roku StreambarBest BuyThe Roku Streambar is a compact soundbar that also acts as a streaming device, giving you an all-in-one option for crisp Dolby Audio and crystal clear 4K, HD, and HDR graphics. It's discounted by $50 to $80 overall, making this a great time to buy.Best Cyber Monday streaming dealsPavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty ImagesThere are tons of great streaming deals during Cyber Monday. See our review of the best streaming services to see which one the best for you.Discovery Plus: The service's Ad-Lite plan is already very affordable year round, but right now you can join the service for only $1 a month for your first three months. It's an excellent deal we only see during major deal events, like Cyber Monday.Disney+ and Hulu: During Cyber Monday, you get Hulu (with ads) and Disney+ (no ads) for just $5 per month for a full year. This deal saves you $11 per month off the regular price of the two services when purchased separately.HBO Max: HBO Max rarely sees discounts for subscribers, but now through November 28, new and returning subscribers can get their first three months of the ad-supported plan for only $6.Hulu: New and returning members can get their first year for only $2 a month when they sign up before November 28. Paramount Plus: Now through November 27, new and returning subscribers can get 50% off an annual plan of Paramount Plus, bringing the Essential plan down to only $25 for a full year of content. Peacock Premium: Now through November 28, new subscribers can lock in a year of Peacock Premium for $1/month. That's about 80% off the regular $5 monthly price.Stellar deals on tech brands from across the webApple; Amazon; Alyssa Powell/InsiderTech is synonymous with Cyber Monday, and we're seeing big discounts on TVs, computers, cameras, phones, accessories, gaming gear, and more. In addition to deals from major retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, Target, and Walmart, most tech companies are offering savings at their online stores. Here are our favorite companies whose products we've tested and trust.Adobe: Creative Cloud All Apps is 27% off for all users for the first year, 71% off for students and teachers for the first year; 40% off Adobe Photoshop Elements and Premier Elements.Anker: 20% to 25% off power banks and charging stations.Apple: Gift cards of varying amounts on qualifying purchases.Belkin: 25% off sitewide with code BF22.Bellroy: Up to 33% off phone cases, bags, wallets, and accessories.Case-Mate: Up to 60% off sitewide with code BFCM22, include LuMee, Pelican, and Fuel.CD Keys: Up to 96% off games for PC, Xbox, and PlayStation.Courant: 20% off sitewide on chargers and accessories.Dell: Up to 60% on laptops, desktops, and monitors.DJI: Up to 30% off select drones and cameras. Epson: Up to 46% off select printers, projectors, and business machines.Goal Zero: Up to 20% off select power stations, portable batteries, solar panels, lights, and more.Google: $50-$150 off Google Pixel Watch and Pixel 7 smartphones.GoPro: 15% off sitewide on cameras, accessories, and more.Griffin: 50% off sitewide on cables, chargers, batteries, and more.HP: Up to 71% on laptops, desktops, monitors, printers, and more.Incase: Up to 50% off sitewide on bags, laptop sleeves, cases, and more.Incipio: Up to 50% off sitewide on phone cases and accessories.Insta360: Save up to $75 on cameras.LastPass: 25% off until 11/29.Logitech: $30 off orders over $150 and $50 off orders over $250 with code BF22USD.Microsoft: Up to $600 off Surface Pro tablet laptops.Moment: Up to 60% off select phone cases, lenses, cameras, and other photography accessories.Motorola: Save up to $1,000 on select phones.Nikon: Save up to $1,000 on DSLR and mirrorless cameras, lenses, and binoculars.Nintendo: Save up to $20 or 33% on select games.Otterbox: Free shipping on orders over $50.Peak Design: Up to 30% off camera bags and accessories.Philo: New subscribers save 80% off their first month until 11/30 with code THANKS.Samsung: Up to $350 off Samsung Galaxy Z foldable smartphones.Satechi: 25% off sitewide with code BFCM25 or 30% off $150 or more with code BFCM30.Sony: Save up to $1,500 on TVs, cameras, headphones, and other consumer electronics.Speck: 40% off sitewide until 11/27; 50% off sitewide 11/27-11/28.Steam: 20%-90% off select games until 11/29.ZAGG: 40% off sitewide on ZAGG, Mophie, InvisibleShield, and Gear4 computing and mobile hardware and accessories.Shop big sales from nearly every major mattress brandLeesa/InstagramMattresses are an expensive yet important purchase. Fortunately, during Cyber Monday, you can save hundreds of dollars on top brands, including Casper, Purple, Nectar, and more. Don't know which mattress to buy? Our mattress expert has tested more than 60 mattresses and lists the best in our mattress guide. Also, check out our best Cyber Monday mattress deals hub.Amerisleep: Get $450 off any mattress and free accessories using the promo code AS450.Avocado: Get 10% off sitewide using the promo code SAVE10.Awara: Get $300 off any mattress and a free cotton sheet set, two latex pillows, and a mattress protector.Bear: Get 35% off sitewide and free accessories.Beautyrest: Save up to $800 on select mattresses.Big Fig Mattress: Get $400 off mattresses using the promo code FRIYAY.Birch: Get $400 off mattresses and two free pillows using the promo code FALLSALE400. Brooklyn Bedding: Get 30% off sitewide using promo code BFRIDAY30.Casper: Save up to $800 on mattresses using the promo code BFCM22-B.Cocoon by Sealy: Get 35% off the Chill mattresses and get a free set of sheets and pillows. DreamCloud: Get 25% off mattresses and $599 worth of accessories, including sheets, pillows, and a mattress protector. Emma: Get up to 50% off sitewide.Ghost Bed: Up to 50% off all mattresses and adjustable base bundles and get two free pillows.Helix: Save $150 when you spend $600 using promo code BFWKND150, save $250 when you spend $1,249 using promo code BFWKND250, save $300 when you spend $1,700 using promo code BFWKND300, save $350 when you spend $2,550 using promo code BFWKND350, save $400 when you spend $2,700 using promo code BFWKND400, and save $450 when you spend $2,950 using promo code BFWKND450. Plus, all purchases include two free pillows. Leesa: Save up to $700 on mattresses with two pillows included.Mattress Firm: Get up to 50% off mattresses during the Cyber Monday sale.Nectar: Get 33% off sitewide.Nest Bedding: Up to 50% off select mattresses.Nolah: Save up to $700 on mattresses and get two free pillows during the Cyber Monday sale.   Purple: Get $700 off the Purple Plus Mattress plus adjustable base.Saatva: Get up to $450 off select mattresses during the sale.Serta: Save up to $800 on select mattresses and mattress sets.Siena: Save $200 off any mattress.Sleep Number: Up to 40% off select beds.Tempur-Pedic: Get 30% off the Tempur-Pedic Cloud mattress when you use the Insider exclusive promo code BI30.Tuft & Needle: Save up to $750 on mattresses.Wayfair: Save on big-name mattress brands like Beautyrest and Sealy. Check out our Wayfair deals roundup.Zinus: Save up to 40% off select mattresses. Editor's note: Zinus is facing a class-action lawsuit claiming that fiberglass in the company's mattresses has led to serious health issues. Check out our full article on the lawsuit for more details.Zoma: Save $150 on all mattresses using promo code WIN150.Shop big deals on luggage from across the internetRachel Askinasi/InsiderTravel is back and it's a great time to stock up on those travel essentials you may have neglected in the past few years of pandemic. Below you'll find deals on our favorite luggage brands. Away: Up to 40% off suitcases and travel accessories. Check out our full round up of Away luggage deals.Baboon to the Moon: Up to 75% off bags and accessories.Bric's: Up to 50% off Bellagio, MyLife, Siena, and X-Bag lines.Delsey: Save 30% to 60%, plus free shipping.July: Save $30 when you spend $300, $100 when you spend $600, and $200 when you spend $1,000. Monos: Up to 40% off sitewide with code EARLYBF2022. Check out our full round up of Monos luggage deals.Nomatic: Up to 30% off luggage and 50% off travel accessories.Paravel: Up to 30% off, including Oprah's favorite foldable backpack.ROAM: Free Market Tote or Travel Pouch Set with the purchase of any piece of luggage, backpack, or duffel.Samsonite: 30% off sitewide and free shipping.Solgaard: Take 15% to 50% off sitewide. Travelpro: More than 70% off select suitcases and bags, plus save $30 when you spend $200 and $60 when you spend $300.Tumi: 40% off select suitcases, backpacks, and bags.Take 20% off Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)AppleThe AirPods Pro (2nd generation) is the latest addition to their AirPods Pro series, a line of mid-range earbuds that feature spatial audio and noise canceling. And for just $200, this is the lowest price we've ever seen.8% off the 2022 12.9-Inch 6th-Generation iPad ProAppleWhile not a huge discount, this 8% deal is rare for such a newly announced Apple device. If you're looking to get the latest 12.9-inch iPad, this deal helps you save $100. If you're not sure you want the latest model, we can help you find the right iPad for your needs.30% off the Oxo Good Grips 7-Piece Pop Container SetAmazonAirtight containers are a must-have for any kitchen. You can store all your baking necessities, including flour, sugar, brown sugar, and more. We can't recommend the Oxo Pop containers enough because they keep cupboards and pantries organized and food fresher. Right now, you can save 30% on this set, which comes with two medium square containers, two tall medium containers, and three small ones.$21 off the Allbirds Women's Wool Runner in Hazy CargoAllbirdsThe Wool Runners are some of Allbirds' most popular shoes, and they hold up really well after years of wear. Coming in a green "Hazy Cargo" colorway, this pair of Allbirds pairs well with all your fall neutrals, and they're more than $20 off. Other hues have a similar discount, while the teal and burgundy colorways are down to $64.24% off the Petkit Eversweet Pet Water FountainAmazonThis two-liter water fountain is designed for cats and small dogs. It uses a circulation system to provide oxygenated, fresher, and better tasting water for your furry friend. Right now it's down to only $34, a rare price drop from its typical retail price of $46. We saw a slightly better deal on Black Friday, so it might drop again on Cyber Monday. For more pet deals, we've rounded up Chewy's best Cyber Monday discounts.$1,500 off the LG C1 OLED 83-Inch 4K TVBest BuyLG's C1 beautifully balances performance and design, and the 65-inch model is the top pick in our guide to the best 4K TVs. The OLED panel delivers incredible image quality with an infinite contrast ratio. If you're looking for a giant TV for your entertainment system, the 83-inch is the largest available size and is at an excellent all-time low of $3,000.Save $30 on the Fitbit Versa 3FitbitWith automatic activity tracking and a large screen, the Versa 3 has nearly all the perks of the Fitbit line at a not-totally-absurd price point plus a stylish design. It's now available on clearance, so you can get it with a sweet $30 discount.Save 14% on the Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro 12.9-inchAppleApple's Magic Keyboard is designed to seamlessly attach to the iPad Pro with a comfortable and responsive typing experience, trackpad, and a USB-C port. It's a great way to boost your productivity from your tablet, especially at this excellent price of$300.50% off the Amazon Fire HD 10 TabletAmazonWith 32GB of internal storage, a 1080p HD display, and loads of features like Alexa integration, the Fire HD 10 is one of the most versatile, yet affordable tablets you can buy. Currently on sale for 50% off, it's an even better deal at $75.25% off Bombas SocksBombasBombas makes some of the best socks we've ever tested — even at full price. Right now, you'll save 10% on packs plus an extra 25% on your order, bringing this 8-Pack down to $75.60. Read our full review and shop the entire site.$230 off the Vitamix Professional Series 750 BlenderWilliams SonomaThe Vitamix Professional Series 750 has everything you need in a blender, and its proven longevity makes it worth the price. This Cyber Monday deal is the lowest price we've seen by $60. Check out more Vitamix blender sales going on now.40% off the Everlane Everyone Denim JacketEverlaneFeaturing unisex styling, the Everyone Denim Jacket is easy to wear and style for everyone. Right now, it's $59 — bringing the price down nearly $30.$110 off Fitbit SenseFitbitThe Sense smartwatch has a ton of added features, focusing on heart health and stress management, giving you a more holistic look at your well-being. It's on sale for $140 during Cyber Monday, which is an excellent deal considering how feature-rich this smartwatch is.$80 off Bowflex SelectTech 552 dumbbellsNautilusThe Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells allow you to adjust the weight of each dumbbell anywhere from 5 to 52.5 pounds. They're on sale for $350 for Cyber Monday, which is one of the lowest prices we've ever seen them at, making them a great deal for anyone looking to add to their home gym.19% off Nike Air VaporMax 2021 FKNikeFeaturing a full Air midsole and a Flyknit woven upper, the Vapormax 2021 uses several of Nike's most advanced technologies. Right now, they're 19% off.$50 off Bonobos Stretch Washed Chino 2.0NordstromTaking on the look of classic chinos, this pair features added stretch for comfort. At 50% off, this is a good time to add more colors to your wardrobe.$20 off Elden RingElden Ring / FromSoftwareThis 2022 Game of the Year nominee from the creators of Dark Souls is a challenging adventure, even for experienced gamers. This is one of the best prices we've seen since it released in February.Save up to 40% on Monos luggageMonosShop all Monos luggage dealsBest known for its carry-on with a front pocket fit for a laptop, Monos is home to some of the best luggage and travel accessories we've tested. The travel brand has made a name for itself with its suitcases' convenient organization, as demonstrated by its Pro Plus Carry-on with extra storage space.Travelers can save up to a rare 40% on carry-ons, full-sized luggage, and travel accessories with the code EARLYBF2022. Shoppers can also expect to see discounts of up to 50% off on November 25-27 with the code BLACKFRIDAY2022, and up to 30% off on November 28-December 4 with the code CYBERWEEK2022. $150 off Apple 24-inch iMac M1 2021Apple$150 off Apple's 24-inch iMac running on the powerful M1 processor only makes a dent, but it's still the best price we've seen for this model. If you've been looking for a powerful all-in-on computer that will last a long time, the 24-inch iMac with a deal is a great option.$150 off KitchenAid 5-qt. Artisan Series Fresh Prep Attachment BundleKohl'sOne of the best deals we've seen on KitchenAid stand mixers is this bundle, which combines a 5 quart Artisan mixer with food processing attachments. This matches the sale price we've seen at other retailers, but also includes the Fresh Prep attachment, which usually retails for $60. The deal is available in three colors.30% off Casper Essential PillowAmazonWe're fans of Casper's pillows; we ranked the Original as the best pillow for side sleepers in our buying guide to the best pillows you can buy. The Essential pillow is soft and breathable on the outside and supportive on the inside. At $30, it matches the lowest price we've come across this year.$25 off Sonic FrontiersSegaPlaystation 5Xbox Series X Nintendo SwitchThe latest Sonic the Hedgehog game was released earlier this month and it's already 50% off for Cyber Monday. The game's "open zone" format is new for the franchise but it's gotten generally favorable reviews since its launch.$20 off Everlane Alpaca CrewEverlaneWith over 2500 reviews and four and a half stars, the alpaca crew is an Everlane staple. It comes in 12 colors and is 20% off on Cyber Monday.20% off Seresto Flea and Tick Collar for Large DogsChewyThe Seresto Flea and Tick Collar offer eight months of protection against fleas and ticks in all life stages. It's the only flea collar on the market that we recommend for dogs. For Cyber Monday 2022, Chewy is offering a rare deal we only see a few times a year.30% off PlayStation DualSense Wireless ControllerThere are a number of steps you can take at home with your PS5 console to resolve the connectivity error.YELIM LEE/AFP via Getty ImagesThe PS5 controller is one of the best in the industry thanks to its haptic feedback, built-in microphone, and adaptive triggers. The Cyber Monday discount extends to other colors of the controller, like black, purple, & red.30% off Yeti Rambler 10 oz Wine TumblerAmazonNow 30% off, the Yeti Rambler holds up to 10 ounces of your favorite wine whether you're on a camping trip or on the back patio. The stainless steel interior paired with the double-wall vacuum insulation is what keeps your drink exactly at the temperature you like.40% off Ninja Foodi Two-Basket Air FryerJen Gushue/InsiderThe Ninja Foodi Two-Basket Air Fryer lets you cook two separate dishes at once, and you can time them to finish simultaneously to take the guesswork out of your dinner routine. During Cyber Monday, it's at an all-time low price.$30 off The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the WildNintendoThe Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the definitive adventure game on the Nintendo Switch, sending players on a sprawling journey across a fantasy world with hundreds of secrets to discover. Right now Walmart is selling it for only $30, a rare discount that puts it at the lowest price we've ever seen.25% off Hydro Flask ToteHydro FlaskThe Hydro Flask Tote makes for the perfect travel bag, especially when storing food because its lightweight, insulated, and fully lined. For Cyber Monday, the tote is 25% off.35% off our favorite do-everything Instant PotJen Gushue/InsiderThe Instant Pot Duo Crisp is a pressure cooker, slow cooker, air fryer, and sous vide machine all in one, making it one of the most useful and economical small appliances we tested. While it's not the lowest we've seen it, it's the best price in months.See our guide to the best Instant Pots and electric pressure cookers.$50 off Oral-B iO Series 6 Electric ToothbrushAmazonStart and end every day with the Oral-B iO Series 6 Electric Toothbrush, now 40% off for Cyber Monday. Complete with five Smart Modes and technology that stores your brushing patterns, this brush comes with one more plus a travel case.$270 off Samsung 75-inch Class TU690T Series LED 4K UHD Smart Tizen TVBest BuyIf you're in need of a large screen for your living room, this Samsung TV is one of the best budget options you can find. While it may not have Samsung's latest display technology, this smart TV is fully featured with support for Alexa and Google Assistant, as well as Apple's AirPlay.17% off Bose QuietComfort II EarbudsAmazonThe Bose QuietComfort II Earbuds are the second rendition of the wireless earbuds, and they're easily one of the best noise-canceling earbuds on the market. At $50 off, they're currently at the lowest price we've seen. $20 off Apple AirTag 4-PackAppleApple's wireless trackers are compatible with the FindMy app on iPhone and iOS devices, and this matches the lowest price we've seen since their release. Just remember, you'll need a keychain holster or something else to keep them attached to your belongings.50% off Headspace subscriptionHeadspaceIf you're looking to exercise some mindfulness, a subscription to Headspace is a perfect place to start, especially at 50% off. The app offers easy-to-navigate guided meditations — from one-off sessions to help with burnout, to full-blown courses on stress and anger — from a variety of teachers, each with different perspectives.$50 off the Xbox Series STargetThe Xbox Series S is one of Microsoft's two current generation consoles, along with the Xbox Series X. Both consoles play the exact same games, but there are differences, most notably that the Series S does not include a disc drive so you can only play digitally downloaded titles. It's currently $50 off, an excellent deal for this powerful and popular console.  51% off Rosyclo Cloud SlippersAmazonWhile not the exact same pair, these cloud slippers are nearly identical in design to the ones our executive editor Sally Kaplan owns and loves. Your discount will depend on the size and color you select, but we're seeing an average savings of 51% on these trendy cloud slippers.20% off Apple MacBook Air M1 (2020)Amazon$200 off the M1 MacBook Air is a superb deal, especially when you consider the M2 MacBook Air starts at $1,200, and isn't usually discounted below $1,000.43% off Lego Classic Bricks and AnimalsWalmartA great gift for the creative builder in your life, this set includes 1,500 pieces for endless construction. At an all-time low price for Cyber Monday, this is an excellent price for a full set, especially when deals on classic Lego kits are so rare.$96 off Wüsthof Classic Hollow Edge 2-Piece Chef's Knife SetAmazonWüsthof is one of the top names in knife making. This set features a 6-inch chef's knife and a 3.5-inch paring knife, which should cover you for most tasks. During Cyber Monday, it's at an all-time low price.$200 off iRobot Roomba i3+, our favorite robot vacuumiRobotThe iRobot Roomba i3+ does more than your average robot vacuum. It develops personalized cleaning schedules and empties itself. It also does an outstanding job of cleaning. That's why we made it the top pick in our robot vacuum guide. Usually, it costs more than your average robot vacuum, but during Cyber Monday, it's at the lowest price we've ever seen.$10 off Best Friends by Sheri The Original Calming Donut Dog BedChewyThe Best Friends by Sheri the Original Calming Donut Dog Bed has a rounded shape that cradles a dog and helps them calm down naturally. It's our top pick for the best calming dog bed and rarely goes on sale. Right now, you can get it for its lowest price ever on select colors.Read our guide to the best dog beds.33% off Razor A Kick ScooterTargetIt doesn't have all of the whistles and bells of an electric scooter, but a Razor A Kick Scooter will still be fun to ride. It's built durably and can collapse to be carried around. During Cyber Monday, it's 33% off, which is the best deal we've seen since 2020.18% off Kasa Smart Plug Ultra MiniAmazonThese smart plugs are low-profile enough to fit behind most furniture and are easy to use for basic smart home functions. During Cyber Monday, they're at the best price we've seen in months.27% off Cetaphil Daily Hydrating LotionTargetDrugstore skincare brand Cetaphil has a cult following among budget-savvy shoppers. The brand's products are formulated for sensitive skin and are fragrance-free. For Cyber Monday, the Daily Hydrating Moisturizer is down $4 from its typical price since this summer. Save up to 38% on Cetaphil's other cleaners and moisturizers too. Read our guide to the best skincare brands for more information on Cetaphil.37% off Anova Culinary Nano Sous Vide Precision CookerAmazonThe Anova Precision Cooker Nano offers accuracy and ease of use at a price unmatched by other sous vide machines. This model rarely goes to a lower price, so it's a good time to buy.See our guide to the best sous vide machines. 50% off Bonobos Stretch Washed Chino 2.0NordstromWith the style and fit of classic chinos, this pair features added stretch for comfort. At 50% off, now is a good time to add more colors to your wardrobe.25% off Bissell Little Green Proheat Portable Carpet CleanerWayfairBissell makes some of our favorite carpet cleaners, and the Little Green ProHeat is a fantastic cleaner for removing stains and messes. During Cyber Monday, save 25% off.Check out our guide to the best carpet cleaners.$200 off JBL Boombox 2AmazonWhen you need music for your gathering, the JBL Boombox 2 brings powerful sound and bass to keep the party going. It's one of the best Bluetooth speakers that you can get, and right now it's on sale with an excellent and rare $200 discount.40% off SodaStream Terra Sparkling Water MakerAmazonIf you're a seltzer fan, then you should consider investing in a sparkling water maker. The Terra is SodaStream's newest model that is also cordless. It comes with one CO2 cylinder and a bottle of lime Bubly Drops. For Cyber Monday, it's an all-time low price.39% off Coway Airmega AP-1512H True HEPA PurifierCowayCoway makes some of the best air purifiers on the market. The AP-1512HH is a reliable compact unit with a 4-stage filtration system that reduces up to 99.6% of air pollution particles. This Cyber Monday deal is the lowest price since early 2021.$30 off Philips SmartSleep Connected Sleep and Wake-Up LightSuzy Hernandez/Business InsiderThe Philips SmartSleep Connected is our top pick for the best sunrise alarm clock. It will help you fall asleep gently and wake up on time by creating stunning sunset and sunrise simulations. Right now, it's 15% off, an all-time low price that we haven't seen since last year.See our guide to the best sunrise alarm clocks.60% off Beats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear HeadphonesBeatsWhile not the newest headphones in the Beats lineup, the Beats Solo3 are still a solid pair of over-ear cans. They don't offer noise-canceling capabilities, but they're still a versatile pair of headphones that deliver balanced sound and 40 hours of listening time. At $80, they're at an all-time low for Cyber Monday with the best price we've seen.13% off TeeTurtle Reversible Narwhal PlushieAmazonMore than just a cuddly stuffed animal, TeeTurtle's reversible plushies let you express your mood. Don't feel like talking to anyone? Just turn the animal to the frowny face side. For Cyber Monday, the narwhal stuffie is a modest 13% off.40% off TikTok's favorite vegetable chopperAmazonOne of TikTok's favorite gadgets, this chopper can dice an entire onion with just a single push of your palm. For Cyber Monday, it's the lowest price we've seen in months at around 40% off. As a bonus, it comes with a spiralizing attachment for making zoodles.62% off National Tree Company Pre-Lit Artificial Full Christmas Tree, 6.5 FeetAmazonIf you're still in the market for a Christmas tree, this 6.5-foot pre-lit Dunhill Fir tree is steeply discounted at 62% off for Cyber Monday; the lowest price we've ever seen for this tree.30% off sauces from Fly By JingFly by JingFly By Jing makes one of our favorite chili crisps, and the By Jing box offers a range of Sichuan sauces, including the tangy Zhong sauce and potent Mala spice mix. At 30% for the first time ever, it's the perfect foodie holiday gift.20% off Olaplex Hair Perfector No 3 Repairing TreatmentAmazonThough pricey, Olaplex's Hair Perfector is a cult favorite in beauty circles. At 20% off, it makes a thoughtful gift for anyone heard complaining about their split ends in the winter, this immensely popular hair treatment repairs brittle, dry hair and adds much-needed moisture.30% off Amazon Smart ThermostatAmazonThe Amazon Smart Home Thermostat is a simple, inexpensive smart home thermostat to control your home's temperature. It doesn't have a microphone or camera, so Alexa voice commands rely on another voice-enabled Alexa device, like an Echo smart speaker. Certain energy providers will provide benefits for switching to an energy-saving thermostat like this one, so be sure to check with yours. Right now, the thermostat is down to an all-time low price.20% off Sengled Smart Light BulbSengledSengled's smart color-changing light bulb is significantly more affordable than bulbs from big names like Philips. For about $12, this single bulb is more affordable than ever.50% off Casper Essential PillowAmazonWe're fans of Casper's pillows; we ranked the Original as the best pillow for side sleepers in our buying guide to the best pillows you can buy. The Essential pillow is soft and breathable on the outside and supportive on the inside. At $30, it matches the lowest price we've come across this year.26% off Hydro Flask Wide Mouth BottleMarathon SportsHydro Flask makes some of our favorite water bottles — they're basically indestructible without being bulky or heavy, and keep hot and cold beverages at their original temperature for at least 12 hours. It's a solid, pragmatic gift for anyone who complains about forgetting to hydrate or is on the hunt for a reliable thermos.See our guide to the best water bottles. 37% off Revlon One-Step Hair DryerAmazonThis hair tool combines styling, drying, and volumizing your hair into one simple step. It's comparable to the expensive Dyson Airwrap, but for a fraction of the cost. Down to $25, this is one of the best deals we've seen for it all year.See our guide to the best hair dryers. 50% off Roku Streaming Stick 4K (2021)RokuCompared to the Roku Streaming Stick+, the new Streaming Stick 4K provides an improved viewing experience by adding support for Dolby Vision. This advanced high dynamic range (HDR) format can provide better picture quality on TVs that support it. Right now you can get it on sale for only $25, the best price we've seen for it yet.50% off It Takes TwoAmazonThe 2021 game of the year is an entirely cooperative game that lets a friend join-in online, even if they don't own the game. This price matches the lowest we've seen to date.40% off Samsung 65-Inch Class OLED TVAmazonSamsung's first 4K OLED is also one of the very first OLED TVs to feature quantum dots. This technology allows the display to produce a wider range of colors than typical OLEDs. $1,800 is a new low price for this brand-new high-end set.50% off Melissa & Doug PAW Patrol PAWtroller Activity CenterTargetIf there's a little one in your life who loves Paw Patrol, this activity center will provide hours of fun. You can grab it for 50% off during Target's Cyber Monday sale.$500 off Hydrow rowing machinesHydrowThe Hydrow Connected Rower is the Peloton of at-home rowing machines, bringing interactive rowing workouts right to your living room. It's on sale for $500 off its normal price during Best Buy's Cyber Monday sale which is one of the lowest prices we've seen it at.Check out our review of the Hydrow to learn more about what makes this a stellar piece of exercise equipment. 29% off the De'Longhi La Specialista Arte Espresso MachineAmazonDe'Longhi is one of the best brands for home espresso makers. The Specialista Arte is one of our recommended mid-range makers and has the unique feature of a built-in tamper. This is the best price we've seen in six months on this machine.Read more about the best espresso machines we've tested here.12% off the MacBook Pro 13-inch M2AppleThe 13-inch MacBook Pro is more capable than ever. Supercharged by the next-generation M2 chip, it's Apple's most portable pro laptop, with up to 20 hours of battery life and 12% off retail. It's a surprisingly good deal when you consider this new MacBook was just released in 2022.25% off the GE Profile Opal Nugget Ice MakerWalmartOne of the few nugget ice makers on the market, the GE Profile does one task perfectly: making chewable nugget ice. It's a bulky and pricy appliance, but the unique production is worth it if you're a nugget ice loyalist. For Cyber Monday, it's $130 off the usual price, so it's a great time to buy the ice maker of your dreams. You can read more about why we love this deal here.Save 20% on a Dyson Airwrap, plus get free accessoriesDysonWith new barrels to curl and wave in both directions, brushes to control and shape, and the multi-functional Coanda smoothing dryer to dry, smooth, and hide flyaways. Existing Dyson customers can save 20% off using the code e-mailed to them on November 21. Both new and returning customers can claim $125 in free gifts with their purchase.For more information, check out our Dyson Airwrap Cyber Monday deal guide. Save $400 on our favorite mattress and get $600 in free accessoriesDreamcloudOne of our favorite mattresses, the DreamCloud Premier Hybrid Mattress offers an impressive array of features, including excellent support, a firmness that will appeal to most sleepers, and a long trial period and warranty. During the Cyber Monday sale, you can save $400 and get $599 of accessories included.Save 30% on the Apple Watch Series 7Antonio Villas-Boas/InsiderThe Apple Watch Series 7 is extremely similar to the new Series 8. It's only missing Crash Detection, body temperature sensing, and a new Low Power Mode that gives the Series 8 up to 36 hours of battery life. With that in mind, you can easily justify the $120 in savings with this deal on the Series 7.See our guide to the best Apple Watch. Save 33% on the Dyson Cyclone V10 Absolute Cordless Stick VacuumWalmartDyson vacuums are the cream of the crop, and this Cyber Monday deal for the Cyclone V10 is the best we've seen in years. Equipped with a sensor to detect whether you're vacuuming a carpet or hard floor, it's the perfect vac for any room in the house. See our guide to the best vacuums. 57% off Madden 23AmazonJust released in August, Madden 23 is the newest iteration of the ever-popular EA Sports NFL video game franchise. Down to just $30, this deal is an absolute steal — and the perfect holiday gift for the football lover or sports gamer in your life. 50% off Columbia Tipton Peak Insulated JacketColumbiaColumbia jackets are ideal for layering in cold weather, as they are warm, but not too bulky. If you're looking to upgrade for this winter, 50% off this Tipton Peak Insulated Jacket is a fantastic deal for you. See our guide to the best winter coats. 50% off Kiehls Ultimate Shave CollectionNordstromWith $72 worth of product, this gift set of men's shaving products from cult favorite brand Kiehl's is a great deal at $33.60. If you use your Nordstrom card to purchase, you can also earn a $60 Note to be used on a future purchase.41% off the ASUS Chromebook C203XAAmazonThe Asus C203XA is designed with military-grade durability, a spill-resistant keyboard, and an anti-scratch finish, making it the perfect choice for students and classrooms. Down to only $142, this is the best price it's seen in months.See our guide to the best Chromebooks. Save $90 on the Dewalt Compact Drill/Impact Combo KitAmazonThis 20-Volt MAX Brushless Compact 2-Tool Combo Kit includes 1 cordless Drill/Driver, 1 cordless Impact Driver, two 20-Volt MAX Lithium Ion Batteries, 1 charger, and a carrying bag. During The Home Depot's Cyber Monday, it's 35% off.See our guide to the best cordless drills. 75% off LifeStraw Personal Water FilterAmazonLifeStraws are portable filters that can make even some of the murkiest standing water drinkable. For backpackers and hikers, a LifeStraw can be an invaluable tool in dire situations. Down to only $13, now is a great time to buy one.44% off Chewmeter Himalayan Yaky Cheese ChewsChewyMade with potato starch and cheese, among other ingredients, Chewmeter's dog treats are rawhide-free. They were about a dollar less during Amazon's Prime Early Access Sale in October, but have been above $20 for most of the year. 50% off JBL Tune 510BT Wireless On-Ear HeadphonesJBLQuality over-ear headphones can get pricey, but these wireless ones from JBL offer great sound and up to 40 hours of play when fully charged. RIght now, they're a steep 50% off, costing right under $25. Lowest price of the year on an Insider subscriptionInsiderInsider is offering its annual subscription at its lowest price of the year as a Black Friday and Cyber Monday deal. You'll get access to in-depth reporting, exclusive stories, pitch decks, salary databases, and more. This deal expires on November 28.Rare $10 discount on Ring Fit AdventureAmazonRing Fit Adventure is a fitness-centric game that challenges you to get off the couch and perform crunches, sit-ups, and more to defeat enemies. It even comes with a special accessory called the Ring-Con to track your movements. This game rarely goes on sale, so this $10 discount from Amazon is a good deal.Save $50 on the internet's favorite frying panOur PlaceThis sleek, matte pan is an incredible gift for minimalists: It's designed to replace eight pieces of cookware, functioning as everything from a pot to a frying pan. Normally $145, you can get it for $95 for Cyber Monday.See our guide to the best nonstick frying pans. 28% off Otherland candlesOtherlandOtherland is a hot candle brand right now, known for its creative packaging and custom gift sets. For Cyber Monday, you can get 28% off a three-pack and 35% off six-packs and nine-packs.See our guide to the best places for buying candles. $100 off the new Pixel 7GoogleThis is the lowest price for Google's newest smartphone, the Pixel 7. Launched only a month ago, the Pixels are desirable Android phones, thanks to their fast performance, great image quality from the cameras, and stock Android.See our guide to the best smartphones. 50% off the Litter Genie PlusAmazonThe Litter Genie keeps odors from cat litter waste concealed. Deputy Editor Lauren Savoie likes that it holds several weeks' worth of waste so she doesn't have to take the trash out every time she scoops. For Chewy's Cyber Monday sale, it's marked down to 30% off its usual price, and over at Petco, it's 50% off — an all-time low price.Save $40 on the Theragun MiniTherabodyTherabody's fourth generation of massage guns introduced the Theragun Mini, a portable device that packs a percussive punch in a much smaller package. It's our favorite entry-level massage gun and it's on sale for $160 during Cyber Monday, which is around the lowest price we've ever seen.Buy one, get one on Masterclass subscriptionsMasterClassMasterClass is one of our favorite online learning platforms and for $180, you can get a second membership free to gift when you buy the first one. It makes for a great last-minute present and a fun way to bond with someone as you watch classes remotely.$50 off DNA kits from AncestryAncestryDNAAncestry DNA makes our favorite DNA kit, and all its DNA kits are discounted for Cyber Monday. The cheapest one is the standard kit, coming in at $59 (normally $99).20% off our favorite bathrobe from BrooklinenBrooklinenMade from 100% Turkish cotton, this super-soft robe is the ultimate luxury gift. For Cyber Monday, you can get 25% off all Brooklinen products when you check out.32% off the Kindle PaperwhiteAmazonThe Kindle Paperwhite is our favorite Kindle model so far for its big screen and adjustable warm light. At 32% off, you can snag it for under $100 to gift to the avid reader in your life.Save $70 on TCL's 55-inch 5 Series 4K Roku TVBest BuyTCL's 55-inch 5 Series 4K Roku TV delivers an impressive balance between image performance, smart connectivity, screen size, and cost. Down to $430, this discount matches deals we've seen for it in the past.Take 27% off the Nespresso's Vertuo coffee makerWilliams SonomaNespresso's Vertuo machine makes rich, frothy espresso at the touch of a button. This isn't the lowest price we've seen, but it does match last Black Friday's deal, and it's still a solid discount.Save 20% on the GoPro Hero 11 BlackThe GoPro Hero 11 Black with its recognizable form-factor. Like the Hero 9 Black and Hero 10 Black before it, there's a front screen for framing a shot — useful if you're vlogging or live-streaming.Les Shu/InsiderGoPro's best camera yet, the Hero 11 Black shoots incredible videos with smooth stabilization better than ever. For Cyber Monday, you can save $100 (20%) off the regular priceTake 50% off the Shark Vertex DuoClean PowerFins Upright VacuumAmazonThe Shark Vertex DuoClean PowerFins Upright Vacuum (AZ2002) is easy to use and has powerful suction that gets the job done on hardwood and carpeting. This Cyber Monday deal matches the lowest price we've seen.Save 24% on an HP OMEN laptopHPHP's OMEN laptops are high-performance computers that are great for creative tasks and gaming. This one is loaded with an Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 graphics. Add in 16GB of memory and a 1TB hard drive, the $1,200 sale price makes it a terrific buy for a high-end machine.Save 33% on a Sony 65 Inch 4K Ultra HD TVAmazonSony's 2022 midrange LCD TV is a solid pick for buyers who want a good all-around 4K display. It has local dimming for improved contrast, along with wide color capabilities and support for the Google TV streaming platform. This $1,000 deal price is a new low for the 65-inch model.Save $150 on the Traeger Pro Series 22 Pellet GrillHome DepotTraeger is one of our favorite grill brands, and the Pro Series 22 Pellet Grill is an excellent option for easy precision grilling and smoking. During Home Depot's Cyber Monday sale, you can save $150 off its regular price.Save 40% on the internet's favorite coatMaria Del Russo/InsiderDubbed by the internet as the "Amazon coat," this down jacket actually lives up to its hype of blending style with warmth and functionality. It comes in a range of colors from muted neutrals to bright red or yellow and is a perfect, practical gift as the winter season gets colder. The discount you'll receive depends on the color and size you choose, with an average deal of 40% off.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytNov 28th, 2022

Victor Davis Hanson: The Strange Morality Of The Bay-Area Billionaire Left

Victor Davis Hanson: The Strange Morality Of The Bay-Area Billionaire Left Authored by Victor Davis Hanson via, “Ya. Hehe. I had to be. It’s what reputations are made of, to some extent. I feel bad for those guys who get f—ed by it, by this dumb game we woke westerners play where we say all the right shibboleths and so everyone likes us.” - Sam Bankman-Fried The FTX Bitcoin empire of 30-year-old CEO Sam Bankman-Fried is in shambles. Or more specifically, his “dumb game” cryptocurrency exchange has destroyed thousands of lives. Electronically, he may have robbed perhaps a million investors, and along with them hundreds of large institutional investors.  Mysteriously, only after the conclusion of the midterm elections, did we suddenly learn that this left-wing “philanthropist” and benefactor of Democratic politics, this megadonor to the quid pro quo puff-piece media, this con artist protected from federal securities regulators, had drained off, lost, hidden, or spent billions of dollars of other people’s money.  As a result, the Bahamas-basking, tax-avoiding, polyamorous sybarite, and heartthrob of progressive moralists, now claims he has no wherewithal to honor his financial commitments to his own investors. Preliminary postmortem auditors sigh that they have never encountered a greater financial mess than what Bankman-Fried has left in his wake.  How does the most sophisticated financial system in the history of civilization allow a virtue-signaling nerd to nearly wreck it? Where were the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Justice, the IRS, and all the other alphabet soup agencies that supposedly exist so that someone like Bankman-Fried does not? Where is Merrick Garland and his special prosecutors, the FBI with its televised SWAT swoops and leg irons? For all the performance-art boasts of simply doing good for others by doing far better for himself, Bankman-Fried may soon be revealed to be one of the great, dissolute con artists in American history. Like the infamous Charles Ponzi, “Bankman” may become our eponymous word in the 21st century for electronically driven, pyramid-scheme theft.  His Stanford-Silicon Valley moral veneer was shiny but otherwise razor thin. Yet Bankman-Fried told at least one truth when he explained to obsequious media what his ilk easily does to fool purported suckers who send him cash, while he avoided federal and media oversight: “This dumb game we woke westerners play where we say all the right shibboleths and so everyone likes us.”  Well, not everyone. Instead, he might qualify his “everyone” as the like-minded, cynical, left-wing politicos, the kindred media hacks at the Washington Post and New York Times, and brethren investor toadies who helped him render Bernie Madoff a small-potato sinner in comparison. Bankman-Fried had showered Joe Biden in 2020 with millions of dollars in campaign donations and did so again with larger sums to congressional candidates in 2022. His public relations arm of FTX exuded the usual virtue speak—including promised impending multibillion-dollar gifting—for utopian, Democratic, and progressive causes. And the media on spec gushed about their pet grunger as he sought to buy protection from Democratic fixers.  “Effective Altruism,” Ponzi-Style Yet Bankman-Fried is merely one in a long line of Bay Area social-justice hypocrites and frauds. They share in common loud but cynical left-wing politics. They choreograph their personas to win exemption from left-wing government regulators, to guarantee puff pieces from a toady media, and to romance the rich, left-wing elite. Consider how the Washington Post gushed of the scam artist:  Harnessing the enormous wealth created by FTX, the cryptocurrency exchange that Sam Bankman-Fried had founded, they undertook a project to spend potentially billions of dollars on pandemic prevention, a long-neglected priority on Capitol Hill even amid the coronavirus crisis. The plan, drawn from the brothers’ adherence to a philosophy called effective altruism, sought to maximize philanthropic giving in ways that can have the most impact. Bankman-Fried surely has had “the most impact.” If he had worn a suit, and said the wrong “shibboleths,” he would now be behind bars.  What were the moral seeds of FTX? Bankman-Fried grew up on the progressive, moralistic Stanford campus, the son of two crusading Stanford law professors who often wrote about morality and the dispossessed.  SBF, as he is known, was groomed and prepped at an exclusive nearby Hillsborough private academy before being packed off to MIT. Progressive souls like Bankman-Fried distrust capitalism so much that, in his case, he retreated to the Bahamas to maximize its rewards. There he embraced a hedonistic lifestyle, tax breaks and lack of regulations, all in order to better short taxpayers of hundreds of millions of dollars in income tax revenue.  Such vulture capitalism is predicated on the presumption that young, loudly left-wing Bay Area hipsters in ratty clothes are the cool “good guys” if they have deep Democratic pockets and talk of “equity” and “fairness.” And so, they use the system to defeat the system—defined in their view as toxic traditional mores and values. Indeed, Bankman-Fried’s mother, Stanford Professor Elizabeth Fried was a “utilitarian,” perhaps best defined as advocating any means necessary to achieve what she felt were the best ends for everyone. She moonlighted from her supposedly full-time job by running “Mind the Gap,” a central collection agency for Silicon Valley dark money to be funneled secretly to the “right causes.” The means of getting the millions was always excused by the ends of how it was used. Apparently, some of her fund’s wherewithal was dripped in by some in her son’s stash circle—or rather his investors’ cash. Mind the Gap’s specialty was funding “to get out the vote.” To understand these dark-money operations in 2020, simply reread Molly Ball’s obnoxious Time magazine story of February 2021—a long boast of how stealth left-wing money, a toady progressive media, an army of lawyers, and social media combined to change voting laws, modulate the Black Lives Matter/Antifa street protests, and warp dissemination of news to craft a good utilitarian “conspiracy” that saved us from Donald Trump.  Will the Bankman-Fried family now atone, and try to give back to the robbed and deluded any of the real money that was funneled into Democratic candidates from the massive fraud? Does the water flow uphill? So how can the progressive embryos of Silicon Valley, Stanford University, Bay Area prep schools, and progressive humanitarian politics birth such an utter fraud who destroyed so many? Rather the question might be reversed, how could all that not? Performance Art Grifting In the context of Bankman-Fried, we recall another kindred Bay-Area erstwhile momentary billionaire charlatan. Do we remember the now felonious and prison-bound young prodigy and Hillary-Clinton aficionado Elizabeth Holmes? She, too, was birthed and swam in similar Stanford-Silicon Valley waters.  GLENN CHAPMAN/AFP via Getty Images Her scheme was Theranos. That was the pretentiously named fake-blood testing corporation that duped some of the most powerful investors in the United States to fork over billions of dollars to a twentysomething con artist. Holmes, like Bankman-Fried, was sired in the orbit of Stanford. She eschewed the slob props of Banksman-Fried, and instead preferred copy-catting Steve Jobs’ slicker all-black outfits. Holmes assembled on her fake corporate board some of the biggest names associated with Stanford University and Silicon Valley, whose brands masked what was likely the greatest corporate medical fraud in American history.   There is a pattern here of the “good” people doing “good” things with their “good” money that turns out very badly for everyone else.  Silicon Valley multibillionaire and fellow leftist Mark Zuckerberg prefers T-shirts, sneakers, and jeans to the Bankman-Fried bum-look or Holmes’ Apple black-draped getup. He is now laying off thousands of Facebook employees as his Meta disaster erodes his stock value and takes his net worth down tens of billions of dollars.  But it was just two years ago that Zuckerberg answered the utilitarian call of fellow leftists to use his mega money and power to stop the prince of darkness, Donald Trump. So Zuck, as he is known, poured $419 million into pro-Biden left-wing activist groups. That unprecedented sum was used to absorb the work of state election officials in key precincts to ensure the right people voted in the right way to ensure the right winner. Leftists still brag how the good mega-money sandbagged dullard Republicans and helped to give Biden the election.   Zuckerberg recently confessed that his left-wing company had also worked with the FBI to suppress online social media expression. Translated, that meant that the FBI partnered with Facebook to quash news deemed not helpful to the Biden election cause, such as the all-too-true revelations from the incriminating Hunter Biden laptop that was falsely passed off as “Russian disinformation.” Is that a very liberal, civil libertarian thing to do—to weld the state and the media to punish political enemies and censor the news? Was the FBI-Facebook fusion a sort of “electronic insurrection” designed to warp democracy—absent the buffoonish cow horns and face paint? Might Zuckerberg have passed on channeling his dark money to “nonprofit” leftist organizations, and instead banked it to save a few of his now laid-off employees? This column could become endless if it referenced all the Silicon Valley and Stanford progressive politico saints with feet of clay. Do we remember Tom Steyer, the Silicon Valley zillionaire, Stanford University board member, and former left-wing green presidential candidate, who spent $191 million without winning a single delegate?  At least candidate Michael Bloomberg got a few delegates at roughly $18 million a pop for the hundreds of millions of virtuous dollars he blew up in 2020. Steyer used his 2020 campaign to lecture us on ending the fossil fuel economy—but only after he had made a fortune in financing dirty coal burning plants in the impoverished Third World.  Posh Virtue What is going on?  The 21st-century globalized economy saturated the corridor between San Francisco and San Jose with wealth never before seen or imagined. Its beneficiaries discovered a number of things about the arts of becoming and staying ultra-rich. One, they never needed to worry about the essentials of life that troubled the other 99 percent of the country—affordable fuel, food, and housing, safe streets, and a fair and legal immigration system.  Or to put it another way, they could pose as progressive utopians—preening their moral superiority to the media, pouring money into the Democratic Party, funding foundations and PACs devoted to woke causes, climate change, and diversity, equity, and inclusion—and all the time never subject to the ramifications of their own exalted agendas.  They could not have cared less about crippling $6 a gallon gas, the exorbitant kilowatt cost of air conditioning, out-of-reach $1,000-a-square foot bungalow housing, the mayhem on San Francisco streets, or the reparatory elite university admissions policies that drastically curtailed working-class male admissions. Their wealth guaranteed them leverage, and leverage ensured exemptions.  But Bay Area morality was not just a pragmatic matter of the exempt elite force-feeding utopia down the throats of others who had no such immunity. Boutique, rich leftism also provided penance for the anointed, a mechanism that alleviated any residual guilt of talking like Eugene Debs while living like Marie Antoinette.  The multimillionaire, social justice warrior House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) assumed, as one of the Bay Area’s liberal icons, that she had a right to break quarantine and sneak off to her private hairdresser, or cluelessly boast of her $13 a pint ice cream, home delivered to her $24,000 twin imported refrigerators—all in the midst of a near depression as the national COVID-19 shutdown ruined millions of small business and devastated the educations of tens of millions of children.  As a member of the classy Bay Area elite, she knew the bankrupt political morality of the Left all too well: acts like tearing up the Trump State of the Union speech on national television veneered her privilege and made her one of the proverbial good people fighting for us from one of her various mansions.  Bay Area ZIP codes have produced the now-familiar rich, liberal politicians whose exempt lives are not damaged by the ideology that damages others. Consider the billionaire Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who for two decades was chauffeured by a Chinese spy while head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, or multimillionaire former Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), now ensconced in Rancho Mirage as a registered foreign agent for a Chinese surveillance firm, or multimillionaire Gavin Newsom, who bragged how the COVID lockdowns might greenlight “progressive capitalism,” as he pushed social distancing and mask-wearing—while he palled around with lobbyists, maskless, at the French Laundry. Sam Bankman-Fried is the ultimate dangerous and ridiculous expression of the most toxic and creepy culture in America. If he did not exist, someone like him would have to be invented. Tyler Durden Mon, 11/21/2022 - 23:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 22nd, 2022

Spooky Torts: The 2022 List Of Litigation Horrors

Spooky Torts: The 2022 List Of Litigation Horrors Authored by Jonathan Turley, Here is my annual list of Halloween torts and crimes. Halloween of course remains a holiday seemingly designed for personal injury lawyers around the world and this year’s additions show why. Halloween has everything for a torts-filled holiday: battery, trespass, defamation, nuisance, product liability and more. Particularly with the recent tragedy in South Korea, our annual listing is not intended to belittle the serious losses that can occur on this and other holidays. However, my students and I often discuss the remarkably wide range of torts that comes with All Hallow’s Eve. So, with no further ado, here is this year’s updated list of actual cases related to Halloween. In October 2021, Danielle Thomas, former exotic dancer known as “Pole Assassin” (and the girlfriend of Texas special teams coach Jeff Banks), found herself embroiled in a Halloween tort after the monkey previously used in her act bit a wandering child at the house of horror she created for Halloween. Thomas considers the monkey Gia to be her “emotional support animal.” Thomas goes all out for the holiday and converted her home into a house of horrors, including a maze. She said that the area with Gia was closed off and, as for petting, “no one is allowed to touch her!”  She publicly insisted “No one was viciously attack this a lie, a whole lie! She was not apart of any haunted house, the kid did not have permission to be on the other side of my property!” She even posted a walk-through video of the scene to show the steps that a child would have to take to get to the monkey. Don’t worry folks I got the #MonkeyGate video — Christian Sykes (@ctsykes13) November 2, 2021 She insists in the video that she knows all of the governing legal rules and shows the path in detail. It is not helpful on the defense side: it is not a long path and easy to see how a child might get lost. She later deleted her account (likely after her attorney regained consciousness). The case raises an array of torts including animal liability, licensee liability, negligence, and attractive nuisance claims. In 2022, we often added conversion to the usual torts where multiple versions of the new giant skeleton were stolen, including one particularly ham-handed effort in Austin, Texas caught on video tape: * * * In Berea, Ohio, the promoters of the 7 Floors of Hell haunted house at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds appreciate realism but one employee took it a bit too far. An actor brandished this real bowie knife as a prop while pretending to stab an 11-year-old boy’s foot. He then stabbed him. The accident occurred when the actor, 22, approached the boy and stabbed at the ground as a scare tactic. He got too close and accidentally cut through the child’s shoe, piercing a toe. The injury was not serious since the boy was treated at the scene and continued through the haunted house. The case raises an interesting question of “respondeat superior” for the negligent acts by employees in the course of employment. The question is what is in the scope of employment.  The question is often whether an employee was on a “detour” or “frolic.”  A detour can be outside of an employer’s policies or guidelines but will be the basis for liability as sufficiently related to the employment.  A frolic is a more serious deviation where the employee is acting in his own capacity or for his own interests. In this case, the actor was clearly within his scope of employment in trying to scare the visitors. However, he admitted that he bought the knife in his personal capacity and agreed it “was not a good idea” to use it at the haunted house, according to FOX 8. That still does not negate the negligence — both direct and vicarious liability. There was a failure to monitor employees and safeguard the scene. His negligence is also likely attributable to the employer. Finally, this would constitute battery as a reckless, though unintended, act. * * * In 2020, parents in Indiana were given a warning in a Facebook post that the Indiana State Police seized holiday edibles featuring packaging that resembles that of actual name brands — but with the word “medicated” printed on the wrapper along with cannabis symbols. The packaging makes it easy for homeowners to confuse packages and give out drugged candy.  Indeed, last year, two children were given THC-infused gummies while trick-or-treating, according to police in Waterford, Conn.. Such candies include the main active ingredient linked to the psychedelic effects of cannabis – the plant from which marijuana is derived. Even an accidental distribution of such infused candies would constitute child endangerment and be subject to both negligence and strict liability actions in torts. * * * I previously have written how the fear of razor blades in apples appears an urban legend. Well, give it enough time and someone will prove you wrong. That is the allegation of Waterbury, Connecticut police who say that Jason A. Racz, 37, put razor blades in candy bags of at least two trick-or-treaters. Racz’ razor defense may not be particularly convincing to the average juror. According to police, “Racz explained that the razor blades were accidentally spilled or put into the candy bowl he used to hand out candy from.” However, police noted that he “provided no explanation as to how the razor blades were handed out to the children along with the candy.” The charge was brought soon after Halloween in 2019. Racz is now charged with risk of injury to a minor, reckless endangerment and interfering with a police officer. He could also be charged with battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress, but it is not clear if any children were injured. *  *  * Steven Novak, an artist from Dallas, Texas, believes that Halloween should be a bit more than a traditional plastic pumpkin and a smiling ghost.  Police were called to his home in Texas over a possible murder. They found a dummy impaled on a chainsaw with fake blood; another dummy hanging from his roof; a wheelbarrow full of fake dismembered body parts and other gory scenes.  Neighbors called the display too traumatizing.  Police responded by taking pictures for their families. A tort action for intentional infliction of emotional distress is likely to fail. There must be not just outrageous conduct but conduct intended to cause severe emotional distress. Courts regularly exclude injuries associated with the exercise of free speech or artistic expression . . . even when accompanied by buckets of fake blood. *  *  * The Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom in Pennsylvania tells customers that, if they come to their Halloween Haunt, “Fear is waiting for you.” In 2019, a new case was filed by Shannon Sacco and her daughter over injuries sustained from “unreasonable scaring.” They are seeking $150,000. The Allentown Morning Call reported that “M.S.” went with friends to the amusement park and was immediately approached by costumed characters. She said that she told them that she did not want to be scared and backed away. A little further on into the park however a costumed employee allegedly ran up behind her and shouted loudly. The startled girl fell forward and suffered what were serious but unspecified injuries. She alleges ongoing medical issues and inability to return to fully functioning activities. The lawsuit also alleges that the park failed to inform Sacco or her daughter that they could buy a glow-in-the-dark “No Boo” necklace to ward off costumed employees. The obvious issue beyond the alleged negligence of the Park is the plaintiffs’ own conduct. Pennsylvania is a comparative negligence state so contributory negligence by the plaintiffs would not be a bar to recovery. See Pennsylvania General Assembly Statute §7102. However, it is a modified comparative negligence state so they must show that they are 50 percent or less at fault. If they are found 51 percent at fault, they are barred entirely from recovery. Even if they can recover, their damages are reduced by the percentage of their own fault in going to a park during a Halloween-themed event. *  *  * In 2019, there is a rare public petition to shutdown a haunted house that has been declared to be a “torture chamber.” The move to “shut down McKamey Manor” that has been signed by thousands who believe Russ McKamey, the owner of McKamey Manor, has made his house so scary that it constitutes torture, including an allegation of waterboarding of visitors. The haunted house requires participants to get a doctor’s note and sign a 40-page waiver before they enter. People are seeking the closure of the houses located in Summertown, Tennessee and Huntsville, Alabama. McKamey insists that it is just a “crazy haunted house” and stops well short of the legal-definition of torture. The question is whether consent vitiates any extreme frights or contacts. He is also clear in both the waiver and the website that the house is an “extreme haunted attraction” for legal adults who “must be in GREAT HEALTH to participate.” Not only do people enter with full knowledge but there is no charge. McKamey owns five dogs and only requires a bag of dog food for entry. Presumably the food is cursed. *  *  * An earlier case was recently made public from an accident on October 15, 2011 in San Diego. Scott Griffin and friends went to the Haunted Trail in San Diego. The ticket warns of “high-impact scares” along a mile path with actors brandishing weapons and scary items. Griffen, 44, and his friends went on the trail and were going out of what they thought was an exit. Suddenly an actor jumped out as part of what the attraction called “the Carrie effect” of a last minute scare. While Griffen said that he tried to back away, the actor followed him with a running chain saw. He fell backwards and injured his wrists. The 2013 lawsuit against the Haunted Hotel, Inc., in the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego, alleged negligence and assault. However, Superior Court Judge Katherine Bacal granted a motion to dismiss based on assumption of the risk. She noted that Griffin “was still within the scare experience that he purchased.” After all, “Who would want to go to a haunted house that is not scary?” Griffen then appealed and the attorney for the Haunted Hotel quoted Hunter S. Thompson: “Buy the ticket, take the ride.” Again, the court agreed. In upholding the lower court, Justice Gilbert Nares wrote, “Being chased within the physical confines of the Haunted Trail by a chain saw–carrying maniac is a fundamental part and inherent risk of this amusement. Griffin voluntarily paid money to experience it.” *  *  * In 2018, a case emerged in Madison, Tennessee from the Nashville Nightmare Haunted House.   James “Jay” Yochim and three of his pals went to the attraction composed of  four separate haunted houses, an escape room, carnival games and food vendors.  In the attraction, people are chased by characters with chainsaws and other weapons.  They were not surprised therefore when a man believed to be an employee in a Halloween costume handed Tawnya Greenfield a knife and told her to stab Yochim.  She did and thought it was all pretend until blood started to pour from Yochim’s arm. The knife was real and the man was heard apologizing “I didn’t know my knife was that sharp.” It is not clear how even stabbing with a dull knife would be considered safe. The attraction issued a statement: “As we have continued to review the information, we believe that an employee was involved in some way, and he has been placed on leave until we can determine his involvement. We are going over all of our safety protocols with all of our staff again, as the safety and security of all of our patrons is always our main concern. We have not been contacted by the police, but we will cooperate fully with any official investigation.” The next scary moment is likely to be in the form of a torts complaint.  Negligence against the company under respondeat superior is an obvious start. There is also a novel battery charge where he could claim that he was stabbed by trickery or deceit of a third person. There are also premises liability issues for invitees.  As for Greenfield, she claims to have lacked consent due to a misrepresentation.  She could be charged with negligence or a recklessness-based theory of battery, though that seems less likely.  Finally, there is an interesting possible claim of negligent infliction of emotional distress in being tricked or misled into stabbing an individual. *  *  * Last year, a 21-year-old man surnamed Cheung was killed by a moving coffin in a haunted house in Hong Kong’s Ocean Park.   The attraction is called “Buried Alive” and involves hopping into coffins for a downward slide into a dark and scary space. The ride promises to provide people with the “experience of being buried alive alone, before fighting their way out of their dark and eerie grave.” Cheung took a wrong turn and went backstage — only to be hit by one of the metal coffins.  The hit in the head killed Cheung who was found later in the haunted house. While there is no word of a tort lawsuit (and tort actions are rarer in Hong Kong), the case is typical of Halloween torts involving haunted houses.  The decor often emphasizes spooky and dark environs which both encourage terror and torts among the participants.  In this case, an obvious claim could be made that it is negligence to allow such easy access to the operational area of the coffin ride — particularly in a dark space.  As a business invitee, Cheung would have a strong case in the United States. *  *  * A previous addition to the Spooky torts was the odd case of Assistant Prosecutor Chris White. White clearly does not like spiders, even fake ones. That much was clear given his response to finding fake spiders scattered around the West Virginia office for Halloween. White pulled a gun and threatened to shoot the fake spiders, explaining that he is “deathly afraid of spiders.” It appears that his arachnophobia (fear of spiders) was not matched by a hoplophobia (fear of firearms). The other employees were reportedly shaken up and Logan County Prosecuting Attorney John Bennett later suspended White. Bennett said “He said they had spiders everyplace and he said he told them it wasn’t funny, and he couldn’t stand them, and he did indeed get a gun out. It had no clip in it, of course they wouldn’t know that, I wouldn’t either if I looked at it, to tell you the truth.” It is not clear how White thought threatening the decorative spiders would keep them at bay or whether he was trying to deter those who sought to deck out the office in a Halloween theme. He was not charged by his colleagues with a crime but was suspended for his conduct. This is not our first interaction with White. He was the prosecutor in the controversial (and in my view groundless) prosecution of Jared Marcum, who was arrested after wearing a NRA tee shirt to school. *  *  * Another new case from the last year involves a murder. Donnie Cochenour Jr., 27, got a seasonal break (at least temporarily) on detecting his alleged murder of Rebecca J. Cade, 31. Cade’s body was left hanging on a fence and was mistaken by neighbors as a Halloween decoration. The “decoration” was found by a man walking his dog and reported by construction workers. A large rock was found with blood on it nearby. Donnie Cochenour Jr., 27, was later arrested and ordered held on $2 million bond after he pleaded not guilty to murder. Cade apparently had known Cochenour since he was a child — a relationship going back 20 years. Cochenour reportedly admitted that they had a physical altercation in the field. Police found a blood trail that indicates that Cade was running from Cochenour and tried to climb the fence in an attempt to get away. She was found hanging from her sleeve and is believed to have died on the fence from blunt force trauma to the head and neck. Her body exhibited “defensive wounds.” When police arrested Cochenour, they found blood on is clothing. *  *  * In 2015, federal and state governments were cracking down on cosmetic contact lenses to give people spooky eyes. Owners and operators of 10 Southern California businesses were criminally charged in federal court with illegally selling cosmetic contact lenses without prescriptions. Some of the products that were purchased in connection with this investigation were contaminated with dangerous pathogens that can cause eye injury, blindness and loss of the eye. The products are likely to result in a slew of product liability actions. *  *  * Another 2015 case reflects that the scariest part of shopping for Halloween costumes or decorations may be the trip to the Party Store. Shanisha L. Saulsberry sued U.S. Toy Company, Inc. after she was injured shopping for Halloween costumes and a store rack fell on her. The jury awarded Saulsberry $7,216.00 for economic damages. She appealed the damages after evidence of her injuries were kept out of the trial by the court. However, the Missouri appellate court affirmed the ruling. *  *  * The case of Castiglione v. James F. Q., 115 A.D.3d 696, shows a classic Halloween tort. The lawsuit alleged that, on Halloween 2007, the defendant’s son threw an egg which hit the plaintiff’s daughter in the eye, causing her injuries. The plaintiff also brought criminal charges against the defendant’s son arising from this incident and the defendant’s son pleaded guilty to assault in the third degree (Penal Law § 120.00 [2]). However, at his deposition, the defendant’s son denied throwing the egg which allegedly struck the plaintiff’s daughter. Because of the age of the accused, the case turned on the youthful offender statute (CPL art 720) that provides special measures for persons found to be youthful offenders which provides “Except where specifically required or permitted by statute or upon specific authorization of the court, all official records and papers, whether on file with the court, a police agency or the division of criminal justice services, relating to a case involving a youth who has been adjudicated a youthful offender, are confidential and may not be made available to any person or public or private agency [with certain exceptions not relevant here]” (CPL 720.35 [2]). This covers both the physical documents constituting the official record and the information contained within those documents. Thus, in relation to the Halloween egging, the boy was protected from having to disclose information or answer questions regarding the facts underlying the adjudication *  *  * We discussed the perils of pranks and “jump frights,” particularly with people who do not necessarily consent. In the case of Christian Faith Benge, there appears to have been consent in visiting a haunted house. The sophomore from New Miami High School in Ohio died from a prior medical condition at the at Land of Illusion haunted house. She was halfway through the house with about 100 friends and family members when she collapsed. She had an enlarged heart four times its normal size. She also was born with congenital diaphragmatic hernia, which prevents the lungs from developing normally. This added stress to the heart. In such a case, consent and comparative negligence issues effectively bar recovery in most cases. It is a terrible loss of a wonderful young lady. However, some fatalities do not always come with liability and this appears such a case. Source: Journal News *  *  * As discussed earlier, In Franklin County, Tennessee, children may want to avoid the house of Dale Bryant Farris, 65, this Halloween . . . or houses near him. Bryant was arrested after shooting a 15-year-old boy who was with kids toilet-papering their principal’s front yard. Bryant came out of his house a couple of houses down from the home of Principal Ken Bishop and allegedly fired at least two blasts — one hitting a 15-year-old boy in the right foot, inner left knee, right palm, right thigh and right side of his torso above the waistline. Tennessee is a Castle Doctrine state and we have seen past cases like the notorious Tom Horn case in Texas where homeowners claimed the right to shoot intruders on the property of their neighbors. It is not clear if Bryant will argue that he was trying to stop intruders under the law, but it does not appear a good fit with the purpose or language of the law. Farris faces a charge of aggravated assault and another of reckless endangerment. He could also face civil liability from the boy’s family. This would include assault and battery. There is a privilege of both self-defense and defense of others. This privilege included reasonable mistaken self-defense or defense of others. This would not fit such a claim since he effectively pursued the boys by going to a neighbor’s property and there was no appearance of a threat or weapon since they were only armed with toilet paper. The good news is that Farris can now discard the need for a costume. He can go as himself at Halloween . . . as soon as he is out of jail. *  *  * As shown below, Halloween nooses have a bad record at parties. In 2012, a club called Pink Punters had a decorative noose that it had used for a number of years that allowed party goers to take pictures as a hanging victim on Halloween. Of course, you guessed it. A 25-year old man was found hanging from the noose in an accidental self-lynching at the nightclub in England. The case would appear easy to defend in light of the assumption of the risk and patent danger. The noose did not actually tighten around necks. Moreover, this is England where tort claims can be more challenging. In the United States, however, there would remain the question of a foreseeable accident in light of the fact that patrons are drinking heavily and drugs are often present at nightclubs. Since patrons are known to put their heads in the noose, the combination is intoxication and a noose is not a particularly good mix. *  *  * Grant v. Grant. A potential criminal and tort case comes to us from Pennsylvania where, at a family Halloween bonfire, Janet Grant spotted a skunk and told her son Thomas Grant to fetch a shotgun and shoot it. When he returned, Janet Grant shined a flashlight on the animal while her son shot it. It was only then that they discovered that Thomas Grant had just shot his eight-year-old cousin in her black and white Halloween costume. What is amazing is that authorities say that they are considering possible animal gaming charges. Fortunately, the little girl survived with a wound to the shoulder and abdomen. The police in Beaver County have not brought charges and alcohol does not appear to have been a factor. Putting aside the family connection (which presumably makes the likelihood of a lawsuit unlikely), there is a basis for both battery and negligence in such a wounding. With children in the area, the discharge of the firearm would seem pretty unreasonable even with the effort to illuminate “the animal.” Moreover, this would have to have been a pretty large skunk to be the size of an eight-year-old child. Just for the record, the average weight of a standard spotted skunk in that area is a little over 1 pound. The biggest skunk is a hog-nosed skunk that can reach up to 18 pounds. *  *  * We also have a potential duel case out of Aiken, South Carolina from one year ago. A 10-year-old Aiken trick-or-treater pulled a gun on a woman who joked that she wanted take his candy on Halloween. Police found that his brother, also ten, had his own weapon. The 28-year-old woman said that she merely joked with a group of 10 or so kids that she wanted their candy when the ten-year-old pulled out a 9 mm handgun and said “no you’re not.” While the magazine was not in the gun, he had a fully loaded magazine in his possession. His brother had the second gun. Both appear to have belonged to their grandfather. The children were released to their parents and surprisingly there is no mention of charges against the grandfather. While the guns appear to have been taken without his permission, it shows great negligence in the handling and storage of the guns. What would be interesting is a torts lawsuit by the woman for assault against the grandfather. The actions of third parties often cut off liability as a matter of proximate causation, though courts have held that you can be liable for creating circumstances where crimes or intentional torts are foreseeable. For example, a landlord was held liable in for crimes committed in his building in Kline v. 1500 Massachusetts Avenue. Here the grandfather’s negligence led to the use of the guns by these children. While a lawsuit is unlikely, it would certainly be an interesting — and not unwarranted — claim. *  *  * Tauton High School District The Massachusetts case of Smith v. Taunton High School involves a Halloween prank gone bad. A teacher at Taunton High School asked a 15-year-old student to answer a knock on the classroom door. The boy was startled when he came face to face with a man in a mask and carrying what appeared to be a running chainsaw. The student fell back, tripped and fractured a kneecap. His family is now suing though the state cap on such lawsuits is $100,000. Dussault said the family is preparing a lawsuit, but is exploring ways to avoid a trial and do better than the $100,000 cap when suing city employees. This could make for an interesting case, but would be better for the Plaintiffs as a bench versus a jury trial. Many jurors are likely to view this as simply an attempt at good fun by the teacher and an unforeseeable accident. Source: CBS *  *  * In Florida, a woman has sued for defamation, harassment and emotional distress after her neighbor set up decorations that included an insane asylum sign that pointed to her yard and a fake tombstone with an inscription she viewed as a reference to her single status. It read, “At 48 she had no mate no date/ It’s no debate she looks 88.” This could be a wonderful example of an opinion defense to defamation. As for emotional distress, I think the cause of the distress pre-dates Halloween. *  *  * Pieczonka v. Great America (2012) A family is suing Great America for a tort in 2011 at Great Falls. Father Marian Pieczonka alleged in his complaint that his young daughter Natalie was at the park in Gurnee, Illinois for the Halloween-themed Fright Fest when a park employee dressed in costume jumped out of a port-a-potty and shot her with a squirt gun. He then reported chased the screaming girl until she fell and suffered injuries involving scrapes and bruises. The lawsuit alleges negligence in encouraging employees to chase patrons given the tripping hazards. They are asking $30,000 in the one count complaint but could face assumption or comparative negligence questions, particularly in knowingly attending an event called “Fright Fest” where employees were known to jump out at patrons. *  *  * A lawsuit appears inevitable after a tragic accident in St. Louis where a 17-year-old girl is in a critical condition after she became tangled in a noose at a Halloween haunted house called Creepyworld. The girl was working as an actress at the attraction and was found unconscious. What is particularly chilling is that people appeared to have walked by her hanging in the house and thought she was a realistic prop. Notably, the attraction had people walk through to check on the well-being of actors and she was discovered but not for some time after the accident. She is in critical condition. Creepyworld employs 100 people and can expect a negligence lawsuit. *  *  * Rabindranath v. Wallace (2010) Peter Wallace, 24, was returning on a train with fellow Hiberinian soccer fans in England — many dressed in costumes (which the English call “fancy dress.”) One man was dressed as a sheep and Wallace thought it was funny to constantly flick his lighter near the cotton balls covering his body — until he burst into flames. Friends then made the matter worse by trying to douse the flames but throwing alcohol on the flaming man-sheep. Even worse, the victim Arjuna Rabindranath, 24, is an Aberdeen soccer fan. Rabindranath’s costume was composed of a white tracksuit and cotton wool. Outcome: Wallace is the heir to a large farm estate and agreed to pay damages to the victim, who experienced extensive burns. What is fascinating is the causation issue. Here, Wallace clearly caused the initial injury which was then made worse by the world’s most dim-witted rescue attempt in the use of alcohol to douse a fire. In the United States, the original tortfeasor is liable for such injuries caused by negligent rescues. Indeed, he is liable for injured rescuers. The rescuers can also be sued in most states. However, many areas of Europe have good Samaritan laws protecting such rescuers. Notably, Wallace had a previous football-related conviction which was dealt with by a fine. In this latest case, he agreed to pay 25,000 in compensation. The case is obviously similar to one of our prior Halloween winners below: Ferlito v. Johnson & Johnson *  *  * Perper v. Forum Novelties (2010) Sherri Perper, 56, of Queens, New York has filed a personal injury lawsuit due to defective shoes allegedly acquired from Forum Novelties. The shoes were over-sized clown shoes that she was wearing as part of her Halloween costume in 2008. She tripped and fell. She is reportedly claiming that the shoes were dangerous. While “open and obvious” is no longer an absolute defense in such products cases, such arguments may still be made to counter claims of defective products. In most jurisdictions, you must show that the product is more dangerous than the expectations of the ordinary consumer. It is hard to see how Perper could be surprised that it is a bit difficult to walk in over-sized shoes. Then there is the problem of assumption of the risk. *  *  * Dickson v. Hustonville Haunted House and Greg Walker (2009) Glenda Dickson, 51, broke four vertebrae in her back when she fell out of a second story window left open at the Hustonville Haunted House, owned by Greg Walker. Dickson was in a room called “The Crying Lady in the Bed” when one of the actors came up behind the group and started screaming. Everyone jumped in fright and Dickson jumped back through an open window that was covered with a sheet — a remarkably negligent act by the haunted house operator. She landed on a fire escape and then fell down some stairs. *  *  * Maryland v. Janik (2009) Sgt. Eric Janik, 37, went to a haunted house called the House of Screams with friends and when confronted by a character dressed as Leatherface with a chainsaw (sans the chain, of course), Janik pulled out his service weapon and pointed it at the man, who immediately dropped character, dropped the chainsaw, and ran like a bat out of Halloween Hell. Outcome: Janik is charged with assault and reckless endangerment for his actions. Charges pending. *  *  * Patrick v. South Carolina (2009) Quentin Patrick, 22, an ex-convict in Sumter, South Carolina shot and killed a trick-or-treater T.J. Darrisaw who came to his home on Halloween — spraying nearly 30 rounds with an assault rifle from inside his home after hearing a knock on the door. T.J.’s 9-year- old brother, Ahmadre Darrisaw, and their father, Freddie Grinnell, were injured but were released after being treated at a hospital. Patrick left his porch light on — a general signal for kids that the house was open for trick and treating. The boy’s mother and toddler sibling were in the car. Patrick emptied the AK-47 — shooting at least 29 times through his front door, walls and windows after hearing the knock. He said that he had been previously robbed. That may be so, but it is unclear what an ex-con was doing with a gun, let alone an AK-47. OUTCOME: Charges pending for murder. *  *  * Kentucky v. Watkins (2008) As a Halloween prank, restaurant manager Joe Watkins of the Chicken Ranch in Paris, Kentucky thought it was funny to lie in a pool of blood on the floor. After seeing Watkins on the floor, the woman went screaming from the restaurant to report the murder. Watkins said that the prank was for another employee and that he tried to call the woman back on her cell phone. OUTCOME: Under Kentucky law, a person can be charged with a false police report, even if he is not the one who filed it. The police charged Watkins for causing the woman to file the report — a highly questionable charge. *  *  * Mays v. Gretna Athletic Boosters␣95-717 (La.App. 5 Cir. 01/17/96) “Defendant operated a haunted house at Mel Ott Playground in Gretna to raise money for athletic programs. The haunted house was constructed of 2×4s and black visqueen. There were numerous cubbyholes where “scary” exhibits were displayed. One booster club member was stationed at the entrance and one at the exit. Approximately eighteen people participated in the haunted house by working the exhibits inside. Near and along the entrance of the haunted house was a bathroom building constructed of cinder blocks. Black visqueen covered this wall. Plaintiff and her daughter’s friend, about 10 years old, entered the haunted house on October 29, 1988. It was nighttime and was dark inside. Plaintiff testified someone jumped out and hollered, scaring the child into running. Plaintiff was also frightened and began to run. She ran directly into the visqueen-covered cinder block wall. There was no lighting in that part of the haunted house. Plaintiff hit the wall face first and began bleeding profusely from her nose. She testified two surgeries were required to repair her nose.” OUTCOME: In order to get the proper effect, haunted houses are dark and contain scary and/or shocking exhibits. Patrons in a Halloween haunted house are expected to be surprised, startled and scared by the exhibits but the operator does not have a duty to guard against patrons reacting in bizarre, frightened and unpredictable ways. Operators are duty bound to protect patrons only from unreasonably dangerous conditions, not from every conceivable danger. As found by the Trial Court, defendant met this duty by constructing the haunted house with rooms of adequate size and providing adequate personnel and supervision for patrons entering the house. Defendant’s duty did not extend to protecting plaintiff from running in a dark room into a wall. Our review of the entire record herein does not reveal manifest error committed by the Trial Court or that the Trial Court’s decision was clearly wrong. Plaintiff has not shown the haunted house was unreasonably dangerous or that defendant’s actions were unreasonable. Thus, the Trial Court judgment must be affirmed. *  *  * Powell v. Jacor Communications␣ UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT 320 F.3d 599 (6th Cir.2003) “On October 15, 1999, Powell visited a Halloween season haunted house in Lexington, Kentucky that was owned and operated by Jacor. She was allegedly hit in the head with an unidentified object by a person she claims was dressed as a ghost. Powell was knocked unconscious and injured. She contends that she suffered a concussion and was put on bed rest and given medications by emergency-room physicians. Powell further claims that she now suffers from several neuropsychological disorders as a result of the incident.” OUTCOME: Reversed dismissal on the basis of tolling of statute of limitations. *  *  * Kansas City Light & Power Company v. Trimble␣ 315 Mo. 32; 285 S.W. 455 (1926) Excerpt: “A shapely pole to which, twenty-two feet from the ground is attached a non-insulated electric wire . . Upon a shapely pole were standard steps eighteen inches apart; about seventeen feet from the ground were telephone wires, and five feet above them was a non-insulated electric light wire. On Halloween, about nine o’clock, a bright fourteen-year-old boy and two companions met close to the pole, and some girls dressed as clowns came down the street. As they came near the boy, saying, “Who dares me to walk the wire?” began climbing the pole, using the steps, and ascended to the telephone cables, and thereupon his companions warned him about the live wire and told him to come down. He crawled upon the telephone cables to a distance of about ten feet from the pole, and when he reached that point a companion again warned him of the live wire over his head, and threatened to throw a rock at him and knock him off if he did not come down. Whereupon he turned about and crawled back to the pole, and there raised himself to a standing position, and then his foot slipped, and involuntarily he threw up his arm, his hand clutched the live wire, and he was shocked to death.” OUTCOME: Frankly, I am not sure why the pole was so “shapely” but the result was disappointing for the plaintiffs. Kansas City Light & Power Company v. Trimble: The court held that the appellate court extended the attractive nuisance doctrine beyond the court’s ruling decisions. The court held that appellate court’s opinion on the contributory negligence doctrine conflicted with the court’s ruling decisions. The court held that the administrator’s case should never have been submitted to the jury. The court quashed the appellate opinion. “To my mind it is inconceivable that a bright, intelligent boy, doing well in school, past fourteen years of age and living in the city, would not understand and appreciate the fact that it would be dangerous to come in contact with an electric wire, and that he was undertaking a dangerous feat in climbing up the pole; but even if it may be said that men might differ on that proposition, still in this case he was warned of the wire and of the danger on account of the wire and that, too, before he had reached a situation where there was any occasion or necessity of clutching the wire to avoid a fall. Not only was he twice warned but he was repeatedly told and urged to come down.” *  *  * Purtell v. Mason␣ 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49064 (E.D. Ill. 2006) “The Purtells filed the present lawsuit against Defendant Village of Bloomingdale Police Officer Bruce Mason after he requested that they remove certain Halloween tombstone “decorations” from their property. Evidence presented at trial revealed that the Purtells placed the tombstones referring to their neighbors in their front yard facing the street. The tombstones specifically referred to their neighbors, who saw the language on the tombstones. For instance, the tombstone that referred to the Purtells’ neighbor James Garbarz stated: Here Lies Jimmy, The OlDe Towne IdioT MeAn As sin even withouT his Gin No LonGer Does He wear That sTupiD Old Grin . . . Oh no, noT where they’ve sent Him! The tombstone referring to the Purtells’ neighbor Betty Garbarz read: BeTTe wAsN’T ReADy, BuT here she Lies Ever since that night she DieD. 12 feet Deep in this trench . . . Still wasn’T Deep enough For that wenches Stench! In addition, the Purtells placed a Halloween tombstone in their yard concerning their neighbor Diane Lesner stating: Dyean was Known for Lying So She was fried. Now underneath these daises is where she goes crazy!! Moreover, the jury heard testimony that Diane Lesner, James Garbarz, and Betty Garbarz were upset because their names appeared on the tombstones. Betty Garbarz testified that she was so upset by the language on the tombstones that she contacted the Village of Bloomingdale Police Department. She further testified that she never had any doubt that the “Bette” tombstone referred to her. After seeing the tombstones, she stated that she was ashamed and humiliated, but did not talk to Jeffrey Purtell about them because she was afraid of him. Defense counsel also presented evidence that the neighbors thought the language on the tombstones constituted threats and that they were alarmed and disturbed by their names being on the tombstones. James Garbarz testified that he interpreted the “Jimmy” tombstone as a threat and told the police that he felt threatened by the tombstone. He also testified that he had concerns about his safety and what Jeffrey Purtell might do to him.” OUTCOME: The court denied the homeowners’ post-trial motion for judgment as a matter of law pursuant to and motion for a new trial. Viewing the evidence and all reasonable inferences in a light most favorable to Officer Mason, a rational jury could conclude that the language on the tombstones constituted threats, that the neighbors were afraid of Jeffrey Purtell, and that they feared for their safety. As such the Court will not disturb the jury’s conclusion that the tombstones constituted fighting words — “those which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.” *  *  * Goodwin v. Walmart 2001 Ark. App. LEXIS 78 “On October 12, 1993, Randall Goodwin went to a Wal-Mart store located on 6th Street in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He entered through the front door and walked toward the sporting goods department. In route, he turned down an aisle known as the seasonal aisle. At that time, it was stocked with items for Halloween. This aisle could be observed from the cash registers. Mr. Goodwin took only a few steps down the aisle when he allegedly stepped on a wig and fell, landing on his right hip. As a result of the fall, Mr. Goodwin suffered severe physical injury to his back, including a ruptured disk. Kelly Evans, an employee for appellee, was standing at the end of her check-out stand when Mr. Goodwin approached her and informed her that he had fallen on an item in the seasonal aisle. She stated that she “saw what he was talking about.” OUTCOME: Judgment affirmed because the pleadings, depositions, and related summary judgment evidence did not show that there was any genuine issue of material fact as appellant customer did not establish a plastic bag containing the Halloween wig which allegedly caused him to slip and fall was on the floor as the result of appellee’s negligence or it had been on the floor for such a period of time that appellee knew or should have known about it. *  *  * Eversole v. Wasson␣ 80 Ill. App. 3d 94 (Ill. 1980) Excerpt: “The following allegations of count I, directed against defendant Wasson, were incorporated in count II against the school district: (1) plaintiff was a student at Villa Grove High School which was controlled and administered by the defendant school district, (2) defendant Wasson was employed by the school district as a teacher at the high school, (3) on November 1, 1978, at approximately 12:30 p.m., Wasson was at the high school in his regular capacity as a teacher and plaintiff was attending a regularly scheduled class, (4) Wasson sought and received permission from another teacher to take plaintiff from that teacher’s class and talk to him in the hallway, (5) once in the hallway, Wasson accused plaintiff of being one of several students he believed had smashed Wasson’s Halloween pumpkin at Wasson’s home, (6) without provocation from plaintiff, Wasson berated plaintiff, called him vile names, and threatened him with physical violence while shaking his fist in plaintiff’s face which placed plaintiff in fear of bodily injury, (7) Wasson then struck plaintiff about the head and face with both an open hand and a closed fist and shook and shoved him violently, (8) as a result, plaintiff was bruised about the head, neck, and shoulders; experienced pain and suffering in his head, body, and limbs; and became emotionally distraught causing his school performance and participation to be adversely affected . . .” OUTCOME: The court affirmed that portion of the lower court’s order that dismissed the count against the school district and reversed that portion of the lower court’s order that entered a judgment in bar of action as to this count. The court remanded the case to the lower court with directions to allow the student to replead his count against the school district. *  *  * Holman v. Illinois 47 Ill. Ct. Cl. 372 (1995) “The Claimant was attending a Halloween party at the Illinois State Museum with her grandson on October 26, 1990. The party had been advertised locally in the newspaper and through flier advertisements. The advertisement requested that children be accompanied by an adult, to come in costume and to bring a flashlight. The museum had set up different display rooms to hand out candy to the children and give the appearance of a “haunted house.” The Claimant entered the Discovery Room with her grandson. Under normal conditions the room is arranged with tables and low-seated benches for children to use in the museum’s regular displays. These tables and benches had been moved into the upper-right-hand corner of the Discovery Room next to the wall. In the middle of the room, there was a “slime pot” display where the children received the Halloween treat. The overhead fluorescent lights were turned off; however, the track lights on the left side of the room were turned on and dim. The track lights on the right side of the room near the tables and benches were not lit. The room was dark enough that the children’s flashlights could be clearly seen. There were approximately 40-50 people in the room at the time of the accident. The Claimant entered the room with her grandson. They proceeded in the direction of the pot in the middle of the room to see what was going in the pot. Her grandson then ran around the pot to the right corner toward the wall. As the Claimant followed, she tripped over the corner of a bench stored in that section of the room. She fell, making contact with the left corner of the bench. She experienced great pain in her upper left arm. The staff helped her to her feet. Her father was called and she went to the emergency room. Claimant has testified that she did not see the low-seating bench because it was so dimly lit in the Discovery Room. The Claimant was treated at the emergency room, where she was diagnosed with a fracture of the proximal humeral head of her left arm as a result of the fall. Claimant returned home, but was unable to work for 12 to 13 weeks.” OUTCOME: “The Claimant has met her burden of proof. She has shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the State acted negligently in placing furnishings in a dimly-lit room where visitors could not know of their location. The State did not exercise its duty of reasonable care. For the foregoing reasons, the Claimant is granted an award of $20,000.” *  *  * Ferlito v. Johnson & Johnson 771 F. Supp. 196 “Plaintiffs Susan and Frank Ferlito, husband and wife, attended a Halloween party in 1984 dressed as Mary (Mrs. Ferlito) and her little lamb (Mr. Ferlito). Mrs. Ferlito had constructed a lamb costume for her husband by gluing cotton batting manufactured by defendant Johnson & Johnson Products (“JJP”) to a suit of long underwear. She had also used defendant’s product to fashion a headpiece, complete with ears. The costume covered Mr. Ferlito from his head to his ankles, except for his face and hands, which were blackened with Halloween paint. At the party Mr. Ferlito attempted to light his cigarette by using a butane lighter. The flame passed close to his left arm, and the cotton batting on his left sleeve ignited. Plaintiffs sued defendant for injuries they suffered from burns which covered approximately one-third of Mr. Ferlito’s body.” OUTCOME: Ferlito v. Johnson & Johnson: Plaintiffs repeatedly stated in their response brief that plaintiff Susan Ferlito testified that “she would never again use cotton batting to make a costume.” Plaintiffs’ Answer to Defendant JJP’s Motion for J.N.O.V., pp. 1, 3, 4, 5. However, a review of the trial transcript reveals that plaintiff Susan Ferlito never testified that she would never again use cotton batting to make a costume. More importantly, the transcript contains no statement by plaintiff Susan Ferlito that a flammability warning on defendant JJP’s product would have dissuaded her from using the cotton batting to construct the costume in the first place. At oral argument counsel for plaintiffs conceded that there was no testimony during the trial that either plaintiff Susan Ferlito or her husband, plaintiff Frank J. Ferlito, would  have acted any different if there had been a flammability warning on the product’s package. The absence of such testimony is fatal to plaintiffs’ case; for without it, plaintiffs have failed to prove proximate cause, one of the essential elements of their negligence claim. In addition, both plaintiffs testified that they knew that cotton batting burns when it is exposed to flame. Susan Ferlito testified that she knew at the time she purchased the cotton batting that it would burn if exposed to an open flame. Frank Ferlito testified that he knew at the time he appeared at the Halloween party that cotton batting would burn if exposed to an open flame. His additional testimony that he would not have intentionally put a flame to the cotton batting shows that he recognized the risk of injury of which he claims JJP should have warned. Because both plaintiffs were already aware of the danger, a warning by JJP would have been superfluous. Therefore, a reasonable jury could not have found that JJP’s failure to provide a warning was a proximate cause of plaintiffs’ injuries. The evidence in this case clearly demonstrated that neither the use to which plaintiffs put JJP’s product nor the injuries arising from that use were foreseeable. But in Trivino v. Jamesway Corporation, the following result: The mother purchased cosmetic puffs and pajamas from the retailer. The mother glued the puffs onto the pajamas to create a costume for her child. While wearing the costume, the child leaned over the electric stove. The costume caught on fire, injuring the child. Plaintiffs brought a personal injury action against the retailer. The retailer filed a third party complaint against the manufacturer of the puffs, and the puff manufacturer filed a fourth party complaint against the manufacturer of the fibers used in the puffs. The retailer filed a motion for partial summary judgment as to plaintiffs’ cause of action for failure to warn. The trial court granted the motion and dismissed the actions against the manufacturers. On appeal, the court modified the judgment, holding that the mother’s use of the puffs was not unforeseeable as a matter of law and was a question for the jury. The court held that because the puffs were not made of cotton, as thought by the mother, there were fact issues as to the puffs’ flammability and defendants’ duty to warn. The court held that there was no prejudice to the retailer in permitting plaintiffs to amend their bill of particulars. OUTCOME: The court modified the trial court’s judgment to grant plaintiffs’ motion to amend their bill of particulars, deny the retailer’s motion for summary judgment, and reinstate the third party actions against the manufacturers. Tyler Durden Mon, 10/31/2022 - 19:05.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 31st, 2022

Why Joe Biden thinks he"s never too old to be your president

At 79, President Joe Biden isn't focused on his age. Allies say he's motivated by his agenda — and doing "everything possible to stop Trump's return." Dirck Halstead/Getty Images; Howard L. Sachs/CNP/Getty Images; Nathan Howard/Getty Images; Rebecca Zisser/Insider If Biden wins a second term, he would be 86 when he leaves the White House in 2025. As the oldest sitting president, he's raising concerns about how long he can continue governing. But allies say he's motivated by his agenda, patriotism and stopping Trump's return. Read more from Insider's "Red, White, and Gray" series. REHOBOTH BEACH, Delaware — About six years ago, Joe Biden and an old friend were talking about what they planned to do with the rest of their lives.Biden, then in his early 70s, was finishing his second term as vice president. He had already decided against running for president in 2016 after losing his son Beau to brain cancer. Political retirement seemed imminent.But his friend says he'll never forget Biden quoting a line from a Dylan Thomas poem about defying death: "Do not go gentle into that good night.""It was a window into how he views his role," said his friend, a former staffer who was granted anonymity in order to speak candidly about the president. "As long as he feels like he's healthy and capable of contributing, he's going to do that, and he's not going to go quietly." Biden, of course, would run for and win the presidency in 2020. And as he approaches his 80th birthday, he's become a Rorschach test for the effects of aging on a world leader.Republicans have questioned Biden's cognition, even if he's just three years older than former President Donald Trump, who himself is angling for another White House bid in 2024."Nobody believes that Biden's going to run again," Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas told Insider in late spring. "He's obviously diminished and not able to do the job." But allies insist Biden is still the guy he's always been, capable as ever and the right leader for the moment, regardless of his age.Across a half-century in federal politics — a 36-year Senate career representing Delaware, two terms as vice president, and three bids for the presidency — Biden has outlasted many of those he leaned on and grew up with in private and public life. He's tragically lost a wife and two children. Only two other men from his freshman Senate class are still living, and they're both in their early 90s, having long ago left politics. His longtime chief of staff, who succeeded him in the Senate, has literally written a book on retirement.Yet Biden heeds Thomas' poetic words: "Rage, rage against the dying of the light."He has said he expects to run again in 2024, as long as he's in good health. If he wins, he would be 82 on Inauguration Day — becoming the oldest sitting president and breaking the record he set in 2021 — and 86 upon leaving office."If Joe believes that he can continue to contribute and move this country forward, he'll do it again. And he should," said South Carolina state Sen. Dick Harpootlian, a Biden donor and former state party chairman whose wife, Jamie Lindler Harpootlian, is the Biden-appointed US ambassador to Slovenia.Biden's allies say he's motivated by advancing his agenda, by his sense of obligation to the country, and by fighting the same forces that got him in the 2020 race. "He sees himself as wanting to do everything possible to stop Trump's return," Rep. Ro Khanna, a California Democrat, told Insider.Biden has already cheated death by surviving brain aneurysms at 45. "It just makes you think about ... every single day, you don't know. You'd better take advantage of the day," he told me in 2008 when he was running for vice president. If Biden is thinking about age now, he doesn't seem focused on it as a barrier.He loves to tell the story of Satchel Paige, a longtime Negro Leagues pitcher who debuted in the American League at 42 and once threw three scoreless innings at 59. Last year, Biden visited the Vatican and shared the story with Pope Francis, who at the time was nearly 85 and six years older than Biden."How old would you be if you didn't know how old you were?" the president said, quoting Paige. Biden added with a smile, "You're 65, I'm 60."Then-Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware addresses Drexel University Alumni in 1974. Biden was the youngest US senator at that time.Bettmann Archive/Getty Images'Watch me'Age has been a part of Biden's story for decades, ever since Delaware voters first elected him to the US Senate in 1972, days before his 30th birthday. He is the sixth-youngest person elected to the chamber. As Biden wrote in his 2007 memoir, "Promises to Keep," he looked so youthful that the secretary of state at the time, Henry Kissinger, once mistook him for a staffer.Biden used his age to his advantage to win that race. He ran ads that pitted his generation's ideas against those of an opponent more than 30 years older. One ad boasted that Biden "understands what's happening today" — a not-so-oblique suggestion that his Republican rival, incumbent Sen. J. Caleb Boggs, did not.Decades later, in 2020, Biden said on ABC that it's "a legitimate question to ask anybody over 70 years old" whether they're fit and ready to be president. Responding to Trump's attacks on his mental acuity, Biden said, "Mr. President, watch me."As evidence of Biden's command, allies point to his recent legislative achievements. He signed a bipartisan infrastructure law, huge climate and healthcare legislation, a law to bolster the US semiconductor-manufacturing industry, an expansion of healthcare for veterans exposed to burn pits, and significant bipartisan gun-safety legislation. US drones took out Al Qaeda's leader under his watch.Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat who's emerged as a leader on gun-control measures, said Biden's experience matters, adding there are people in their 40s "who couldn't pull off anything close to what he's done." Murphy described Biden as "nimble" and credited him with knowing when his team should step back from day-to-day negotiating with Congress.Murphy said that after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, Biden was part of the White House's "very hands-on role." "He learned from that experience that obviously did not result in a bill and recalibrated," Murphy said.But Biden's accomplishments have often been overshadowed by the ongoing legal drama and related defiance of the man he defeated to win the White House. Republicans — including Trump — have gleefully seized on Biden's verbal misadventures, such as when he called his vice president "President Harris."They mocked him for falling off his bike in June in Delaware — even though Biden got back up, talked about gun control, and then rode away. They blame him for inflation and crime. They say he's "hiding" from journalists because of his infrequent news conferences and one-on-one interviews, though he's had more than 200 impromptu exchanges with reporters. "The person in the Oval Office is not the Joe Biden we knew in the Senate," Cruz, who ran for president in 2016, told Insider. Biden's gait is undoubtedly stiffer and his hair whiter than during his Senate days, which ended in January 2009 when he resigned to become Barack Obama's vice president. When an Associated Press reporter talked about getting gray hair, Biden jokingly replied: "At least you're keeping it. I'd settle for orange if I had more hair."But Biden notably fielded questions from reporters for more than two hours in January on legislative priorities, inflation, foreign policy, and COVID-19."I just don't buy that Joe Biden is, you know, a doddering old man," said Jeff Weaver, a senior advisor to Sen. Bernie Sanders, who ran against Biden in the 2020 Democratic primary. "If that's the message of the Republicans, I mean, it's false. Whether they can sell it to the American people is another question."President Joe Biden drives the Ford's new all-electric F-150 Lightning in Dearborn, Michigan.Nicholas Kamm / AFP via Getty Images'He's engaged'People around Biden take pains to show he's fully capable of doing the job the presidency entails.Cedric Richmond, a former senior White House advisor, told Insider that Biden is "handling a grueling schedule," sometimes requiring 10- and 14-hour days, and reading a fat briefing book each night to prepare for the next day. "In meetings, he's asking detailed questions, thorough questions, because he's already read the briefing material," said Richmond, who's now a Democratic National Committee senior advisor. "You have to be prepared when you meet with him. And he's going to quiz you on what's there: How does it affect the American people? The average person? How does it move the agenda forward? Are there any consequences? What kind of studies have been done?"On domestic and international trips, a White House senior aide said, staffers often give Biden scheduling options, and he takes on the heaviest load. "We'll say, 'This piece isn't necessary, and you don't have to do this event, and you could probably skip that,' and he'll say, 'No, absolutely not,' and wind up putting it all back," said the aide, who was granted anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record. Khanna said he isn't concerned about Biden's age. "He'll call if he watches you on a good television appearance or will remember things that you've said to him about priorities," the congressman said. "He's engaged."Joe Biden and his son, Beau, in 2008.PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP via Getty ImagesA promiseStaying engaged is an implicit part of a promise Biden says he made when Beau was coming to terms with dying. Beau, who died in May 2015, asked for his father's word that he would be OK, Biden wrote in "Promise Me, Dad." "It didn't mean I had to run for president," Biden said on "Morning Joe" in 2020, "but he was worried I'd walk away from what I'd worked on my whole life, since I've been 24 years old."Biden, especially of late, appears particularly engaged in efforts to stamp out the possibility of a nation again led by Trump. In a recent primetime speech from Philadelphia's Independence Hall, Biden targeted Trump and declared that MAGA Republican "extremism" threatened the country. The president made the comments shortly after Trump told a radio-show host that he was "financially supporting" people accused of crimes related to the Capitol riot, adding that he would look "very favorably" at pardons for them if he were to run and be reelected in 2024."He sees Trump and Trumpism as an existential threat," said Biden's friend, who defined "Trumpism" as "mindless craziness." "He sees Putin and Putinism as an existential threat," the friend added. "And he thinks — and I think he's right — he's the best person to deal with both of those issues." Then-Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden (L) and then-President Donald Trump speaking during the first presidential debate at the Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, on September 29, 2020.Jim Watson, Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty ImagesBiden has said he was persuaded to run in 2020 when he heard Trump say there were "very fine people on both sides" of a violent clash in 2017 between white supremacists and counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left one woman dead.Khanna said the possibility of Trump running again is "weighing" on Biden. "It's not just the next generation of Republicans," Khanna said. "It's someone who literally has done so much destruction, damage to our democracy." Doug Brinkley, a presidential historian, said that as Biden enters the second half of his first term, he likely has a "messianic streak, a feeling that 'the country needs me.'" Democrats are united in their opposition to Trump, Brinkley said, and "Biden's the one that can say, 'I already slayed that dragon, and I'll slay him again.'"But Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, who challenged Biden in the 2020 Democratic primary, said that running for president is "a rigorous thing — it's a hard thing."Biden "turned out to be the one person out of 330 million people that could beat Donald Trump, and he has my gratitude for that," Bennet said.Asked whether he wants Biden to do it again, the senator demurred."That's for him to decide."Fountain of youthIf Biden has a fountain of youth, it would be found in Delaware, his Joe-asis.He's traveled there about 50 times during his presidency, according to Mark Knoller, a former CBS News reporter who has long been tracking presidential data. It's where he sees friends and family and goes to church. It's where buildings and sandwiches are named for him, where he's still getting takeout from the Charcoal Pit in Wilmington, where people know him as just Joe. "Every time I get a chance, I go home to Delaware. You think I'm joking. I'm not," Biden said in February.Biden sightings have long been a regular part of life in the tiny First State. On a recent visit to Rehoboth Beach, I was greeted — and searched — by Secret Service agents outside a bookstore. The first lady, Jill Biden, was inside shopping."I'm on vacation," she said when I asked if we could talk. "I'm not even me."First lady Jill Biden shops at a Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, bookstore on July 30, 2022.Nicole Gaudiano/InsiderRhett Ruggerio, a Delaware lobbyist and former national committeeman for the state Democratic Party, last saw Joe Biden in May at the graduation ceremony at the University of Delaware, where Ruggerio is a consultant. Biden was there doing what he does: greeting people for a couple of hours, asking things like "how's aunt so-and-so" as his staff was telling him to move on, said Ruggerio, who was a friend of Beau Biden's and helped him win his attorney-general race in 2006. Ruggerio described the idea that Joe Biden is diminished or can't remember things as "bull crap." "He was just in his glory talking to people that he has some association with," Ruggerio said. "I was observing it and thinking, holy crap, he is still the way he's always been, where he's super interested in a person, he wants to know the details, and he wants to make a personal connection, and it's real."It's a BFD when Biden's in town. Sen. Tom Carper, a Delaware Democrat who has been working alongside Biden for nearly half a century, once missed his train to Washington, DC, and had to Zoom into a Senate hearing because Biden's presidential motorcade had snarled traffic in Wilmington. At Rehoboth Beach, where Biden keeps a vacation house, a banner airplane that wasn't supposed to be flying recently caused a stir, Ruggerio said, and a military jet like "something out of Top Gun" flew over his house, spooked his dog, and "scared the shit out of everybody."As we spoke, Ruggerio noticed Secret Service agents peering through the window of the Robin Hood restaurant where we were eating. We later learned the first lady was heading to the bookstore across the street. We agreed that the White House bubble must be killing Biden."He lives off of that, the interaction with people," Ruggerio said. At the Delaware State Fair in Harrington, Darlene Cox, a retired state employee, showed me a 2019 picture of herself with Biden. She said Biden won her over decades ago when, about a year after their first meeting, when she was pregnant with her youngest son, Biden remembered to ask whether she'd had a boy or a girl. "That's amazing to be able to have that rapport with people," she said.Cox said people are painting Biden as "an older man that's senile" and it's not true. "If he's willing to run I'd support him," she said, "because I truly believe in Joe."But one of her sons, D.J., a tractor-trailer driver who's running for Kent County recorder of deeds as a Democrat, feels differently. Strolling the fairgrounds in his campaign T-shirt, he said he was feeling the effect of Biden's low approval ratings on his own campaign. "It's made it harder, yes," he said.D.J. Cox said that while he thinks Biden is "still Joe" and still capable, he worries that Biden's age is a problem."How can a politician represent me and my family when they're that old?" Cox said. "You can't be as sharp as you were at 50 and 40." Laura Najemy, an attorney from Wilmington who supports Biden, said the president could get beyond questions about his age by showing at the end of four years that people are living better, are safer, and have a better chance to save money.But she also said Biden should hold more live press conferences to show that he can handle scrutiny."It's very hard to argue that your opponent is not able to handle the pressure of being president when he's very clearly handling a press conference well, with grace and humor and very knowledgeable insight about the issues," Najemy told me during an interview at the state fair.In Newark, Delaware, at the Biden Welcome Center off I-95, some travelers expressed sympathy for Biden. Patricia Mantoan, 51, said she was glad to see his name on the center "because he's getting, I think, a tough rap." She added that age doesn't matter and that "of course" she would vote for Biden again.Andrew Beyea, of Odenton, Maryland, said Biden has good goals but is a victim of a polarized political environment.He voted for Biden in 2020, but would he again?Beyea sighed deeply. "He's really old," he said. "I don't know how much left he's got in the tank."'Healthy' and 'vigorous'Biden's latest publicly released medical report, from November, described him as "healthy" and "vigorous" and said he was "fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency." Kevin O'Connor, the presidential physician, also said Biden was being treated for atrial fibrillation and gastroesophageal reflux that causes him to clear his throat more often. He said that Biden's gait appeared "perceptibly stiffer and less fluid" than in the past and that Biden experienced spinal arthritis."Old age should burn and rave at close of day," the poet said. But for how long? The average life expectancy for a 65-year-old American man in 2020 was 82. A YouGov survey in January found that, as presidents and senators serve into their late 70s and 80s, 58% of Americans said they'd support an age maximum for elected officials; 39% of those respondents said that age should be 70 and 24% said it should be 60.Young voters — who once helped propel Biden to his Senate seat — are now a problem for Biden. In a New York Times/Siena College poll in July, 94% of Democrats under 30 said they'd want a different presidential nominee. And nearly two in three voters who indicated they were planning to participate in the 2024 Democratic presidential primary said they wouldn't want Biden to be the nominee.Age and job performance were part of the problem."With this disappearing middle class that we've got going on, I don't think he and a lot of the other politicians in his age range really understand what that looks like as a young person with that being your future," Winchester Kelly, 29, a Democrat from Richmond, Virginia, visiting the Delaware State Fair this summer, said of Biden.Many politicians in Biden's age group are "out of touch with what young people need financially," she said, and Biden would get a "resigned sort of 'this is what we got'" level of support if he runs again. Biden, who declined through the White House to be interviewed for this story, bristled when a reporter asked about the Times poll in July."Read the polls, Jack. You guys are all the same," he said, approaching the camera. "That poll showed that 92% of Democrats, if I ran, would vote for me." (The poll suggested he would get 92% of Democrats' support in a matchup with Trump.) People in Biden's close circle are "absolutely not" telling him to take it easy, a senior White House aide told Insider."I would pity the person who would say to him, 'You should think about slowing down,'" the aide said. "He is as aggressive as ever."But outside of his close circle, people around Biden's age are increasingly concerned about a second term.David Gergen, 80, a former presidential advisor, questioned whether it's "appropriate for the country's sake" to have a president in his 80s. He told Insider that Biden and Trump should both sit out 2024 and let a younger generation step up. "What if we're going to be in a fight over Taiwan?" said Gergen, who served under Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton. "Do we really want somebody in their 80s who's making those calls about what to do? I don't think so."Gergen said he is also worried about Biden's physical health at that age."What happens if Joe Biden has a heart attack? What happens if he has a stroke?" he saidRobert Reich, who served as the labor secretary during the Clinton administration, wrote for The Guardian in July: "It's not death that's the worrying thing about a second Biden term. It's the dwindling capacities that go with aging." At 76, Reich said he was "feeling more and more out of it." He blamed his generation of leaders for having "f*cked it up royally." He concluded: "Joe, please don't run."In 1995, another towering figure, South African President Nelson Mandela, faced a similar decision: run for a second term, or retire.Mandela chose the latter."I don't think an octogenarian should be meddling with political affairs," Mandela said. "I would like to give over to a younger man. I will be available for advice if they want me, but to occupy a position as a head of state, definitely, I won't take that risk."'I ain't dead yet'Presidents tend to "cling" to power, Brinkley said. Lyndon B. Johnson, the last president to opt out of running for a second term, in 1968, was in a "disastrous situation" during the Vietnam War."Being president is in Biden's DNA," Brinkley said, adding that roles such as as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee or even as vice president were "stepping stones to the ultimate achievement." "The idea of relinquishing power by Joe Biden over the age issue is extremely remote," Brinkley said. In 1988 and again in 2008, Biden tried but failed to win his party's nomination, and he didn't abandon the idea of running in 2016 until close to the end of his vice presidency. Johanna Maska, an Obama White House aide, remembers Biden as vice president "just going around and chatting with people" — and talking for hours with political donors about running for president."Everybody knew he wanted to run, and a lot of people didn't think he was the right person" because of his performance in Iowa, said Maska, now the CEO of the Global Situation Room, a public-affairs agency.Biden concluded after his son died that he had run out of time to launch a winning 2016 campaign — a decision he said months later that he regretted. By the time he ran in 2020, journalists were asking about his exercise routine and the possibility of a maximum age for candidates."What the hell concerns, man? You wanna wrestle?" he told a reporter in 2019 who'd asked whether Biden would release his medical records "to address concerns.""I think you guys are engaging in ageism here," he said in January 2020 during an interview with The Times' editorial board. "Now look, all kidding aside, I don't think they're — the voters will be able to make a judgment."During that interview, he complained that he was being declared dead politically despite leading in the polls. "Guess what?" he said. "I ain't dead. And I'm not going to die."—New York Times Opinion (@nytopinion) January 20, 2020 Unauthorized T-shirts and hoodies with this quote — as well as a picture of Biden in his signature aviators licking an ice-cream cone — are available on Amazon. While campaigning in 2020, Biden called himself a "bridge" to a new generation of Democratic leaders. But he never defined how long that bridge would be. He told ABC that he didn't mean he was running for only one term, just that he was committed to building the Democratic bench.To run for office and be elected so many times shows that "you're very competitive," said Jim Manley, who was a longtime aide to Harry Reid, the late Senate majority leader."And it's going to take a lot for you to, you know, take a step back and/or step down," Manley said.Maska, the former Obama aide, said that while Biden was a "good solution to Trump," it's time for new Democratic leaders."He's been a political leader longer than I've been alive. And I have a son who's now 10," she said.But Ruggerio, who has known Biden for more than two decades, said he doesn't see the president passing the torch in 2024."I just think it's ingrained in him at this point," he said. "He's been elected since 1972, when he was 29, and now he's going to give it up?"I don't see it happening," Ruggerio added. "Why should he?"Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytSep 13th, 2022

The Fed, Inflation, Rates And Credit Markets

The Fed, Inflation, Rates And Credit Markets By Peter Tchir of Academy Securities This week we will discuss: The Fed, because I want my view to be loud and clear and we can’t discuss bonds and credit without having a picture of the Fed. Inflation, because you can’t have a view on the Fed without a view on inflation. Bond and Credit Markets. With so much dislocation, it is worth picking through the credit markets and identifying the best risk/reward trades out there. After a week where we have seen companies gain and lose $200 billion or more of market cap within minutes of their after-hours earnings announcements, I figured I’d shift away from the “valuation re-valuation” theme, but I think that we will see new lows in stocks in the coming days and weeks. The rally that started on Friday the 28th and continued strongly into Monday last week was fueled by short covering, month-end, and start of month flows. While there is a new group of shorts to be covered, people piled into risk last week and I think that will contribute to what we called “Failure to Launch” last week. As we sit at levels similar to where we were last weekend, I don’t see the need to run through the same arguments as I think the theme is still valid. The goal of this weekend’s T-Report is for this chart, which I haven’t dug out in ages, to make sense by the time you are done reading. As I am attempting to be more “mature”, I call it Sentiment vs Reality, though I still prefer the Hopium vs Doomium title originally assigned to it. It is really about trying to identify outliers and being contrarian. Inflation From a longer-term perspective, I continue to believe that “this time is different” for two main reasons: China has gone from being deflationary, to at best neutral. This is a radical shift from the past 20 or so years and is tied to the “Re-Centralization” of China thesis that we continue to pound the table on and see more and more evidence supporting this on an almost daily basis. ESG is inflationary. I would not pound the table on this partly because I’m tired of doing so (the recent Inflation, Like Greed, Is Good and ESG Fueled Inflation from last March are relevant). Also, so many people have picked up on the theme that I don’t really need go over it again (I cannot believe I missed coining the term “greenflation”). Having said that, I think that inflation, like everything else, will be somewhat volatile. It feels like we spent almost a year fighting the use of the word “transitory” and now everyone sees inflation for as far as the eye can see, which might not be correct. Housing. The methodology for calculating Owner’s Equivalent Rent (OER) institutes “lag” into the number. Only a subset is repriced each month, so we have months of rising inflation on this key component because much of what already happened isn’t yet reflected in the data. Commodities. Remember the “base” effect concept that was so much a part of the “transitory” argument, i.e., the equivalent of companies facing “easy comps”? In March 2020 oil traded in the low 20’s. By March 2021 it was in the 60’s (tripled). Now the front contract is at 91, so up 50%, still high, but the comparisons get more and more difficult over time (and at the start of December it was as low as 65 – i.e., barely higher). I don’t claim to know where oil is headed next (despite being an energy bull), but it isn’t obvious the recent rally will continue unabated. For commodities, it would be remiss if I don’t follow my own advice on The Be Skeptical of Commodity Futures Narratives and examine some longer dated futures contracts. The 20th oil futures contract (almost 2 years out) barely got below $35 at the time of the crisis, and was 55 in March of last year and is “only” $74 now, though was at $62 back in December. That tells us that we should look through some of the volatility on the front contract (which gets 99.999999% of the media’s attention) and look for the bigger trends. Inflation? Yes. Out of control? Not so much. Remember when we heard about lumber prices every day? Would it surprise you to know that they are flat year on year and are about to go up against some really high comps? I wonder if we don’t hear about that now because it doesn’t fit the narrative? The “certainty” expressed around commodity inflation seems overdone. We might get it, but whenever everyone gets so one-sided, it is worth examining. I can be convinced that we are in a commodity super cycle (maybe), but that doesn’t mean it is a one-way street. Wage inflation is real. We are seeing that. Friday’s job report was great from the perspective of a worker (which is why I’m on the “Inflation is Good” kick). Savings and stimulus waning. We’ve seen deposits decline, have seen some reports showing that “excess” saving is on the decline, and all the additional stimulus that was helping fuel spending is also gone. This could be a drag. Inventory hangover. Most figures linked to retail sales are showing declines. Most figures linked to inventories are showing increases. As supply chains recover from Omicron and as the pandemic turns endemic, we could see more of that. I’m not looking for a prolonged problem, but I expect to be talking about overstocked inventories rather than supply chain issues at some point this year (I think as early as this quarter). Personally, I’m betting used car prices will be lower by the end of this year than they are now, because I need a “new” used car soon! I’m in the higher inflation (3% to 4%) for longer (3 to 5 years) camp, but even that longer-term call is questionable as D.C. failed to deliver some stimulus and there is no reason to believe that even if I’m correct, the path will be that smooth. I fully expect to see periods later this year where the inflation story gets called into question (which isn’t that hard to believe when as late as last November, consensus was still leaning to the transitory side). The Fed Powell said “data dependent” in about 10 different ways at his press conference! There is no reason to doubt that, so unless you think inflation is guaranteed, you may want to take a step back on how aggressive they will be. Since I think that people have become too optimistic (or pessimistic, depending on your viewpoint) on inflation, we may see plenty of opportunity for the Fed to be cautious on tightening. If the politicians move on to another soundbite, which seems likely, since the half-life of a soundbite in D.C. seems about 4 months long (I’m being generous), then we could see the Fed dial back their inflation fighting rhetoric. They want jobs and growth more than they fear inflation. In any case I have an extremely strong view on the Fed in 2022: Fewer hikes. One in March for sure. Almost certainly only 25 bps. Maybe they go 50 bps, but that would be out of character and would diminish the chances of a May hike. If we get 25 in March, then possibly 25 more in May. After that, I think it is a wait and see approach. The Fed knows more about how the economy responds to rate hikes than they do about QE or QT. There is typically a three to six month lag between the hikes and when it is felt in the economy. So, they’ll hike and then wait and see and let the data develop. The Fed knows that hikes are ineffective and maybe even counterproductive on supply side issues. Whether it is supply chains or underinvestment in traditional energy production, there is little good that a rate hike does to fix those issues. There is a big stigma attached to hiking and then having to cut. The Fed does NOT want to go through a series of rapid hikes only to find it necessary to cut. The onslaught of the Coronavirus forced the Fed’s hand in 2020. They can accept an outside event as a reason to reverse course, but hiking “too much” causing the economy to slow “too much” resulting in a cut (without a major shock) would be highly embarrassing. Hikes likely flatten curves. Unless everyone gets on the extreme growth bandwagon, it seems likely that hikes will flatten curves, which isn’t the signal the Fed wants to send. Balance Sheet Reduction. This will be the main policy tool! Although Powell seemed to downplay it during the press conference, their implementation notes singled out their mortgage holdings (hardly evidence that they haven’t been focused on balance sheet reduction). If anything, this is evidence that they might be forced to sell mortgages if the run-off is too slow! The Fed knows less about how QT impacts the economy. While I think QT is worse for risk assets than rate hikes, the Fed does not necessarily agree with that. I believe, and I think the Fed might too, that QT is less harmful for the economy. That would make it the preferred choice. o The Fed is less sensitive about changing course on QT. Since we all know less about QT in practice, it is easier to change midstream if the results aren’t what was expected in theory. QT likely steepens curves. We don’t know for sure, but that is the theory and that is a signal the Fed wants to send. The Fed’s balance sheet (on the Treasury side) has: $320 billion in bills, with about $50 billion maturing in the 2nd half of the year. $760 billion of bonds maturing this year, with $400 billion maturing in the 2nd half of the year. $800 billion of bonds maturing in 2022 and $530 billion in 2024. There is some lumpiness to relying solely on maturing bonds, so they will have some monthly maximum, but they could shrink it rapidly, just on Treasuries. The Fed is a “Profit Machine” for D.C. The Fed runs an accrual accounting profit machine. They fund overnight (primarily) and hold longer dated bonds. That generated $108 billion in 2021 (the Fed pays their profits back to the government). While I might be a bit simplistic, every rate hike erodes their profits (which I’m sure D.C. likes to get) and at some point, it becomes a potential loss. On a simple, back of the envelope calculation, their NIM (net interest margin) is probably about 1.5% or less (makes sense given where rates have been while they accumulated their portfolio). While their profits won’t drive their decisions, it seems likely to influence them. Rate hikes hurt their profit far more than run-off. The balance sheet has never been this large and we’ve never attempted to reduce it as much as we are likely to try (I say try, because I think it will fail at some point, but it will get going). I put a line at $5 trillion, just so we could see that, though I doubt we try and get the balance sheet quite that low. My “guess” is something towards $6 trillion by the end of 2024 – a fast pace from today’s almost $9 trillion number, but plausible with the existing maturity schedules, without resorting to selling (which they will try and avoid, though their hand might be forced on the mortgage side). I have spared you the charts showing the stock market lined up with the balance sheet because you can find them easily enough on your own (and because they are a bit contrived), but not to be completely ignored. Bottom line is that I think the market is underappreciating their focus on the balance sheet and is heavily overestimating their willingness and ability to hike! Bond and Credit Markets Let’s start with this chart again. This chart attempts to identify where the sentiment deviates from the reality. What asset is the market pricing for one thing, when the reality is very different. Front-End Yields. Given my view that “the Fed will not hike as often as is being priced in” suggests buying the front-end as markets have gotten ahead of themselves. This is directly correlated to rate hikes and is not affected much by QT. The Belly of the Curve. This may be an even better buying opportunity than the front-end. It will benefit from fewer hikes while not being hurt much by QT (though it should have an influence). The 1 year to 5-year curve is reasonably steep and could flatten as people stretch out the rate hikes and determine that a lower terminal rate is also the likely outcome. Long-End Yields. I’m less sanguine about this here. The flattening has been extreme, so they’ve almost ‘benefitted’ from rate hike chatter on a relative basis (which is not the case for the front-end nor the belly). They are no longer universally hated, which would also add to the potential to see a rise. Kind of neutral here, but with a slight tilt towards higher yields. Investment Grade Credit. Despite a recent rise in spreads, the asset class still has a lot of demand and outflows slowed significantly, even with recent weakness. Spreads are tight, historically, but companies are very healthy and the “equity” cushion supporting most credit is very strong in the IG space. With a Federal Trade Commission that seems ill disposed towards large M&A, we should see less supply than we might otherwise get. This has been largely a repricing of credit risk, rather than a reassessment of credit risk. In the IG space, the widening has been correlated to equity prices dropping, concerns about rates, etc., but not really because anyone is suddenly worried about risk to the economy or to earnings in a way material enough to affect IG credit. The market seems to have this one “about” right. This is where things get interesting (I’ve used ETFs, HYG, SJNK, BKLN, and FALN for the chart). Leveraged loans are virtually unchanged. There are two important things to take away from this: There isn’t a credit concern. If investors were concerned about credit risk, you would see leveraged loans get hit hard as well! Even though the loans are secured, you would expect to see more selling pressure, much more in line with high yield. (You can see the same thing if you look at CCC credits, which would normally underperform in times of credit stress, but haven’t been doing poorly). The “rate” mistake might be getting compounded in leveraged loans. Yes, leveraged loans are floating rate, but that is a bit simplistic. I’m told that about 59% of loans have Loan Floors with an average floor of 76 bps. So, loan income will increase as the Fed raises rates, but not on every loan. Once we start getting to 100 bps of hikes, then the leveraged loan market as a whole benefits from rate hikes, but at the moment, only a portion does. Loans are virtually all callable, which doesn’t mean much right now while the high yield market is in disarray, but as that stabilizes, and rate fears grow, some issuers will look to re-optimize their capital structure. So, I’d be reducing exposure to leveraged loans – too little upside, and too much priced in on the rate hike front. If credit risk isn’t a problem (leveraged loans and CCC bonds are telling us that it isn’t) then high yield looks very attractive. But I’d wade into shorter dated high yield bonds because: They should have performed much better versus the overall market than they have. While high yield does carry risk, it is easier to estimate what the company will look like in the near-term than the long-term, so those bonds should trade better as there is less uncertainty around the companies’ futures in the short-term. It fits my view on yields very well (fwiw, I generally stick to the view that the best rate hedge for owning high yields bonds is owning Treasuries, because they are much more of a risk-asset than a yield asset, although that has not been the case these past few weeks). Then, to channel my inner Jim Cramer (which every pundit has), I want to hit the BUY BUY BUY button on “crossover” credits! Coming into this year, owning “upgrade candidates” was a smart but crowded trade with decent upside. It is still smart, isn’t as crowded, and has MORE upside! I really like the upgrade candidates. Nothing about the Fed action is going to impact the economy so badly that the upgrade stories take a hit! This is all about positioning! That is my highest conviction trade here. The CLO market behaved quite responsibly during the past month, which puts it at neutral (at best) from a risk/reward perspective. Leveraged loans did well and there is no credit deterioration, so CLOs should have traded ok. The problem is that other spread assets, from IG to HY got cheaper, so I’d reduce some exposure to CLO’s here as I think there are better risk/reward trades out there (thinking 3-7 year maturity, BB with upgrade prospects, bonds). Energy. I wanted to highlight energy risk, because despite it being wildly popular, there is still more potential upside. I think that we are going to have to aggressively expand into new fields as existing fields seem to be drying up faster than expected in many cases. This is great for smaller exploration companies and the servicers! Munis, structured products, and mortgage-backed securities. Quite frankly, these markets haven’t been part of what I live and breath so far in 2022 (it has been a crazy start to the year). I will work to correct that. My gut would be that munis are interesting as retail has gone for the rates trade, hook, line, and sinker, and that mortgages might have some more spread widening in the coming weeks as we learn more about how the Fed will handle them in their balance sheet reduction efforts. In any case, hopefully the sentiment vs reality (Hopium vs Doomium) chart makes sense now and let’s hope markets give us a few more minutes to breathe this week because the current pace of volatility is exhausting! Tyler Durden Sun, 02/06/2022 - 12:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeFeb 6th, 2022

Asheville boasts one of the longest foliage seasons in the US - these 10 central hotels offer striking views

These are the best hotels in Asheville, NC including Grand Bohemian, the Biltmore, Cambria, the Renaissance, Kimpton, and Omni Grove Park Inn. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. Omni Hotels Asheville is a big city with a small-town feel in North Carolina. Asheville is near national parks and is known for vibrant dining, breweries, art, and music. Asheville's best hotels are also varied, from boutique inns to B&Bs and brand name luxury. Table of Contents: Masthead StickyWith unbelievable mountain views, a thriving food and drink scene, an emphasis on nature, and a penchant for the arts, Asheville is a must-visit destination. Sitting on "America's Prettiest Drive," the Blue Ridge Parkway, it has mild seasons year-round and one of the longest, most vibrant fall foliage seaons in the US.I've been visiting Asheville for the past decade, and throughout the pandemic, it made it my go-to road trip for its accessible location, outdoor activities, and how safely it's handled COVID-19. Follow my lead and plan a trip to Asheville with a stay at one of the following standout hotels that range from cozy bed and breakfast in a historic neighborhood to trendy downtown high rise, and the lap of luxury at a five-star spa hotel. Browse the best Asheville hotels below, or jump directly to a specific area here:The best hotels in AshevilleFAQ: Asheville, NC hotelsHow we selected the best hotels in AshevilleMore of the best hotels on the East CoastThese are the best hotels in Asheville, sorted by price from low to high. Cambria Downtown Ashville Floor-to-ceiling windows offer direct views of Pisgah Mountain. Book Cambria Downtown AshevilleCategory: BudgetNeighborhood: DowntownTypical starting/peak prices: $128/$515Best for: Couples, friends, families, solo travelers, business travelers On-site amenities: Restaurant, bar, fitness room, convenience store, meeting roomsPros: Every room is thoughtfully designed with wide foyers, Bluetooth mirrors in the bathroom, and desks and beds facing floor-to-ceiling windows with mountain views.Cons: TVs only have a few channels and don't connect to streaming services, so don't count on a lot of in-room entertainment.Located next to historic Grove Arcade, the Cambria Downtown Asheville places you in an ideal location to explore Downtown's revered restaurants, bars, breweries, and galleries on foot.The rooms are loft-style, with floor-to-ceiling windows offering direct views of Pisgah Mountain and more space to spread out than most standard hotel rooms. As you walk in, a foyer gradually widens, opening up to a space marked by crisp white beds, a desk, plenty of electrical outlets and USB ports, wood floors, and exposed red brick walls with eye-catching splashes of blue. The bathroom is spacious with a large vanity, walk-in showers, bathtubs in some rooms, and the coolest part, Bluetooth mirrors that can play your music while you get ready.A sundry in the lobby is packed with healthy meals to prepare in your in-room microwave, or head to Hemingway's, a Cuban restaurant and bar on the fourth-floor with a terrace and fire pits. Locals pack this rooftop on weekend nights, so make a reservation to grab a seat. COVID-19 procedures are available here. Renaissance Asheville Hotel Rooms are comfortable, clean, and have mountain views. Marriott Book Renaissance Asheville HotelCategory: Mid-rangeNeighborhood: DowntownTypical starting/peak prices: $131/$512Best for: Couples, solo travelers, business travelers, Marriott loyalistsOn-site amenities: Restaurant, fitness room, pool, meeting rooms, marketPros: This Renaissance has the largest Junior Olympic saltwater swimming pool in Asheville.Cons: The restaurant is only open for breakfast, and the only other food served at the hotel are the snacks and packaged meals available at the on-site market. When you need a nice, but moderate Downtown Asheville hotel with a full list of modern amenities from a trusted brand, choose the Renaissance.I stayed here on a whim as I was passing through Asheville in the height of COVID-19 in 2020, and wanted a hotel brand I knew I could trust to handle the pandemic safely. The Renaissance, a Marriott Bonvoy property, did this exceptionally well and impressed me with their levels of safety and cleanliness.The Renaissance is on the edge of Downtown Asheville and every room has floor-to-ceiling windows that allow you to wake up to see the sunrise over the Blue Ridge Mountains. Rooms are spacious and comfortable with plush beds, textured black headboards, a desk, and a sitting area.Asheville was nicknamed "Bee City USA" in 2012 for its honey bee population and commitment to educating the public about how important bees are for the environment. Staying true to this oath, this hotel houses "bee boxes" from the Bee Institute on its roof to promote sustainability.COVID-19 procedures are available here. 1900 Inn on Montford The lavish, spa-like Cloisters Suite is a top pick for romance and relaxation. Book 1900 Inn On MontfordCategory: BoutiqueNeighborhood: Montford Historic DistrictTypical starting/peak prices: $145/$605Best for: Couples, luxury travelers, solo travelers, foodiesOn-site amenities: Dining room, daily breakfast and social hour, live music, games, all-day snacksPros: Book the luxurious 1,300-square-foot Cloisters suite, which has a private garden and a large spa room with a two-person Whirlpool, shiatsu massage, air bath, and walk-in shower.Cons: This hotel is not great for families as children under the age of 12 are not permitted.Perched on a hill in a historic residential neighborhood, just eight blocks from the edge of Downtown Asheville, the Inn on Montford is charming, cozy, and well-placed.This Arts and Crafts style bed and breakfast has eight rooms, each with King beds, gas fireplaces, bathrooms with fiber-optic starry floors, Roman baths, and color-changing, LED-lit vanities.Don't miss the daily cookie selection; one of the innkeepers, Shawnie, makes them herself and prepares a mix of mouthwatering flavors like salted chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, or chocolate-orange.If you're on vacation with your special someone, make it extra romantic and book the Cloisters suite, in the Carriage House, which has 1,300 square feet of space, a private garden, a huge living room, a kitchenette, a bar, a fireplace, and a luxurious 68-square-foot spa room with a two-person Whirlpool tub, shiatsu massage, air bath, and a huge walk-in shower. COVID-19 procedures are available here. Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville, Autograph Collection Art and design feature prominently, with statement decor in guest rooms. Marriott Book Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville, Autograph CollectionCategory: LuxuryNeighborhood: Biltmore VillageTypical starting/peak prices: $158 /$600Best for: Couples, families, solo travelers, business travelers, Marriott loyalistsOn-site amenities: Restaurant, bar, art gallery, spa, fitness room, meeting roomsPros: Grand Bohemian Asheville is located directly across the street from the entrance to the famed Biltmore Estate, and the on-site art gallery has local and regional art and jewelry for sale.Cons: In some room categories, the bathroom is separated from the bedroom by a thin curtain rather than an actual door, which isn't ideal for privacy or modesty. Request one with a door if you're traveling with mixed company.This art-driven hotel is the best hotel in Biltmore Village, directly across the street from the entrance to famous Biltmore Estate, known as "America's Largest Home," which was built by George Vanderbilt in 1889 and has a world-class winery, historic gardens, popular restaurants, a farm and over 20 miles of nature trails.Like all Kessler boutique properties, this hotel is innately luxurious, but with a vibe that's creative, relaxing, and comfortable enough to make you feel at home. Art also features prominently, with an on-site art gallery filled with paintings, sculptures, glass art, and jewelry by local artists that are also available for sale.As such, the atmosphere is rich and enticing, with an entrance flanked by a Tudor-style driveway, dramatic candelabras, and heavy burgundy drapes.Inside, stylish, but quirky rooms and common areas juxtapose oil and contemporary paintings and historic busts with surprising sculptures, like a wild hog wearing a tacky tourist hat, and bright purple low lighting that matches velvet chairs alongside fixtures that look like antlers. The rooms are big and enticing, with tufted teal headboards, lamps with tree branch bases, brown and teal-patterned carpeting, and sleek bathrooms with views of the Blue Ridge Mountains from the soaking tub.COVID-19 procedures are available here.Read our full hotel review of Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville Village Hotel Village Hotel is one of three accommodation options housed within the 8,000-acre Biltmore Estate. Book Village HotelCategory: Mid-RangeNeighborhood: Biltmore VillageTypical starting/peak prices: $170 /$705Best for: Families, couples, solo travelersOn-site amenities: Restaurants, bars, pool, spa, fitness room, meeting roomsPros: Village Hotel is located in Antler Hill Village, on Biltmore Estate, right next to a slew of family-friendly restaurants, activities, a petting zoo, a winery, and over 20 miles of nature trails. Cons: Transportation around the estate is currently unavailable due to COVID-19, so guests will need to factor a rental car into the cost of their trip.Village Hotel is one of three accommodation options housed within the 8,000-acre Biltmore Estate, and it's the best pick for families. Located in Antler Hill Village, just steps from the winery, the famed Cedric's Tavern (named after the Vanderbilt family dog), a petting zoo, the outdoor adventure center, and over 20 miles of nature trails, the hotel offers tons to do.The entry-level Village Double Rooms are simple, without fancy bells and whistles, but are modern and spacious with a minimalist black, white and gray color scheme, comfortable double beds, a walk-in shower, and a charming window seat for a vantage point over the beautiful grounds.In addition to all of the aforementioned perks of staying at Biltmore Estate, guests can also dine at Village Social for kid-friendly breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus, or go to The Creamery for "Winky Bar sundaes," which is a waffle cone filled with black cherry ice cream, whipped cream, and a cherry.COVID-19 procedures are available here. Kimpton Hotel Arras Kimpton Hotel Arras has a prime downtown location and impressive perks, especially for pets. Book Kimpton Hotel Arras Category: Boutique Neighborhood: DowntownTypical starting/peak prices: $171/$760Best for: Couples, solo travelers, business travelers, travelers with pets, IHG loyalistsOn-site amenities: Restaurant, bar, meeting rooms, fitness center, seasonal book program, free essential toiletriesPros: This hotel boasts a super central location in downtown Asheville, right on Pack Square. Animals may stay at no extra charge and receive special pet amenities.Cons: With its prime downtown location and resident and local foot traffic, this hotel can be loud and crowded.When in Downtown Asheville, look up and you'll spot the Kimpton Hotel Arras; it's the tallest building in all of Asheville.The 128 rooms, suites, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom luxury condos are bright, airy, and filled with natural woods, white and neutral fabrics, textured walls, art by local Asheville artist Catherine Murphy, a desk, and floor-to-ceiling windows facing Downtown Asheville and the Blue Ridge Mountains.In even the most basic Queen Room, the vanity and bathroom area feels luxurious with a huge walk-in glass shower, marble accents, warm lighting, a dark wood vanity, a large mirror, and a separate toilet.Indulge in drinks and a Mediterranean meal at District 42, and when the sun goes down on a pretty evening, grab a seat by the glass fire pits on the terrace and watch life in Downtown Asheville buzz by. All Kimpton hotels are pet-friendly, too, so bring your dog, cat, bird, iguana or any other animal for no charge. All pet companions are also pampered with perks like stylish feeding bowls, pet beds, treat bags, a ball, and more for free.COVID-19 procedures are available here. The Foundry Hotel Asheville Exposed brick and contemporary furnishings give off an industrial-chic vibe. Hilton Book The Foundry Hotel AshevilleCategory: BoutiqueNeighborhood: DowntownTypical starting/peak prices: $182/$684Best for: Couples, luxury travelers, solo travelers, families, Hilton loyalistsOn-site amenities: Restaurant, bar, fitness room, meeting rooms, courtyard with fire pitsPros: It's just two blocks walking distance from the heart of downtown Asheville, and offers Tesla car service and a Southern soul food restaurant by a six-time James Beard Award nominee.Cons: The internet connection was unreliable when I visited, which is hard for business travelers or those who like to be overly connected.Once the foundry and warehouse that forged steel for Asheville's famous Biltmore Estate, The Foundry Hotel Asheville is now a luxury boutique Hilton property next to Pack Square Park.An ode to the city's Black history, it's located in a historical enclave called "The Block," that was once a hub of African American community and business in the late 19th and 20th centuries.After sipping a glass of Champagne at check-in, make your way up to your room, which feels industrially luxe with exposed brick walls, all-white beds with cream tufted leather headboards, floor-to-ceiling mountain views, and eclectic wall art featuring period paintings and newspaper clippings in mixed oval and rectangular frames.Paying homage to its Black heritage, the on-site Benne on Eagle is a Southern soul food restaurant led by six-time James Beard Award nominee John Fleer. The hotel is just a five-minute walk from Downtown Asheville, but if you'd rather drive, The Foundry's Tesla car service can drop you off. COVID-19 procedures are available here. Abbington Green This charming B&B feels plucked from the English countryside. Book Abbington GreenCategory: BoutiqueNeighborhood: Montford Historic DistrictTypical starting/peak prices: $229/$469Best for: Couples, luxury travelers, solo travelers, foodiesOn-site amenities: Dining room, spa, English gardens, daily breakfast and social hour, games, all-day snacksPros: Every room has a King bed (which is unique for most historic bed and breakfasts in Asheville) and TVs you can watch from the bathtub.Cons: Children under the age of 12 are not permitted, which isn't ideal for young families.The English-inspired Abbington Green is an award-winning bed and breakfast, sitting atop a hill with whimsical landscaping and prize-winning manicured gardens.The property has both a main and carriage house, seven rooms, one two-bedroom suite, a spa room, a dining room, and a living room with games, a piano, and a guitar.Every guest room has a King bed, which is unique for historic homes like these, as well as towel warmers, a fireplace, and luxury bathtubs with a view of the TV — perfect for a bubble bath with a glass of wine and your favorite movie.There's an on-site charging station for electric cars, daily breakfast, a social hour, and a beautiful veranda where you can watch the sunset over the Blue Ridge mountains. The warmth of innkeepers Dean and Cherie brings it all together, as they love to talk to their guests, swap travel stories, and make everyone feel right at home.For COVID-19 procedures, call (828) 251-2454. Sourwood Inn The owners spent more than 25 years in the wine industry, and their knowledge filters down to the overall experience of staying here. Book Sourwood InnCategory: BoutiqueNeighborhood: Greater AshevilleTypical starting/peak prices: $235/$390Best for: Couples, luxury travelers, solo travelers, nature lovers, foodies, oenophilesOn-site amenities: Dining room, library, loop trails, wine and flower packages, gamesPros: The owners spent more than 25 years in the wine industry and brought that culinary experience to the hotel, giving guests farm-to-table dining, curated wine lists, in-room wine programs, and pairing dinners.Cons: The inn is a 20-minute drive from downtown Asheville on remote mountain roads, so you'll have to factor a rental car into your trip.This romantic bed and breakfast is a true hidden gem that sits largely under the radar in Asheville. Located right off the famous Blue Ridge Parkway, it's just 20 minutes from downtown, positioned on 100 acres of hilly landscapes that make it feel as if you're staying in a national park.There are 12 guest rooms in the cedar and stone-trimmed main house, with a separate Sassafras Cabin, all of which underwent a recent head-to-toe renovation. Rooms are airy and bright, welcoming sunlight through tall windows, plus light-colored walls, wood-burning fireplaces, balconies overlooking Reems Creek Valley, and soaking tubs with scenic Bullhead Mountain views.The owners spent a combined 25+ years in the wine industry, and brought that culinary knowledge to the inn through well-executed farm-to-table cuisine, curated wine lists, food pairings, as well as wine of the month and wine and dine packages that add value for serious oenophiles. COVID-19 procedures are available here. The Omni Grove Park Inn Sprawling grounds feel regal and are exceedingly beautiful. Tripadvisor Book The Omni Grove Park InnCategory: LuxuryNeighborhood: Grove ParkTypical starting/peak prices: $239/$1,049Best for: Couples, luxury travelers, business travelers, families On-site amenities: Restaurants, bars, fitness room, pools, spa, meeting rooms, sports complex, outdoor center, golf course, tennis courts, food foraging experiencesPros: Perfect for a honeymoon or couples getaway, this romantic hotel guarantees five-star service, a renowned subterranean spa, and an iconic view of the Blue Ridge Mountains at sunset from its restaurant, Sunset Terrace.Cons: As this is a luxury property, expect to pay premium prices for everything.Few resorts can say they've hosted 10 US presidents and every celebrity you can think of, from Gene Hackman and Helen Carter to Nick Carter and Barack Obama, but The Omni Grove Park Inn is one of them. Additionally, this historic resort, which opened in 1913 is famous for being a World War II internment camp for German diplomats, and served as the hotel and inspiration of choice for author F. Scott Fitzgerald over the course of two summers. Five-star service is unparalleled, with an exterior resembling a majestic stone palace that appears as if it's built right into the mountains. Overlooking 300 acres of hills, woodlands, and the Blue Ridge Mountains, the hotel also sits on a Donald Ross-designed championship golf course.From its famous terrace viewpoint, wander down the stone steps to the subterranean spa (it's so popular that you have to book six or eight weeks in advance to get an appointment) and discover hidden waterfalls along the way. Be sure to drink a glass of wine by one of two huge lobby fireplaces, and look up to see original light fixtures from the first day it opened.You'll likely pinch yourself watching the sunset over the mountains from dinner at Sunset Terrace. It's such an iconic view that, whether you stay at the Omni or not, everyone will ask if you saw it.COVID-19 procedures are available here. FAQ: Asheville, NC hotels What is the best area to stay in Asheville?Asheville is a revered food and drink destination and staying in downtown Asheville puts you within walking distance from many award-winning restaurants and breweries.If you're only in town to visit Biltmore Estate, you could stay in Biltmore Village, which is right across the street from the estate entrance, or at the Biltmore itself. Biltmore Village and Downtown Asheville are the two main attraction areas in Asheville and, luckily for visitors, they are only a 10-minute drive apart.Don't worry about not having a car; Uber and Lyft are everywhere in Asheville's popular areas, and it's easy to catch one to get to and from each. When is the best time of year to visit Asheville?Ask the locals, and they'll tell you there's no such thing as a "low season" in Asheville anymore. As such, the best time of year to visit Asheville is anytime. The award-winning restaurant and brewery scene is always available and the famous Biltmore Estate is a top attraction.If you're planning a fall visit, Asheville's 100+ deciduous trees give it one of the nation's longest fall foliage seaons, making it truly spectacular to visit in September and October. At this time of year, the leaves start to change along the iconic Blue Ridge Parkway, apple-picking season is in full swing, and temperatures drop to the 40s and 50s.Prices get slightly cheaper in January and February when snow and ice make driving in the mountains less appealing, and in March when it's cold and rainy. What are COVID-19 protocols in Asheville?Asheville has been very proactive about COVID-19 risk since the beginning of the pandemic, and stores, restaurants, and businesses strictly enforce local mandates. Currently, there are no restrictions on capacity and social distancing in restaurants, bars, and meeting spaces. Masks are required in all indoor locations in Buncombe County based on advice from medical experts and scientists. What is the best hotel in Asheville?I believe that The Omni Grove Park Inn is by far the best hotel in Asheville. It feels like staying in a palace built into the mountain, right on a championship golf course, with five-star service, a subterranean spa, and unbelievable views of 300+ acres of rolling green hills and the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance. Staying here is the ultimate getaway, whether you're on your honeymoon, planning a girls spa weekend, or looking for a memorable place to spend the holidays. But with rooms hitting peak prices at $1,049 a night, it might not be an option for everyone. However, Asheville is filled with a range of wonderful boutique properties and larger hotels. For the best boutique hotel in Asheville, stay at the Abbington Green, an England-inspired bed and breakfast in the Montford Historic District with large and modern King rooms, daily breakfast, social hours, and beautiful English gardens.For the best hotels in downtown Asheville, the Kimpton Hotel Arras is a dog-friendly hotel right on Pack Square with beautiful and spacious rooms. And across from Grove Arcade, the Cambria Hotel Downtown Asheville offers stylish loft-style rooms with panoramic mountain views, Bluetooth bathroom mirrors, and a terrific terrace restaurant serving authentic Cuban food. What is better in Asheville—a boutique inn or bed and breakfast, or a larger hotel or resort?Both options are wonderful, and the one you choose depends on what your group needs or prefers. Boutique inns or bed and breakfasts are usually in historic residential neighborhoods and offer a cozy and comfortable feel of staying in someone's house. They typically have between six and 16 rooms, so if you're traveling with a small or mid-sized group, you could even rent the entire property.A larger hotel comes with more amenities and usually a more central location within walking distance of great restaurants, bars, breweries, shopping, and entertainment. There are also no age restrictions at larger hotels in Asheville, while most bed and breakfasts don't allow children under the age of 12 so as not to disturb other guests. What is the most romantic hotel in Asheville?With its beautiful stone building, iconic views, luxury service, and intimate feel, there is nowhere more romantic in Asheville than The Omni Grove Park Inn. Make your honeymoon extra special by booking a couples massage at the spa, ordering a tasty steak dinner and a bottle of wine at Sunset Terrace, book a Premium Club Floor Room on the adults-only Club Floor, and end each night with a drink by the lobby fireplace. What is the best hotel for families in Asheville?Village Hotel in Biltmore Estate's Antler Hill Village is great for families. Its basic Village Room starts at $170 and comes with two double beds. If you need more room, upgrade to the Village Double with Living Room, which starts at $320 per night and comes with a bedroom with two double beds, a separate living room with a couch, two twin sleeper sofas, and two full bathrooms.The location is also a huge benefit for families as it is steps away from family-friendly restaurants, the Farmyard petting zoo, 20+ miles of easy nature trails, falconry, and the Biltmore Gardens Railway, which has model trains that kids will love.How cheap or expensive is it to plan a trip to Asheville?Asheville is definitely a top tourist destination in the United States, so prices are constantly rising. That said, there is so much to do and see in Asheville, from hiking, biking, and kayaking to award-winning restaurants, breweries, and the Biltmore. These activities run from free or cheap to quite expensive. Hotels and resorts also run the gamut from $128 to $1,049 per night, and there are also tons of Airbnbs at a variety of price points. If you'd prefer one, we rounded up the best vacation rentals in Asheville as well. How we selected the best hotels in Asheville I chose the properties on this list based on my own deep knowledge of Asheville, supplemented by the research points listed below. I extensively researched and visited each hotel and selected properties with excellent recent reviews and ratings of 4 or higher on trusted traveler sites like Tripadvisor or properties offer a variety of accommodation types, from boutique bed and breakfasts to brand-name hotels and luxury resorts.They range in starting price from $128 to $1,049 per night to suit a range of budgets. Hotels are located in Asheville's top neighborhoods and historic districts, and are near popular restaurants, breweries, shops, and attractions.All hotels offer COVID-19 safety policies, which we've linked for each property, or provided contact information where you can find out more. More of the best hotels on the East Coast Tripadvisor The best hotels in BostonThe best hotels in New York CityThe best hotels in PhiladelphiaThe best hotels in Washington, DCThe best hotels in Ocean City, MarylandThe best hotels on Hilton Head IslandThe best hotels in Myrtle BeachThe best hotels in CharlestonThe best hotels in SavannahThe best hotels on Tybee IslandThe best hotels in Florida Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytSep 24th, 2021

Futures Rise, Dollar And Yields Slide Ahead Of Fed Decision

Futures Rise, Dollar And Yields Slide Ahead Of Fed Decision US equity futures rose, alongside European markets, as traders awaited the Fed's rate decision that will be scrutinized for the policy outlook and "dots" rather than the widely expected pause in hikes. As of 7:45am ET, contracts on the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq 100 both added about 0.2%, with spoos trading up to 4,500. Treasury yields fell across the board, taking their cue from sliding UK rates after inflation unexpectedly slowed and printed far below expectations (CPI core 6.2%, Exp. 6.8%, CPI MoM 0.3%, Exp. 0.7%). The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index traded near the lows of the day, lifting most Group-of-10 currencies. Brent crude reversed earlier losses after it retreated from $95. Gold was little changed, while Bitcoin declined for the first time in three days. In premarket trading, major technology and internet stocks were mostly higher. Instacart slipped as much as 5%, one day after surging following one of the year’s biggest US initial public offerings but closing at session lows. Intel shares pared an earlier decline as analysts said that the chipmaker showed some progress in its Innovation conference. However, there was disappointment that the event lacked a new customer announcement for the firm’s 18A semiconductor manufacturing process. Here are some other notable premarket movers: ARS Pharmaceuticals shares drop as much as 47% in US premarket trading, set for their biggest fall on record if the move holds, after the biotech said that the FDA has issued a letter requesting additional study for neffy — an epinephrine nasal spray to treat allergic reactions — in order to support drug approval, according to a statement. Pinterest shares rise 3.4%. Analysts were impressed by Tuesday’s investor day, saying that the social networking company was upbeat and that the long-term targets look achievable. Taysha Gene Therapies shares drop as much as 5.8%, after the biotech scrapped the development of its TSHA-120 gene therapy program to treat a rare neurodegenerative disorder following feedback from the FDA. Analysts cut their price targets on the stock, saying that while the update was disappointing, investors were focused on the company’s development of a treatment for Rett syndrome. As previewed overnight, today all eyes will be on the Fed's 2pm decision (and Powell's presser) which is expected to hold for the second time this year following a slowing in inflation, while leaving the door open for another increase as early as November. Wall Street will be focused on whether Fed officials’ forecasts for interest rates, the so-called dot plot, show whether they seem determined to hike again. More here “While rates should remain steady, a question mark remains over the longer-term outlook,” said Richard Flynn, UK Managing Director at Charles Schwab. “Now that inflation has peaked, we are likely to see the Fed shift to a more surgical approach. There continues to be a possibility of a hike later this year as central bankers target remaining sticky areas, but one more boost is unlikely to trouble the market.” Britain’s CPI rose 6.7% from a year earlier in August, the slowest pace in 18 months, and less than the 7% expected by economists. The probability of a quarter-point rate increase by the BOE at its meeting on Thursday — almost guaranteed earlier this week — fell to less than 50%, according to swap pricing. Gilt yields tumbled, and US Treasury yields dipped in sympathy after rates on both the five- and 10-year notes hit the highest levels since 2007 on Tuesday. In Europe, stocks rose and the pound weakened after British inflation slowed unexpectedly. The Stoxx 600 rose 0.6%, with retail and real estate leading gains. Sterling fell as much as 0.5% against the dollar to its lowest level since May as traders bet that the Bank of England is nearing the end of its hiking cycle. UK bonds soared. Here are Europe's top movers Delivery Hero shares gain as much as 8.2% as Hauck & Aufhaeuser starts coverage of the food-delivery company with a buy rating, while two other analysts reiterated their bullish stance after the stock dropped to the lowest since May following first-half earnings last month. UK stocks outperform, with midcaps leading the charge, after data showed that inflation fell unexpectedly to the lowest level in 18 months, easing pressure for further interest-rate increases from the Bank of England. Ypsomed shares rise as much as 5.3% to a record high after the Swiss pharmaceutical company announced a long-term supply agreement with Novo Nordisk for large quantities of auto injectors. The pact has “very significant” earnings potential for Ypsomed, according to ZKB. M&G shares gain as much as 4.6% after the UK fund manager reports forecast-beating operating profits for the first half-year of 2023. Clariant shares rise as much as 3.6% after Jefferies raised the recommendation on the stock to buy from hold, saying the Swiss specialty chemical company’s increased urgency to resolve the performance of its Sunliquid biofuel unit is a “key positive.” Self Storage shares soar as much as 66% to NOK39.9, as T-C Storage HoldCo, an indirect subsidiary of Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association, agrees to launch a recommended voluntary cash tender offer for 100% of the company at NOK40 per share. Finsbury Food shares rise as much as 23% to 109.5p after Dbay agrees to buy the UK specialty bakery company in a deal valuing the company’s share capital at about £143.4 million. Baloise shares drop as much as 9.9% after the Swiss insurer’s profit figures came in somewhat below expectations, according to analysts, and Vontobel says higher claims in non-life will hit earnings in 2H. Talanx shares fall as much as 7.6% after an offering of 4.88m shares by the German reinsurance company priced at €61.50 apiece, representing about a 6.5% discount to Tuesday’s close. Air Liquide shares decline as much as 3.4% after Stifel cites comments from CEO, CFO in a London sell-side meeting late Tuesday, saying trading might be more difficult in second half than 1H, especially in Electronics and Industrial Merchant units. Earlier in the session, Asian stocks fell for a third day as caution prevailed ahead of the Federal Reserve’s policy decision, with surging oil prices driving inflation and raising the possibility of higher-for-longer interest rates. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped as much as 0.6% on Wednesday, led by health-care and energy shares. Japanese and Australian stocks slipped. Brent held close to $94 per barrel, setting the stage for another interest-rate hike by the Fed this year. Chinese equities dipped after the nation’s lenders kept their benchmark lending rates unchanged, following the central bank’s move last week to hold policy rates steady as officials assess the economic impact of existing stimulus. The CSI 300 Index is edging closer to the lowest level this year. Japan's Nikkei 225 gradually weakened after the latest trade data showed Japanese exports and imports remained in contraction territory, albeit not as bad as feared. Indian stocks declined the most in two months and were the worst performers in the region led by a selloff in index majors including HDFC Bank and Reliance Industries.  The S&P BSE Sensex fell 1.2% to 66,800.88 on Wednesday, while the NSE Nifty 50 Index declined by the same magnitude. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index was down 0.7%. HDFC Bank contributed the most to the Sensex’s decline, decreasing 4%, following a downgrade by Nomura on rising concerns over private sector lender’s margins post merger with parent HDFC. All but one sectoral index on the BSE closed with losses amid a broad selloff in the market as traders exercised caution ahead of Federal Reserve’s rate-setting meeting. Out of 30 shares in the Sensex index, seven rose and 23 fell. Australia's ASX 200 was dragged lower by the commodity-related sectors including energy after oil prices eased back from YTD highs although losses were cushioned by resilience in consumer stocks. In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index is flat ahead of the Fed decision later on Wednesday. the yen touched the psychological level of 148 per dollar, the lowest in more than 10 months. The pound traded as much as 0.5% lower to $1.2334 after UK inflation report; money markets price a 52% chance of a quarter-point hike on Thursday, compared with about 90% yesterday. In commodities, crude futures decline, with WTI falling 1.4% to trade near $89.90. Spot gold drops 0.1%. Goldman analysts raised their forecast for crude back to triple digits as worldwide demand hits unprecedented levels and OPEC+ supply curbs continue to tighten the market. The Wall Street bank pushed up its 12-month forecast for Brent to $100 a barrel from $93. However, most of the rally “is behind us,” the bank said in a note. Bitcoin is under modest pressure but resides in particularly narrow parameters and is yet to meaningfully deviate away from the USD 27k handle pre-FOMC. In rates, treasuries were underpinned by gilts, with futures paring portion of Tuesday’s losses led by belly of the curve. US yields are lower by as much as 3bp in belly of the curve with 5s30s steeper and 2s5s30s fly richer by ~2bp on the day; 10-year yields near 4.34% trail gilts by ~7bp in the sector. UK 2s richer by 14.5bp on the day, lowest yield since July. FOMC expected to keep rates unchanged at the 2pm announcement; the dot-plot update is expected to indicate another hike before year-end in a close call. Gilts outperform in an aggressive bull-steepening move after an unexpected drop in UK inflation opened the door for Bank of England to pause rate hikes in Thursday’s decision. US session includes Fed rate decision at 2pm New York time, released with latest staff projections. Looking to the day ahead now, and the main highlight will be the Fed’s latest policy decision and Chair Powell’s press conference. Other central bank speakers include the ECB’s Elderson. Data releases include the UK CPI and German PPI for August. Lastly, today’s earnings releases include FedEx. Market snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.1% to 4,496.25 STOXX Europe 600 up 0.6% to 459.08 MXAP down 0.8% to 161.48 MXAPJ down 0.6% to 500.28 Nikkei down 0.7% to 33,023.78 Topix down 1.0% to 2,406.00 Hang Seng Index down 0.6% to 17,885.60 Shanghai Composite down 0.5% to 3,108.57 Sensex down 1.2% to 66,775.50 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.5% to 7,163.33 Kospi little changed at 2,559.74 Brent Futures down 1.2% to $93.21/bbl Gold spot down 0.1% to $1,929.80 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 105.09 German 10Y yield little changed at 2.74% Euro up 0.1% to $1.0695 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg The PBOC said it has sufficient policy space to support the Chinese economy, adding to expectations there may be more easing to come, including rate cuts, after this month's pause. The comments came shortly after Chinese banks left their benchmark loan rates unchanged. BBG The European Union is “very far” from imposing new tariffs on Chinese electric cars, a top official told CNBC, just days after the bloc launched an investigation into subsidies given by Beijing. CNBC UK inflation undershoots the Street by a wide margin, w/headline coming in at +6.7% (down from +6.8% in Jul and below the Street’s +7% forecast) and core at +6.2% (down from +6.9% in Jul and below the Street’s +6.8% forecast). BBG   The UAW weighed an expansion of its strikes against Detroit’s automakers on, after union President Shawn Fain said more plants faced walkouts if carmakers didn’t sweeten their offers. The union will have a Facebook Live event today at 10 a.m. local time in Detroit, where it will likely discuss whether more plants will join the strike. BBG The United States is discussing terms of a mutual defense treaty with Saudi Arabia that would resemble military pacts with Japan and South Korea, according to American officials. The move is at the center of President Biden’s high-stakes diplomacy to get the kingdom to normalize relations with Israel. NYT Republicans are working on Plan Bs to avoid to a shutdown after days of chaos (some of those Plan Bs involve asking Democrats for help), but time is of the essence and there is still enormous division within the caucus. The Hill At today's meeting Fed officials are likely to make fairly straightforward revisions to their economic projections. For 2023, we expect a substantial upward revision to GDP growth (+1.1pp to +2.1%) and moderate downward revisions to the unemployment rate (-0.2pp to 3.9%) and core inflation (-0.4pp to 3.5%).  For November, we think that further labor market rebalancing, better news on inflation, and the likely upcoming Q4 growth pothole will convince more participants that the FOMC can forgo a final hike this year, as we think it ultimately will. On neutral, we expect the median longer run rate dot to finally rise a bit to 2.75%. GIR Pimco warned markets may be underestimating the risks of both one more Fed hike and a US recession, making haven assets a preferred play. Money manager Geraldine Sundstrom recommends sticking to assets that offer a pickup in yields, including US agency mortgages and some financial credits. BBG US stockpiles fell by 5.25 million barrels last week, the API is said to have reported. That would bring holdings to the lowest in more than nine months if confirmed by the EIA today. Inventories at Cushing also slid. BBG We have nudged up our 12-month ahead Brent forecast from $93/bbl to $100/bbl as we now expect modestly sharper inventory draws. The key reason is that significantly lower OPEC supply and higher demand more than offset significantly higher US supply. Overall, we believe that OPEC will be able to sustain Brent in an $80-$105 range in 2024 by leveraging robust Asia-centric global demand growth (1.8mb/d) and by exercising its pricing power assertively. GIR A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk APAC stocks were mostly lower with risk appetite dampened ahead of the incoming deluge of central bank policy announcements including the latest FOMC rate decision and dot plot projections. ASX 200 was dragged lower by the commodity-related sectors including energy after oil prices eased back from YTD highs although losses were cushioned by resilience in consumer stocks. Nikkei 225 gradually weakened after the latest trade data showed Japanese exports and imports remained in contraction territory, albeit not as bad as feared. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp conformed to the subdued mood after the PBoC unsurprisingly maintained its benchmark 1-year and 5-year Loan Prime Rates at 3.45% and 4.20%, respectively, while Country Garden’s dollar bondholders have been left in the dark regarding a coupon payment which was due on Monday although the developer still has a 30-day grace period. Top Asian News Chinese Loan Prime Rate 1Y (Sep) 3.45% vs. Exp. 3.45% (Prev. 3.45%); 5Y (Sep) 4.20% vs. Exp. 4.20% (Prev. 4.20%) PBoC official said China's monetary policy still has ample policy room to respond to unexpected challenges and changes, while they will continue to implement prudent monetary policy and step up counter-cyclical adjustments. Furthermore, the PBoC will keep liquidity reasonably ample and enhance the stability of credit growth, according to Reuters. NDRC Vice Chairman Cong Liang said China's macroeconomic policies have been effective and that China's economy faces a lot of difficulties and challenges, while he added that economic positives are increasing and those shorting China will surely be proven wrong. US State Department said Climate Envoy Kerry met with Chinese Vice President Han and emphasised the need for China to raise ambition in efforts to accelerate decarbonisation and reduce emissions of methane, according to Reuters. China exported zero germanium and gallium products in August which are materials key to the semiconductor industry, according to customs data. European bourses are in the green, Euro Stoxx 50 +0.5%, with the FTSE 100 +0.7% outperforming after sub-forecast inflation data and associated GBP softness. Sectors are primarily firmer, Real Estate and Banking names are outperforming on the UK data while Energy and Basic Resources lag with benchmarks mixed/softer. Stateside, futures are essentially flat across the board ahead of the FOMC, ES +0.1%, NQ +0.1%; Top European News ECB's Schnabel says new supply-side shocks may pose upside risks to inflation; Dynamics in wage growth remain strong, while labour shortages persist; Energy shock threatens to leave permanent scars in the euro area. via a slide release The Times' Shadow MPC voted 7-2 in favour of a 25bps hike to the Bank Rate to "ensure inflation is finally under control". Swedish Finance Ministry says new spending in the 2024 budget totals SEK 39bln (exp. ~40bln); prioritising fighting inflation and supporting households/welfare. Swiss Government Forecasts (SECO): downgrades 2023 CPI (2.2%), upgrades 2024 CPI (1.9%); upgrades 2023 GDP, downgrades 2024 GDP; says global economy likely to take longer to recover from challenges assumed in the June forecast. Click here for more detail. UK PM Sunak has reportedly summoned his cabinet, according to Sun reporter Cole; "Looks like we may be hearing the new Net Zero plan today". FX Sterling undermined by softer than forecast UK CPI metrics pre-BoE as casts doubt over 25 bp rate hike, Cable retreats from 1.2397 to 1.2335 before recovering. Yen finally relents in battle to say above 148.00 vs. Dollar regardless of verbal intervention from a top Japanese FX diplomat. DXY regroups, but remains cautious within the 105.00-260 range awaiting Fed guidance. Euro retains sight of 1.0700 against Greenback and is flanked by option expiries. Loonie loses post-Canadian inflation data thrust as crude prices retreat, Usd/Cad straddles 1.3450 ahead of BoC minutes and conscious of 1.1 bn expiry interest nearby. PBoC set USD/CNY mid-point at 7.1732 vs exp. 7.2926 (prev. 7.1733) PBoC official Zou said the global FX market has seen great volatility this year and said more attention will be paid to changes in the yuan exchange rate against a basket of currencies. Zou added there is a solid foundation to keep the yuan exchange rate basically stable and said they will resolutely correct one-sided pro-cyclical behaviour for the yuan exchange rate, while they will resolutely curb disruptions to market order and guard against exchange rate overshooting risks. US Treasury Secretary Yellen said the Treasury generally understands the need to smooth out volatility in exchange rates but not to influence forex levels, while she added that the view on any Japanese yen intervention would depend on the circumstances, according to Reuters. Japan's top FX diplomat Kanda says excessive yen moves are not desirable and watching FX with a high level of urgency, while they will take appropriate steps on FX as needed and are closely communicating with US and overseas FX Fixed Income Gilts front-run debt recovery before Central Bank cavalry arrives as softer than consensus UK inflation data calls 25 bp BoE hike into question. 10-year bond extends to 96.49 from 95.99, Bunds and T-note tag along within 127.74-30 and 109-10/03+ respective ranges awaiting FOMC. Commodities Crude benchmarks pressured after seven consecutive sessions of upside and ahead of multiple days of broader macro risk events, with pressure potentially also emanating from the downbeat APAC tone. Dutch TTF has trimmed initial upside and has reverted back to the sub-37.50/MWh trough, as participants continue to focus on Australian updates. Most recently, downside came alongside Offshore saying negotiations resulted in some concession on both sides. Spot gold is flat with numerous technicals in close proximity, Palladium outperforms potentially on EU auto registration numbers while base peers have managed to lift off of initial lows. US Energy Inventory Data (bbls): Crude -5.3mln (exp. -2.2mln), Gasoline +0.7mln (exp. +0.3mln), Distillate -0.3mln (exp. +0.2mln), Cushing -2.6mln. Goldman Sachs raises its 12-month ahead Brent forecast to USD 100/bbl (prev. USD 93/bbl), expects modestly sharper inventory draws. Click here for more detail. Chevron (CVX) says no agreement has been reached with unions following further consultation sessions held this week with the Fair Work Commission. Ongoing lack of agreement reinforces the view that there is "no reasonable prospect of an agreement between the parties". Engaged in meaningful negotiations to finalise enterprise agreements with market competitive remuneration and conditions. However, unions continue to ask for terms significantly higher than the market. Australia's Offshore Alliance says negotiations before the commissioner were useful and resulted in some concessions on both sides; adds that members remain open to compromise but Chevron must table a viable offer. China's state planner NDRC to increase retail prices of gasoline and diesel by CNY 385/t and CNY 370/t respectively from September 21st. Geopolitics Gulf Cooperation Council Countries and the US called for the completion of the demarcation of Kuwaiti-Iraqi maritime borders and urged Iraq to settle its internal legal status to ensure regulation of maritime in the Khor Abdallah Waterway, while they also urged Iran to fully cooperate with the IAEA, according to a joint statement. Iranian President Raisi said Washington should prove its goodwill and determination for the revival of the 2015 nuclear pact, while he reportedly demanded that the US end its sanctions on Iran. US military official says the joint military exercises with Armenia will begin today on time. Ceasefire has reportedly been announced in Karabakh, according to Sputnik Armenia and Ifax; Karabakh Armenians to meet with Azeri authorities on September 21st, Ifax reports; Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister says Yerevan could theoretically live under Azerbaijan but dialogue is crucial. Russia's Kremlin says Russian President Putin is to meet China's top diplomat Wang Yi. US Event Calendar 07:00: Sept. MBA Mortgage Applications, prior -0.8% 14:00: Sept. Interest on Reserve Balances R, est. 5.40%, prior 5.40% 14:00: Sept. FOMC Rate Decision (Lower Boun, est. 5.25%, prior 5.25% 14:00: Sept. FOMC Rate Decision (Upper Boun, est. 5.50%, prior 5.50% DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap The long-term study shows how this has been the worst start to a decade for US Treasuries since our data begins in 1800 and yesterday incrementally added to this as 10yr US yields hit 15-plus year highs, with 2yrs at 16-year highs, just as we approach an important trio of central bank meetings. That starts with the Federal Reserve tonight, before we hear from the Bank of England tomorrow, and then the Bank of Japan on Friday morning. But despite all the recent speculation that central banks are near the end of their tightening cycles, the backdrop this week has been a much more hawkish one. For instance, oil prices hit new 10-month highs intra-day though they were marginally lower on the day by the close. We also had an upside surprise from Canada’s CPI, which added to the sense that rate cuts weren’t coming anytime soon. Of course, the main focus today will be on the Federal Reserve’s decision tonight, along with Chair Powell’s subsequent press conference. In terms of the actual decision, they’re widely expected to leave rates unchanged, so the bigger focus is likely to be on their latest Summary of Economic Projections, which includes the dot plot for where officials see rates over the years ahead. At the last quarterly release in June, the dot plot pointed to two further rate hikes by year-end, and we got one of them at the most recent meeting in July. Our US economists still expect the Fed to signal one further hike this year, but they think Powell will leave open the question of when that tightening could occur, and will lean heavily on a message of data dependency. And even though they expect the Fed’s forecasts to show softer inflation, they think that stronger growth and lower unemployment should counterbalance that, meaning that the 2024 dot will show one less rate cut in 2024 as well. See their full preview here. We’ll see where things stand after the Fed’s decision, but a key story for much of yesterday was the continued rise in oil prices. Brent Crude almost reached $96/bl yesterday morning but it retreated to close a touch below Monday’s 10-month high (-0.10% to $94.34/bbl) and this morning is trading at $93.23/bbl as we go to print. So a big correction in the last 15 hours from the peaks. Elsewhere on the energy front, we saw a sizeable spike in European natural gas prices. One month TTF gas futures were up +9.84% to EUR 37.4/MWh, their highest level in three weeks, amid delays to production at Norwegian gas fields. In other inflationary news, we had another upside inflation surprise out of Canada, as CPI hit +4.0% in August (vs. +3.8% expected). That led investors to price in a much higher likelihood that the Bank of Canada would hike rates next month, with the likelihood up from 25% on Monday to 51% after the close yesterday. In turn, Canadian sovereign bonds significantly underperformed, with the 10yr yield up +11.4bps yesterday to a new post-2008 high. Those inflationary developments led investors to price in higher rates for longer. Indeed, the rate priced in for the Fed’s December 2024 meeting hit a new high for the cycle at 4.63%. That means less than three 25bp cuts are now priced in by end-2024. That helped boost yields across the curve, with the 2yr Treasury yield (+3.7bps) closing at a new high for this cycle at 5.09%, and the 10yr yield (+5.6bps) also closed at a new cycle high of 4.36%. It was much the same story in Europe, where yields on 10yr bunds (+3.0bps) and BTPs (+0.7bps) hit a 6-month high, whilst yields on 10yr French OATs (+2.8bps) closed at their highest since 2012. The only exception to this pattern were yields on 10yr gilts (-4.9bps), which fell ahead of this morning’s CPI report for August. That’ll be released shortly after we go to press, and will be the last big data release ahead of the Bank of England’s decision tomorrow. Headline is expected to pick up two tenths to 7% YoY with core down a tenth to 6.8% YoY. The prospect of higher rates provided a tough backdrop for equities, though the S&P 500 crept back up in the last few hours of trading from being down -0.8% at the early session lows to close 'only' -0.22% lower, albeit to a 3-week low. The moderate decline was a broad-based one, with 8 of 10 S&P 500 sector groups down on the day. The other major US indices saw similar declines, including the Dow Jones (-0.31%) and the NASDAQ (-0.23%), whilst the small-cap Russell 2000 (-0.42%) fell to its lowest level since late-June. In Europe the picture was a bit more positive, but the STOXX 600 still fell -0.04%. In Asia, the Nikkei (-0.36%), Hang Seng (-0.58%), CSI (-0.31%), Shanghai Composite (-0.34%) and the KOSPI (-0.05%) are all slightly lower alongside S&P 500 (-0.11%) and NASDAQ 100 (-0.16%) futures. Early morning data showed that Japan’s exports dropped -0.8% y/y in August (v/s -2.1% expected) and against a -0.3% in July, making it the second month of declines (even if better than expected) mainly due to weak exports to China (-11.0% y/y). Meanwhile, imports weakened -17.8% y/y in August less than the expected fall of -20.0% as against a revised decline of -13.6%. In FX, the Japanese yen pared its initial gains against the dollar to trade at 147.81 (+0.03%) after US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen stated that the US would show understanding over Japan’s intervention to support its currency if the measures are aimed at smoothing out undue volatility. You're unlikely to see anything ahead of the FOMC and BoJ (Friday) but this maybe makes intervention a bit easier going forward. Elsewhere, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) left its 1-yr and 5-yr loan prime rates unchanged at 3.45% and 4.2%, respectively. When it came to yesterday’s other data, US housing starts fell significantly more than expected in August, with an annualised rate of 1.283m (vs. 1.439m expected). That’s their lowest level since May 2020, when the economy was still affected by the initial wave of Covid-19. However, building permits moved up to an annualised 1.543m (vs. 1.440m expected), which is their highest level since October. Permits tend to be the more reliable data point so the uncertainty around housing continues after Monday's poor NAHB. Separately in the Euro Area, the final August CPI reading was revised down to +5.2%, compared with the initial flash reading at +5.3%. To the day ahead now, and the main highlight will be the Fed’s latest policy decision and Chair Powell’s press conference. Other central bank speakers include the ECB’s Elderson. Data releases include the UK CPI and German PPI for August. Lastly, today’s earnings releases include FedEx. Tyler Durden Wed, 09/20/2023 - 08:14.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytSep 20th, 2023

Meet the typical Hong Kong millennial: They"re supporting their parents, can"t afford to buy homes, and have zero interest in moving to mainland China

Millennials are the last generation born before the July 1, 1997, handover of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to the People's Republic of China. Hongkongers walking in Causeway Bay.Marc Fernandes/NurPhoto via Getty Images Over 80% of millennials in Hong Kong live with their parents.  The 2019-2020 protests had an impact on their mindset. Hong Kong's millennials differ from their elders by being more vocal, expressive, and confident in both personality and work. At 33, Ken Ho is what many Hong Kongers aspire to be. At 33, Ken Ho earns well above the average annual salary in Hong Kong.Ken Ho Born and raised in Hong Kong, Ho attended one of the city's top schools before heading to University College London. There, he obtained a Bachelor of Science in economics. He went on to get an MSc in finance at Imperial College London. His parents paid for his entire education.When he came back to Hong Kong, Ho landed a role as an equity research associate at Fidelity Investments, where he worked for four years. Last year, he got his current job as a vice president at a venture capital firm. He earns 1.5 million Hong Kong dollars a year, or $191,000, including the base salary and three months' bonus — well above the average annual salary in Hong Kong. Ho lives in a one-bedroom apartment with his girlfriend in Kennedy Town, a popular and family-friendly expat neighborhood. Like many homes in Hong Kong, their apartment is small, and it's expensive: The space is 430 square feet and costs HK$27,000 a month. Ho faces a struggle many Hong Kongers are all too familiar with — not being able to afford to buy a home. As he's paying the mortgage on his parents' place, he hasn't been able to secure one for himself. "Hong Kong property prices are unreasonable, so at this point renting is more favorable than buying," he told Insider.But Ho's situation is still far better than the average millennial in Hong Kong.Summer Ng, 33, works as an events organizer and makes HK$22,000 a month. She lives at home with her mother and father, who own their 709-square-foot place in Kowloon Bay, an area nestled between the working-class neighborhoods of Kwun Tong and Ngau Tau Kok. Ng has no plans to buy her own place anytime soon due to the extortionate prices. "I don't want to be a property slave," she said.Ng and Ho are part of the millennial generation, which counts those who were born between 1980 and 1994. Millennials account for roughly 20% of Hong Kong's population of 7.5 million people.Millennials are the last generation born before the July 1, 1997, handover of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to the People's Republic of China. The event marked the end of 156 years of British rule in the former colony. Those born after the handover have been dubbed the "cursed generation," "1997 kids," the "handover generation," and "handover babies." Millennials are the youngest Hong Kongers with memories of living in a British colony.Insider spoke to six Hong Kong millennials in their 20s and 30s, along with financial and generational experts, to find out what makes this generation tick.More than 80% of Hong Kong's millennials live at home with their parents.Aerial drone view of apartments in Kowloon Bay.GettyAccording to a global survey of 13,000 millennials between the ages of 22 and 29, including 1,000 millennials from Hong Kong, conducted by CBRE Hong Kong in 2016, 84% of Hong Kong millennials live with their parents, accounting for the highest percentage in Asia. Of these surveyed, 21% said they have no plans to leave the family home. About 70% of the surveyed Hong Kong millennials said they can only afford to buy or rent with financial support from family or friends.More recently, government data in 2019 showed that 60% of Hong Kongers between the ages of 25 and 34 are living with their parents, reported the BBC.In comparison, around 25% of millennials in the US live with their parents as of 2022, as published in a report by Property Management. Around 52% of millennials in the US are homeowners, according to Investopedia.In Hong Kong, it's not easy to buy a home. Hong Kong is the most expensive place to buy a house, according to the latest Global Living Report from CBRE. The average property price in Hong Kong is HK$9.8 million — the highest in the world."If I buy a property as a single person, there will be a lot of financial pressure," said Ng. "The continued high property prices make me feel uncomfortable and deterred from buying."Aniqah Bhatnagar, 27, was born in India and moved to Hong Kong at four months old, where she grew up and currently lives. With a permanent Hong Kong Identity Card, she works for a US law firm as a pitch specialist. She lives in an apartment with her mother in Kwun Tong, an area in east Kowloon that has become a hub for both residential and commercial purposes. Her mother owns the apartment. Bhatnagar cannot speak Cantonese, although it is the most commonly used language in Hong Kong. English is the co-official language of Hong Kong, and more than half the population can speak it. Bhatnagar said her long-term goal is to buy a home — but, like many Hong Kongers, Bhatnagar is finding it difficult to get her foot in the door."You have to have saved or have access to a significant amount of liquidity for a down payment," she said.They are focused on saving for the future. Wilson Ho looks out at the Ngong Ping 360 Hong Kong cable cars.Wilson HoWilson So, 36, works as a locksmith. He runs his business with a partner and can make up to HK$50,000 a month. He lives with his wife in a 550-square-foot home in Kai Tak, an up-and-coming part of the city with new high-rises, and pays HK$15,000 a month in rent. So said he saves about 30% of his income as "reserve" cash. Bhatnagar said she tries to save 60 to 70% of her salary, and does so without having to pay a hefty rent — although the "Asian parent gratitude fee is customary in my household," she said, explaining that there's an unspoken rule in Asian households whereby you give a certain percentage of your income back to your parents to thank them for raising you. "It's to show gratitude mainly,  but also to thank my mother because I don't pay rent in a terribly expensive city.Ng said she puts her savings in for future retirement, though it's not much with monthly savings of about HK$2,000 out of her salary. "I also use some as working capital for travel and emergencies," she said.The Hong Kong protests, followed by the pandemic, changed the city.A protester on June 12, 2019 in Hong Kong when crowds gathered in central Hong Kong as the city braced for another mass rally.Anthony Kwan/Getty ImagesThe Hong Kong protests took place between 2019 and 2020, with many students and adults taking to the streets to fight back against the government's decision to introduce an extradition bill between Hong Kong and China. Over six months, clashes between police and protestors caused disruption to city life. The tourism industry took a hit during this period, and the pandemic arrived shortly after. The extradition bill was eventually withdrawn.Ng said she has noticed changes in the city. "After the social incidents, the freedom of news and speech has indeed been restricted," she said. "Newspapers and editorials that once openly criticized the government and political figures, now rarely speak publicly. As for street demonstrations, even 'outspoken people' used to be common, but now they have disappeared."Bhatnagar doesn't see herself living in the city in the long run, saying she's looking to cities like Singapore or Sydney, as she's seen a shift in the job market, which is now more limited to non-Chinese speakers. That being said, the large exodus from Hong Kong during the protests and pandemic gave rise to more job opportunities in the market. Politically, Bhatnagar leans liberal. "The protests were an incredibly uncertain time, but I did feel slightly removed from them, as a lot of the nationalism that was in the atmosphere during that time, was not a feeling I shared," she said. "Hong Kong has changed in the last five years due to the protests and the pandemic and is not somewhere I see myself long term, but that is not a direct result of the protests, it is due to larger issues such as a language barrier in the career workplace."Xu Huang, a chair professor in the department of management, marketing, and information systems at Hong Kong Baptist University said that younger people tend to have different values and focus on self-expression, "They're more willing to tell people their needs, what they want, and ask for help," he said.Many Hong Kong millennials tend to have a localized lens, Huang said: They are focused on local job opportunities, local issues, and the local environment.Summer Ng, 33, is happy to call Hong Kong home.Summer NgMany millennials choose to stay put in Hong Kong."Hong Kong is very unique compared to other European countries and even the mainland. When I ask if millennials want to move somewhere, they say they want to stay in Hong Kong," said Huang. "Even going to the mainland is not in their consideration."This stands in contrast to his observations of European millennials, who he says are more willing to move."In many European countries, millennials are looking for more opportunities outside of their own environments, reaching as far as Asia or South America," said Huang. "Hong Kong locals, in comparison, are very localized, focusing on localized job opportunities, education, and environment. This could be due to a variety of factors, including the fact that Hong Kong has a good education system, Huang said. According to The Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019, growing up in a world of accelerated transformation has generally left millennials and the generation after them, Gen Zs, feeling unsettled about the future. Despite global economic growth, expansion, and opportunities, the survey saw these youths respond with deep declines towards their country's social and political climates, institutions like the government, the media, and business.The job market in Hong Kong is notoriously competitive.Central is Hong Kong’s business and retail district.ymgerman/Getty ImagesThe employment rate among millennials in Hong Kong is high.According to the Census and Statistics Department, the employment rate for individuals between the ages of 25 and 39 is between 85.2% and 86.3%, as of June 2023. For comparison, the employment rate for US millennials working full-time in 2018 is 66%, according to Statista.The average salary in Hong Kong as of 2023 is around HK$36,583 per month. The average Hong Kong millennial currently makes less than that. Those between ages 25 and 34 make an average of HK$19,700 a month, per Morgan McKinley. Those between 35 and 44 make an average of HK$21,600.Like other parts of Asia — including Singapore and South Korea — many individuals in Hong Kong have been left overqualified for the job market after obtaining multiple degrees in an attempt to stand out from the rest. This, combined with the effects of the 2008 financial crisis when Hong Kong SAR's GDP growth declined from 6.4% in 2007 to 2.3 in 2008, has contributed to a highly competitive job search process for millennials in Hong Kong.Hong Kong has some of the world's top universities. University of Hong Kong was ranked 31st and Chinese University of Hong Kong was 45, on the World University Rankings in 2023. Annual tuition fees for local students start from HK$17,290, or $2,210. By contrast, state colleges in the US cost an average of $10,230 per year, for residents.Zurine Lau, 29, works as an account manager at a public relations firm, where she makes around HK$30,00 a month. She studied translation and interpretation at university. "Unfortunately I'm still repaying my institutional fee," she said. She lives with her parents and brother in Yuen Long, a town in the western New Territories known for its villages and hiking trails.Lau said she tries to save about 25% of her monthly salary and has no plans to stay in Hong Kong for the long term. "With the increasing house prices, it's getting harder to buy a home here in Hong Kong," she said. Like many of their global counterparts, Hong Kongers are getting married and starting families later in life.Bhatnagar, 27, said financial security is a huge priority before considering kids.Aniqah BhatnagarThe median age of women at first marriage in Hong Kong in 2022 was about 30 years old, according to Statistica. In the US, the corresponding age for women is around 28. Women in Hong Kong are delaying childbirth. The median age at which women had their first child in Hong Kong increased from 26.6 years in 1986 to 31.8 years in 2018, per the Equal Opportunities Commission.A survey published in August by the Family Planning Association found that the number of children among the city's couples dropped to a new low of 0.9.Nearly all of the millennials Insider spoke to for this story expressed a similar sentiment on the topic of childbirth: It's prohibitively expensive to raise a child in Hong Kong. Ng, who is unmarried and has no children, said financial concerns will play a big part in her decision whether to have kids or not. "I will consider getting married, but as for having children, I must have enough financial support first," she said.Bhatnagar said financial security is a huge priority before considering kids. She doesn't foresee herself having kids in the next few years.Ho, the venture capitalist, isn't in a rush to get married and start a family yet, either. "I don't think the environment in Hong Kong is suitable for raising kids," he said, adding that he would consider having children in another country.Shin, 38, and his partner are not considering having kids.Nick ShinNick Shin, 38, a fitness instructor who rents a 200-square-foot apartment with his boyfriend in Tai Koo, said he and his partner are not considering having kids. "We don't know if we can take care of a human life," he said, adding that if they were to buy a home, it would be in another city, not Hong Kong.According to the Hong Kong government's immigration department website, every marriage must be the union of one man and one woman. Same-sex marriages or civil unions are not recognized in Hong Kong. However, same-sex partners do have equal parental rights over their children, are eligible for dependent visas, and can elect for joint tax assessment, per Hong Kong Free Press. However, Hong Kong's top court recently ordered the city's government to set up a new system that can legally recognize same-sex couples, according to CNN. This was considered a victory for LGBTQ+ activists in the city, though the decision didn't include fulfilling their demands for full marriage equality.So, the locksmith, meanwhile, is married and has one kid on the way. The news was "unexpected," he said.  Despite his growing household, he says he has no plans to move somewhere larger, or get another job, after he has his first kid.Hong Kong's millennials are similar to their global counterparts in many ways. They're getting married later in life, unwilling to sacrifice their entire lives to their jobs, and struggling to buy property.Zurine Lau, 29, lives with her parents and brother.Zurine LauStrikingly, several Hong Kong millennials said they feel different from Hong Kong's older generations. Shin, the fitness instructor, said he has very "traditional Chinese parents." "They want me to do a 'nicer' job such as an office job, but I never listen to them," he said.Hong Kong millennials struggle to prioritize well-being, according to a survey run by British health insurance company Bupa. The study surveyed 500 millennials aged 25 to 40 in Hong Kong between July and August 2022. It found that the generation's top three goals are sleeping, exercising, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. However, for many, those goals are a pipe dream: Over half of those surveyed said they don't have enough time to maintain a healthy lifestyle."Hong Kong is changing in so many ways and on various levels," Lau, the account manager at a public relations firm said. "I'm longing for a big change in lifestyle — that's why I want to live abroad," she added. "I believe the only thing that will never change here is the fast pace of life. This might be the reason millennials didn't want to stick around,"  Lau added.Overall, Ng is happy to call this place home, despite the high prices. "I will stay in Hong Kong. I am a native of Hong Kong. Most of my family and friends live in Hong Kong. If I live abroad, I will not be used to it. Hong Kong is a very convenient city. No matter the transportation or the food, it is good."This story is part of a series called "Millennial World," which seeks to examine the state of the generation around the globe.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytSep 17th, 2023

You Can"t Fight The Culture War Without Making Movies

You Can't Fight The Culture War Without Making Movies Authored by Michael Pack via RealClear Wire, Conservatives complain that they are losing the culture wars. And they are right. That won’t change until conservatives actually produce culture, which would be good for everyone. American culture would be enriched by art made by artists with diverse viewpoints and experiences. Conservatives could start with independent and documentary films; they are increasingly influential but much less expensive than Hollywood movies. Yet, many, on both sides, don’t believe conservatives can make good films. I disagree, and I am in a position to know. Along with my wife and business partner, Gina Cappo Pack, I have been producing documentaries for many years. Over 15 of our films have been nationally broadcast on PBS. All have won awards and garnered many favorable reviews. (A full list of our films along with clips can be found here.) So, I am a practitioner, a maker of culture, rather than a critic or expert.  In addition, I have run some major cultural institutions, including serving as president of the Claremont Institute, senior vice president for television programming at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and CEO of the United States Agency for Global Media, our government’s international broadcasters, including Voice of America. So, I also have the perspective of a media executive. Over the years, I have watched numerous conservative efforts to “take back the culture,” all pathetic failures. Capturing the Culture How did the left achieve cultural dominance? Not by accident or luck, but by hard work, a clear focus, and talent. In the late 1960s, the New Left called for a “long march through the institutions,” intending eventually to dominate all the elements of civil society. The phrase is attributed to German Marxist student leader Rudi Dutschke, who was echoing Mao’s famed actual “long march” leading to the Communists’ revolutionary takeover of China. The concept was picked up by the Frankfurt School and has roots in the influential Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci, who believed that cultural struggle inevitably precedes revolutionary class struggle. Student radicals knew they had failed to foment Marxist revolution in the 60s, so they turned to capturing the West’s cultural institutions. Their first target was the university, where, as student radicals, they were already well-positioned. They soon expanded to Hollywood. For example, Bert Schneider, one of the producers of “Easy Rider,” helped finance and plan Black Panther leader Huey Newton’s flight to Cuba to evade charges of shooting a 17-year-old prostitute. To the Hollywood elite, Schneider was just earning his street cred.  Today, their success is undeniable – in the universities, in Hollywood, the tech sector, woke corporations, and the permanent government bureaucracy. Along the way, their hard-core Marxism has morphed into a softer wokeism, at least for now. The left owns the narrative. Their version of contemporary events and history dominates – we are told that the American Revolution was fought to preserve slavery, the Cold War ended thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev, transgender athletes have a civil right to compete in sports with biological women, and the rest of the woke litany.  In the past, conservatives have downplayed the importance of culture, seeing its airy fictions as less serious than economics or politics. After losing many of their children and grandchildren to the progressive left, they have come to see the error of their ways, at least in theory. Many quote Andrew Breitbart’s aphorism that “politics is downstream of culture,” as if this were a new idea. It isn’t: In 1820, Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote that poets are “the unacknowledged legislators of the world,” and by “poets” he meant all artists. Plato and Aristotle understood this same idea thousands of years earlier, and they were none too happy about it, or at least ambivalent. The Importance of Story Conservatives talk about culture and storytelling all the time. But few of them really get it.  I watch a lot of conservative films, especially documentaries. Few are very good, as I am often told by my friends on the left, and most don’t even coherently tell a story. Preaching at the audience isn’t telling a story. A series of anecdotes is not a story. A story is something that happens to a protagonist, or a group of protagonists, with a beginning, middle, and end. It has a story arc. Characters change and develop. Ideas emerge from the action.  Let me offer two examples of how a story works, drawn from my own films. Our documentary, “Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words,” tells the story of Justice Clarence Thomas, from growing up in the segregated South to the Supreme Court. We let him tell his story himself. He is the only person interviewed, except his wife, Ginni. He looks directly at the camera as if speaking directly to the viewer.  The trailer can be found here. The film deals with race in America, originalism, the principles of the Founding, being a black conservative, and much more. Not through experts telling us what to think but through Clarence Thomas his own life story. Viewers can see for themselves how his worldview arose from the events of his life. To make a compelling story, we needed to structure the narrative to build to the right climactic moments, employing music, editing rhythms, visual imagery, and the rest of the cinematic toolkit.  Good documentary filmmakers reveal their biases not so much by distorting facts but by the stories they choose to tell. Several progressive filmmakers have chosen to tell the Ruth Bader Ginsburg story. Ginsburg was graced with two documentaries and a fictional feature film and became a pop culture heroine. All three films were widely acclaimed, and Robert Redford invited her to the Sundance Film Festival to celebrate her even more. We chose to tell Clarence Thomas’ story. America needs both.  Our film, “The Last 600 Meters,” tells a different kind of story, depicting the biggest battles of the Iraq war, Fallujah and Najaf, in 2004. A climax is a scene toward the end of the film, one of the most intense firefights of the war, called Hell House. The clip can be found here. I am gratified that many senior military leaders have praised the film. For example, Gen. James Mattis, who was in charge of the first battle of Fallujah, said:  “The Last 600 Meters reveals the infantry’s world as it has seldom been seen by those who have not experienced it. “This film, uncaptured by politics or ideology, reveals the most bruising ethical environment on Earth and the character of the young men that our nation sends in harm’s way – its infantry. It does so without veneer or apology, and in the tumult shown, understanding builds to respect for those who do our nation’s bidding in the highly unforgiving environment of ‘The Last 600 Meters.’ This film is a classic, unique in its approach and unique in what it reveals.” However, the film has not yet been released. The reasons reveal how differently the left and right respond to movies and understand stories.  Although the Corporation for Public Broadcasting was the principal funder, PBS rejected the finished film, which had never before happened in my entire career. They said it was too pro-military and too sympathetic to the young soldiers and Marines. They accused me of using selective casting to make them look more attractive and articulate, as if they needed my help. In other words, PBS didn’t like what they took to be its message.  Next, we tried to raise money to release the film in movie theaters hoping to generate audience buzz, and perhaps a good cable or streaming deal. I went around the country screening the film and meeting with wealthy donors. I was accompanied by one of our executive producers, Steve Bannon (yes, that Steve Bannon, then a movie guy, and clearly a great salesman). Consistently, these potential donors told us that, while the film was emotionally moving, they didn’t know at the end what they were supposed to think. Was it pro- or anti-war? Why was there no “call to action”? At that time, we failed to raise the necessary funds.  Clearly, the film deals with issues like patriotism, honor, the nature of counterinsurgency warfare, and how the military functions – but through the medium of story. For our potential donors, it was not explicit enough. They were uncomfortable with the ambiguities of the story. But that was part of the point of the film. War is messy, and certainties vanish. (PBS executives, on the other hand, thought they could see past the ambiguities to what they took to be our message.) We still hope to release the film. Perhaps its moment has come. With the war in Ukraine, the debacle in Afghanistan, and other ongoing worldwide threats, we need to decide how we want to wage war. It would be wise to look back at what happened last time, during the biggest battles since Vietnam, Fallujah and Najaf.  What is wanted is not merely storytelling. Story is the beginning, not the end. The viewer’s mind must be teased to see more than just a rollicking good tale, through ambiguity, metaphor, and the rest. The story must be in the service of ideas.  The Left’s Documentary Ecosystem Not only does the left have a better intuitive grasp of story, but they are also more serious about developing the institutions to support story-telling culture.  Over the last 50 years, the left has poured time, money, and creativity into this project. Looking only at documentaries and small independent features, I estimate that the left spends tens of billions of dollars annually. For example, the annual budget of public broadcasting, radio, and television is about $2.5 billion. Netflix, according to the Wall Street Journal, spent $17 billion last year on content. Not all of this money is going to left-leaning products, but much of it is. And these are only two out of many left-leaning media enterprises. On the other side, the right spends, maybe, tens of millions of dollars on films and television. So, over 50 years, this gap has grown to hundreds of billions of dollars, which has underwritten a progressive ecosystem of supportive and reinforcing institutions, in addition to many, many powerful films.  The left starts nurturing young filmmakers right from the beginning of their careers and then at every step along the way.  It starts with film schools. Virtually every college and university in America has a film school, and there are about 4,000 colleges. Almost every film school professor is a self-described progressive. I have never met one who is conservative. Every year, these film schools graduate hundreds of thousands of progressive aspiring filmmakers (along with camera operators, editors, film composers, etc.). Only a small percentage have the talent, ambition, and drive to succeed, and they become the basis for the next generation of progressive creative talent. On the right, we have no such winnowing process. We are left with the few filmmakers who fall off the left-wing apple cart.  After film school, there are many training programs for progressive young filmmakers to sharpen their skills and make industry contacts.  Then, when looking for their first job, they can apply to any of the vast networks of progressive film companies, which range from one-man shops to divisions of major studios.  When our budding young progressive filmmakers have acquired enough experience and are ready to make their first big film, they can turn to an extensive network of progressive funding sources. All the largest American foundations, including the Ford Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation, have divisions devoted to supporting “social justice” documentaries. The federal government funds documentaries through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Science Foundation, among others. The staff of these government entities is very focused, explicitly, on social justice and DEI, and their grants reflect that.  For-profit funding is also available. Several boutique distribution and production companies have been created by wealthy leftist billionaires, often from Silicon Valley, to support woke films, such as Participant, bankrolled by eBay founder Jeff Skoll. HBO, Showtime, Amazon, Netflix, and other cable and streaming companies commission woke documentaries and nonfiction series, in addition to acquiring them.  As these young progressives start to produce their films, they can rely on a talent pool of skilled artists and craftsmen, from cameramen and composers to editors and computer graphics artists, who proudly call themselves progressive, too.  When their woke film is finished, how do they make sure a large audience sees it? Our up-and-coming progressive filmmakers have a host of options, especially among cable and streaming services. Years ago, we all hoped that these new companies, like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, would provide a diversity of programming, different from the standard Hollywood fare. This has failed to materialize, in part because they are run by the same progressive Hollywood and New York elites that run the legacy media companies.  Finally, our progressive filmmakers can enter their films in prestigious film festivals, like Sundance or Telluride, or the many smaller ones, including ones dedicated to environmental, LGBT, or other niche markets. Then, they might be lucky enough to get an award, from the Oscars and Emmys to many others, all run by the same woke club.  Not surprisingly, with all this attention and need for content, there is a renaissance of documentary and nonfiction filmmaking. Both feature-length documentary films and short documentaries are being produced in large numbers. Many are of very high quality, but almost all are very progressive, especially in the choice of subject. For example, the proposed Emmy nominees for nonfiction in one year included documentaries and series celebrating Stacey Abrams, Greta Thunberg, progressive Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner, and the ’70s black militant group MOVE, a virtual litany of woke causes and progressive heroes and victims. None had voices questioning the saintly nature of their protagonists.  The Myth of the Left’s Artistic Superiority The left’s dominance of the culture may seem daunting. This should not deter us. To put our problem in perspective, look back at how radical leaders felt when they began their march through the institutions. They, too, were discouraged.  Frankfurt school writers decried the hopelessly bourgeois nature of mid-century America, narcotized, according to them, by TV shows like “Bonanza” and “Father Knows Best.” How would they ever radicalize these comfortable middle-class Americans? But they persisted and are now rewarded with success. We can succeed, too. A restoration is easier than a revolution.  Cowards who want to surrender in the culture wars often claim we can’t fight back because “the left is naturally more artistic and given to storytelling. Our side is more interested in politics and making money.” This may describe our society as it is now, but it is not a natural law.  I am not even sure what this assertion means. Great art and artists are hard to pigeonhole, and the politics of the past are very different from the politics of the present. Just to cite a few examples: Virgil’s Aeneid, the most influential poem in human history, glorified the Roman Emperor Augustus. Dante’s Divine Comedy longed for a reconstituted pan-European monarchy and a universal church. Shakespeare’s history plays celebrated and justified Elizabethan rule.  Whatever you call these works, they are not left-leaning or anti-authoritarian.  The trope of the radical artist defying convention and society is comparatively recent, a creation of the Romantic Movement, with its Byronic rebel artists and its critique of industrialization and the values of the rising bourgeoisie. But, over the last two centuries, there are plenty of exceptions to this Romantic myth, from Robert Frost to T. S. Eliot.  My part of the cultural battlefield is the movies. The movie industry itself is the best rejoinder to the myth of leftist artistic superiority. Hollywood, in its golden age, from the 1920s through the 1950s, consistently made movies with a patriotic subtext, selling the American Dream to audiences here and all over the world. These movies celebrated faith, family, and individual opportunity. Hollywood moguls, like Louis B. Mayer, Jack Warner, and Samuel Goldwyn, were Jewish immigrants who fled oppression and pogroms in Eastern Europe. They prized American liberty and freedom, having bitter memories of its opposite. And, of course, selling the American dream was good business, leading to immensely popular movies, since these movies mirrored the values of their countrymen.  The iconic American genre is the Western, whose greatest director was John Ford, and its greatest star was John Wayne. Ford’s movies, like “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence” or “The Searchers,” tell complex stories of the settling of the West, which are basically positive but with complicating features. John Wayne often portrays the rugged individualist hero, who is maybe too violent for civilization but necessary for its success. These movies, and icons like Wayne, made people all over the world want to come to America and be Americans.  When it comes to storytelling, in truth, the advantage is all on our side, not on the left’s. Our stories, especially about America, have heroes and villains, and great world-changing adventures. These are stories past generations of Americans have loved hearing. Moreover, they are actually true and reflect even deeper truths. The left has had to turn all this on its head, with anti-heroes, nihilistic postmodern Westerns, dystopian anti-free market fantasies, and the rest. With the help of deep pockets and the control of all cultural institutions, they have done surprisingly well with a weak hand.  Solutions America may be in a culture war, but only one side is fighting. The progressive left is making culture. We, on the conservative right, merely complain about it. Imagine a war where one side deploys troops and weapons, and the other side complains about the first group’s inhumane behavior. No wonder we are losing. We haven’t really begun to fight, to get our troops into the field.  We need to start producing culture. To give you an idea of what can be accomplished, let me describe what my team is doing. We have launched a new production company, Palladium Pictures, to help fill this need. We aim to tell stories the progressive left ignores, downplays, or covers in a one-sided fashion. Fortunately, we have a generous multi-year grant to help us get started. Naturally, we will need to fundraise aggressively to realize the grandest of our ambitions. Our plan has three parts: new long-form documentaries, short documentaries, and an incubator to train the next generation of right-of-center filmmakers. Long-Form Documentaries As is typical for a production company, we have many projects in development and the list is always growing. Let me briefly describe three from this list, without too much detail.  “Seattle 2020” (working title): The protests and riots following the death of George Floyd, whatever their political goals, also led to billions of dollars of property damage and many violent crimes. Yet, there are no major documentaries about those riots, while, according to the Washington Post, there are over a dozen films in production about the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol. The events in Seattle that summer are a good window into what was happening across the country and into some of the movements and issues that are still with us. Immediately after George Floyd’s killing, protests and riots began, first in downtown Seattle and then in the fashionable Capitol Hill area. Eventually, the police decided to abandon the Capitol Hill police station and permit the protestors to run the six blocks around it as they saw fit, with barriers to entry and their own security force. The protestors first called the area The Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) but later changed the name to The Capitol Hill Organized Protest (the CHOP). Police, fire, and EMS were forbidden entry. During the day there was free food, music, and speeches, while nighttime was more violent: Many stores were looted, there were several shootings, and, finally, two murders forced the city to clear the CHOP, though protests continued throughout the year. We will examine the story from all sides, giving all points of view, from protestors to police to city officials, a chance to speak. “Fracking” (working title): Extracting natural gas through hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, commonly called “fracking,” has revolutionized energy production in the U.S. We have gone from a net importer of petroleum products to a net exporter, not without controversy. Critics claim fracking is polluting drinking water and releasing large amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas, into the environment. Defenders of the method point to the huge new resources of natural gas that can be reached by horizontal drilling, fueling economic growth in America and around the world. They add that natural gas replacing coal has lowered America’s CO2 emissions. Rather than feature the argument or profile victims, as is often done, we will follow a few fracking entrepreneurs as they try to drill for natural gas, encountering opposition from regulators, environmentalists, and government at all levels. Although all these people will get a chance to make their case fully, our story will be driven by our entrepreneurs’ ongoing efforts to find the energy the world needs and to pursue the American dream of success through achievement. “Rediscovering Thomas Jefferson”: America’s Founding Fathers are under attack as never before, from tearing down their statues to the 1619 Project’s claim that the American Revolution was mainly about protecting slavery. So, this seems to us a good time to reexamine our founding. We have done two previous films on founders, “Rediscovering George Washington” and “Rediscovering Alexander Hamilton,” which placed their lives in the context of today’s world.  Next, we want to turn to Thomas Jefferson. These days he is under attack not only for being a slave owner who is believed to have fathered children with an enslaved woman, but also for his Enlightenment ideas, as realized in the Declaration of Independence, whose vision of “equality” differs from contemporary notions of “equity.” We will present him, warts and all, but not just the warts, the brilliance, too.  These are three very different documentaries. Together they can begin to change the debate about the recent past, the present, and our history – and point the way for others to do so, too. A small number of well-crafted, fair-minded films can make a difference. Short Documentaries We are working with a major media organization to put out a series of short documentaries, telling the full story behind news items and recent events. Topics under consideration include aspects of the response to COVID-19, cancel culture, and the parent movement to challenge public schools. These shorts will deal with issues by finding the human story that reveals the essence of what is at stake, rather than being issue-oriented essays, with a lot of explanation and narration. The format will be closer to the New York Times’ Op-Docs, rather than the video essays popular on conservative websites. Although topical, these films will not be advocacy. While relying on good reporting, presenting a fair consideration of the issues, and featuring all sides, these will be primarily emotional and thought-provoking films. The New York Times’ Op-Docs, and others on the left, do this well. We need to catch up. Since are partnered with a major media organization and will be producing several every year, these shorts will be able to gradually grow their audience and become a brand. We will use all the new ways of delivering video, from streaming services to X (formerly known as Twitter) to new social media outlets. These docs will enable us to deal with hot-button issues with a quicker turnaround time, before the conventional wisdom is settled. If the news is the first draft of history, these will be the second draft (and our longer docs, the third draft). In a world bogged down by the 24-hour news cycle, these docs will offer in-depth journalism that captivates as much as it investigates and informs.  Incubator In the future, who will make movies that will tell “the other side of the story,” neglected by Hollywood and today’s cultural establishment? How can we create the missing talent pool, cast aside by the progressive left’s ecosystem of institutions from film school to the Oscars? To solve that problem in the nonfiction realm, we are launching an incubator program to train and nurture a core group of the next generation of right-of-center documentary filmmakers. Through a competitive process, we will select several fellows, whose short film project we will fully fund and distribute. These films will be made under our direct supervision and tutelage, so the filmmakers will receive mentorship and guidance. In the course of making these short films, a new generation of non-woke filmmakers will learn producing skills, narrative techniques, and journalistic judgment.  Each year this network of young, talented filmmakers will grow. They will go on from our incubator to make bigger and better films. They will help and collaborate with each other. We are committed to helping them throughout their careers. Over time, as a group, they will change the documentary film landscape, challenging the notion that conservatives can’t make movies, not in theory, but by producing great films. The program is outlined here. Conclusion Contrary to conventional wisdom, I am much more optimistic about the changing the culture, especially through the story-telling media, than about reforming politics and the government. Sure, conservatives can win elections, but the permanent bureaucracy has spent decades burrowing in and is protected by civil service rules so even victories at the ballot box don’t mean what they once did. Yet, anyone can make a movie. Although all the supporting institutions are on the left, entertainment remains a free market. We can nurture our own filmmakers and make our own movies. Today, there are many more ways for a non-woke film to reach an audience. You can stream it from your own YouTube site. You can make a deal with one of the several new conservative streaming sites. It’s also possible that you can persuade one of the major streaming services to pick it up. After all, we have been successful for decades in getting our films nationally broadcast in primetime on PBS, hardly a right-wing outlet. The key is to have truly excellent content, whose value cannot be denied. Content is indeed king.  We can also build cultural institutions of our own – and create an alternative ecosystem, modeled on the successful one the left has built over the decades. By learning from their experience, we can do it all much faster, using newer technology. America, it is often said, is roughly divided into thirds: one-third on the left, one-third on the right, and one-third in the middle. I believe the latter two-thirds would support and welcome documentaries and feature films that present a positive, but accurate, portrait of America, reflecting traditional values without preaching and without distortion.  We need to summon the will to do it – and the funding. Michael Pack is a documentary filmmaker, who has produced over 15 award-winning documentaries which were nationally broadcast on public television, most recently “Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words.” He has also served as a media, government, and non-profit executive. Tyler Durden Thu, 09/14/2023 - 23:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 15th, 2023

I was at Burning Man. It was even wilder than you"ve heard.

Social media was full of misinformation about the desert turning to chaos and violence. But in the mud, the party went on. Despite the food rationing, the mandatory pee bottles, and the malfunctioning infrastructure, Burners scraped the dirt off their shoes and got down.Arantza Pena Popo/InsiderAround 3 o'clock in the morning on Sunday, as I sipped golden milk and watched a chess game beside a geodesic dome where revelers danced shoulder-to-shoulder beneath a propane jet shooting constant waves of flame, not long after an intimidatingly high-energy stranger had power-washed my friends' and my buttocks to the rhythm of thumping techno, I came to a conclusion: Burning Man wasn't completely ruined.The previous night, heavy rain had transformed the weeklong event's normally dusty environs into a muddy quagmire. Cell reception was nonexistent, and rumors on the ground came in thick and fast. The roads were impossible to drive on, and a sheriff-enforced lockdown would keep us in the sludge for days after our intended departure, some said. FEMA was being called in to run disaster response — or was it the National Guard that was airdropping supplies? There was an Ebola outbreak. No, scratch that, E.coli, and all 70,000-odd attendees were being secretly quarantined. Social media was having a field day turning Burning Man into the epicenter of schadenfreude and misinformation, the few people who managed to connect to the internet reported.The reality of Burning Man was not quite so dire. Despite the food rationing, the mandatory pee bottles, and the malfunctioning infrastructure, Burners, as they call themselves, scraped the dirt off their shoes and got down. Late night raves were thrown. Gifts were given. Joy was shared. Some guests even got married. Still, the quasi-apocalyptic revelry came with a price. Not only was there the exorbitant entry fees and additional costs (and labor, and logistics) of building and maintaining a temporary city in the Nevada high desert, the flooding risked significant environmental damage to the event's pristine ecological setting. Litter and detritus spread across several square miles, submerged in muck — leaving a daunting job for the cleaning crews. 2023 was my first year at Burning Man. It was an extraordinary time, both euphoric and truly miserable. I came away from it with memories, mud on my face, and a question: At what point does the spectacle stop being worth the cost?I'd wanted to go to Burning Man for years. What were they doing out there?Emerging out of the San Francisco art scene in the early nineties, Burning Man is an annual campout-slash-rave-slash-art-exhibition-slash-ephemeral-city that blooms and disappears in the Black Rock Desert, a bleak and inhospitable lake bed in northern Nevada. Originally a haven for performing artists, musicians, and those seeking alternative community, it has in more recent years become associated with, and purportedly corrupted by, Silicon Valley techies, influencers, and the rich. Even before this new guard arrived, it had a reputation for apocalyptic cosplay — with the setting known for its frequent alkaline dust storms, alternately freezing and scalding temperatures, and general hostility to almost all kinds of plant and animal life. I wanted to see that all for myself. The alleged cultural clash. The large-scale art installations. The commitment to a decommodified "gifting" philosophy, in which no money is allowed to change hands. And, yeah, the sheer hedonism of a weeklong bacchanal in the desert. In 2023, it felt like the stars finally aligned. I arrived on Wednesday, August 30, and over my first two days I had a delightful time.  Moments after checking in, an affable stranger tried to pour mescal down my throat as I erected my tent. We hopped on a shimmering two-story "art car" (basically, a modified double-decker bus decked out with lights all over its exterior and a thumping sound system), and rode it out to the central playa, a sea of lights and sounds stretching out before us. There were heaving dance-parties along the central street. Attendees strewn in LEDs and glowing wires for visibility against the night, an endless swarm of technicolor fireflies. And in the center of it all, the Man, a huge wooden effigy waiting to be ritually burned on Saturday night.Burning Man was an uncomplicated delight — until the rains started.JULIE JAMMOT/AFP via Getty ImagesI biked deep into the desert to check out some of the vast sculptures dotting the landscape: Train stations, monsters, butterflies, and genitalia. I was fed pie and "Betty Water" — a drink of uncertain origins and undeniable strength — by four drunk and bawdy waitresses all named Betty. I found an art car shaped like a tall sailing ship that could actually sail the desert winds. I was gifted clothes, books, meals, and trinkets by total strangers, and marveled at the novelty of an economic experiment divorced from commerce. Then on Friday night, the rain came, and our camp turned into a swamp. Within hours, the camp generator failed, and the fridges turned off. The water systems for washing up and showering broke down. The mud was ankle-deep in spots, alternately suctioning shoes right off your feet or lethally slippery. The roads were immediately impassable, Somme-like bogs. Our tents were beneath a shade structure — metal poles and tarpaulin roofing — to protect them from the desert sun. Suddenly we had to push the water off the sides every 15 minutes before it pooled and made the entire structure collapse on us. As we patrolled the camp, some campmates huddled in the kitchen around a bluetooth speaker, wrapped in fur coats and trading drinks and stimulants, trying to make the most of it. The next morning, as the rain abated, we surveyed the damage. The mud clumped together instantly, turning shoes into increasingly heavy and unwieldy platform boots with each step. Some opted to wear plastic bags instead, or just go barefoot in the muck. It was clear we were stuck here for days, and the event organizers instructed attendees to start urinating in bottles to conserve space in the porta-potties. Our camp began rationing meals. Friends preemptively popped anti-diarrheal Imodium tablets. And then there was the potential environmental damage. Far from civilization, the empty lake bed in the remote reaches of Northern Nevada makes the event's signature creativity and generosity feel magical — but also makes the risk of ecological impacts far higher. Attendees religiously patrol the site for "moop" (Matter Out Of Place — any litter, detritus, or human waste), and crews spend weeks every year combing the site for any signs of Burning Man's impact on our burning planet. We found two lovers getting married, and joined them for their first dance. This year, the restoration crew has its work cut out for it. In the aftermath of the rain, moop was everywhere. The porta-potties were surrounded by a halo of shredded toilet paper that clung to shoes. Flip-flops, bikes, clothes, scraps and other unidentifiable human-generated products were mashed into the ground, buried by up to a foot of fast-hardening brown ooze. Tarpaulins were shedding brightly-colored millimeter sized particulates into the standing water. Entire tents were abandoned by fleeing visitors.We picked up the moop we spotted; it didn't even scratch the surface. The detritus that remains behind is at risk of becoming a sedimentary testament to humanity's damage to the environment — even as human-caused climate change makes extreme weather events like Black Rock City's deluge of 2023 all the more likely in future.Even before the floods, there was an uncomfortable tension to Burning Man. The event preaches "radical inclusion" as one of its ten core guiding principles, and its uniqueness comes as a decommodified space where everything is free and participants will trip over themselves in their efforts to give you gifts and make your burn wonderful. But in practice, there are extraordinary hurdles to entry: Between tickets ($595 for general admission), additional costs for vehicle passes, camp dues, food, water, survival equipment, goods to participate in the gifting economy, and so on, a trip to Burning Man can easily stretch to thousands of dollars. There's also the logistical burden of figuring out what you need, how to physically survive in the remote desert for a week, connecting to a camp that can host you, and making your way there. It's a privileged event at the best of times, and now we were paying all this time and money to shelter in our tents. After spending a grim Saturday morning huddled in our tents, cranking a hand-powered radio for scraps of news on the festival's informational radio station, we decided to explore. Burning Man was diminished, but not extinguished. Art cars had either retreated to their home camps or become stuck in place where they'd been caught by the storm. Bikes were unusable. But the mud was passable — sometimes just barely — on foot. Over the next two days, between rain showers, we wandered from bar to camp to dance floor. The mud diminished Burning Man, but it didn't extinguish the event's spirit.JULIE JAMMOT/AFP via Getty ImagesWe visited the Temple, a somber site of remembrance where people leave mementos to deceased friends, family members, lovers, and pets. We had wine and cheese at a friend's camp. We chilled at a M*A*S*H-themed tent-bar, where an aging stoner educated us on the finer points of different martini styles as reruns of the seventies sitcom played on a projector in the background.We watched fire-dancers practice their craft and learned to juggle (badly) on their dancefloor. We found two lovers getting married, and joined them for their first dance. Twitter was full of titillating jokes about Burning Man's abrupt collapse into chaos, and the delicious schadenfreude of rich elites having a miserable time in the desert. But this wasn't entirely the case. As sociologist Zeynep Tufekci wrote in the New York Times, the idea that disasters breed Lord of The Flies-like anarchy and violence has been proven  false throughout history. Tufekci predicted, correctly: "I would venture that many of the thousands trapped in the Nevada mud are mostly banding together, sharing shelter, food and water."Some Black Rock City citizens understandably checked out, and decided that the party was officially over for them. They stayed in their tents, or attempted to drive out through the swamp (not always successfully), or hitchhiked back to civilization. But for many others, there was a zen, thoroughly Burner attitude: When life gives you a road full of impassable mud, you might as well use it to make DIY sculptures of penises.Some burners love the "difficult burns," the years defined by adversity — whether that's extreme heat, icy nights, constant dust storms, or 2023's flooding. They say it brings out the best in the community, tests people's commitment to the event, and helps them grow. But it comes at a high cost — both financially, and to a fragile desert ecology. Over the last five years, I've had my fair share of survival-mode situations while backpacking and hiking around the American West. In 2020, we had to hike out twenty-plus miles to escape from the Creek Fire. In Ansel Adams Wilderness, a friend once had a seizure and had to be evacuated by helicopter from the trail. The bone-cold two-day rainstorm while we tried to hike the Teton Crest Trail. Lightning, bears, rattlesnakes, and so on. All that is to say: I love "Type 2 Fun," and pushing myself to my limit. And Burning Man's experience was extraordinary in a way many of its haters simply don't grasp. But it'll take me a while to decide if I need to do it again any time soon. Despite some burners' efforts to minimize accurate media reporting on the event as "clickbait," it was a rough time. Toilets were full to the brim with feces, parents were stranded with their children, tents were flooded out, vital systems broke down. On Monday morning, the sun came out. The exit wasn't officially "open" yet, but the official radio station advised that vehicles with four-wheel drive were able to leave, days sooner than we'd first feared. The temporary river that previously blocked the way out had abated. I spent a couple hours helping strike camp, did a last sweep for more moop, and hopped in the car.Stalled out, gummed-up vehicles dotted the exit route, but it was passable. Three hours of slow-moving traffic later, I hit tarmac. Trash bags abandoned by fleeing burners littered the sides of the roads near the event. I got home later that evening, and watched the twice-delayed Man burn on YouTube, freshly showered and lying in bed.Rob Price is a senior correspondent for Insider, and writes features and investigations about the technology industry. His Signal number is +1 650-636-6268 and his email is the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 7th, 2023

My miserable, euphoric, muddy escape from Burning Man

Social media was full of misinformation about the desert turning to chaos and violence. But in the mud, the party went on. Despite the food rationing, the mandatory pee bottles, and the malfunctioning infrastructure, Burners scraped the dirt off their shoes and got down.Arantza Pena Popo/InsiderAround three o'clock in the morning on Sunday, as I sipped golden milk and watched a chess game besides a geodesic dome where revelers danced shoulder-to-shoulder beneath a propane jet shooting constant waves of flame, not long after an intimidatingly high-energy stranger had power-washed my friends and I's buttocks to the rhythm of thumping techno, I came to a conclusion: Burning Man wasn't completely ruined.The previous night, heavy rain had transformed the weeklong event's normally dusty environs into a muddy quagmire. Cell reception was non-existent, and rumors on the ground came in thick and fast. The roads were impossible to drive on, and a sheriff-enforced lockdown would keep us in the sludge for days after our intended departure, some said. FEMA was being called in to run disaster response — or was it the National Guard that was airdropping supplies? There was an Ebola outbreak. No, scratch that, E.coli, and all 70,000-odd attendees were being secretly quarantined. Social media was having a field day turning Burning Man into the epicenter of schadenfreude and misinformation, the few people who managed to connect to the internet reported.The reality of Burning Man was not quite so dire. Despite the food rationing, the mandatory pee bottles, and the malfunctioning infrastructure, Burners, as they call themselves, scraped the dirt off their shoes and got down. Late night raves were thrown. Gifts were given. Joy was shared. Some guests even got married. Still, the quasi-apocalyptic revelry came with a price. Not only was there the exorbitant entry fees and additional costs (and labor, and logistics) of building and maintaining a temporary city in the Nevada high desert, the flooding risked significant environmental damage to the event's pristine ecological setting. Litter and detritus spread across several square miles, submerged in muck — leaving a daunting job for the cleaning crews. 2023 was my first year at Burning Man. It was an extraordinary time, both euphoric and truly miserable. I came away from it with memories, mud on my face, and a question: At what point does the spectacle stop being worth the cost?I'd wanted to go to Burning Man for years. What were they doing out there?Emerging out of the San Francisco art scene in the early nineties, Burning Man is an annual campout-slash-rave-slash-art-exhibition-slash-ephemeral-city that blooms and disappears in the Black Rock Desert, a bleak and inhospitable lake bed in northern Nevada. Originally a haven for performing artists, musicians, and those seeking alternative community, it has in more recent years become associated with, and purportedly corrupted by, Silicon Valley techies, influencers, and the rich. Even before this new guard arrived, it had a reputation for apocalyptic cosplay — with the setting known for its frequent alkaline dust storms, alternately freezing and scalding temperatures, and general hostility to almost all kinds of plant and animal life. I wanted to see that all for myself. The alleged cultural clash. The large-scale art installations. The commitment to a decommodified "gifting" philosophy, in which no money is allowed to change hands. And, yeah, the sheer hedonism of a weeklong bacchanal in the desert. In 2023, it felt like the stars finally aligned. I arrived on Wednesday, August 30, and over my first two days I had a delightful time.  Moments after checking in, an affable stranger tried to pour mescal down my throat as I erected my tent. We hopped on a shimmering two-story "art car" (basically, a modified double-decker bus decked out with lights all over its exterior and a thumping sound system), and rode it out to the central playa, a sea of lights and sounds stretching out before us. There were heaving dance-parties along the central street. Attendees strewn in LEDs and glowing wires for visibility against the night, an endless swarm of technicolor fireflies. And in the center of it all, the Man, a huge wooden effigy waiting to be ritually burned on Saturday night.Burning Man was an uncomplicated delight — until the rains started.JULIE JAMMOT/AFP via Getty ImagesI biked deep into the desert to check out some of the vast sculptures dotting the landscape: Train stations, monsters, butterflies, and genitalia. I was fed pie and "Betty Water" — a drink of uncertain origins and undeniable strength — by four drunk and bawdy waitresses all named Betty. I found an art car shaped like a tall sailing ship that could actually sail the desert winds. I was gifted clothes, books, meals, and trinkets by total strangers, and marveled at the novelty of an economic experiment divorced from commerce. Then on Friday night, the rain came, and our camp turned into a swamp. Within hours, the camp generator failed, and the fridges turned off. The water systems for washing up and showering broke down. The mud was ankle-deep in spots, alternately suctioning shoes right off your feet or lethally slippery. The roads were immediately impassable, Somme-like bogs. Our tents were beneath a shade structure — metal poles and tarpaulin roofing — to protect them from the desert sun. Suddenly we had to push the water off the sides every 15 minutes before it pooled and made the entire structure collapse on us. As we patrolled the camp, some campmates huddled in the kitchen around a bluetooth speaker, wrapped in fur coats and trading drinks and stimulants, trying to make the most of it. The next morning, as the rain abated, we surveyed the damage. The mud clumped together instantly, turning shoes into increasingly heavy and unwieldy platform boots with each step. Some opted to wear plastic bags instead, or just go barefoot in the muck. It was clear we were stuck here for days, and the event organizers instructed attendees to start urinating in bottles to conserve space in the porta-potties. Our camp began rationing meals. Friends preemptively popped anti-diarrheal Imodium tablets. And then there was the potential environmental damage. Far from civilization, the empty lake bed in the remote reaches of Northern Nevada makes the event's signature creativity and generosity feel magical — but also makes the risk of ecological impacts far higher. Attendees religiously patrol the site for "moop" (Matter Out Of Place — any litter, detritus, or human waste), and crews spend weeks every year combing the site for any signs of Burning Man's impact on our burning planet. We found two lovers getting married, and joined them for their first dance. This year, the restoration crew has its work cut out for it. In the aftermath of the rain, moop was everywhere. The porta-potties were surrounded by a halo of shredded toilet paper that clung to shoes. Flip-flops, bikes, clothes, scraps and other unidentifiable human-generated products were mashed into the ground, buried by up to a foot of fast-hardening brown ooze. Tarpaulins were shedding brightly-colored millimeter sized particulates into the standing water. Entire tents were abandoned by fleeing visitors.We picked up the moop we spotted; it didn't even scratch the surface. The detritus that remains behind is at risk of becoming a sedimentary testament to humanity's damage to the environment — even as human-caused climate change makes extreme weather events like Black Rock City's deluge of 2023 all the more likely in future.Even before the floods, there was an uncomfortable tension to Burning Man. The event preaches "radical inclusion" as one of its ten core guiding principles, and its uniqueness comes as a decommodified space where everything is free and participants will trip over themselves in their efforts to give you gifts and make your burn wonderful. But in practice, there are extraordinary hurdles to entry: Between tickets ($595 for general admission), additional costs for vehicle passes, camp dues, food, water, survival equipment, goods to participate in the gifting economy, and so on, a trip to Burning Man can easily stretch to thousands of dollars. There's also the logistical burden of figuring out what you need, how to physically survive in the remote desert for a week, connecting to a camp that can host you, and making your way there. It's a privileged event at the best of times, and now we were paying all this time and money to shelter in our tents. After spending a grim Saturday morning huddled in our tents, cranking a hand-powered radio for scraps of news on the festival's informational radio station, we decided to explore. Burning Man was diminished, but not extinguished. Art cars had either retreated to their home camps or become stuck in place where they'd been caught by the storm. Bikes were unusable. But the mud was passable — sometimes just barely — on foot. Over the next two days, between rain showers, we wandered from bar to camp to dance floor. The mud diminished Burning Man, but it didn't extinguish the event's spirit.JULIE JAMMOT/AFP via Getty ImagesWe visited the Temple, a somber site of remembrance where people leave mementos to deceased friends, family members, lovers, and pets. We had wine and cheese at a friend's camp. We chilled at a M*A*S*H-themed tent-bar, where an aging stoner educated us on the finer points of different martini styles as reruns of the seventies sitcom played on a projector in the background.We watched fire-dancers practice their craft and learned to juggle (badly) on their dancefloor. We found two lovers getting married, and joined them for their first dance. Twitter was full of titillating jokes about Burning Man's abrupt collapse into chaos, and the delicious schadenfreude of rich elites having a miserable time in the desert. But this wasn't entirely the case. As sociologist Zeynep Tufekci wrote in the New York Times, the idea that disasters breed Lord of The Flies-like anarchy and violence has been proven  false throughout history. Tufekci predicted, correctly: "I would venture that many of the thousands trapped in the Nevada mud are mostly banding together, sharing shelter, food and water."Some Black Rock City citizens understandably checked out, and decided that the party was officially over for them. They stayed in their tents, or attempted to drive out through the swamp (not always successfully), or hitchhiked back to civilization. But for many others, there was a zen, thoroughly Burner attitude: When life gives you a road full of impassable mud, you might as well use it to make DIY sculptures of penises.Some burners love the "difficult burns," the years defined by adversity — whether that's extreme heat, icy nights, constant dust storms, or 2023's flooding. They say it brings out the best in the community, tests people's commitment to the event, and helps them grow. But it comes at a high cost — both financially, and to a fragile desert ecology. Over the last five years, I've had my fair share of survival-mode situations while backpacking and hiking around the American West. In 2020, we had to hike out twenty-plus miles to escape from the Creek Fire. In Ansel Adams Wilderness, a friend once had a seizure and had to be evacuated by helicopter from the trail. The bone-cold two-day rainstorm while we tried to hike the Teton Crest Trail. Lightning, bears, rattlesnakes, and so on. All that is to say: I love "Type 2 Fun," and pushing myself to my limit. And Burning Man's experience was extraordinary in a way many of its haters simply don't grasp. But it'll take me a while to decide if I need to do it again any time soon. Despite some burners' efforts to minimize accurate media reporting on the event as "clickbait," it was a rough time. Toilets were full to the brim with feces, parents were stranded with their children, tents were flooded out, vital systems broke down. On Monday morning, the sun came out. The exit wasn't officially "open" yet, but the official radio station advised that vehicles with four-wheel drive were able to leave, days sooner than we'd first feared. The temporary river that previously blocked the way out had abated. I spent a couple hours helping strike camp, did a last sweep for more moop, and hopped in the car.Stalled out, gummed-up vehicles dotted the exit route, but it was passable. Three hours of slow-moving traffic later, I hit tarmac. Trash bags abandoned by fleeing burners littered the sides of the roads near the event. I got home later that evening, and watched the twice-delayed Man burn on YouTube, freshly showered and lying in bed.Rob Price is a senior correspondent for Insider, and writes features and investigations about the technology industry. His Signal number is +1 650-636-6268 and his email is the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytSep 7th, 2023

I shopped at Amazon Fresh to see why it"s struggling. I found hyped discounts, odd displays, and bad coffee.

Amazon Fresh is undergoing changes to make its stores more attractive to shoppers. Insider found hyped discounts, odd end caps, and bad coffee. Amazon Fresh has operated grocery stores for three years, but the chain has yet to win over many shoppers.Alex Bitter/Insider It's been three years since Amazon introduced Amazon Fresh, its second chain of supermarkets. But the stores haven't caught on with consumers, leading Amazon to make some changes. I visited an Amazon Fresh store in Maryland to see what might be rubbing consumers the wrong way. Expanding its grocery business has been a goal of Amazon's for years. But it's proving to be a tough nut to crack, even for one of the biggest names in retail.The latest example of that challenge came in early August, when Amazon said it would revamp some of its Amazon Fresh supermarkets, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. The coming changes include Krispy Kreme donut stands, a wider range of items on shelves, and brighter color schemes for store decor. The chain has also cut back on staff. In July, Amazon Fresh laid off employees at its stores, the Washington Post reported.August marked three years since Amazon opened the first Fresh store in the US. In that time, Amazon has built a network of 44 Fresh stores, according to its website. But along the way, Amazon has closed some Fresh stores. It has also canceled some Amazon Fresh store openings.I decided to visit one near my home in Washington, DC to see what Amazon had spent the last three years building — and whether I could see myself shopping there on a weekly basis."Our goal is to build a best-in-class grocery shopping experience where Amazon is people's first choice for selection, value, and convenience," Molly McWhinnie, Amazon spokesperson, told Insider."While the largest brick and mortar grocery retailers in the U.S. and globally have operated for a half century or more, it's still just Day 1 for us, and we remain committed because we believe when we find the right mix of offerings for customers we'll be able to make their lives even easier," McWhinnie said.Are you an Amazon Fresh employee with a story idea to share? Reach out to this reporter at abitter@insider.comI went to an Amazon Fresh location in Chevy Chase, Maryland, right on the border between Maryland and DC.Alex Bitter/InsiderThis particular store opened in August 2021 and was among the first Amazon Fresh stores in the same metro area as Amazon's HQ2, which is across the Potomac in Arlington, Virginia.I immediately saw these two ads plugging deals at this store.Alex Bitter/InsiderOne touted cheap baguettes, while the other gave me Costco vibes with its promise of a whole roast chicken for under $5.This particular store is half a block away from a Metro station and several bus routes, as well as just off of busy Wisconsin Avenue.Alex Bitter/InsiderThat means it's easy to get to and sees a lot of commuters looking for groceries on their way home.It's also across the street from a Whole Foods, the other Amazon-owned grocery chain.Alex Bitter/InsiderThe area is a great example of how much competition Amazon Fresh faces: Within a 10-minute drive of this store, you can find two Whole Foods stores, Wegmans, Giant, Safeway, Target, a local neighborhood market, and a planned location for German discount grocer Lidl.Technically, I went in the side entrance, which required going up these stairs to get to the store itself.Alex Bitter/InsiderThis was the entrance nearest to the Metro stop, so lots of people use it.Around back was the main entrance, which was more welcoming.Alex Bitter/InsiderThe main entrance doesn't face a major street, though there is a sign on a nearby busy roadway directing shoppers to the store.There are seven spots reserved for curbside pickup at this Amazon Fresh store.Alex Bitter/InsiderThe signage also suggested that Amazon Flex drivers can also use these stalls.After walking up the stairs inside of the side entrance, I saw this bank of self-checkout kiosks.Alex Bitter/InsiderAmazon is reportedly adding self-checkout kiosks to some Fresh stores after years of trying to get shoppers to use its Just Walk Out technology.I also saw these packs of bottled water.Alex Bitter/InsiderThey were sold under the Happy Belly brand, one of several Amazon store brands that I encountered on this trip.There was also brand-name water sitting right next to it.Alex Bitter/InsiderIt wasn't clear how much these packs of Nestlé water were.In what would become a theme of this shopping trip, I noticed a bright "Sale" sticker on this cooler.Alex Bitter/InsiderInside the cooler were packs of chicken breasts.Nearby were these pre-packaged beef burger patties.Alex Bitter/InsiderEach one had a "30% off" sticker attached, making them just under $4 a pack.Good thing there was so much packaged meat: These cases for meat and seafood were completely empty.Alex Bitter/InsiderI remember seeing meat in these cases last time I came to this store several months ago.On many of the end caps were more "Sale" signs.Alex Bitter/InsiderAt most grocery stores, end caps are prime real estate that brands use to promote new products or special deals. At Amazon Fresh, though, they seemed like regular old shelf space.Not all of them were well-stocked or contained a logical mix of products.Alex Bitter/InsiderThis end cap contained a mishmash of chips, soda, and crackers. Some of the end caps were mostly empty.Alex Bitter/InsiderMaybe the sale went well and they just couldn't restock fast enough?Other parts of the store were better-stocked, such as the baby diaper section.Alex Bitter/InsiderThere were products from big names like Pampers as well as those from newer brands like The Honest Co.Some of the sales weren't what they first appeared to be.Alex Bitter/InsiderFrom a distance, these boxes of mac n' cheese appeared to be two for $4.A closer look revealed a lower price on the shelf tags than the one indicated on the big sign above.Alex Bitter/InsiderThe shelf tag suggested that these were just $1 each, not $2.There were also ads on the wall for Amazon's own-brand products.Alex Bitter/InsiderThis ad for Aplenty chips was in the baking aisle, for some reason.I also saw this TV that was playing ads for name brands like Tostitos.Alex Bitter/InsiderIt seemed odd to me to have ads playing on a TV in a supermarket instead of, say, those brands putting up flashy displays of their products.As I looked around, I noticed more sales and discounts than the last time I visited this store.Alex Bitter/InsiderThese Amazon-brand kettle chips, for instance, were $1.99, down from $3.49.There were discounts on both Amazon-branded products as well as name-brand ones.Alex Bitter/InsiderThese packs of La Croix sparkling water were marked down to $3.09 each from $4.39.One thing I needed to buy was oat milk, so I headed to the dairy section.Alex Bitter/InsiderThe milk selection was similar to what you'd find in a regular supermarket.Next to the milk, I found this kiosk where you could ask Alexa for help.Alex Bitter/InsiderThis is an in-store version of Amazon's home assistant.You could ask Alexa about sales in the store, or even where the bathroom is.Alex Bitter/InsiderI didn't need one, but it's an often-overlooked amenity in most grocery stores.I found a few different kinds of oat milk and made my choice.Alex Bitter/InsiderThere was a much larger selection of almond milk, including an Amazon brand.On my way out of the milk section, I walked by this freezer full of Whole Foods-branded ice cream.Alex Bitter/InsiderThis was one of several items from Whole Food's 365 brand that I noticed in this Amazon Fresh store.I found more signage promoting low prices as I moved into the produce section.Alex Bitter/InsiderThis sign advertised two pounds of bananas for 99 cents.Most basic produce was well-stocked.Alex Bitter/InsiderThere were plenty of bananas, though these ones weren't free like the bananas across the river at HQ2 in Arlington. There was plenty of seasonal fruit.Alex Bitter/InsiderWith fall approaching, Amazon Fresh already had a robust selection of apples.But some of the signage in the produce section needed updating.Alex Bitter/InsiderSpring was long gone by the time I saw this sign during my late August visit.I picked up an eggplant after being tempted by the price cut.Alex Bitter/InsiderFresh eggplants were marked down to 99 cents a pound from $1.99.Next to the produce selection was a lane for those using Amazon's Dash carts.Alex Bitter/InsiderMost people I saw in this store were using regular carts or baskets, but two or three were using Dash carts.Dash carts require you to log in using a QR code from the Amazon app.Alex Bitter/InsiderOnce logged in, customers can place items directly in the cart, which identifies what they are and keeps track of which products they've selected. The cart automatically charges a customer's Amazon account at the end of the trip.This Amazon Fresh location appeared to have the older version of the Dash cart. Amazon unveiled an updated model last year with more space for purchases, Supermarket News reported at the time. Not far from the Dash cart lane was this customer service counter.Alex Bitter/InsiderIf you don't feel like shopping in a store, you can always order groceries and pick them up here.There were also these pickup lockers for Amazon purchases, and to the right, a kiosk for returning items.Alex Bitter/InsiderAmazon can ship your order to a locker like this one as an alternative to delivering it to your home.But the returns kiosk was full when I walked by.Alex Bitter/InsiderDuring my half-hour visit, I noticed two people stop by this kiosk carrying an Amazon box, suggesting that this is a popular service at this location.As I moved toward self-checkout, I saw plenty of prepared foods.Alex Bitter/InsiderThis hot bar reminded me a bit of Whole Foods.There was also space for the roast chickens I had seen advertised outside, but unfortunately, there weren't any to buy.Alex Bitter/InsiderMy plans to compare Amazon Fresh's roast chicken with one from Costco were foiled.There was space for a selection of hot sandwiches, but those were also not available.Alex Bitter/InsiderI was visiting the store just after 2 p.m. on a weekday, so it's possible it was wiped out from the lunch rush.I decided to pick up a mid-afternoon snack to test out some of the prepared food offerings, starting with this espresso machine.Alex Bitter/InsiderI opted for a small beverage, which cost $1.49.After a few taps on this screen, I got it to dispense a mocha.Alex Bitter/InsiderThis espresso machine gave me plenty of beverage choices, from espresso drinks to chai teas.I also decided to pick up a slice of pizza.Alex Bitter/InsiderI bought a single slice just to try it out.With groceries and a snack in hand, it was time to check out.Alex Bitter/InsiderI opted to use one of the self-checkout stations near the side entrance.The self-checkout looked pretty standard, aside from a couple additions.Alex Bitter/InsiderOn the right side of the card reader was a device to read your palm in case you were paying using Amazon One. There was also a small refrigerator with sodas, which you could place your groceries on top of before checking out.With checkout done, it was time to try the pizza and mocha.Alex Bitter/InsiderIt was a sunny day, so I decided to sit outside.The pizza had flavor, but the crust was dry.Alex Bitter/InsiderI wouldn't rush back for another slice, but it wasn't awful, either.The mocha was worse: It barely tasted like anything.Alex Bitter/InsiderI couldn't taste any coffee, so into the trash it went after a couple sips.Overall, the pizza and mocha weren't the satisfying snack I had hoped for.Alex Bitter/InsiderA lot of grocery stores are expanding their ready-to-eat meal selections to compete with restaurants, according to the Wall Street Journal.But between the sub-par items I tried and products like the roast chicken being unavailable, it seems like Amazon Fresh's prepared food offerings need work.I probably won't be shopping regularly at Amazon Fresh based on my visit there.Alex Bitter/InsiderAmazon has definitely stepped up its discounts at this Fresh store since the last time I visited. But I can find similar deals at stores where I already shop, and those stores generally have a wider selection of items and do a better job of keeping things in stock.Overall, I don't see any clear advantages to shopping at Amazon Fresh as opposed to other grocery stores in the area.Alex Bitter/InsiderWhole Foods is known for its quality standards, but what is Amazon Fresh known for? As one Los Angeles shopper told Bloomberg in August: "It just feels soulless." Maybe that will change once Amazon revamps more Fresh stores.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytSep 4th, 2023

A Dire Warning: The US Plan To Make Ukraine Into Europe"s "Big Israel"

A Dire Warning: The US Plan To Make Ukraine Into Europe's 'Big Israel' In his famous anti-Vietnam speech, the late senator from South Dakota George McGovern told fellow Congressional leaders, "This chamber reeks of blood." On Saturday, journalist Max Blumenthal opened a hard-hitting talk at the Ron Paul Institute's "Which Way America...?" conference in D.C. by quoting those words, but applied them to the US proxy war against Russia in Ukraine. Blumenthal said that in Ukraine, Washington continues "wasting the lives and bodies of over 150,000 men, and that's according to the Pentagon." Citing recent studies on the immense numbers of Ukrainians who have lost limbs after a year-and-a-half of fighting (which could be surpassing WWI rates), he said the true Ukraine casualty count could be closer to 500,000 - which marks a monumental tragedy and disaster. The GrayZone journalist then said of today's Congress that "this chamber" not only "reeks of blood" but.. "they have wasted Ukrainian society on the mantle of anti-Russia hysteria" - as lawmakers in lockstep with the Biden administration continue to sink billions into Kiev. Beltway liberal elites, Blumenthal asserted, still think Russia must be punished given they see Moscow as having brought the "bad orange man" to power in 2016. This is a big ideological aspect to what motivates the hawks, he said. Further, Blumenthal explained that what's happening here is that the US ruling class has "militarized the culture wars while depicting Ukraine as the 'woke side' vs. Russia as backwards and oppressive." But more importantly, the real "victors" are the major US defense contractors and their appendages like the K street neocon lobbying firms. Blumenthal highlighted that these, and the Biden administration, are operating with the bigger vision in mind of turning Ukraine into Europe's "big Israel".  By this is meant a permanently militarized 'Spartan' wartime state, which is funded and weaponized by Washington in perpetuity, and possesses all the latest cutting edge Western defense tech. But like with the state of things long evident inside Israel (in particular oppression of both Palestinians and Israeli political dissenters), democracy must be eroded at home for this to happen. Still, the defense tech peddlers in the military-industrial complex will 'win' no matter how much Ukrainian society and its people are sacrificed.  "In order to defend democracy in Ukraine, democracy must be curtailed at home," Blumenthal emphasized, drawing lessons from current examples of oppression of free speech in the West, particularly related to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. He noted here that his own investigative media outlet, The GrayZone, has had the bulk of its funding frozen by the popular platform GoFundMe. The outlet explained days ago [emphasis ZH]: By this point, we had raised over $90,000 from over 1100 contributors. The generous contributions from our audience were accompanied by hundreds of messages of effusive support for our factual journalism holding imperial power to account. And now, Gofundme is holding the donations hostage, refusing to transfer them to us, while failing to inform donors that it has effectively seized their money. The for-profit site has similarly refused to explain its freezing of their donations, issuing nothing more than a vague allusion – “some external concerns” – to pressure from powerful outside forces. Gofundme’s financial sabotage follows the de facto sanctions imposed by Venmo and Paypal on our managing editor, Wyatt Reed, after he reported on the Ukrainian military’s targeting of civilians from the separatist side of the Donbas region. Again, this is why Blumenthal could draw on recent personal experience in telling the Ron Paul conference audience that "democracy must be curtailed" in America in order to keep unlimited taxpayer dollars flowing into the Zelensky government's coffers. Blumenthal continued... but "now Russia has no incentive to negotiate" given they have the clear military momentum amid a failing Ukraine counteroffensive. The US and UK likely had a window of opportunity in the initial months of the war to more easily open up serious diplomatic peace negotiations, but this was actively thwarted.  "We cannot have peace negotiations while war is being incentivized [by Washington interests] to this point," he continued while also referencing neocons like Bill Kristol, who has been leading a charge to silence any dissenting views from among Republican nominees and politicians on Ukraine. "These operatives need constant opportunities" which a permanent proxy war in Europe enables, Blumenthal continued - just like with the constant and historic billions in aid flowing to Israel, which serves to cyclically fuel the accompanying global reach and outsized influence of the Israel lobby. On this question of whether negotiations are possible even from Kiev's perspective, Zero Hedge asked Blumenthal what he thinks would happen in the unlikely scenario that Zelensky himself suddenly pursued peace talks with the Russians. Blumenthal responded as follows: "If Zelensky were to pursue peace talks now before he's re-elected... due to the kind of social forces that have been unleashed by Maidan, he will face a far-right Nazi insurgency in his own country, and he will become public enemy number one among some of the most violent and militarized forces. ...Which is why he went and met with Andriy Biletsky, the founder of Azov. Zelensky was elected on a platform of peace by 73% of the population because you still had the ethnic Russian population participating in Ukrainian society. They have been completely driven out and the constituency he's working with is completely different now." Below: Last month, Ukrainian President Zelensky held court with one of the most notorious neo-Nazis in modern Ukrainian history, Azov Battalion founder Andriy Biletsky. Turning Ukraine into "a big Israel" will involve long-term funding to shape and place "America's unsinkable aircraft carrier not in the Middle East but in Europe," Blumenthal said. But as Ukrainians continue to be slaughtered, it won't be a happy situation for a country to become a "big Israel", Blumenthal concluded. * * * Former US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro (from 2011 to 2017) is helping to push this Ukraine as "big Israel" concept forward, Blumenthal pointed out. A partial list of key elements of Shapiro's road map for Ukraine was previously published by The Atlantic Council as follows: Security first: Every Israeli government promises, first and foremost, that it will deliver security—and knows it will be judged on this pledge. Ordinary citizens, not just politicians, pay close attention to security threats—both from across borders and from internal sources— and much of the public chooses who to elect by that metric alone. The whole population plays a role: The Israeli model goes further than Zelenskyy’s vision of security services deployed to civilian spaces: Most young Israeli adults serve in the military, and many are employed in security-related professions following their service. A common purpose unites the citizenry, making them ready to endure shared sacrifice. Civilians recognize their responsibility to follow security protocols and contribute to the cause. Some even arm themselves (though under strict supervision) to do so. The widespread mobilization of Ukrainian society in collective defense suggests that the country has this potential. In his comments, Zelenskyy reflected this reality when he said security would “come from the strength of every house, every building, every person.” Self-defense is the only way: If there’s any single principle that animates Israel’s security doctrine, it’s that Israel will defend itself, by itself—and rely on no other country to fight its battles. The tragedies of Jewish history have embedded that lesson deep in the nation’s soul. Ukraine’s own trauma, forced to fight alone against a larger aggressor, reinforces a similar conclusion: Don’t depend on the guarantees of others. But maintain active defense partnerships: Self-defense doesn’t mean total isolation. Israel maintains active defense partnerships, chiefly with the United States, which provides generous military assistance, but also with other nations with whom it shares intelligence, technology, and training. While Ukraine will probably not join NATO any time soon, it can deepen security partnerships with Alliance members and receive aid, weaponry, intelligence, and training to bolster its self-defense. Intelligence dominance: From its earliest days, Israel has invested deeply in its intelligence capabilities to ensure that it has the means to detect and deter its enemies—and, when needed, act proactively to strike them. Ukraine will need to upgrade its intelligence services to compete against Russian capabilities and ensure that it’s prepared to prevent and repulse Russian attacks. Technology is key: Although it relies on US assistance, Israel also chooses homegrown technology solutions for many of its greatest challenges. Multi-layer rocket and missile defenses, counter-drone systems, and tunnel detection technology are just recent examples. Ukraine—already home to bright technological minds—will know what threats it faces more than any partner; investing in its own solutions will allow it to be most responsive and adapt to new threats. Tyler Durden Sat, 09/02/2023 - 17:00.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytSep 2nd, 2023

30 Top Tourists Attractions in the USA

In this article we will take a look at 30 top tourists attractions in the USA. You can skip our detailed analysis of these American tourist attractions, and go directly to the 5 Top Tourists Attractions in the USA. The travel and tourism industry is making a strong recovery, targeting a $9.5 trillion value in […] In this article we will take a look at 30 top tourists attractions in the USA. You can skip our detailed analysis of these American tourist attractions, and go directly to the 5 Top Tourists Attractions in the USA. The travel and tourism industry is making a strong recovery, targeting a $9.5 trillion value in 2023, just 5% below its 2019 peak. 34 countries have surpassed 2019 levels, and 95% of the 2019 job levels are expected to return. This rebound showcases the sector’s resilience and the persistent desire to travel. International tourism receipts exceeded $1 trillion in 2022, growing by 50%. Despite challenges like economic conditions, the industry is on a steady path to recovery. The WTTC predicts a robust future for the sector, contributing $15.5 trillion to the global economy by 2033, employing 430 million people, and accounting for 11.6% of global GDP. By 2023’s end, nearly half of the countries assessed are expected to fully recover or be close to pre-pandemic levels. The USA always stands out on many things, be it home to the biggest economy in the world or for its military supremacy and technological edge. It bills itself as the land of the free and home of the brave for a reason. Likewise, the great land of opportunity is one of the most sought-after countries for job seekers and education enthusiasts, leisure, and sightseeing. It’s also home to the biggest tourism industry in the world, valued at over $1.2 trillion. Revenue from the travel and tourism industry is projected to reach $190.4 billion in 2023 as the sector grows at a compound annual growth rate of 3.17%. The robust growth stems from the millions of people from all over the world that visit the country to sample the famous cities, iconic landmarks, national parks, entertainment joints, majestic mountains canyons, cuisines, and other experiences. Empire State Realty Trust (ESRT) is one of the top real estate investment trusts that benefit from a booming US travel and tourism industry. While owning the iconic Empire State Building in Downtown Manhattan, it also owns and manages office retail and multifamily assets in New York. Delta Air Lines, Inc. (NYSE:DAL) also benefits as tourists flock to the US from around the globe and travel to various sites across the country. Expedia Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:EXPE) and Hawaiian Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:HA) are other stocks that benefit from a booming US Tourism industry. The US is also a popular tourist destination as it offers the opportunity to explore many things, from arts and culture to technological innovations. It is also home to a booming innovative gastronomy. Its rich history, among many things such as Jazz Rock, Silicon Valley, and democracy, also draws many tourists. Additionally, the US being a global economic hub and home to various international organizations, also sees it attract diplomats and other professionals year round attending various conferences and programs. The influx of visitors into the country saw the tourism industry contribute over $900 billion to the country’s GDP in 2021. Source: unsplash The tourism industry supports over 9 million jobs and accounts for more than 2.9% of the US GDP. International travelers spend more in the US than in any other country. The US offering a tourist visa of up to 6 months or 180 days has also contributed to an influx of visitors that end up spending big on the economy. Consequently, the US ranked third as the most visited country in the world in 2022, with 50.9 million international tourist arrivals behind Spain and France. Florida remains the most visited state in the US by international and domestic travelers, partly because it is home to iconic attractions, including Disney World, Universal Studios, and beaches such as Miami Beach. California is the second most visited state, a diverse state best known for Hollywood and Silicon Valley tech hub. New York is a financial hub, Texas a diverse state with rich history and culture, and Nevada the entertainment hub, with Las Vegas, Arizona, and Virginia are also some of the most visited states by international tourists. In addition, domestic travelers that move from one city to another for leisure is also key driver of the US travel and tourism industry. Domestic travelers account for the majority of spending throughout the country, as they accounted for $751 billion of the $900 billion generated in the sector in 2021. Our Methodology The US is home to thousands of sights and sounds that millions of tourists try to explore each year.  To compile the list of the top tourist destination in the US we considered many factors including attractions accommodations sights and sounds and the number of annual visitors. The top tourist destinations were ranked based on the annual number of visitors while outlining critical details on why they stand out. We used data from various sources like: WorldAtlas, National Park Service, Empire State Building, Top Tourists Attractions in the USA 30. Statue of Liberty in New York Annual Visitors: 3.5 Million The 151-foot tall copper monument attracts nearly 3.5 million visitors annually and has become a part of the American culture, often referred to as the icon of freedom. At its height, it was a masterpiece of innovation as people marvelled at how it shifted in the wind without cracking or bending. It can also sway up three inches in any direction during heavy winds. It is still a star attraction in New York. 29. Empire State Building (NYSE:ESRT) Annual Visitors: 4 Million Opened in 1931, Empire State Building is an iconic landmark in the US that has emerged as one of the top tourist destinations in New York. Rising 1,454 feet from the ground, it is midtown’s only 360-degree open-air vantage. On top of it, one can see up to six states. It features a museum with interactive exhibits. As a jewel of New York, it attracts over 4 million tourists annually. 28. Rocky Mountain National Park Annual Visitors:  4.30 Million Rocky Mountain National Park in North-Central Colorado beautifully showcases the eponymous range. Established in 1915, this popular and historic park boasts imposing “Rockies” peaks alongside lush alpine meadows and crystalline glacial lakes. With over 350 miles of hiking trails, adventurers can explore its 265,807-acre expanse. Wildlife like elk, bighorn sheep, mule deer, moose, and marmots can be spotted both deep in the wilderness and along roadsides. 27. Zion National Park  Annual Visitors: 4.69 Million Zion National Park in Southern Utah offers tantalizing slot canyons, striking sandstone cliffs, and coniferous trees, making it a magnet for tourists. Activities range from low-intensity meanders to high-octane explorations, including climbing, rappelling, hiking, and cannon-balling. A highlight is the challenging scramble up Angel’s Landing, a knife-edge ridge resembling a shark fin with chains for safety. This sought-after experience provides breath-taking views of the ancient Zion Canyon, but due to high demand, a lottery system is now in place for hiking permits. 26. The Grand Canyon, Arizona  Annual Visitors: 5 Million The 277 miles long Grand Canyon in Arizona formed over 6 million years ago when the Colorado River established its route through the Arizona Desert. The glacial erosion that followed, together with melt water runoff and the glaciers, resulted in one of the most spectacular natural wonders of the world. With a depth of 6,000 feet, the Canyon attracts nearly 5 million visitors annually. 25. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah Annual Visitors: 5 Million Like the Great Canyon, The Bryce Canyon National Park is another marvel that attracts visitors worldwide to explore its striking rock formations. For excellent views, people hop in a helicopter to move around. Over 5 million tourists come to explore the Canyon each year. 24. Hoover Dam, Nevada Annual Visitors: 7 Million The Hoover Dam in Nevada is a key infrastructure that speaks loud about the US building prowess. It’s a bewildering masterpiece of engineering and labour with unique features. The dam stores enough water to irrigate 2 million acres of rich farms in Southern California and state line Arizona. The engineering masterpiece attracts nearly 7 million visitor’s year. 23. Navy Pier, Chicago Annual Visitors: 9 Million The Navy Pier in Chicago attracts over 9 million people each year thanks to excellent shopping opportunities, eateries, and an opportunity to see and explore Lake Michigan. There is also a children’s museum, and grownups can also visit the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. 22. South Street Seaport, New York City Annual Visitors: 9 Million South Street Seaport in lower Manhattan is one of the most historic neighbourhoods best known for museums, music, and markets. It is one of the best places to enjoy seafood while listening to local sounds and exploring various cultures. Over nine million tourists visit the seaport each year. 21. Waikiki Annual Visitors: 9.2 Million It is home to some of the Hawaiian Islands’ most beautiful and popular beachfront. A cross between a tropical paradise and a modern city offers an ideal place to relax on a sandy beach surrounded by palm trees and blowing wind. Other exciting things to do around include shopping, dining, surfing, and sunbathing. Last year, it attracted about 9.2 million visitors. 20. Venice Beach Annual Visitors: 10 Million Venice Beach has become one of the biggest tourist destinations in America, attracting over 10 million visitors each year. It is estimated to attract about 28,000 people each day to experience its fantastic beach, canals, and Ocean Front Walk. While best known for its sandy beaches, it also plays host to musicians, street performers, and all kinds of entertainment. 19. Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco Annual Visitors: 10 Million Pier 39  is a popular tourist attraction, offering panoramic views of San Francisco Bay, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Bay Bridge, and Alcatraz Island. It is also home to the world-famous sea Lions. Annually it attracts 10 million visitors. 18. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco Annual Visitors: 10 Million The Golden Gate Bridge is a magnificent piece of engineering spanning 1.6Km connecting San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean. Its tremendous towers sweeping cables, and great span is an engineering wonder that attracts 10 million visitors to appreciate yearly. 17. Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Rolando, Florida Annual Visitors: 11.48 Million Disney’s Hollywood Studios is another high-profile theme park that joins the list of the top tourist attractions in the US. It attracts about 11.48 million people annually that get to explore its sights and sounds as well as Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land. 16. Great Smoky Mountains National Park Annual Visitors: 12 Million Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the best parks best known for its diversity of plants and animal life. The ancient mountains add to the beauty. It is America most visited park that is open year-round. Located in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee, it attracts over 12 million tourists each year. 15. Balboa Park, San Diego Annual Visitors: 15 Million Balboa Park in San Diego is a cultural oasis that draws in millions of visitors that come to sample its 17 museums, gardens failure, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo. Sitting on 1,200 acres of land, it is one of the most iconic parks ideal for relaxing and enjoying the American diversified culture. Over 15 million tourists visit the park every year. 14. Faneuil Hall Marketplaces, Boston Annual Visitors: 18 Million Located in downtown Boston, Faneuil Hall Marketplace has evolved to become one of the top tourist destinations in America, welcoming over 18 million visitors annually. Most people come to explore its iconic shopping entertainment and diverse food options. 13. Disneyland Resort, California Annual Visitors: 18 Million At over 500 acres in size, Disneyland Resort California attracts visitors from every corner. It is divided into theme lands with related rides, shows, and attractions. At the park’s heart are the Sleeping Beauty Castle with its turquoise owners and working drawbridge. The park offers an opportunity to explore Star Wars: Galaxy Edge, enjoy the time machine of classic rides, and play at Pixar Pier. About 18 million tourists visit the park annually. 12. National Malls, Washington DC Annual Visitors: 18 Million Maintained by the National Park Service, The National Mall is a beehive of activity year-round and one of the capital’s most visited sites. It attracts nearly 25 million visitors annually, exploring the more than 1,000 acres of must-see monuments sites and green space. While it’s famous for the Washington Lincoln and World War II memorials, it also pays hosts to more than 65 other monuments. 11. The French Quarter, New Orleans Annual Visitors: 19 Million It is the oldest quarter of New Orleans and is best known for its buzzing nightlife and charming attractions. Walking down the street offers an opportunity to sample some of the best cuisines from around the globe and enjoy Jazz and great nightlife. The spectacular architecture adds to the charm, with opportunities to explore the Cities of the Dead and taste the authentic Cajun grub. The quarter attracts nearly 19 million visitors annually. 10. Lincoln Park, Chicago Annual Visitors: 20 Million It might be a designated community area on the North side of Chicago, Illinois but don’t be mistaken. It is one of the most visited, attracting 20 million tourists annually. The 1,200-acre park is best known for its verdant beauty, immense public zoo, beaches, harbours, and trails. World-class music venues, museums, restaurants, and theatres also surround it. 9. Magic Kingdom, Disney World, Florida Annual Visitors: 20 Million It might be the smallest theme park under Disney World, but it is also one of the most popular, attracting over 20 million visitors annually. The park is best known for the Cinderella Castle, Space Mountain, and the 7 Dwarfs Mine Train, with lots of themed lands. Compared to other theme parks, it stands out as it makes people feel like they are stepping out of reality and into a storybook, taking them into different lands. 8. Niagara Falls, New York Annual Visitors: 20 Million Billed as one of the world’s best natural wonders, Niagara Falls attracts over 20 million visitors annually. It stands out as a top tourist destination owing to its awe-inspiring scenery featuring thrilling attractions, interactive exhibits, miles of hiking trails, and dining options in a family-friendly environment. It offers an adventure-packed experience while exploring the three waterfalls, Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls, with the highest flow rate in the world. 7. Grand Central Terminal, New York City Annual Visitors: 21.6 Million Grand Central Terminal is more than a transportation hub; it has emerged as a top tourist destination in New York as a shopping, dining, and cultural hub. It is considered one of the greatest architectural achievements of New York. Spread over 49 acres. It is home to the world’s largest train station by the number of platforms. Every year about 21.6 million tourists visit the terminal. 6. Golden Gate Park, San Francisco Annual Visitors: 24 Million Since opening over 150 years ago, the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco has emerged as a must-visit sight while in California. The park is best known for its green lawns, bridle paths lines, and over 7,000 kinds of plants. Visitors get to sample top museums and extraordinary events that take place in the park. Nearly 24 million visitors flock to the park every year. Click to continue reading and see 5 Top Tourists Attractions in the USA. Suggested articles: 15 Tallest Roller Coasters in the US in 2023 25 Most Health-Conscious States in the US 20 Best Burger Chains in the US Disclosure: None. 30 Top Tourists Attractions in the USA is originally published on Insider Monkey......»»

Category: topSource: insidermonkeySep 1st, 2023

China"s richest people are leaning hard into quiet luxury, wielding stealth wealth like a weapon and scorning their flashy, label-chasing peers

Loud luxury and flashy displays of wealth are out, quiet luxury and steal wealth are in, and China's richest people have got the memo. Stealth wealth is in, loud luxury is out.d3sign/Getty Images Loud luxury has gone out of style in China. "Laoqianfeng," as it's known in the country, is not unlike the old-money aesthetic in the West. And rich Chinese people are leaning in, ditching "logo hunting" in favor of elegance, experts say. First, people respect the silken clothes. Then, they respect the man.For generations, that's been the popular saying in China — 先敬罗衣后敬人. It translates to a simple lesson for everyone who wants to be wealthy, or at least look the part.What looking rich means to the Chinese has evolved over the years, but one thing is consistent: they spare no expense. Chinese shoppers will make up 40% of all luxury consumers by 2030, despite recent turbulence, per Bain & Co's research. Fashion houses from Burberry to Dior are also doubling down on their efforts to cash in.But the face of China's rich is changing. Gone are the flashy logos you can spot from a mile away. A world away from America, the laws of the hit HBO series "Succession" apply, too. The old-money aesthetic is in, new-money fashion is gauche, and if you want to be taken seriously, play the game. The rules are simple. No head-to-toe Gucci. No loud colors, no all-over Louis Vuitton print. The logic is, you wouldn't wear anything that you'd see in "Crazy Rich Asians," or what the Americanized Asians are decked out in on Netflix's "Bling Empire." And, per Tom Wambsgan of "Succession," small, unassuming pouches only, because carrying a "ludicrously capacious" bag is out of the question.Decoding 'laoqian' styleChina's brand of quiet luxury — and how stealth wealth is perceived — is coded into the existing social hierarchy.Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty ImagesTo understand style and money in China, there are three terms you need to be familiar with: laoqianfeng, xinqianfeng, and tuhao. To start, what flavor of rich you are in China is coded into your very person, from the clothes you wear, to the way your hair and skin looks. In attempting to craft your image in the style of laoqianfeng — similar to what the West calls the old-money aesthetic — you must appear well-nourished and put-together, but natural and understated enough to look like you've done absolutely nothing to achieve effortless grace. And for xinqianfeng, or the new-money aesthetic, you leave it to your clothes to announce you've arrived at a certain level of wealth, with as much flash and glitter as possible. The term "laoqian" in China also refers to a group of people whose wealth has stacked up over several generations. Think the scions of property moguls and political power players, the fuerdai who have been educated at Ivy League schools, who fly home for the summer to their lush homes in the inner rings of the Chinese capital, close to the core of Beijing's beating heart. Xinqian, meanwhile, often refers to the wave of new millionaires who hustled for their wealth post-Communist Revolution. Their parents might have come from the villages or eked out a middle-class living in the country's smaller, lesser-known cities. But there's a new generation now coming into its own and raking in the yuan in bucketloads. Some of their members are flashy tech and gaming millionaires inhabiting Shanghai and Guangzhou's glitziest apartments. Others are shiny social media influencers making millions on the internet.And then there are the tuhao, a term that loosely translates to "crass rich," local moneyed men with garish clothes, revving their red sports cars as they fly by people trundling along in modest sedan cars.Loud luxury is out, and here's whyWealthy customers now prefer to dial back on the flash.BJI via Getty ImagesThere are several reasons why loud luxury is fading out in China. In a similar vein to the US and Europe – the "quiet luxury" aesthetic has emerged as a reaction to the economic climate. With the economy slowing and the country facing a 20% youth unemployment rate, it's not a good look for the rich to be splashing their wealth right now.  At the same time, the economic downturn is squeezing younger, aspirational shoppers who helped to create a boom in luxury sales in China over the last few years. These shoppers, who were flush with cash during the pandemic, became key buyers of luxury goods. And as many were making their first luxury purchases, they wanted to be loud about it so flashy logos reigned supreme.But as their excess cash has depleted, the "logo hunters," as Tema ETF luxury portfolio manager Javier Gonzalez Lastra dubs them, are increasingly taking a back seat and leaving older, wealthier customers to drive luxury spending. And this crowd – who are no longer luxury newbies – increasingly have a preference for less flashy logos, he said.Stealth wealth allows the rich to toe the party line in Xi Jinping's ChinaCrowds walk below neon signs on Nanjing Road. The street is the main shopping district of the city and one of the world's busiest shopping districts.Nikada via Getty ImagesMake no mistake: The surge in interest in quiet luxury doesn't just stem from a modern, Western-inspired impulse to look like old-money Americans. It's social capital, but it's also a product of a particular moment in China, a confluence of political and social factors precipitated by Chinese leader Xi Jinping's push for a "common prosperity."China has long had an uneasy relationship with the pursuit of luxury goods and an affluent lifestyle. The government has spent over a decade discouraging ostentatious displays of affluence. Back in 2011, the authorities started banning billboards with terms such as "luxury" and "high class" in Beijing. A year later, China banned civil servants from accepting expensive gifts or using public funds to host extravagant dinners.That extended to the government's oversight over social media. In 2021, China's version of TikTok, Douyin, said it deleted thousands of accounts and videos involving excessive displays of wealth, also known in Chinese as "xuanfu." The South China Morning Post reported that some of these videos involved users showing off exorbitant amounts of cash and luxury items like watches and the keys to flashy cars. This push for a more austere approach to living even inspired some businesses to find new ways to stay on the straight and narrow and avoid incurring the wrath of the Chinese authorities. Chinese financial firms, for example, are now instructing their employees to refrain from wearing branded clothes or carrying luxury bags to the office. 'We are past the Crazy Rich Asians point'The ultra-rich in China, who have been buying luxury products for more than two decades, are now considered to be connoisseurs of this market, Milton Pedraza, US-based founder and CEO of consulting firm the Luxury Institute, told Insider."We are past the 'Crazy Rich Asians' point," he said. "I think that was the peak and where people went: 'Boy, doesn't that look silly?'"He continued: "Part of being in the know is knowing how to behave when you're truly wealthy and you're seasoned wealthy — as opposed to new money."Pedraza compared "old money" and "new money" shoppers in China to two birds: the eagle and the parakeet. "Once you've matured and you're the ultra-high net worth, you're an eagle — they stand tall, but they're very reserved," Pedraza said.The "new money" crowd, meanwhile, behave like parakeets, he said. These birds are known for being vocal, which in a human sense translates as consumers who wear loud clothes that scream "look at me, look at me," he said. By wearing expensive products with low-key logos, the ultra-rich are still able to project their status in a subtle way without flaunting their wealth. In that way, it's the ultimate power move. Chinese social media's got quiet luxury down to a sciencePeople have posted tutorials and photos on the “laoqian” style on China’s Pinterest-like site, Xiaohongshu.XiaohongshuTo be sure, there's being rich and looking rich, and the latter is where it's at on Chinese social media. People have spent hours dissecting and analyzing the traits and nuances of the "laoqian" style on China's Twitter-like platform, Weibo, decoding the tips and tricks necessary to achieve the perfectly coiffed air of casual luxury. It would be an understatement to say people are captivated — posts with the "laoqian" hashtag have been viewed a collective 1.67 million times on the platform, at press time. This summer, interest in the hashtag has been surging again, spiking as influencers roll out new ideas on how best to achieve the "laoqian" look. What all the influencers' looks have in common are the muted tones they come in. The styles are simple, with an emphasis on how the garment hangs on a person, and pieces come in solid colors like cream, brown, or black — not unlike the Western interpretation of the old-money aesthetic. They’re everywhere on Weibo: Seemingly well-heeled men and women uploading snaps of themselves in garments that they think best represent what the aesthetic should look like.WeiboSome influencers have also uploaded video tutorials on the "laoqian" style, to guide people on how best to dress for success. Video tutorials on the "laoqian" style can be found on Weibo as well.Weibo"Their dressing style is more understated and reflects a calmer temperament. Those who come from old money pay more attention to the details of dressing," read one Weibo post on "laoqianfeng."Another person said on Weibo that adopting "laoqianfeng" is a marker of exquisite taste and good standing in Chinese society. "If you lack taste or style, then you'll never ever be considered high class," the person said in her Weibo post.The old-money aesthetic will hand some brands big wins in ChinaWith the aspirational shopper strained and "loud luxury" taking a back seat, experts say it is the upper-tier luxury brands that stand to benefit. Think Richemont, Louis Vuittons, Dior and others of the fashion world that dabble in louder styles but also never waver from their tried-and-tested classics and are beacons of understated luxury. The focus of ultra-high-net-worth consumers in China will be on design details, quality of material, and subtlety — rather than conspicuousness, Thomaï Serdari, director of the fashion and luxury MBA program at NYU's Stern School of Business, told Insider. For this reason, younger brands such as The Row, Goop, and Nili Lotan that follow this philosophy could also benefit, she said. And while the average Joe on the street might not be able to identify a $1,700 Loro Piana cashmere jumper or the brand's $600 cap that become one of the ultimate symbols of the quiet luxury trend this year — the elite won't care.  "You don't have to show the label. Everyone in their tribe knows what it is. And if you're not in the tribe, believe me, they're not trying to impress you," Pedraza said.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytAug 26th, 2023

A Letter To Our Betters

A Letter To Our Betters Authored by Eric Lundrum via American Greatness, To those who rule over us, though not by our own choice; To those who could not care less about this nation we call our home, but instead only care for their own power, glory, and enrichment; To those who consider themselves better than us, and view us with nothing but the utmost contempt: We know exactly who you are. Now, more than ever before, We The People have had the wool pulled from our eyes, due in large part to your own arrogance. You have ended up as our ruling class, through manipulation rather than merit, through deception rather than democracy, and through favoritism rather than free elections. And we know all this through the efforts of one man: The man that you are now attempting to sentence to hundreds of years in one of your gulags, all for the crime of exposing your treachery at the highest levels. Most simply, Donald J. Trump committed a sin that, in your eyes, is far more egregious than such trivial crimes as bribery, sexual impropriety, abuse of power, or even outright treason. President Trump’s only crime was to humiliate the lot of you, at every level and in both parties. The damage to your ego is a far greater offense than any actual criminal wrongdoing committed by many career politicians of days gone by. That is why you now hunt the man with all the relentlessness of Ahab pursuing his White Whale. And that is why we are now more resolved than ever before to stop you. Quite simply, the fight to save Donald Trump is the fight to save America: His struggle now is unlike any smear, intimidation, and character assassination campaign faced by any other political figure in American history. And it is only so because you have made it so. The more viscerally you react to him, and the more deranged your attacks against him, the more determined his supporters become to stand by him through it all. But this all goes far beyond President Trump. You dictate to us from your halls of marble, built ages ago by far greater men than you will ever be, and in so doing desecrate the memory of those who came before us. If our Founding Fathers could see the state of their nation today, they would either believe that the Revolution had failed; or, perhaps, they would even regret the Revolution altogether if this was the ultimate end result. You have actively led a widespread and systematic effort to erase our nation’s history, from the legacy of those very Founders to the statues and other monuments meant to stand through all of time as a tribute to their greatness. Whether by mobs of roaming thugs or by official decree, you have sought to tear down the very memory of those who built the nation that you now run. You speak down to us from your houses of glass, eternally – and perhaps deliberately – oblivious to the two-tiered society you have created for your own benefit and at our expense. You claim to fight for “democracy,” and yet actively obstruct the will of we, the 63 million, from the moment our chosen leader laid his hand on the Bible. Your bureaucrats determined that an archaic “interagency consensus” should override the desires of the American people and their elected commander-in-chief. When he called out the corruption of one of your leading political puppets, and suggested that such corruption should be investigated, you responded by putting him through a nakedly political impeachment trial. You made a crime out of noticing a crime, even after the former Vice President quite literally confessed to committing the corrupt act to which President Trump was referring. You used an over-exaggerated Chinese virus to take away our rights, our way of life, and our sense of self for several years, even while you continued to live your lives freely with your high-class restaurants and extremely essential hair appointments. As the masses starved, financially and otherwise, your very own Marie Antoinette declared “let them eat ice cream.” You even used the then-impending pandemic to enrich yourselves, with no consequences still to this day. When the second great disease of 2020 – vicious and violent race riots – tore through the country and devastated thousands of us little people, you actively cheered on the terrorists and agitators. Your PR teams in the mainstream media declared the riots to be “fiery but mostly peaceful.” Your future Vice President openly promoted an effort to release violent anarchists who had just destroyed the property of defenseless American citizens. And your friends in the corporate world, with their black squares and black fists, crowed their support for the violence which cleared out many small businesses that competed with their massive companies. And you let savages burn down our country over what? A career criminal, a man who threatened pregnant women at gunpoint, and who, in the end, met his demise not at the knee of his arresting officer, but at the hands of the drugs to which he was addicted. In response, your corrupt judicial system locked up the police officers who simply did their job by restraining a monster. When brave citizens took it upon themselves to fight off other criminals during that fiery summer, you similarly thrust upon them the whole weight of your so-called “justice system,” sometimes with deadly consequences. In a complete inversion that would stun even Orwell, you legalized crime, and then made it a crime to fight crime. Your so-called “intelligence” agencies spent years crafting the biggest lie in modern politics, and then doubled down when your narrative of “Russian collusion” was debunked. You then outdid yourselves with an even greater lie, declaring that the stolen election of 2020 was the “most secure” election in our history…and yet, in your arrogance, your propagandists in the rags of the media couldn’t help but admit, in their own smug way, that the election was indeed stolen from the man who was re-elected by we, the 74 million. For all your pearl-clutching over the events on January 6th, you have spent years ignoring previous or subsequent acts of violence carried out against government figures: You let protestors storm the Capitol in 2018 in protest of a Supreme Court justice’s confirmation, and you have cheered on as waves of radical, pro-transgender protesters storm state capitols all across the country. When lawmakers of your preferred party embrace such actions that are, by your own definition, “insurrectionist,” you instead make celebrities out of them. And yet you continue to shamelessly suppress the rights of hundreds of American citizens over that single short, peaceful protest at the U.S. Capitol. You have sentenced Americans who were not even present that day to decades in prison, with others sentenced to re-education routines more reminiscent of the U.S.S.R. than the U.S.A, determined to purge any “wrongthink” from the minds of rubes who, according to you, just don’t know any better. You even sent your agents to infiltrate the defense teams of unsuspecting defendants, proving that our judicial system and the very notion of the rule of law itself are nothing more than hastily-discarded suggestions for you. And once more, your mad power trip has even led to several good American men taking their own lives due to the endless misery to which you subjected them. But no statues are built of them, nor murals painted in their honor, nor streets renamed for them. That luxury is reserved for actual criminals. Since the fateful day your senile puppet seized power, your absolute disregard for the wellbeing of the American people has only made itself even more apparent. You have forced all of us to accept some of the most sickening beliefs and behaviors that this world has ever seen, as perfectly encapsulated by the perverse delusions of those who call themselves “transgender.” You have promoted the most vile of degenerate freaks ever to serve in the federal government, only relieving them of their positions after incontrovertible evidence of them committing multiple crimes. At the altar of transgenderism, you expressed more sympathy for a mass shooter than for the shooter’s underaged and Christian victims, declaring that the true victims were actually the shooter’s fellow “trans” people. To this day, your mobsters in law enforcement have forbidden the release of the shooter’s manifesto, knowing full well that her demented scribblings would confirm the true beliefs of all who suffer from this anti-biological affliction. When transgenders are not massacring children, they are indoctrinating them. You have demanded that America’s impressionable young children obediently accept these teachings, even if it means protecting rapists. If the father of a violated girl speaks out, you have your police beat and arrest him in a demonstration of your power. If more parents join his cause and speak out just as he did, your ersatz Department of Justice and faux Attorney General will label them as “domestic terrorists.” The same nonexistent attorney general has rather conveniently turned a blind eye to far-left agitators terrorizing Supreme Court justices in the name of their “right” to murder babies, despite such acts being clear violations of federal law. But he did find the time to revive dismissed charges against a pro-life pastor, even going so far as to have the man arrested at gunpoint by a swarm of agents, all in front of his screaming children. And in perhaps the single greatest crime against the American people, you have actively assisted a mass invasion of this fine land by foreign hordes, with the promise of a life in America paid for by We the People. You have even gone so far as to directly import these third-world defilers into our homeland, with your pseudo president openly cheering for the replacement of our people. You attempt to distract from such domestic crimes with grand overseas affairs; but these matters too have exposed your corruption and contempt for the American people. You single-handedly delivered the greatest military defeat in our nation’s esteemed history, producing nightmarish images that led to the entire world viewing us as a weak nation. You have continued to demand that We the People silently comply with an endless supply of our money going towards an equally endless conflict in Europe. Meanwhile, your installed president cannot even be bothered to comment on the devastating destruction of one of the most beautiful locations on Earth, which just so happens to be located in an American state. But this should come as no surprise: After all, this same Resident of the United States demonstrated his clear preference for the fake nation of Palestine over the American town of East Palestine. And all the while, the man now occupying our great White House is actively covering up his entire corrupt family’s past of enriching themselves at the expense of our national sovereignty. His son is free to commit crimes for which others have spent years in prison, knowing that his father’s government will give him the most generous of plea deals. So here we arrive, at our current state of affairs. This long train of abuses and usurpations which you have carried out for decades has culminated in the greatest offense yet against the American people, which just so happens to be the one thing that unites every faction of your shadow government: Your unholy hatred of the one man who is fighting for We the People, and the one man who could stop you. And that is why we will continue to support Donald J. Trump. That is why he remains the people’s president. Every time you attack him, he only grows stronger, as does our support for him. You continue dragging all of us towards the point of no return, the danger of the looming precipice only surpassed by the extreme thinness of the ice upon which you currently stand. Either you will take us over the edge, or the thin ice will break beneath you first. With your increasingly authoritarian displays of brute power and disregard for We the People, you have truly forced our great nation off the edge of the map. But, just as in physics, one law always applies in politics: No matter how far, nor how fast, the pendulum may swing in one direction, it will always, inevitably, swing back in the opposite direction. The position in which the pendulum of our nation currently resides has resulted in the Tree of Liberty becoming quite dry. It thus stands to reason that whenever the pendulum swings at last to the other side, it will end up in a position that will ultimately see a long-overdue flood of nourishment for the Tree. Tyler Durden Tue, 08/22/2023 - 20:05.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeAug 22nd, 2023

Hidden investors took over Corizon Health, a leading prison healthcare company. Then they deployed the Texas Two-Step.

Corizon Health, facing mounting debt, executed a controversial bankruptcy maneuver. Hundreds of prisoner's medical malpractice claims were left in limbo. William Kelly, of Saginaw, Michigan, struggles with constant pain from kidney cancer that progressed from stage 1 to stage 4 while he was under the care of Corizon Health in a Michigan prison. He's one of at least 475 people with active suits against Corizon claiming negligent care. All are now stayed.Sylvia Jarrus for Insider In a lawsuit, a former Corizon CEO describes the company's maneuver as "an old-fashioned bankruptcy fraud scheme." Hundreds of malpractice cases have now been stayed.Hector Garcia, a father of four, collapsed three days into his six-day sentence at the Doña Ana County Detention Center, in Las Cruces, New Mexico. When a corrections officer found him, the former baker was crawling on the floor, vomiting, and moaning in pain. His requests for medical care were ignored.The next day Garcia collapsed again. "Help me!" he yelled, describing his pain as a 10 out of 10. Video footage obtained by Insider shows him wriggling on the ground in agony before corrections officers and medical staff assist him into a wheelchair. The nurse practitioner on duty that day was employed by Corizon Health, Inc., one of the nation's largest private prison healthcare providers.She examined Garcia for five minutes and attributed his symptoms to constipation, even though, as a lawsuit later filed by the family alleges, he had a history of peptic ulcers and had been at the jail multiple times. Later that day, medical records show, the nurse noted that his abdomen was distended, that he was in severe pain, and that he was vomiting a dark brown or orange bile substance, a possible sign of internal bleeding. Instead of sending Garcia to the hospital, medical staff suggested that he be placed in an observation cell in the facility's Medical Housing Area. There, he succumbed to hallucinations.The Doña Ana County Detention Center in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where Hector Garcia spent his final days.Adria Malcom for InsiderEarly the following morning, Corizon staff finally sent Garcia to the hospital. Even then, they didn't call an ambulance but instead loaded him into a security van. Bryan Baker, who was named director of the jail a year after Garcia's death, said all decisions related to the use of ambulances are handled by medical staff — who, at Doña Ana, are employed by Corizon.Sometime during that ride, shackled in the back seat, Garcia went into cardiac arrest, according to medical records and the civil complaint. The next day, he was dead. Garcia's family filed their lawsuit in 2021, joining what, as of July, was at least 475 active suits alleging medical negligence over Corizon's provision of healthcare at jails and prisons across the country. But the Garcias' lawsuit and all the others have now been stayed, as the company split and filed for bankruptcy in a controversial maneuver designed to wall off its assets from such claims. The bankruptcy has also stayed claims against some codefendants.If Corizon prevails, the malpractice suits against the company could be settled for pennies on the dollar, along with 44 employment-law suits over allegations including discrimination, wage theft, and wrongful termination, and at least $88 million in claims such as unpaid invoices from medical providers, according to bankruptcy filings.The jilted vendors include the University of Missouri Health Care system and a local hospital, which say the company owes them $12 million in unpaid invoices for providing prisoners with hospital care, and the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation, and Reentry, which says it's spent up to $2 million on legal costs defending lawsuits the department claims Corizon should have handled. Garcia's family, from left, Daniel Jimenez, his son; Gina Macias, his ex-wife; Belen Lowery, his sister; and his son Hector Garcia, Jr. outside of Jimenez's house in Las Cruces.Adria Malcom for InsiderThe cast of characters behind the bankruptcy stretches from Houston to the exurbs of New York's Rockland County, sweeping up a hedge fund debt specialist and a group of closely connected Orthodox Jewish business partners, who have left a trail of lawsuits and bankruptcies in their wake.The tactic they deployed with Corizon has been dubbed the Texas Two-Step.Johnson & Johnson deployed the novel tactic two years ago in an attempt to minimize a wave of costly legal claims that its talcum powder caused cancer. The Two-Step involves splitting a company into parts — one with most of the assets and the other with the bulk of the liabilities — and then filing the debt-laden company into bankruptcy. J&J's bankruptcy was shot down this year by a federal court. For now, the legitimacy of the Two-Step remains an open question. No court has clearly established its legality.In Corizon's case, a group of investors bought out the company in 2021 and within months created a new company called YesCare, home to most of Corizon's valuable assets — including hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded contracts with prisons and jails. The liability-laden Corizon was renamed Tehum and, in February of this year, filed for bankruptcy. Tehum has transferred tens of millions of dollars to entities some of its investors control, according to a financial statement the company filed in the bankruptcy case. "It's outrageous that investors' profits could have greater legal protections than incarcerated patients and their families," Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who sits on the Senate Banking Committee, said in a statement to Insider. "I've been fighting in the Senate to close the Texas Two Step loophole and this legal maneuver should be an alarming red flag."The goal of Corizon's Two-Step may have been laid bare in a recent civil complaint. It describes an alleged meeting in which a Tehum director, a man named Isaac Lefkowitz, says the Texas Two-Step can be used to "force plaintiffs into accepting lower settlements."A former Corizon CEO, James Hyman, who sued YesCare over his 2021 ouster from the company, describes the planned Two-Step in his lawsuit as "an old-fashioned bankruptcy fraud scheme." YesCare, in a March filing, denied the claim of fraud.It's taken relentless questioning by civil-rights attorneys representing incarcerated people and their families, like the Garcias, to partially uncover the identities of Corizon's new owners. And their identities still have not been disclosed to state and county agencies that have signed seven-, eight-, or nine-figure contracts for the company's healthcare services.Through leaked documents, business filings, public-records requests, voluminous court filings, and interviews with inside sources, Insider has been able to identify many of the players who led Corizon into the Two-Step. Three of them have had leadership roles in companies on both sides of the Two-Step.In taking over and restructuring Corizon, they have extended that strategy to something as sensitive as the life or death of prisoners — a unique set of patients who have no ability to seek second opinions or outside care. In December 2022, James Hyman, a former CEO of Corizon, sued the company over the terms of his 2021 ouster, describing Corizon’s plan to execute a Texas Two-Step as “an old-fashioned bankruptcy fraud scheme.”US District Court for the Middle District of TennesseeTehum's representatives are sitting down with Corizon creditors today in an effort to negotiate a global settlement — one that could allow Corizon's buyers to profit at the expense of doctors, universities, prison systems, and the hundreds of inmates allegedly injured or killed by Corizon's negligence.In June, several creditors filed a motion asking the court to appoint an independent trustee, arguing that Corizon and Tehum had engaged in self-dealing tantamount to a "fraudulent transfer" of assets outside the reach of creditors. And Insider has uncovered indications that Lefkowitz, the Tehum director, may have made at least one false representation under oath during a creditor call.Under federal law, a bankruptcy judge may respond to evidence of self-dealing or perjury by appointing a trustee to take control of the bankrupt company, bankruptcy experts told Insider.If successful, Corizon's Two-Step would avoid a much wider range of liabilities than previous companies who've used it — not just injury lawsuits, like J&J, but the routine debts to vendors that companies rack up every day. If the company succeeds, it provides a "roadmap for eliminating virtually any unsecured liability owed by any corporate entity, regardless of whether that entity is solvent," Ian Cross, a Michigan civil-rights attorney who represents multiple prisoners who have sued Corizon, wrote in a procedural objection in April."People wouldn't for a minute accept it if they understood it," Lynn LoPucki, a corporate-law professor at the University of Florida, said of the divisional merger law that makes the Two-Step possible."If this law is read literally and people take advantage of it, it will completely change the American economy." A deadly six-day sentenceThe quality of Corizon's care has been a subject of contention for many years. Corizon contracts were canceled in Virginia and New York in the wake of prisoner deaths. Multiple localities have investigated Corizon, finding care deficiencies in Oregon and hiring standards in New York so lax that "serious red flags" were missed. And thousands of prisoners or their families have filed lawsuits over the years alleging that medical neglect by Corizon harmed or killed them, some resulting in massive judgments.Hector Garcia, Jr., wears a T-shirt memorializing his father.Adria Malcom for InsiderTracey Grissom filed a complaint in 2019 saying she was forced to live in her own feces for four months after Corizon contractors at the Alabama prison where she was held failed to provide a properly fitted ostomy bag. Adree Edmo, a transgender prisoner, filed a claim in 2017 saying she attempted suicide after Corizon providers in an Idaho prison denied her gender-affirming care. William Kelly, one of Cross' clients, struggles with constant pain from kidney cancer that progressed from stage 1 to stage 4 while he was incarcerated in Michigan prisons.There, he said in a 2022 civil complaint, Corizon failed to provide appropriate treatment. "I was deteriorating fast and I was really weak. I knew something was wrong, was extremely wrong with me," Kelly told Insider. "But they don't give you any kind of understanding of what's going on with you."Corizon disputed all three claims in court. All are now stayed.For Garcia, 55, a few days under Corizon's care at the detention facility in New Mexico proved fatal.Garcia always stood out in his family as a kid, with his dirty blond hair and a wide smile. He was an avid basketball player who also had a knack for the arts, and in his late teens he found work at a local bakery, where he whipped up fresh, sugary doughnuts and pastries he'd bring home to his family.As Garcia and his wife built their family, it also became clear that he was struggling with drug addiction, something family members said had landed him in jail and prison countless times over the years.When Garcia saw two of his sons for what would ultimately be the last time in August of 2019, he had just been released from jail. He walked a mile to the home of his son Hector Garcia Jr. to say how sorry he was.For two hours that day, Garcia sat down over pizza with Hector Jr. and his younger brother Ricky as he apologized for his years of addiction and the ways it had disrupted their lives. When Hector Jr. dropped his dad at his grandma's house that evening, Garcia said that he loved him. When Garcia's family heard that he was back, three weeks later, at the Doña Ana County Detention Center, they didn't think much of it. One of his friends was pulled over while driving and, during the stop, law-enforcement officers discovered that Garcia, in the passenger's seat, had an outstanding warrant stemming from a shoplifting charge. Unable to afford the $242 fine, he was booked for a six-day sentence. "We figured he's going to stay there for a few days and pay his fine," said his sister, Belen Lowery, "because he wasn't going to ask us for money." That weekend she bought a futon for her brother so he'd have a place to sleep in their mother's new house following his release. He never got to sleep on it.An August 2019 incident report from the Doña Ana County Detention Center documents Hector Garcia's collapse.Doña Ana County, New MexicoHector Jr. will never forget finding his spirited father unconscious in a hospital bed, hooked up to multiple tubes. He died a couple of hours later.As Hector Jr. was absorbing the news, he said, a hospital nurse approached him to say she found the detention center's treatment of his father suspicious and suggested that the family hire a lawyer. Two years later, he filed a lawsuit on behalf of the family against Corizon, the warden, and other defendants claiming that medical workers employed by Corizon had violated Garcia's Eighth Amendment rights by denying him adequate medical care. Lawsuits against prisons and jails are extremely difficult to win, but, in this case, the family's attorney, Matt Coyte, thought he had an ironclad case. Medical personnel had admitted in depositions that they violated standard of care when treating Garcia, and Coyte had obtained surveillance video that he said documented extreme forms of medical negligence. Corizon has denied the Garcias' allegations. But Coyte told Insider he expected to win millions of dollars in damages at an August trial.Just six months before the Garcia family was scheduled to have their day in court, Corizon filed for bankruptcy. Their lawsuit, along with hundreds of others, was indefinitely stayed.A debt specialist is put in charge of prisoner careHealthcare in correctional institutions began to be widely outsourced and privatized in the 1980s. In recent years the field has been dominated by a few major firms, Corizon among them. Founded in 1978 as Prison Health Services, Inc., the company changed its name to Corizon in 2011 after merging with a competitor, making it the country's largest private prison healthcare provider.In 2013, Corizon told a Florida news outlet the company had been a defendant in 660 malpractice lawsuits over the previous five years. In 2015, Corizon lost a $154 million contract with New York City; four years later it lost a $200 million contract with Arizona. A New York state panel found Corizon's treatment "so incompetent and inadequate as to shock the conscience."The revenue instability resulted in a series of ownership changes.As of 2014, Corizon had 14,000 employees, and the company brought in $1.5 billion the following year. But by June 2020, payroll had dropped to 5,000 employees responsible for annual revenue of about $800 million, according to a Nashville business journal. That's when investment firm BlueMountain Capital Management sold Corizon for an undisclosed sum to a small Florida investor called Flacks Group. In late 2021 the company lost its two largest remaining contracts, with corrections departments in Michigan and Missouri, worth more than $400 million in annual revenue. Revenue would shrink to roughly $600 million that year, and keep falling.In December 2021, Flacks Group offloaded Corizon to the unidentified buyers who would execute the Texas Two-Step. Even Hyman, then Corizon's CEO, didn't know who the buyers were, according to the lawsuit he filed against YesCare and other parties over his severance; the lawsuit was dismissed in July. He refers to them in the suit as "one or more persons or entities whose identities are unknown" and the "unknown buyer." Either sale could have been a chance to turn the beleaguered correctional healthcare company around and provide quality care to its tens of thousands of incarcerated patients. (As of January, according to a YesCare slide deck, the company provided care to 72,000 prisoners nationwide.) But instead of bringing on an experienced healthcare administrator to clean up the delivery of care, the new owners hired a distressed-debt specialist named Sara Tirschwell with a background in turning around troubled businesses.Sara Tirschwell was named CEO of Corizon in late 2021.Kholood Eid for the New York TimesCorizon's headquarters are in Brentwood, Tennessee. But under Tirschwell, Corizon quickly moved its incorporation from Delaware, where it had long been incorporated, to Texas, one of only a few states that allow something called a divisional merger, which provides wide freedoms for companies to split and divide up their assets and liabilities.Once registered in Texas, Tirschwell and the new owners split the company in two. One company, called Tehum Care Services, Inc., they saddled with liabilities and eventually filed into bankruptcy. The other, called CHS TX, Inc., got the old Corizon's C-suite and more than $300 million in public contracts. It would conduct business under the name YesCare. Tirschwell was named CEO of YesCare, where she quickly got to work reaching out to the state and county agencies whose contracts with Corizon had suddenly moved to the new company. YesCare did not respond to detailed queries. Jason S. Brookner, an attorney for Tehum, provided a brief statement. "We are proceeding with court-ordered mediation," he said, "where substantially all of these issues will be addressed. We have no further comment."A mysterious 'healthcare conglomerate'Okaloosa County, a midsize county in Florida's panhandle, has been working with Corizon for decades. In May 2022, the director of corrections there received an email from a Corizon staffer sharing an announcement from Tirschwell that described YesCare as a new partnership."Monday morning, we will be announcing that the dedicated employees of Corizon Health have teamed up with a healthcare conglomerate to create YesCare, launching our new vision for correctional healthcare nationwide," she wrote.But she left the agencies in the dark about who, exactly, they were now doing business with. YesCare Holdings LLC — the majority owner of YesCare's parent company — had been set up only two days before the email was sent. The message didn't name the "healthcare conglomerate," and two contracting agencies, including Doña Ana County, told Insider they were not made aware of the conglomerate's identity.Subsequent emails mention the new ownership. But in referencing a "Corizon rebranding" and "our announcement on our name change," YesCare employees led Okaloosa officials to believe the change was a rebrand, not a change in ownership.A June 2022 email from YesCare to an Okaloosa County corrections official mentions Corizon's new ownership but refers to it as a "name change" and a rebrand.Okaloosa County, FloridaAt one point, Okaloosa officials expressed confusion. The name "YesCare" didn't show up in the state's online business portal — an indication that it wasn't registered to do business in Florida."Can you please take care of that and provide me an email confirmation when complete?" a senior contracts and lease coordinator for the county emailed the YesCare staffer."We will address," the YesCare staffer replied. "Many thanks."Nick Tomecek, a spokesperson for Okaloosa County, told Insider in a statement that despite any organization changes, "we have the same staff and providers that we have worked with for years" and their contract was subject to "meticulous scrutiny" and "protects the County's interests."Similar communications mentioning a name change went out to other public agencies that were doing business with Corizon, such as the Wyoming Department of Corrections and counties in Florida and New Mexico. But experts said the divisional merger signaled a change in control that should have triggered more robust disclosure."If you've made differences in arrangements that go to the concept of 'Who am I working with on this contract?' then that's not a name change," Christopher Atkinson, an associate professor in the public-administration program at the University of West Florida, told Insider.Insider obtained contracts or correspondence from 19 county and state agencies with an active Corizon contract that moved over to YesCare. At least four contracts, all in Florida, specify that the agency can immediately terminate if the company files for bankruptcy. Yet some public officials running agencies with multimillion-dollar Corizon contracts weren't aware at the time that an ownership change had taken place — or that one Corizon entity, renamed Tehum, later filed for bankruptcy.In June 2022, for example, a month after the divisional merger, a Wyoming Department of Corrections contract manager, Wendy McGee, was still under the impression that Corizon had simply changed its name. She had no idea then that YesCare was a new company, according to her response to an Insider records request.The agency had agreed just a year earlier to a two-year, $33 million contract with Corizon. McGee said in April that the company had yet to alert her about its February bankruptcy filing. She found out by reading an article online. While Wyoming's 2021 contract with Corizon requires the company to provide notice of any "sale, transfer, merger, or consolidation of assets," an agency spokesperson, Stephanie Kiger, said in a statement that there was "no way for the department to enforce that prior to a sale or transfer being completed.""Terminating the contract would have resulted in a large gap in necessary medical services for WDOC inmates," she said.In other words, there was no plan B for providing prisoners with medical care.She said Wyoming was rebidding the medical contract this month.Bryan Baker became director of the Doña Ana County Detention Center a year after Garcia's death. The facility has an active contract with YesCare.Adria Malcom for InsiderPublic officials in two other states told Insider that substantial contracts with YesCare would not be renewed — one for $3.6 million in Shawnee County, Kansas, and another for $14.5 million in Bernalillo County, New Mexico.Bryan Baker, the current director of the Doña Ana County Detention Center, where Corizon was responsible for Garcia's care in the days before his death, also received a June 2022 email from YesCare. That email, from YesCare's vice president of operations, said YesCare had acquired all the active business of Corizon — and said no additional agency steps were required."Because CHS was split from Corizon through a merger transaction, your contract has not been assigned or transferred and no other action with respect to the contract is necessary," she wrote. Anita Skipper, a spokesperson for Doña Ana County, said the county discussed the change and determined that "the contracted services being provided and the Corizon staff providing the services were not changing, for the County's purpose the only change is their name." In an October 2022 proposal to the Alabama Department of Corrections for a $1 billion health care contract, YesCare emphasizes its continuity with Corizon.Alabama Department of CorrectionsInsider obtained another document through a public records request, a proposal that YesCare submitted last year to the Alabama Department of Corrections in an effort to win a multiyear contract. In the 736-page document, YesCare relies on Corizon's "years of experience" in correctional healthcare to prove its bona fides, noting that the company "includes most of the former Corizon Health employees" and "holds the former Corizon Health correctional health contracts."It's a 180 from the stance that YesCare has taken in court, where the company has insisted on "corporate separateness" from Corizon, rebranded as Tehum.Atkinson, the University of West Florida public-policy expert, finds that troubling. "It sounds like for certain purposes they're a different company, and for other purposes they're the same company," he said. "They can't have it both ways."And if YesCare and Corizon are effectively the same company, then why should YesCare's assets be off limits to prisoners and their families? A director is evasive under oathOn May 12, more than a dozen people dialed into a conference call hosted by the US Trustee's office, which is overseeing the Corizon bankruptcy. It was one of a series of so-called 341 meetings — a chance for creditors owed money by a bankrupt company to get their questions answered. Representing Tehum, the company now saddled with Corizon's debts, were the chief restructuring officer and Tehum's director, Isaac Lefkowitz, who would speak under oath.Civil rights and bankruptcy attorneys, lawyers for a committee of the unsecured creditors, including the University of Missouri, and two Insider reporters were on the three-hour call, as Lefkowitz explained why bankruptcy was Corizon's best option.Before entering correctional healthcare, Lefkowitz dabbled over the decades in real estate, oncology, medical practice management — even the sale of mixed nuts. In many business endeavors, records show, he has been sued; he also once landed in trouble with regulators. He's been involved in at least six bankruptcies — including four as an owner or manager — and has also been accused in court filings of fraud or bad-faith conduct on multiple occasions that have resulted in settlements. A brief filed in the bankruptcy case describes Lefkowitz as a "prolific filer of Chapter 11 petitions" who often leverages the bankruptcy process to "avoid unsatisfactory outcomes."He was once sued by the son of a close friend, who claimed in a lawsuit that Lefkowitz swindled the son's late father out of millions of dollars while advising on his US real-estate portfolio. The son, Simche Steinberger, told Insider that Lefkowitz showed off his wealth like "the Queen of England" and convinced Steinberger's dad he'd be lucky to invest. Lefkowitz and the father shared "unconditional trust," the complaint said, as "they knew and socialized with each other and came from an extraordinarily insular and exceptionally close-knit religious community." The complaint also accuses Lefkowitz of fraud, deceit, embezzlement, and purloining funds. "This guy's a crook," Steinberger said. "He knows how to play around with laws." The case was dismissed for lack of standing.Michael Flacks, the chairman and CEO of Flacks Group, which sold Corizon to the new buyers, confirmed that Lefkowitz has enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, telling Insider Lefkowitz has vacationed for years on Fisher Island, an exclusive Florida island that is home to the country's richest ZIP code. Lefkowitz appears to have had no previous experience with prisons and jails before landing director roles first at Corizon and then at Tehum and YesCare. He's also a director for a company called M2 HoldCo, the company that owns Tehum, and M2 LoanCo, which put more than $39 million into Tehum — under the condition, awaiting court approval, that Tehum not seek funds from YesCare to pay its creditors.During the May creditors meeting, Lefkowitz couldn't answer such basic questions as why he changed Corizon's name to Tehum, and he casually informed attendees that the company's records — potentially including thousands of pages of prisoner healthcare files — were stored on his email or in a Dropbox account. Kelly with his attorney, Ian Cross, who asked the court to appoint an independent trustee to handle claims against Corizon.Sylvia Jarrus for InsiderIan Cross, the civil-rights attorney, had joined the call on behalf of several prisoners who had active claims against Corizon when the company, rebranded as Tehum, filed for bankruptcy. One of them is William Kelly, the Michigan man who is now living with late-stage cancer. In June 2022, with a couple of his cases headed for trial, Cross discovered that Corizon, the defendant, no longer existed.Cross and the other attorneys who dialed into the call that day were mostly met with evasion. After Lefkowitz shared, for the first time, the name of Tehum's parent company, a limited-liability company called Perigrove 1018, Cross pressed.Lefkowitz reluctantly acknowledged that he had an ownership interest in Perigrove 1018, revealing only after further questioning that he "was part of the group that formed it." When Cross pushed on who else was in the group, Lefkowitz said just, "A large group of investors." The stonewalling was so extreme that in June, lawyers for the unsecured creditors filed a procedural objection complaining that they had been "met with hostility and withholding of information" by numerous parties.Insider sent detailed queries to Lefkowitz at Perigrove, a private-equity firm where he's a director. He responded from a YesCare email, saying, "Our policy is not to comment during pending company litigation."He later followed up from a Perigrove email, saying, "The subject companies in your proposed write-up provide a vital service to the incarcerated because we believe healthcare is a basic human right that should be afforded to everyone, regardless of past mistakes.""The adverse accusations in your proposed piece are sourced from allegations in public filings that are riddled with false accusations and inaccurate information," he added. "The Corizon bankruptcy is presently in a court ordered mediation, and we are seeking a global resolution for all the parties involved."A Lefkowitz deposition filed in court in June revealed that he had a 5% stake in Perigrove 1018. He also finally named two others in the group of investors: David Gefner and Abraham Goldberger.Lawsuits that claim fraud, embezzlementLike Lefkowitz, Gefner and Goldberger are associated with multiple business that have filed for bankruptcy or faced allegations of fraud.Gefner, who turns 30 this month, says on LinkedIn he founded Perigrove, the private equity firm, in 2012, while he was still a teenager. Since then, documents show, he has spun out more than a dozen Perigrove entities, registered in his name at the same address in Suffern, a New York suburb in Rockland County. Among them, Perigrove 1018.Perigrove was a central player in the purchase of Corizon from Flacks Group, according to Flacks and the lawsuit filed by Hyman, Corizon's former CEO.Gefner's LinkedIn profile describes him as a "visionary entrepreneur" who has closed several merger-and-acquisition transactions across real estate and healthcare. It says that in 2009, when he would have been in high school, he served as an acquisitions specialist "for an exclusive network of family offices and ultra-high net worth investors." Gefner also says on LinkedIn that he's a board member at Consulate Health Care, once the country's sixth-largest nursing-home chain. Consulate gained notoriety after a federal civil jury found in 2017 that the company had defrauded taxpayers with inflated billings for resident care. That case was nearing a settlement in March 2021 when Consulate, in a surprise move, filed for bankruptcy. The Justice Department ultimately agreed to settle the $256 million civil fraud judgment for just $4.5 million. Consulate's CEO and Gefner's attorney, Terrence A. Oved, did not respond to queries seeking confirmation of Gefner's claim.As recently as March of this year, a pair of companies Gefner set up faced a fraud lawsuit over claims they'd failed to repay millions of dollars in loans intended to develop a boutique Brooklyn hotel; Gefner personally settled before the suit was filed, according to the complaint.Oved responded to queries on Gefner's behalf with a statement saying, "David Gefner has never personally filed for bankruptcy or been involved in a litigation where he has been accused of fraud; nor does he control any company that has filed for bankruptcy. The attempt to tarnish his reputation by association and implication is regrettable."Gefner has been on both sides of the Corizon Two-Step. He was for a time listed as a director for Tehum. And incorporation records show he's the organizer for YesCare Holdings LLC — the holding company with a 95% ownership stake in YesCare Corp., which in turn owns YesCare, the company with Corizon's active contracts.He's also listed in a December 2022 business filing as YesCare Corp.'s president.The other investor Lefkowitz named, Goldberger, has an equally tumultuous business background — and his name is also associated with a range of Corizon-related companies.Goldberger, who, like Lefkowitz and Gefner, has a Perigrove email address, was once listed in business filings as a director and officer of Corizon and as a director of Tehum. He's listed too as the authorized person for M2 HoldCo and M2 LoanCo, the company that gave Tehum $39 million.Goldberger has a history of suing his business partners — and being sued by contractors over failure to pay. In 2013 he was accused in court of embezzling funds from a charter-jet company, a case that was settled for an undisclosed sum. He's now CEO of a temporary-staffing agency called United Staffing Solutions that, as of 2019, had revenue of roughly $34 million and describes itself, in a wild exaggeration, as "one of the largest privately-owned businesses in America." In 2022, shortly after Goldberger became an officer for Corizon, his family formed a slew of staffing services entities with names like "Corizon Health Charlotte, Inc." associated with locations where Corizon does business. Each company was registered to the same Manhattan address as that of United Staffing Solutions. Days later, those entities were dissolved to make way for a new slate of businesses, with the names slightly tweaked: Now they echoed CHS TX, the company that does business as YesCare, such as "CHS Okaloosa, Inc." and "CHS Dana Anna, Inc."These new companies list Goldberger; his wife, Faigy; and their children — including a 21-year-old daughter — as presidents. The same year the Goldbergers formed those companies, Corizon awarded United Staffing Solutions a contract, for an unknown amount, to staff nurses in their facilities across the country, according to a list of contracts in the company's divisional merger plan.Goldberger's company got that contract while he was serving as a director on Corizon's board.Now, according to the October 2022 YesCare proposal to the Alabama Department of Corrections, United Staffing Solutions is doing business with YesCare, too."Our exclusive staffing relationships create synergies for our clients that no other company in the industry can match," the proposal says. The document does not disclose the conflict of interest.An office above an auto-parts shopTwo people with knowledge of the Flacks Group sale of Corizon place Lefkowitz, Gefner, and Goldberger at the heart of the deal.One of them, Michael Flacks, who sold the company to the new owners, said Gefner and Lefkowitz handled the purchase on behalf of Perigrove, something Hyman also says in his civil complaint. Flacks said Perigrove invested on behalf of high-net-worth individuals including Goldberger, who, he said, "was deeply involved in driving the transaction to a successful conclusion."Flacks called Goldberger "Mr. Moneyman."He also named Joel Landau, someone with a background in skilled nursing facilities, as a minority investor.Goldberger's attorney, Joseph Haspel, responded to queries with a statement saying that "Mr. Goldberger is a passive investor" in Corizon, Tehum, YesCare, Perigrove, and Perigrove 1018. "He takes the position that it is for the Courts to address legal issues," Haspel said.But Landau's attorney, Andrew Levander, said in a statement that any "suggestion that Mr. Landau has ever had an ownership interest or investment in YesCare, Tehum or M2 is false.""Mr. Landau has no direct or indirect ownership interest in any of those entities."The buyers conducted a couple of weeks of diligence, Flacks said. A Corizon source who was present on early calls to discuss the sale in December 2021 said the talks moved quickly. Lefkowitz and Goldberger were initially interested in exploring a purchase of Corizon's pharmacy-management subsidiary, Pharmacorr, the source said. Within the week, they had decided to buy the entire company."We were able to successfully negotiate a corporate downsizing as well as the spinoff of the pharmacy business," Flacks said. "We believe this was the best outcome for the employees and the patients."When Lefkowitz gathered with Corizon executives the following Sunday, the executives had already drafted a press release to announce the sale, the Corizon source said. Lefkowitz shut down the discussion, saying he worked with partners who ran nursing homes, who didn't want their patients to know they were also getting into prison healthcare.In a December 2021 email from James Hyman, then Corizon's CEO, filed as an exhibit in a lawsuit he filed over his severance, Hyman asks Isaac Lefkowitz what he can say about the new ownership group.US District Court for the Middle District of TennesseeIn a December 2021 email to Lefkowitz, filed as an exhibit in former CEO James Hyman's lawsuit, Hyman asks: "When we talk to customers and say 'we've been bought, the financial guys are gone, the new guys are committed to healthcare, etc.' and the customer asks, 'so who are they?', what do you want us to say?"Besides their multiple associations with Lefkowitz, Gefner, and Goldberger, a few of the companies associated with Corizon have something else in common.YesCare Holdings and Perigrove share the same address, the 46th floor of 7 World Trade Center, a sparkling high-rise in Manhattan's downtown financial district. Multiple businesses associated with Isaac Lefkowitz and David Gefner list their address as 7 World Trade Center, right. A receptionist could find only one in the directory.InsiderAn Insider reporter recently visited the office's lobby, curious about the ties between these entities that appear to occupy the same space. A receptionist said Perigrove was listed as having a virtual office there, but didn't find YesCare or their other related businesses in the directory.While Perigrove holds itself out as a sleek, Manhattan-based financial company, the company doesn't have any filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission that would suggest it had raised significant money. Incorporation records and a report from the short-seller Hindenburg Research show the company's office isn't even in Manhattan but rather an hour's drive away in Rockland County, above a Suffern auto-parts shop. A paper sign with "Perigrove" in big letters was taped on the glass door of the two-story brick building, layered over another signed that read "Perigove LLC" — without the "R".An Insider reporter asked an auto-parts employee at the building whether Gefner was often at the office. "You here to give him a summons?" the man replied, in between bites of lunch. When asked whether that happened a lot, he responded with a laugh, "No comment." A paper sign on a door to an auto-parts shop indicates the office of Perigrove, the firm that arranged Corizon's sale, in Suffern, New York.InsiderPerigrove shares the Suffern address with numerous other companies. Incorporation records list Gefner as the organizer for dozens of Perigrove-related entities, with names like "Perigrove 1021A LLC" and "Perigrove 1028 LLC," all registered at the office above the auto-parts store. The unassuming office space near a Kosher grocery store and an Orthodox synagogue is also the home of Perigrove 1018 LLC, the ultimate parent company of Tehum. Gefner is listed as the company's organizer.Potential signs of perjuryThe Alabama Department of Corrections proposal that YesCare submitted last year contained another pivotal detail about the company's backing, one Lefkowitz avoided revealing under intense questioning in May.YesCare says it is managed and financially supported by a company called Geneva Consulting LLC, "a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Genesis Healthcare group of companies." Geneva Consulting was incorporated in 2021 with Gefner as general partner and registered to the same 7 World Trade Center address.A month after Geneva was formed, Hyman discovered something that alarmed him: Lefkowitz, as a representative of Corizon's new owners, had signed off on a $3 million payment to Geneva for future services described only as "corporate restructuring." Hyman asked Lefkowitz about the transaction, he said in his lawsuit, and was immediately terminated. Lefkowitz later explained, on a creditors call in June, that Geneva served as an intermediary between M2 LoanCo, the lender, and Tehum, the company Corizon saddled with its debts, making payments on behalf of Tehum to various vendors. He said it was his job to review invoices before Geneva sent payments from its accounts.But he said he held no official title with Geneva nor received any compensation. And Lefkowitz said under oath on the June creditor's call that he didn't know the identity of Geneva's principals. That sworn testimony may be false.According to a motion in the $12 million lawsuit filed against Tehum by the University of Missouri Health Care system and the local hospital over nonpayment, Lefkowitz had a controlling interest in Geneva. In a motion filed in June to force compliance with a subpoena, lawyers for the unsecured creditors committee cite Geneva's attorney saying his "client contact" there was Lefkowitz. According to an attachment in Geneva's exhibit list, Lefkowitz has just one of 11 email addresses at Geneva. He is listed on a company website as a director of Genesis Healthcare, Geneva's owner.When asked about Genesis on the May creditors call, Lefkowitz said, "It's possible, I'm not 100 percent certain" that the company has an investment in Perigrove 1018.Genesis Healthcare is one of the biggest nursing-home systems in the United States, with more than 200 facilities in 21 states. It's also another deeply troubled company: In 2021, after several years of poor financial performance, Genesis was taken over and delisted from the New York Stock Exchange. According to a Genesis press release, the money for the purchase came from an affiliate of a private-equity firm called Pinta Capital Partners that was founded in 2012 by David Harrington and Landau — the investor who Flacks said was part of the group who purchased Corizon. Landau was later described by The American Prospect as a "serial liar with a history of conning his way into nursing home takeovers."Landau gained notoriety several years ago for his role in a scandal during the Bill de Blasio administration. That's when another Landau company purchased a former 219-bed Lower East Side nursing home called Rivington House. City officials lifted deed restrictions on the property after Landau made a commitment to local officials that there'd be no changes for residents. But he quickly reneged and sold the property to developers, netting $72 million.Landau has ties with both Lefkowitz and Gefner. According to the Hindenburg report, Gefner once worked for Pinta Capital. An archived 2009 video shows Lefkowitz and Landau shaking hands and smiling with then New York Gov. David Paterson.A strategy 'to benefit insider individuals'The complex web of business relationships appears to have led to self-dealing. There were Corizon and YesCare's contracts with the Goldberger-controlled United Staffing Solutions. There was the $3 million consultancy between Corizon and Geneva whose discovery may have gotten Hyman fired. The Alabama proposal document says YesCare also entered into an agreement with Geneva, paying Geneva to provide administrative support services, capital financing, and bonding requirements.Insider's analysis of financial records filed by Tehum in bankruptcy court shows that since the new buyers purchased Corizon, the company has transferred more than $48 million to entities controlled by Lefkowitz and Gefner, potentially limiting the pool of funds available for settling claims with creditors like the Garcias.For example, Corizon gave Perigrove $6 million from April to June 2022, the period in which the company became Tehum. And Corizon sent $7.5 million to another Gefner company, DG Realty, in December 2021.(A footnote indicates Tehum has also received $24 million from five parties, but it doesn't break down the payments.) "The most egregious form of the Two-Step is the kind of thing that bankruptcy is designed to prevent," Mark Roe, a professor at Harvard Law School who teaches bankruptcy and corporate law, told Insider. "A transfer of assets to our friends or ourselves, and to avoid paying liabilities."Oved, Gefner's attorney, said in the statement, "Corizon was on the verge of filing bankruptcy when it was acquired" and that "Corizon has done nothing wrong by availing itself of the same laws and protections afforded every other company in this country and any implication to the contrary is false."The ACLU, Public Justice, and other civil-rights organizations filed an amicus brief in May on behalf of pro se incarcerated plaintiffs. In it, they argue that the level of self-dealing among the principals has weakened the ability of creditors to repossess assets that may have been wrongly moved out of their reach. Lawyers for the unsecured creditors also argued, in a June filing opposing Tehum's attempts to draw out the timeline, that "this bankruptcy process is serving to benefit insider individuals and affiliated entities."LoPucki, the University of Florida scholar, said that the case, if it's resolved in favor of Tehum's owners, could signal "a fundamental change in the law governing debt," effectively rewriting the rules of the bankruptcy code laid down by Congress over a century ago. "As this case shows, corporations will keep trying to manipulate bankruptcy to game the justice system unless Congress puts a stop to it," Sen. Dick Durbin, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told Insider.In January 2022, just a few months before the divisional merger that created YesCare, Lefkowitz was trying another maneuver to siphon money out of the cash-strapped Corizon. According to allegations in a 2022 lawsuit, he and two business partners, including someone identified on a wire transfer as "DAVID," planned to purchase hundreds of thousands of COVID test kits from a company called Seven Trade, registered to the same World Trade Center address and organized by Gefner. Lefkowitz and Gefner describe themselves in legal documents as its director and sole member, respectively.The complaint, filed by Seven Trade against the test-kit supplier, says they planned to resell the tests to Corizon at a 57% markup. If the deal hadn't fallen through, it would have netted them almost $1.2 million; Seven Trade won a $2.9 million judgment.In June, Cross, the civil-rights attorney, joined other creditors in filing a motion for the court to appoint an independent trustee, arguing that the Seven Trade episode "is perhaps the clearest available evidence that Mr. Lefkowitz is unlikely to act as a responsible fiduciary." (In an objection, attorneys for Tehum said the company "disputes the implications or the specific allegations.")"The Debtor's directors," the motion said of Tehum, "engaged and attempted to engage in various self-dealing transactions while the Debtor was insolvent," including the Seven Trade deal and Tehum's "payment of millions of dollars to Geneva Consulting LLC, a newly-formed entity controlled by insiders."In June of this year, Corizon creditors filed a motion asking the court to appoint an independent trustee, arguing that Tehum’s directors engaged in “self-dealing.”US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of TexasIn May 2022, just three months after Seven Trade filed suit and right around the time of the divisional merger, Tirschwell, YesCare's founding CEO, was looking to sign up new business. YesCare had its eyes on one particularly lucrative call for bids: the one from the state of Alabama. The Alabama Department of Corrections is one of the most notorious prison systems in the country. The department has been the subject of a federal investigation since 2016 over horrific conditions and pervasive violence, and it's still fighting a class-action lawsuit filed in 2014 by the Southern Poverty Law Center over claims of inadequate healthcare. The stakes were high for whoever would come in to handle medical care for the system's more than 18,000 prisoners.After reviewing five bids, the state awarded a billion-dollar contract to YesCare, a company that had been established only a couple of months earlier. The decision was shrouded in controversy. A corrections department attorney acknowledged a potential conflict of interest. And Wexford, a competitor for the massive bid, alleged in a letter to the governor obtained by Insider that YesCare's CEO — then Tirschwell — violated a "cone of silence" period by having dinner with the department's top corrections official during the bidding process. Alabama rebid the contract, but YesCare prevailed again.There was another striking revelation in YesCare's proposal — one that hints at why the group of investors wanted to take over Corizon in the first place.YesCare and Geneva Consulting, the proposal explains, intend to create a prison-to-nursing-home pipeline.They say YesCare plans to develop and manage skilled nursing facilities to house medically fragile older people on medical furlough from prison, on parole, or who recently finished their sentence, creating a direct path from the prisons to their centers. The proposal lists 11 facilities across Alabama, nine of them run by Genesis, that collectively can house more than 700 people."In more cases than not, releasing patients are denied access to nursing homes due to their history of violence or their infectious disease status," the proposal says, referencing a chart of the Genesis facilities. "YesCare has access to the facilities below to assist the ADOC with nursing home placements."The proposal describes the arrangement as "an innovative means to transfer significant healthcare costs away from State budgets." Seven of the nine Genesis facilities listed, according to ProPublica's nursing-home database, received "D," "E" , "F", "J", and "K" ratings from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, on a scale of A to L. Insider found at least 80 documented deficiencies over the past five years in which these facilities failed to meet care requirements, resulting in over $44,000 in fines. Bankruptcy was in her playbookAfter the new owners quietly took over Corizon, they appointed someone as CEO with no prior experience in corrections.Sara Tirschwell, a Texas native with piercing hazel eyes, spent much of her career at Davidson Kempner, the distressed-debt pioneer. There, she served as interim CFO for an addiction-treatment center in Maine, sat on the board of a cannabis transport company, and helped to restructure an Israeli automotive supplier. She went on to become a managing director at Quest Turnaround Advisors, a firm specializing in managing flailing businesses.Then, before joining Corizon, she decided to run for New York City mayor.By all accounts, it was a spectacular debacle. She failed even to collect enough signatures to get onto the Republican primary ballot. And yet she may have violated campaign-finance laws, according to a July 2022 complaint submitted to the city's Campaign Finance Board, by failing to properly report expenditures and in-kind contributions. When a board employee had contacted her some months earlier with questions about outstanding liabilities owed by her campaign, according to notes of the call, Tirschwell responded that she "would simply file for bankruptcy at the federal level to ensure the CFB could not come after her." (A spokesperson for the CFB, Tim Hunter, declined to comment on whether the board opened an investigation.)That instinct may have presaged what came next.After Tirschwell's failed 2021 bid for New York City mayor, a Campaign Finance Board staffer contacted her with questions. The staffer's writeup from February 10, 2022, notes Tirschwell saying if the board came after her, she'd file for bankruptcy.New York City Campaign Finance BoardAbout six months after Tirschwell dropped out of the race, she sold her Manhattan condo for $2.6 million, rented an apartment on the 29th floor of a high-rise building in Houston, and embarked on another adventure in bankruptcy, Corizon's Texas Two-Step. That apartment was more than her personal residence: Incorporation records show that Tirschwell listed her apartment as the business address for YesCare Corp., the company that owns YesCare.During her short tenure at Corizon, and then YesCare, Tirschwell bid for new business, including in Alabama, and reached out to corrections officials to reassure them about the transfer of ownership. Bryan Baker, the director of the New Mexico jail where Hector Garcia's health catastrophically collapsed, recalled an in-person visit Tirschwell made to the facility, some three years after Garcia died, where they briefly discussed the business.But it seems clear in retrospect that Tirschwell was brought on to accomplish one thing.Bankruptcy was in Tirschwell's playbook. Her Quest profile says she "has been a guest lecturer on the subject of bankruptcy investing." Back in 2004, after many companies with asbestos tort liabilities had been driven into bankruptcy, she joined with other hedge funds in meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss the idea of establishing a trust fund to pay those claims. A decade later, companies with asbestos claims were the first to deploy the Texas Two-Step.She was the only Corizon leader based in Texas, where the Two-Step is legal, and the timeline suggests she may have been brought on specifically to oversee the company's legal maneuvers in Texas. She was referred to as part of the company's "transitional leadership team" in a February email sent from a YesCare administrator to a county agency in Michigan. Three days after the bankruptcy, Tirschwell was out the door, with Corizon's long-standing CFO Jeff Sholey taking the company's reins. Sholey did not respond to detailed requests for comment.Though she was CEO for just 15 months, she was rewarded with a 5% ownership stake in YesCare Corp. Despite the bankruptcy, Tirschwell writes of YesCare on her LinkedIn page that she executed the "successful turnaround of a 45 year old correctional healthcare company."Steven Storch, Tirschwell's attorney, declined to comment on her behalf, citing pending litigation, and did not respond to detailed follow-up questions. But he said she "has long been a passionate advocate for improvements to the prison healthcare system."A hallway inside the Doña Ana County Detention Center.Adria Malcom for InsiderIn June, an Insider reporter stopped by the Doña Ana County Detention Center, the low-slung facility in Las Cruces, on the edge of the Chihuahuan Desert, that Tirschwell had visited a year before — the place where Hector Garcia spent his final days. In the facility's nursing station, where Garcia's family said in a civil complaint that he'd received "inadequate medical care," YesCare and Corizon posters are now plastered side-by-side. The hallway's fluorescent lights added a harshness to the already desolate environment. The prison gave off a musty, almost putrid smell and in the cells, men lay on their metal bunks, turned to the wall. This facility is where Garcia collapsed just three days into his six-day sentence; where a corrections officer found him crawling on the floor and moaning; where a nurse practitioner from Corizon responded to his severe pain, distended abdomen, and his vomiting of dark brown bile by putting him in a medical observation cell.According to the family's lawsuit, emergency rooms frequently encounter perforated ulcers and a routine surgery can treat the condition. Left untreated, however, the condition can be fatal. Time matters, and Corizon staffers waited until early in the morning on August 6 — two days after the onset of Garcia's symptoms — to send him to the hospital. A photo of Hector Garcia with his family sits by a window at his son Daniel's house in Las Cruces.Adria Malcom for InsiderHe was already unconscious by the time his family arrived at his bedside, after his sister received a call from a nurse at the hospital. To this day, no one from the detention facility or from Corizon has sent condolences to the family, or contacted them at all."How can our system allow this to people?" Hector Garcia Jr. said in an interview. "It's not like he had a chance to call an ambulance himself." The Garcias may never get a chance to make the case that his death could have been prevented. If Tehum's owners get their way during the settlement negotiations scheduled for this week, they could skirt accountability not just for Hector Garcia's death, but for the for hundreds of vulnerable prisoners who say they experienced serious harm at the hands of a company paid hundreds of millions of dollars to keep them safe.CreditsReporters: Nicole Einbinder, Dakin Campbell, Hannah Beckler, Katherine Long, Jack Newsham Editors: Esther Kaplan, Jeffrey Cane, John CookVisuals: Kazi Awal, Isabel Fernandez-Pujol, Annie Fu, Rebecca ZisserVideo: Erica Domena, Havovi Cooper Photography: Sylvia Jarrus, Adria Malcolm Research: Narimes ParakulCopy Editor: Kevin Kaplan  Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytAug 21st, 2023

Rufo: Bring On The Counter-Revolution

Rufo: Bring On The Counter-Revolution Authored by Christopher F. Rufo via City Journal, America is trapped in the loop of 1968. The politics of that fateful year have set the patterns and bounds of our national life for decades. It’s as though we have lived an endless recurrence: the Black Panther Party reappears as the Black Lives Matter movement; the Weather Underground pamphlets launder themselves into academic papers; the Marxist-Leninist guerrillas trade in their bandoliers and become managers of an elite-led revolution in manners and mores. The ideology, narrative, and aesthetics of the left-wing social movements of that earlier time, though now often degraded through cynicism and repetition, have maintained the position of a jealous hegemon. The cultural revolution that began a half-century ago, now reflected in a deadening sequence of acronyms—CRT, DEI, ESG, and more—has increasingly become our new official morality. Many conservatives have made an uneasy peace with this transformation of values, even as the culture around them has, in many places, collapsed. This attitude no longer suffices. It is time to break the loop of 1968. We need a counterrevolution. This is the word that haunts the revolutionary mind. The French Revolution fell to the forces of Thermidor; the Revolution of 1848 fell to the empire of the bourgeoisie; the Bolshevik Revolution fell to the democratic-capitalists, the imperialist-backed juntas, and the forces of global capitalism. Marx himself viewed counterrevolution as an overwhelming threat. “Every important part of the revolutionary annals from 1848 to 1849 bears the heading: Defeat of the revolution!” he lamented. The urgent task for the political Right today is to comprehend the dynamics of revolution and counterrevolution and to create a strategy for dislodging the New Left ideology of 1968, which has solidified control over the most fundamental structures of American society. The challenge must be met not solely in the realm of policy debate but on the deepest political and philosophical grounds. Today’s counterrevolution is not one of class against class but takes place along a new axis between the citizen and an ideologically driven state. Its ultimate ambition is not to replace the new “universal class”—the heirs of the 1960s cultural revolution, who have worked to professionalize it and install it in elite institutions—or to capture the bureaucratic apparatus that the universal class currently controls; instead, it seeks to restore the nation’s founding principle of citizen rule over the state. The next conservative president should use federal tools to punish universities that pursue racial preferences. (TOM CROKE/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO) The current moment can be symbolized as a conflict between the Revolution of 1968 and the Revolution of 1776. And despite the seemingly overwhelming power of their opponents, the partisans of 1776 have some significant advantages. The 1968ers promise liberation through the destruction of old forms of order; they appeal to the romantic spirit of the revolutionary. But their campaigns inevitably collapse into nihilism. They tear away the supposed masks, denounce the great ideals, humiliate the old heroes—and leave nothing but an immense void in their place. The counterrevolution must take its bearings from the common citizen and offer to restore his dignity and mastery over his own life. It must reverse the process of institutional capture, break up centralized ideological powers, and return influence to local communities. The strategy has been described as “right-wing Leninism,” but this misunderstands a key point: while the revolution seeks to demolish America’s founding principles, the counterrevolution seeks to restore them; while the revolution proceeds by a long march through the institutions, the counterrevolution works to remove power from institutions that have lost or betrayed the public trust. The architects of the counterrevolution—intellectuals, activists, and political leaders—must develop a new political vocabulary that can break through the Left’s identitarian and bureaucratic narratives, tap into the reservoir of popular sentiment that will provide the basis for mass support, and design policies to sever the connection between the radical ideologies and administrative power. Given current circumstances, with the Left’s seemingly wholesale capture of major institutions—public education, the universities, private-sector leadership, culture, and, increasingly, even the sciences—the current battlefield can appear overwhelming. But today’s Left has an Achilles heel: its power is, to a significant degree, a creature of the state, subsidized by patronage, loan schemes, bureaucratic employment, and civil rights regulations. These structures often appear permanent, but they can be reformed, redirected, or abolished through the democratic process. With a presidential election looming, conservatives need to develop a national counterrevolutionary agenda. For some ideas for what that might look like, they can turn to a surprising guide: Richard Nixon. The movement against the Revolution of 1968 had already begun to take form in the closing stretch of that year. As the radical left-wing factions asserted themselves in the universities and in the streets, voters cast their presidential ballots for former vice president Richard Milhous Nixon, who promised to restore “law and order” on behalf of the “silent majority.” Nixon is held in contempt these days, even by many conservatives, but parts of his legacy deserve reappraisal. He acutely understood the threat of ideological revolution and anticipated the dynamics of bureaucratic capture. In his presidential nomination speech of 1968, as the forces of the New Left’s cultural revolution were rapidly ascending, Nixon set the stakes for the American public and established themes that still dominate American politics today. “My friends, we live in an age of revolution in America and in the world,” Nixon said. “We see cities enveloped in smoke and flame. We hear sirens in the night. We see Americans dying on distant battlefields abroad. We see Americans hating each other; fighting each other; killing each other at home.” Through the chaos and tumult of the cultural revolution, Nixon called to the “great majority of Americans, the forgotten Americans, the non-shouters, the non-demonstrators.” He defended this silent majority against attacks that have since become ubiquitous. “They’re not racists or sick; they’re not guilty of the crime that plagues the land; they are black, they are white; they’re native-born and foreign-born,” he told the convention audience in Miami Beach. “And this I say, this I say to you tonight, is the real voice of America.” Nixon appealed to the Revolution of 1776 as the antidote to the Revolution of 1968. “To find the answers to our problems, let us turn to a revolution—a revolution that will never grow old, the world’s greatest continuing revolution, the American Revolution,” he said. “The American Revolution was and is dedicated to progress. But our founders recognized that the first requisite of progress is order. Now there is no quarrel between progress and order because neither can exist without the other. . . . And to those who say that law and order is the code word for racism, here is a reply: Our goal is justice—justice for every American.” An early priority in Nixon’s counterrevolution was to tame the national bureaucracy. Between 1969 and 1971, Nixon unveiled a series of proposals under the concept of the “New Federalism,” designed to consolidate federal agencies under tighter presidential authority, convert entire federal programs into direct block grants to states and municipalities, eliminate specific expenditures through the budget impoundment process, and replace the Great Society’s antipoverty initiatives, which sought to reengineer human behavior, with a simple guaranteed income program for the poor. Nixon believed that the federal government should provide a financial backstop for the American people, but he wanted to curb the power of the government’s experts, managers, and bureaucrats, who, he recognized, wanted to remake organic social institutions in the service of left-wing ideology. Nixon once asked his domestic policy advisor Daniel Patrick Moynihan if his proposed basic-income program would “get rid of social workers.” Moynihan responded: “It would wipe them out.” The second element of Nixon’s counterrevolution—the most successful during his presidency—was the campaign to reestablish “law and order.” The late 1960s were marked by mass rioting, looting, and arson in America’s urban areas. The promise of the civil rights movement, which established full formal equality for black Americans in 1964 and 1965, had turned to disillusion. Members of the New Left’s coalition of white middle-class students and black urban agitators took to the streets in a cataclysm of political violence, promising to wage guerrilla war against the government and to establish a Marxist-Leninist state. Radicals planted thousands of bombs and assassinated police officers in major cities. Nixon responded with an appeal to the middle class. “When the nation with the greatest tradition of the rule of law is plagued by unprecedented lawlessness; when a nation that has been known for a century for equality of opportunity is torn by unprecedented racial violence,” Nixon said, “then it’s time for new leadership for the United States of America.” As president, Nixon ruthlessly dismantled the radical organizations, such as the Black Panther Party, Black Liberation Army, Weather Underground, and Communist Party USA, that threatened violent revolution against the state. His FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover, launched a sophisticated campaign to infiltrate, disrupt, and disperse their networks, with devastatingly effective results. Of course, some of what Hoover’s FBI did ran the gamut from questionable to flatly illegal, and these practices not only violated the rights of numerous American citizens but also undermined the authority by which the U.S. government rightly engages in containment of lawless individuals or groups. Still, by the end of Nixon’s first term, most of the subversive organizations had imploded, and many of their leaders were on the run, in prison, or in the ground. And the New Left’s intellectual leaders believed that Nixon’s drive against radical groups was succeeding. “The Nixon Administration has strengthened the counterrevolutionary organization of society in all directions,” wrote the neo-Marxist philosopher Herbert Marcuse in 1972. “The Black Panther party has been systematically chased down before it disintegrated in internal conflicts. A vast army of undercover agents is spread over the entire country and through all branches of society.” The revolution, he believed, was finished. The third element of Nixon’s counterrevolution was the formation of a counter-elite. Nixon felt besieged by the post–New Deal liberal establishment and the New Left counterculture that had captured the sympathies of the press. The bureaucracy, he believed—whether in the Communist Soviet Union or capitalist United States—would inevitably be controlled by a ruling elite that, with the advent of mass communications and administration, could wield unprecedented powers. He feared that the new elites would undermine older middle-class values, and his notorious “enemies list” was a crude proxy for the kind of individuals who would make that happen. “The leadership class is made up of highly educated and influential people in the arts, the media, the academic community, the government bureaucracies, and even business,” Nixon maintained. “They are characterized by intellectual arrogance, an obsession with style, fashion, and class, and a permissive attitude,” he wrote, a profile that has not changed much in the half-century since. Nixon was blunt: “The press is the enemy. The establishment is the enemy. The professors are the enemy,” he told advisor Henry Kissinger in the Oval Office. In their place, Nixon hoped, his administration could help “create a new establishment” to counterbalance the elite universities and the media, which, Nixon estimated, was “90–10” against him. In meetings with his chief of staff, H. R. Haldeman, Nixon shared his desire to freeze out liberal reporters, to adopt a harder line against his foes, and to “go out into the heartland” to recruit a conservative counter-elite uncorrupted by the Ivy Leagues. He believed that a resounding reelection victory could establish the conditions for a deeper shift in the nation’s power structure. “What [liberal presidential candidate George] McGovern stands for, the eastern liberal media stands for, the eastern intellectuals stand for . . . must be crushed,” he told aides in October 1972. “It cannot come back and have an opportunity to have much influence in American life for a while.” By the end of his first term, frustrated by the permanent administration in Washington, Nixon had conceived of his most important task as leading a counterrevolution against the state bureaucracy—or, as he put it in his 1971 State of the Union Address, a “New American Revolution,” in which the federal government would be put back into check and power returned to the common citizen. As Nixon aide Richard Nathan explained in his book The Plot That Failed: Nixon and the Administrative Presidency, the president increasingly saw himself as a champion of the “general interest,” caught at the center of a system arrayed against it. In November 1972, Nixon got his resounding reelection, winning with the largest popular vote margin of any candidate in the postwar era, defeating McGovern in 49 out of 50 states, including McGovern’s home state of South Dakota. The press immediately noted the significance of Nixon’s ambitions. The New York Times published a postelection editorial titled “Nixon Counterrevolution,” warning that the reelected president wanted to “advance an ideological grand design” that would reverse the progression of the New Deal and the Great Society, abolishing federal programs that imposed elite-approved views on local communities and administered society from above. “Mr. Nixon seeks to accomplish a retrogressive counterrevolution in the guise of an administrative reorganization,” the editorial cautioned. As his second term began, Nixon proceeded to abolish entire federal offices and programs that promoted left-wing social theories; suspend federal housing programs, pending review; and restrict the methods and ideological scope of federally funded social-services initiatives. He also proposed a truly ambitious system of “revenue sharing,” which would send billions in federal funding directly to states and municipalities, which, he believed, could administer social programs in greater alignment with local communities. The only way to avoid the slide into bureaucratic tyranny, Nixon believed, was to centralize control over the executive branch in the White House and to decentralize financing and administration of social programs, ensuring that they operated with minimal bureaucracy and as close to the people as possible. To be sure, not all of Nixon’s domestic policy proposals were wise or successful. He enacted wage and price controls, expanded the reach of government through the creation of the EPA and other departments, and strengthened President Lyndon Johnson’s affirmative-action policy. His guaranteed income and block-grant proposals, if adopted, might have yielded unintended consequences, disincentivizing work and enabling ideological capture at the local level, respectively. But Nixon, whatever his flaws, thought seriously about how to reshape America’s institutions and had a vision for policy that was commensurate with the problem. In the end, Nixon was subverted by the very forces he feared most. His enemies in the bureaucracy and the press were able to use the Watergate scandal to oust him and stop his plans for realignment. The tragedy of Nixon is that he accomplished his dream of winning a “new majority” but was unable to transform it into a “new establishment.” His closest aides described the experience as working in “the White House surrounded”—in a position of constitutional power, vitiated by the rise of the permanent bureaucracy. With Nixon’s counterrevolution long since halted, the process of institutional capture has only intensified. Today, the federal government spends billions of dollars yearly supporting left-wing ideology and administration. The institutional Left, both within and without government, has built a vast network of departments, programs, contracts, grants, nonprofits, and service providers that circulate money throughout the system. Further, the federal government has financed and guaranteed more than $1.6 trillion in student loans, which help subsidize left-wing academic departments and “diversity and inclusion” bureaucracies at universities across the United States. Indeed, the entire federal bureaucracy, with more than 2 million civilian employees, is now under orders to advance “diversity, equity, and inclusion”—that is, to conform all its programs to racial ideology—across every department of government. It is not just social workers, then, but doctors, scientists, law-enforcement agents, and military commanders who have been recruited, willing or not, into the Left’s ongoing cultural capture. Herbert Marcuse was premature in declaring the death of the revolution. Left-wing activists have today resurrected the militancy and tactics of the 1960s radical movements, organizing demonstrations and using the threat of violence to achieve political aims. During the summer of 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement led protests in 140 cities. Many of these demonstrations became violent—the largest eruption of left-wing race rioting since the late 1960s. Members of BLM, Antifa, and other so-called antifascist groups rampaged through neighborhoods, established street dominance in certain areas, and even launched a short-lived “autonomous zone” in Seattle. Protesters in Portland, Oregon, laid siege to a federal courthouse and rioted for more than 100 consecutive nights. The intellectual descendants of the so-called New Left have warped the national narrative in dramatic ways. Today’s master-signifiers, their grounding first developed during the earlier period—“systemic racism,” “white supremacy,” “white privilege,” “antiracism”—have pushed the Right into a posture of seemingly permanent defense. The Black Lives Matter movement has recast the country’s “greatest heroes as the arch-villains,” as one old-time activist put it. And the managers of America’s institutions have ensured that schools, universities, nonprofits, and corporations repeat these themes ad nauseam, transmitting them to the next generation. Conservatives today rarely appeal to Richard Nixon for inspiration, allowing the Watergate narrative and Nixon’s own ideological and policy inconsistencies to obscure the potential of his vision for resisting the Left’s cultural revolution. This is a mistake—but what would Nixon’s blueprint for counterrevolution look like today? The starting point is correctly to perceive the current state of play in America. The bitter irony of the Revolution of 1968 is that it has attained power but hasn’t opened up new possibilities. Instead, it has locked major institutions of society within a suffocating orthodoxy. Though it has amassed significant administrative advantages, it has failed to deliver positive results to the broad public. It has thus not gained the trust of the common citizen. Its hold remains tenuous; it can be overcome. The Oval Office can help drive the counterrevolution. Following the Nixon centralization-decentralization model, the next conservative president should establish ideological authority over the federal bureaucracy in the White House and, in partnership with Congress, decentralize as much of the federal government as possible, with an eye toward gutting the power of the social engineers. For decades, conservatives in Congress have effectively written a blank check to captured institutions, experienced dismay at the subsequent behavior of those institutions, and then continued to fund them. These are all policy choices—and they can be changed. On the first day in office, the new president could prepare executive orders targeting the concepts and formulations that have traveled from the fringes of the 1960s Left to the center of American power. At the head of this list would be a ban on the government promotion of left-wing racialist ideology, or critical race theory, and to abolish the “diversity, equity, and inclusion” bureaucracy that serves as its administrative vehicle. The order would replace all this with a system of strict color-blind equality, prioritizing the values of equal treatment, individual excellence, and race-neutral decision-making. As part of this policy, the president could also rescind Lyndon Johnson’s Executive Order 11246, which established the legal basis for “affirmative action”—a euphemism for state-sanctioned racial discrimination in the interest of favored identity groups—and forbid the use of identity-based quotas, preferences, and “disparate impact” analysis as an acceptable basis for any federal decision-making, to the fullest extent of the law. To start reshaping the culture inside federal agencies, the president should order an executive supplement to the Hatch Act, which prohibits civil service employees from engaging in partisan political activity, that would bar all social and political activism unrelated to such workers’ official duties. The policy would restrict federal employees from promoting the messages or displaying the symbols of political causes, such as Black Lives Matter or radical gender activism, while using federal resources and facilities. In principle, the restriction would apply equally to the Left and Right; in practice, it would almost exclusively restrict left-wing activism, given the left-dominated composition of the federal workforce and culture of the federal bureaucracy. Following this, as Nixon demonstrated using the budget impoundment process, the next president should aggressively “defund the Left” and assert, unequivocally, that all federal programs, contracts, grants, and projects must reflect the values of the voters who elected him or her, unless specifically required by statute to do otherwise. Existing grants and contracts that violate these principles should be canceled, litigated, and strangled with red tape. Over time, this impoundment effort could deprive the Left’s public and private networks of hundreds of billions of dollars, which are laundered through universities, schools, nonprofits, and other entities. With a willing majority in Congress, this order could be codified into law, blocking federal funding of partisan left-wing ideological programs, much as the Hyde Amendment bans federal funding for abortion. Next, reprising Nixon’s great theme of “law and order,” the next president should create a federal task force for disrupting violent left-wing activist groups. As Nixon did with the Black Panther Party and the Weather Underground, the next president should, using entirely legal means, pursue action against violent or lawless left-wing groups such as Antifa. The threat of political violence cannot be allowed to shape life in America’s cities, nor can it be used to put pressure on the electoral process—both of which occurred in 2020. With a relatively modest budgetary commitment, federal law enforcement could infiltrate groups, disrupt their financial networks, and prosecute their criminal behavior. President Richard Nixon saw how the Left was capturing America’s prestige institutions. Watergate disrupted his ambitious plans to prevent that takeover. (BRIDGEMAN IMAGES) The new president could also work toward the objective that Nixon envisioned but never accomplished: the restructuring of American institutions more broadly. This can be attained through both content and form. The federal government could use the tools of the 1968 revolution—above all, civil rights law—to advance the counterrevolution. The next administration can instruct the attorney general to set up a new civil rights enforcement office within the Department of Justice and then recruit hundreds of conservative lawyers to staff it. This new office, adhering to a conservative interpretation of civil rights law, would investigate corporations, universities, schools, and other institutions that engage in racial preferences, hostile diversity and inclusion programming, and critical race theory–style scapegoating and discrimination. These practices would all be deemed violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and prosecuted with the full force of the Justice Department. The president can instruct the Secretary of Education to employ a similar method to strike at the origin point of the revolution: the universities. On the first day of the new administration, the Department of Education should announce a new unit within its civil rights division, tasked with investigating universities—beginning with the Ivy Leagues—for racial discrimination in admissions, identity-based preferences in hiring, and activist-style DEI programs. As a complement to these enforcement provisions, the DOE should also require all federally supported universities to submit race, sex, grade-point average, and standardized test data for each incoming class and tie federal student loan programs—accepted at virtually every university in the country—to specific metrics on academic merit, open debate, and civil discourse. Universities that tolerate mobs and enforce left-wing orthodoxy will be punished; universities that encourage equal treatment and academic excellence will be rewarded. As incentives change, so will the institutions. Finally, reviving the spirit of Nixon’s early New Federalism, the president, working with Congress, should decentralize the government’s colossal “health, education, and welfare” bureaucracy, block-granting large portions of federal expenditures to state governments, which are, at least in theory, less vulnerable to ideological capture. In addition, the president should pursue, in Nixon’s phrasing, an “income strategy,” similar in function to Social Security, which prioritizes direct financial assistance, rather than a “service strategy,” which seeks to manipulate values and behavior. Families, not bureaucrats and social workers, should be in charge; bonds of affection, not coercion, should be the primary shaper of human life. The cultural revolution has gained ground by imposing its values through centralized administrative structures; the counterrevolution must fight not only to overturn that system on intellectual grounds but also to provide families with the freedom and resources to build a new, decentralized system that respects their deepest rights of conscience and belief. Would this battle be winnable? Nixon himself felt a sense of urgency, writing in his diary shortly after reelection that his second-term agenda was “the only way, and probably the last time, that we can get government under control before it gets so big that it submerges the individual completely and destroys the dynamism which makes the American system what it is.” Of course, for the battle to be winnable requires that it first be waged—and that requires winning elections, a formidable task. We need to rediscover and revitalize the principles, language, and sentiments of an older revolution—that of 1776, the one that most Americans still believe in. (BRIDGEMAN IMAGES) Yet, we have some reason for optimism. For the past half-century, the left-wing revolution has relied on a high-low coalition—the “new proletariat” of the white intelligentsia and the black underclass—but its reach is inherently limited. The counterrevolution has an opportunity to build a broad, multiracial, middle-out coalition that seeks to overthrow the synthetic institutions of the Left and protect the organic institutions of the common citizen. Nixon’s “silent majority” has diversified: Latinos and Asians are beginning to revolt against left-wing ideology, including critical race theory and gender radicalism; parents of all racial backgrounds have flooded local school boards to express opposition to their ideological corruption. With a national leader drawing on the great themes of the counterrevolution, conservatives can reconstitute Nixon’s majority and wield democratic power to bring the cultural revolution to heel. The question that troubled Nixon during his presidency was the basic one of politics: Who rules? He saw that the deepest conflict in the United States was not along lines of class, race, or identity but between the bureaucracy and the people. And the Revolution of 1968, which sought to connect ideology to institutional power and to shape human society through elite guidance, was ultimately antidemocratic. Nixon understood that bureaucratic rule meant the end of our constitutional order. The telos of the counterrevolution is the restoration of political rule—rule of, by, and for the people. From the summer of 1968 through the summer of George Floyd, the common citizen has found himself continuously shamed, cowed, and degraded. But despite this, he has retained the power of his instincts, which orient him toward justice, and of his own memory, which makes possible the retrieval of the symbols and principles that once animated the republic. Indeed, most Americans still believe in the promise of the Declaration and the Constitution. The statues of America’s Founders might have been toppled, spray-painted, and hidden away; their principles might have been deconstructed, denigrated, and forgotten in the country’s elite institutions. But the vision of the Founders strikes at something eternal. The common citizen understands this intuitively. To this end, the counterrevolution’s guiding purpose must be to reanimate the instinct for self-government and to mobilize an organic movement of citizens who will reassert their influence in the institutions that matter: the school, the municipality, the workplace, the statehouse, the Congress. The antidemocratic structures—the DEI departments and the intrusive bureaucracies—must be dismantled. The rule of experts must be replaced by the rule of the people; the threat of violence must be met with the power of justice. The United States under counterrevolution will be a pluralist republic: local communities will have the autonomy to pursue their own vision of the good, within the binding principles of the Constitution. The common citizen will have the space for living and passing down his own virtues, sentiments, and beliefs, free from the imposition of values from above. The government will protect the basic dignity and political rights of the citizen, while refraining from the utopian task of remaking society in its image. The principles of the society under counterrevolution are not oriented toward sweeping reversals and absolutes but toward the protection of the humble values and institutions of the common citizen: family, faith, work, community, country. The promise of this regime lies in the particular, rather than the abstract; the humble, rather than the grandiose; the limited, rather than the limitless. The great vulnerability of the cultural revolution is that it undermines the morality and stability of the common citizen. And as it corrodes the institutions of family, faith, and community, it causes an emptiness in the human heart that cannot be filled with its one-dimensional ideology. The counterrevolution must begin at that exact point. If the culmination of America’s cultural revolution is nihilism, the counterrevolution must begin with hope. This means rediscovering and revitalizing the principles, language, and sentiments of the Revolution of 1776. “The idea that a bureaucratic elite in Washington knows best what is best for people everywhere . . . is a notion completely foreign to the American experience,” Nixon observed. “The time has now come in America to reverse the flow of power and resources from the States and communities to Washington and start power and resources flowing back from Washington to the States and communities and, more important, to the people all across America.” It is a project against cynicism. Rather than simply present itself as a force of opposition, the counterrevolution must offer the population a competing set of values, in language that clarifies our choices: excellence over diversity, equality over equity, dignity over inclusion, order over chaos. Christopher F. Rufo is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and the author of America’s Cultural Revolution. Tyler Durden Sun, 08/13/2023 - 21:45.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytAug 13th, 2023

Angi Inc. (NASDAQ:ANGI) Q2 2023 Earnings Call Transcript

Angi Inc. (NASDAQ:ANGI) Q2 2023 Earnings Call Transcript August 9, 2023 Operator: Welcome to the IAC and Angi Second Quarter 2023 Earnings Conference Call. All participants will be in listen-only mode. [Operator Instructions] After today’s opening remarks, there will be an opportunity to ask questions. [Operator Instructions] Please note this event is being recorded. I […] Angi Inc. (NASDAQ:ANGI) Q2 2023 Earnings Call Transcript August 9, 2023 Operator: Welcome to the IAC and Angi Second Quarter 2023 Earnings Conference Call. All participants will be in listen-only mode. [Operator Instructions] After today’s opening remarks, there will be an opportunity to ask questions. [Operator Instructions] Please note this event is being recorded. I would now like to turn the conference over to Christopher Halpin, Executive Vice President, CFO and COO of IAC. Please go ahead. Christopher Halpin: Thank you, and good morning, everyone. Christopher Halpin here, and welcome to the IAC and Angi Inc.’s second quarter earnings call. Joining me today is Joey Levin, CEO of IAC and CEO and Chairman of Angi, Inc. Similar to last quarter, supplemental to our quarterly earnings releases, IAC has also published its quarterly shareholder letter, which is currently available on the Investor Relations section of IAC’s Web site. We will not be reading the shareholder letter on this call. I will shortly turn the call over to Joey to make a few brief introductory remarks. And we will then open it up to Q&A. Before we get to that, I’d like to remind you that during this presentation, we may discuss our outlook and future performance. These forward-looking statements typically may be preceded by words such as we expect, we believe, we anticipate, or similar statements. These forward-looking views are subject to risks and uncertainties, and our actual results could differ materially from the views expressed today. Some of these risks have been set forth in IAC’s and Angi, Inc.’s second quarter releases in our respective filings with the SEC. We’ll also discuss certain non-GAAP measures, which, as a reminder, include adjusted EBITDA, which we’ll refer to today as EBITDA for simplicity during the call. I’ll also refer you to our releases, the IAC shareholder letter, our public filings with the SEC, and again, to the Investor Relations section of our respective Web sites for all comparable GAAP measures and full reconciliations for all material non-GAAP measures. Now, I will turn it over to Joey. Joey Levin: Thanks, Chris. I appreciate everyone taking the time with us this morning, and appreciate all the people across IAC companies who are working hard for our customers. I want to share part of a note I shared with employees yesterday, which I think is apropos, some of the decisions we made in Q2. We win by building exceptional differentiated products that take the hard work off our customers’ plates. We do it so they don’t have to. Angi does the work to find the right pro to fix your garbage disposal, while doing the work to help that pro grow his business. Dotdash Meredith does the research so you can choose the right product, plan the right trip or make a great meal. And Dotdash Meredith also does the work to help advertisers find the right customers, that’s what D/Cipher is. Care does the work help families find caregivers, and caregivers find jobs. Vivian does the work so burned out clinicians can discover their dream opportunity, and does the work for hospitals to get clinicians helping patients faster. The better, more efficient, and seamless we are at doing the heavy lifting across IAC, the more time we can give back to our customers, and the more they appreciate and depend on us. But every day, every quarter, every year, we have to set the bar higher for ourselves, and we have to constantly do a better job for our customers. That’s what this past quarter was about, and that’s how we win. Let’s go to questions. Operator, first question? Q&A Session Follow Angie's List Inc. (Old) (NASDAQ:ANGI) Follow Angie's List Inc. (Old) (NASDAQ:ANGI) We may use your email to send marketing emails about our services. Click here to read our privacy policy. Operator: Thank you. [Operator Instructions] Our first question comes from Cory Carpenter with J.P. Morgan. Please go ahead. Cory Carpenter: Thanks. On Angi, could you expand on what drove the margin and expected revenue decline in 2Q, and how this impacts your outlook for the rest of the year? And then secondly, you were a bit less active deploying capital this quarter, and how much of that was due to business churn versus other considerations? Thank you. Joey Levin: Yes, I’ll do the second one first, quickly, and then I’ll go to the first. As you know, we buyback stock periodically, we deploy capital periodically, and there’s not a — we haven’t historically and aren’t likely, in the future, to have a consistent pattern on that other than buying shares when we think it’s the most attractive use of our cash in the period. We deployed a lot of cash in the first five months of the year when we thought that that was an attractive time to do it. And we took a breather these past few months, and we will continue to evaluate that, as we always do, on opportunities for deploying our cash, whether it’s buying back shares in IAC or Angi or any other opportunities in front of us. On the first question, I’ve been saying for a while that there were areas where I thought Angi had focused on optimizing for shorter-term revenue over the longer-term health of the business and our customer experience, and that we were going to make changes along those lines. And for the past few quarters, we’ve been doing that. In the second-half of this past quarter, we saw a further opportunity to do that, and I made the call to make that change, which I have no doubt was the right call in the business. I think the impact of that call, which was really restructuring some demand channels, ramping down channels pretty quickly over the course of the quarter. And this was revenue in the quarter, and it was also profitable revenue in the quarter. We ramped that down pretty quickly. And the impact of that would be most pronounced in Q2. I think we’re already seeing July better on a — well, July was better on a profit perspective. And I think we’ll see the benefit of some of the changes we made in Q2 over the coming quarter. So, that impact was most pronounced. But the substance of it was turning off channels of demand or reducing channels of demand that we thought didn’t deliver the ideal customer experience, and that in exchange for that, what we’re going to drive is longer-term retention of pros and better home-owner experience on our platform. Christopher Halpin: Operator, next question, please? Operator: Our next question comes from John Blackledge with TD Cowen. Please go ahead. John Blackledge: Yes, great, thanks. What are you seeing in terms of revenue trends at DDM Digital exiting 2Q, and thus far in 3Q? And the performance marketing growth was good to see. How does that kind of momentum play in the back-half for DDM Digital rev trajectory? And then just on the margins, what type of cadence could we see in the back-half? Thank you. Christopher Halpin: Thanks, John, I’ll take those one at a time. So, top line just for us, in June, it was a key moment in the integration and the performance of the combined Dotdash and Meredith assets. We had said, since the beginning of the year, we were aiming to get to flat on digital revenues and on traffic. We achieved both. We actually had 1% digital growth in June, led by a strong performance marketing. And we were able there to reach stability in sessions and in traffic during the month of June on Digital across the portfolio. That was led by the former Meredith assets broadly across the portfolio there. We feel good about where those assets are on the migration and growth plans. We can continue to optimize. We’re very focused on continuing the momentum behind InStyle, and People we feel good about, but we’ll always have more volatility just due to the entertainment category. It sets us up well for the second-half. The third quarter, as we indicated in the letter, we expect at or around flat, maybe slightly negative. That’s due to a combination of ups and downs, continued growth in a lot of the Meredith properties, stability in certain Dotdash properties; we have very strong Amazon Prime Day. But also, we’ve seen some softer traffic trends in the entertainment category, as well as some partner sites. So, Q3, we expect sequential growth, but year-over-year, on the top line, flattish to slightly down, but we expect a very strong Q4. And the performance, the comps, the trends we feel good about where we are, including the tailwinds of Performance Marketing, which we really weren’t able to fully roll out to the Meredith properties last holiday, as well as support from D/Cipher. Performance Marketing was a key theme of the acquisition, and really rolling out the Dotdash ecommerce integrations to the best-in-class Meredith brands. 12% growth in the quarter was great to see. We are, hands-down, continuing to improve that and expect accelerating growth there on a forward basis. And there is a lot of opportunity. And then on margins, we said we expect incremental EBITDA margins given how where we have the cost structure and the efficiencies we’ve driven to be in the 80%-plus range. And you can see in sequential digital revenue growth and EBITDA improvement that are better. We expect to continue to see improved margins year-over-year, and also on a sequential basis in Q3. And then, Q4 seasonally is always a major quarter for Dotdash and Meredith, and both in terms of advertising and Performance Marketing revenues, but also margin scale. And we forecast a [technical difficulty] in the fourth quarter. Operator, next question? Operator: Our next question comes from Eric Sheridan with Goldman Sachs. Please go ahead. Eric Sheridan: Thanks so much for taking the questions, maybe two on Angi if I could. First, following up on Cory’s question from earlier, you really stuck out to us in the letter that you talked about loss revenue and used a phrase like good riddance. Can you talk a little bit about how of this process of mix shift on revenue is inside your control versus outside your control, and where we might be in the evolution of getting the type of revenue you want in the Angi business? And then the second, along the same lines, it was interesting to see a power graph on International in Angi in the letter. Can you talk about some of the key learnings from International? And I think you used a phrase that it’s a good leading indicator for the trajectory the U.S. might eventually take, and maybe give us a little bit of color on that trajectory? Thank you. Joey Levin: Yes, thanks, Eric. So, we did — when making a lot of the changes in Angi, we did obviously the easiest stuff first. And maybe I’ll break the revenue down in a few buckets. There is the revenue that came with either zero earnings or negative earnings. And that stuff is easy to get rid of, especially if it has a bad customer experience or not an ideal customer experience. And you saw a lot of that happen very early in Q4 and Q1, so things like Managed Projects, the more complex services which we discontinued or other channels where we were doing unprofitable revenue. That that’s relatively straightforward and I think we’ve cleaned up all of that. The second bucket and I think we’re pretty far along in this second bucket, though not completely. The second bucket is where we were bringing service professionals on to the platform that weren’t really well set up for the platform, and so really didn’t end up covering their sales costs. And that meant that they turned too quickly. And we’re far along through that, so the folks would have generated some revenue, but probably would not have generated profit over the lifetime relative to their sales costs because they didn’t stay long enough. The third bucket which was what you saw happening in Q2, and where we do still have some work is where we’re bringing in demand, we’re bringing in revenue. And that revenue — that demand can generate revenue in the period, but can drive higher churn among our service professionals or among our home owners, meaning that that would be detrimental to the lifetime value of that customer experience. And that was really what the focus was of the change in the second-half of Q2. And ultimately, what drives all these decisions is are we delivering a great customer experience? Are we delivering a sustainable, durable customer experience, meaning one that is economically viable, and are we able to grow the platform, grow the pros, grow the homeowners, and grow the revenues. And that’s what drives us from here. I think we are much closer to a healthy place right now. I think it’s not impossible that we consider other things. We might change or restructure in the context of revenue or demand channels that come in. But I think the first bucket is, as I said, a sort of negative earnings revenue done or zero earnings revenue is done. And the second bucket is pretty far along, and the third bucket, I think, is also pretty far along, but that may be where we still have a little bit of work to do. As far as International, one of the great things about International is we were able to try a lot of different models, and able to try that with relatively little sort of outside attention. So, each country that we were in, and our main country there are U.K., France, Germany, and Netherlands. In each one of those countries, we started with a different model on a different technology platform, and we learned a lot about each of those models, and picked the best parts of each. And the things that we were able to get working in Europe, which we have not yet gotten working in the U.S. but give us great hope is, one, something much closer to self-enroll on the Service Professional side, not 100% self-enroll, but much closer to self-enroll on the Service Professional side, so meaningfully lower sales costs. Two, we made big changes to some demand channels pretty quickly, and got past those demand issues, in particular in France, where we were heavily dependant ton the affiliate channel; we really completely redid that. And the last thing from the homeowner experience is double-locked in, so — meaning we’re at a customer experience where homeowner chooses the pro, and the pro chooses the homeowner, and when those two things both come together as a billing event. And that seems to be working from a product perspective. I don’t know, yes, whether we’ll go all the way there in the U.S. on a product, but that that product does work, is working in Europe, and it’s impressive. The other thing is just getting the hard work done of integration. So, we’ve not, as we said in the letter, three of the four platforms are integrated, and we’re going to integrate the fourth platform soon. And that allows us to operate a lot more efficiently with lower costs and an easier platform to innovate on. Christopher Halpin: The only thing I’d add on top of that is the second quarter last year was sort of peak for — as we mentioned for empty calories. Either low calorie revenues or regretful revenues in terms of for pro experience or higher pro churn. So, you can see some of that in the graphs on SP retention where coming out of that period, you had some of the real drops in SP retention. You also have roofing which had its peak revenue in the second quarter last year which still not — the business still isn’t where we want it. But, has an oversized impact on Angi revenue declines in aggregate year over year. Thank you. Operator, next question? Operator: Our next question comes from Jason Helfstein with Oppenheimer. Please go ahead. Jason Helfstein: Thanks. Everybody now knows how to spell Oppenheimer. So, two questions; first, just a little more color on Dotdash — Meredith Dotdash. Are you seeing any competition for engagement given the massive increase in short video Reels, TikTok, YouTube Shorts et cetera? And then, you did kind of talk about your outlook. But, maybe go into some detail on categories? What you are seeing in the second quarter? And, what you are looking at the third? And then, second question just on MGM, obviously, a very timely investment there, I think there were thoughts originally behind it to get exposure to online sports betting and iGaming. While its — obviously participate in the rebound in Vegas, is there a way to parley that into a more direct play on online sports betting or iGaming? Thanks. Joey Levin: I’ll go first and then I will turn it to Chris. Quickly on the social media side, look, we compete for attention with any other form of media. And, we can peak per advertisers with any other form of media. I am not sure that the — we [technical difficulty] anything that we are seeing directly to things like TikTok or taking share from the content consumption that we drive — the sort of content consumption that we drive. But, as I say, we compete with all media in that context. On MGM, we’ve actually spent quite a bit time looking at opportunities in this space. Came close on one, but we have learnt a lot in our — we have learnt a lot in our investment with MGM in terms of gaming, gambling, and opportunities there and what’s working. And, I think that that scenario that is interesting, but nothing immediately on the horizon there. And, continue to be excited about the progress that MGM and — that MGM is making which is very impressive. Christopher Halpin: Yes. And going back — relative to building on Joey’s point, the demos we have and where we excel, we don’t see losing any traffic to those sites. And, in fact, they are revenue and reader lead generation opportunities given many of these top Meredith brands had limited social media presence. So, Neil Vogel and team have been very focused on building the social media integration as a channel for a lot of these brands, also expanding our own video presence there. We’ve good infrastructure to do it, but increasing the short form and medium form video that has produced off of our properties for Youtube, for TikTok and Instagram and other channel. So, we don’t view it as much of a threat and more of an opportunity. Macro, we would say the market is still soft from a premium demand side in brands. But it is second derivative positive where if the programmatic market is downsize 5% to 10% as we said in the letter, that’s definitely an improvement over what it looked like in Q1 and parts of Q2. Categories that are strong retail, beauty and style, travel and auto as we said in the letter. Some of that is due to just straight absolute growth in those categories. Some of it is due to how soft the second quarter was for them last year. Be it supply chain or retailer backup. And then, weakness; finance continues to be weak. I think the category is trying to find its footing in a higher interest rate environment and lapping comps that were very aggressive a year ago. Telecom, we don’t see much spend outside of one or two players. And big players are trying to figure out how they want to position themselves. And then, entertainment and streaming, we think that is both a category that is streaming the operators or focused on their model going forward and profitability. And entertainment and streaming, we were concerned about the strikes — ongoing strikes there leading to reduced advertising for new shows and fighting churn. So, that’s it. We expect the comps to get easier even if the absolute strength in it — in the market does not improve. But, it’s one step at a time in the ad market today. Thanks. Operator, next question? Operator: Our next question comes from Stephen Ju with Credit Suisse. Please go ahead. Stephen Ju: Okay, great. Thank you. So, Joey, I do have a question on Decipher I guess versus the environment in which we were still using cookies, how do you think advertiser ROIs compare before and after? Wondering if there is an opportunity for you to capture more wallet share as a result of this move? And, looking a bit longer term, I think Google has been working to also move to a cookieless world with an implementation target I guess sometime next year? So, should we be thinking that this potential issue is due from potential external risk? Thanks. Joey Levin: Thanks, Stephen. That’s exactly the goal with Decipher. So, Dotdash Meredith has data now that says intent outperforms cookies like to like. And it’s not surprising to us. I mean we’ve been as an advertiser for across — billions of dollars across many of products, we see the same thing. Google has historically — Google which delivers intent has historically outperformed every other channel for us. Demographic-targeted channel, cookie-targeted channels et cetera. Intent is a very meaningful signal. And Decipher really map intent successfully. And so, we are now proving that for advertisers. Key for us is just getting advertisers to give it a try. And then, we can move the ROI. And, yes, that also is very important right now on the cookieless platforms like iOS. And Google is said in 2024, they are going cookieless. And so, we should be well-positioned for that. And, we are going to keep building the kind of content that shows intent. Keep mapping that content, and then, proving that content with the ROI for advertisers. Stephen Ju: Okay. And then, I guess secondarily on Angi, reading between the lines on the shareholder letter, it sounds like you are looking to play a little bit more offense in 2024. You’ve cleaned up and shut some empty calories there. So, what do you think still needs to be done from a product perspective? Thank you. Joey Levin: Yes. We talked about a lot of the work we have done the pro side. Obviously, the work is never done on either side in terms of product. But, we were very encouraged by the progress we have seen on the work we have done the pro side, improving the pro experience. And, that progress is most evident in pro retention which we showed in the letter. The second-half of the year is really focused on the homeowner side. Again, we are constantly doing both. But we are looking to launch more innovation from the product experience on the homeowner side over both the second-half this year to set us up for offense in 2024. And, there is a bunch of things that we’re working on there. But, probably the most noteworthy change is something I mentioned not this quarter, but I think the last quarter — the quarter before, where we start to surface the directory earlier, meaning that homeowners can come to our platform and find and interact with pros more quickly on our platform. We think that has a great opportunity for the pros on our platform. We think that has a great opportunity for homeowners to drive engagement. We think that has the opportunity to drive conversion. And ultimately, what will matter on the homeowner side similar to what we have done the pro side, is driving retention and repeat rate. And that’s what we are aiming to do, and get a healthy place to really start rocking in 2024. Stephen Ju: Thank you. Joey Levin: Thanks, Stephen. Christopher Halpin: Operator, next question? Operator: Our next question comes from Brad Erickson with RBC Capital Markets. Please go ahead. Brad Erickson: Yes, thanks. Just two follow-ups on Angi, talking a lot about the Pros this morning, I guess, and some of the pruning you’re doing there. Angi’s I guess, always also had a tough time on fulfillment rates for the demand that was coming into Home Advisor, for example. So, how do you kind of balance this prune pros or reconcile it strategically longer term as you look to have the right SPs but also having enough to support growth? That’s the first question. And then, second, on Angi Services, where are you there from a category perspective? You feel like you’re kind of fully baked in terms of the range of services you offer, and now you just need to get the demand going that you’re talking about, or is there still work here to bring on new categories that can be kind of a further vector of growth there over time? Thank you. Joey Levin: Thanks, Brad. It’s a great question and something that we are both are things we’re very focused on. On fulfillment, we’ve been improving on fulfillment notwithstanding the lower nominal service professional account, and we look at something which is a horrible internal acronym, but ZACBAR, which is Zero Accept Contact or Booking Rate. And so, it’s looking at how often we offer no solution. And we’ve been shrinking the extent to which we offer no solution. And that’s a good segue into services. So, one of the things we’ll offer is matching with a lead pro or an ad pro. And one of the things we’ll offer is the opportunity to get project done through our services platform. And not everyone will convert into services, but offering people services can be a significant value add and can drive repeat rate in the sense that sometimes customers are looking for pricing and they can find pricing there. Sometimes customers aren’t ready to make up their mind, but they want to see what the options are. So, giving them a fulfilling experience, meaning they know they at least have the option to get something done and they know what the price would be to get something done can drive customers back to the platform. We think services is enormously valuable in that context, and we think services is a significant competitive advantage. That gets to your second question is how do we expand services? And we absolutely believe we can expand services. Obviously, we shrank services over the course of 2023 because I think we grew it too quickly. But we absolutely believe we can. Right now, we’re in services that we can price accurately, remotely and where we can generate a margin. That’s a good, healthy place to be. And the way we expand from here is figuring out the next categories where we can first step being price accurately, remotely. And we have tools for doing that. We have specific categories which we think are the likely next candidates for that, but we’re not rolling that out this year. That’s something that we’ll do in the future. But we do absolutely have the potential to expand that and do intend to expand that when we’re in a place where we feel comfortable. Brad Erickson: Got it. Thanks. Christopher Halpin: Thank you. Operator, next question? Operator: Your next question comes from Ross Sandler with Barclays. Please go ahead. Ross Sandler: Hey, guys. On Dotdash Meredith, as we look into ’24, what are the puts and takes that would allow the business to grow faster or slower than the overall digital ad market? How do we think about that? And then, on the SEO impact from these new AI Search pages, one of your peers recently said that SEO traffic to their premium properties, which many of which are like the Meredith sites, are seeing a nice benefit, actually from Bing’s changes since earlier this year, with SEO traffic growing a couple of orders of magnitude faster than the baseline. So, what are you guys seeing and as Google now adds hyperlinks to these new search generative experience pages, what are you expecting to see, if anything, from that SEO downstream traffic? Thanks a lot. Joey Levin: You want to do the first one? I will take second. Christopher Halpin: Yes, sure. Thanks, Ross. In terms of ’24, or to think about the rest of ’23, there’s three main digital revenue streams, advertising both premium and programmatic sales, performance marketing, e-commerce and services, execution there and then licensing. There’s good reason to project both for all three going into 2024. On the advertising side, we’ve worked through the toughest of the pandemic elevated comps feel like we’ve got the sales force in a good, structured, unified way, executing across categories and with Decipher, we think we can take share in both premium and programmatic over time at attractive monetization rates. The performance marketing has really been moving from strength to strength. We expect to continue to do that and create more content, more integrations, and fine tune them in a better way. And there’s no reason why it shouldn’t continue to be a strong source of growth in ’24 and then similarly, licensing has passed some of its tougher comps working through things at Apple News and other markets, and we should see growth there. And then, on the audience side, we expect both the historic Dotdash and Meredith sites to be increasing traffic. I’ll turn over to Joey, but relative to Generative AI and be it Google or Bing, we have not seen any loss of traffic so far in our properties, and they’re having active discussions about how we can be a partner. But I’ll turn it over to Joey. Joey Levin: Yes, the only thing I’d add to that is those platforms are built on a healthy Internet ecosystem and sending traffic their fundamental business model is sending traffic out to the rest of the Internet. And what they’ve said and what I believe they intend to continue is doing exactly that and doing more of that every year. And so, I think it is very easy to imagine a scenario, although we really don’t know how this is going to play out, and I’m not sure they know how this is going to play out. It is very easy to imagine a scenario where they figure out how to use these tools to send more traffic out to the rest of the Internet. And again, that’s fundamental to their business model, but there’s also real value in that in the sense that we’ve talked about the fact that these platforms say and that this technology is not yet reliable and not yet accurate. And so, it can provide information or snippets or answers that users will look to platforms and brands like ours to for validation and which we think that the platforms can send to us for validation. And we view that as that certainly has the potential to be a positive. But again, I don’t think the user interfaces are hardened yet in a way where we know exactly what’s going to happen there. Christopher Halpin: Thank you. Operator, next question? Operator: Your next question comes from Brian Fitzgerald with Wells Fargo. Please go ahead. Brian Fitzgerald: Thanks, guys. We want to ask about Care leadership change there. Given the new phase of the business and the leadership change, does that imply anything about how you’re planning to invest around Thanks. Joey Levin: Yes. Thanks, Brian. No, I don’t think that that changes anything along those lines. I think that Brad is very much focused on a continuation of the existing strategy and meaning execution against instant book and getting that product working and fundamentally growing the caregiver base and family base in ways that delight both sides. But I don’t think there’s any fundamental shift in either the core business strategy nor from IAC’s perspective, capital allocation up or down from there. Christopher Halpin: Yes, we like the margins at that business. It’s scaled well as it’s grown, and the incremental margins, gross margins are very solid. So, we look to drive organic growth, and then, as always with IAC, if there are M&A or inorganic opportunities, we’ll pursue them as they arise and make sense. Brian Fitzgerald: Okay. Thanks, Chris. Thanks, Joey. Christopher Halpin: Of course. Thanks, Brian. Operator, next question? Operator: Your next question comes from Youssef Squali with Truist Securities. Please go ahead. Youssef Squali: Great, thank you very much. So, maybe just a follow-up to Brian’s question on Care, maybe can you talk about how big the transactional book offering is today and maybe how should we think about that opportunity relative to subscription and at Dotdash, are there any common characteristics causing some of the titles like Parents and Style Shape to trail in terms of traffic? And what are you guys doing to reverse that? Thank you. Christopher Halpin: Yes, I don’t think we’ll disclose specific breakdown of revenue Care, but the one thing I want to sort of correct in your question or how you’re thinking about it, is I actually view transactions long-term as a driver of subscriptions, so we can offer user transaction on booking. But really the goal in that is to show the value of transactions, show the value of the platform, and ultimately show the value of subscriptions to the product. So, I think if we’re successful on that, I’d like to see transactions actually ultimately drive more subscriptions through the platform and drive more retention through the platform on the existing subscriptions. You want to do that? Joey Levin: And the only other thing I add on Instant Book is it really opens up. There’s so much traffic that comes through that, that doesn’t sign up to a subscription. So, allowing them at a higher rate to pursue a transaction prior to a subscription increases the engagement on the property, increases the experience, and may lead to transaction only customers or may lead them to execute a subscription but very much increases the breadth of offerings to the traffic we get. With respect to the properties that we’d characterize as laggards in the Meredith portfolio, it is pretty idiosyncratic of why the inStyle is a good property that was struggling when we bought it. It also in the theme of empty calorie revenues, they would have had the most empty or low calorie impressions and sort of off spec things that were driving clickbait type activities. The management team has really looked to clean that out. We’re excited by a new editor we brought on there and just repositioning it, so we feel good about the property and where it’ll end up. It’s just a bit behind the curve relative to some of the others, but we feel good about the prospects there. Parents is again in a category with the family and a bit of mental health that weaves into it where very high traffic patterns a year ago. But there’s an action plan there to improve and then Shape is tiny. Neil and team would love us to remove Shape, because it’s non-core and small, but we keep it on there just for completeness. So, each of them has their own situation and definitely two of them. We feel good about the opportunities in those brands. We just got to keep executing. Youssef Squali: Thank you. Christopher Halpin: Operator, next question? Operator: Our next question comes from Brent Thill with Jefferies. Please go ahead. Brent Thill: Joey on Angi, when do you believe it can return to a growth asset? And ultimately, what’s it going to take? What are the pieces to make that recovery? Joey Levin: Yes, we said we think we’ll get back to growth in 2024, and there’s a bunch of pieces to that. I think the margin part is easier. I mean we’re already back to growth on margins and profitability. Year-to-date, we’ve generated $55 million of cash flow, that’s up $110 million per year. So, I don’t want that to get lost in all of this narrative in terms of what’s happening there. But I assume your question is mostly focused on revenue growth, which is fair and certainly a focus of ours, which as I say, I think is in 2024, there’s a few elements to that. One is SEO or traffic or top of funnel audience. So, we still have the reality that the Angi brand is growing healthily and the legacy site is declining. Now, the magnitude of that continues to, in a sense, get better over time, and that home advisor is a smaller and smaller piece of the total, but we’re still dealing with that drag, as we get into 2024 that becomes easier. The other piece is, we talked a lot about and will continue to talk a lot about, retention on pros. So, we’re bringing a pro base into 2024 that is healthier, retaining longer, spends more, and I think that’ll be a help there. The other piece is driving conversion and repeat rate on the home owner side, that’s the focus of the second-half of this year, and I think that can be a real driver to growth if we deliver on the things that we’re working on right now. And the other thing that I want to mention, we talked a little bit on this call, is services. I think services is a meaningful competitive differentiator, I think it’s a great product with very high customer satisfaction, very high repeat rate. And we had to figure out how to start feeding more demand into that product because we were starving it a bit for demand right now, but if we can figure out how to feed more demand into that product and get that product exposed to more customers in a healthy way, then I think that can also be a driver of growth going forward. Brent Thill: Thank you. Christopher Halpin: Operator, next question? Operator: Our next question comes from Ygal Arounian with Citigroup. Please go ahead. Ygal Arounian: Hey, good morning, guys. I want to go back to the gen AI discussion for a second. Two points on that. First, in terms of like internally on your content creation, you guys utilize a gen AI, has it been a benefit at all, what are your thoughts around that? And then following up on the search and LLM training piece, there’s been a lot of discussions that there’s going to be pushback from publishers, the new media alliance around how they use your content or publish your content to inform their AI. Any thoughts around that and how you guys are approaching that? Joey Levin: Sure, I’ll start, and Chris can add. We’re using gen AI in a bunch of places at Dotdash and with — actually across all the businesses, but at Dotdash Meredith specifically, we’re doing things that are sort of back-of-house with gen AI, meaning content briefs, so starting to put together outlines to do that part of our production process more efficiently. We’re seeing increased productivity from doing things like that. We also think we can — we’re experimenting with some things on the user experience personalization side. So, we’ve done, I think, historically a very good job of getting users at the top of funnel and sort of answering their fundamental questions, but we haven’t done as good a job on keeping them, retaining them, and rotating them through our system. And I think that gen AI offers us a lot of tools to do that, which is figuring out what the related questions are, and then figuring out how to use our content specifically to answer those related questions. We’re starting to experiment around things like that, and are optimistic about what that can deliver. The other piece is on the ad side, where we can start to customize ads and really expand creative infinitely and test creative infinitely for our advertisers, both to find better ad copy and find better targeting. And I think that can work very well. On the training side of the LLMs, look, I think our position on this is clear. Ultimately, this will be sorted out one way or another. But fair use is a sort of very clear standard. I think we probably have a different interpretation of fair use than the folks with the LLMs do. But we don’t think that our content can be repurposed for the same commercial use we use it for by others. And we’re going to protect our intellectual property rights along those lines. And I do think there are productive conversations with everybody in the ecosystem because even if you want to argue fair use, and even if you want to argue with intellectual property rights, and things like that, the owners and operators of the LLMs know and understand that if they remove the economic incentive for creating the content upon which these things are based, that that is not a sustainable ecosystem for everybody. And so, you’ve seen some deals get done, and I think there’s conversations happening that hopefully will be productive for everybody in the ecosystem. Christopher Halpin: Thanks, Joey. The only thing I’d add is in terms of real-time, we’re having a two-day AI [technical difficulty] [CTOs] (ph) going on right now. And when you’ve got the collection of companies we have, it’s interesting to see the diversity of applications. So, very much as Joey said, things like application development, coding, customer service and onboarding functions where you can apply GAI and create new interfaces to engage with, whether it’s a nurse being onboarded or a potential customer, et cetera, and really access the depth of your database. Clearly, anything where there is optimization oriented — and to be fair, many of our businesses have been using AI and machine learning for years, but it’s — that’s continuing to evolve. And then generative AI presents even more applications and [technical difficulty] across advertising matching tools for content development to your question, et cetera. I think broadly, with a CFO hat on, you can see the line of sight on both productivity enhancements and, in many cases, what should be fairly deflationary cost impacts to businesses, big customer service, or people-intensive activities such as advertising versioning, testing, and those types of things. So, it is obviously such a cliché, but evolving rapidly. But just seeing our summit and the number of different applications across our companies has been definitely exciting for all of us. Thank you. Operator, next question? Operator: The next question comes from Tom Champion with Piper Sandler. Please go ahead. Tom Champion: Good morning, thank you. Joey, on Angi, how important is getting SPEs back to growth? It was flattish sequentially this quarter, and it sounds like better retention. But how are you thinking about the gross ad side of the equation? Joey Levin: Look, we’re definitely going to need to get to gross ads at some point. It hasn’t been the focus recently. But ultimately, we need to get gross ads going too. There’s a lot going through just the service professionals’ math. Remember, we lost a lot on the services side and moving out of the more complex services. And so, there’s a lot happening there, and still dollar value is more important than nominal count. But, ultimately, we’re going to need nominal count to grow too. And I believe that’s possible in 2024, probably more like late-2024, but I believe that’s possible. Tom Champion: Thank you. Christopher Halpin: Thanks, Tom. And then one last question, operator? Operator: The last question comes from Kunal Madhukar with UBS. Please go ahead. Kunal Madhukar: Hi, and thanks for taking my question, a couple if I could. One more on the housekeeping side, which is based on the Q and the share that you reported in the Q, you had about 85 and change in terms of number of share. But at the press release the way you talked about shares outstanding, as of August 4, that was 82. something. And so, have you bought back more share since the quarter ended? That’s the housekeeping one. And then one on gen AI, in terms of trying to understand how Bing and Bard may be kind of behaving, is, for their content, they probably don’t need to learn from multiple different sites. So, if they choose a specific partner, may be a couple of partners to learn from and maybe to pay for the copyright and for the learning experience, where does that create your properties within that grand scheme of things? Thank you. Christopher Halpin: Okay, I can take both, and Joey could jump in. The delta is the — between that share count is the shares associated with our CEO grant to Joey, and not counted because of performance triggers related to those shares. So, that’s the delta between the 85 and the 82. With respect to your question [technical difficulty] there is an inherent philosophical question, which is [technical difficulty] focused on having the best of the internet or a subset of the internet in terms of what they’re learning [technical difficulty] their models learn in. One of the key elements of search in the internet to date has been the identifying the best [technical difficulty] as Joey likes to say, and [surfacing] (ph) [technical difficulty] rapidly for individuals, and doing that in a constantly evolving way that is ideally in a fair and meritocratic manner to use the best of the internet. If they choose a subset of content to train these models, they will have inferior results; they will have a narrower and less expansive body of information from which they are providing answers to consumers. And as evidenced by the inaccuracy of answers to dates and hallucination, as they call it, greater risk of that. That seems to be reversing many of the best things of the Internet and decades of progress in information provisioning. Kunal Madhukar: I think that’s well-said. Joey Levin: Okay, thank you, operator. Thank you all for the questions, and have a good day. Christopher Halpin: Thanks, everybody, so long. Operator: The conference is now concluded. Thank you for attending today’s presentation. You may now disconnect. Follow Angie's List Inc. (Old) (NASDAQ:ANGI) Follow Angie's List Inc. (Old) (NASDAQ:ANGI) We may use your email to send marketing emails about our services. Click here to read our privacy policy......»»

Category: topSource: insidermonkeyAug 11th, 2023

Stella McCartney Is Changing Fashion From Within

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

Category: topSource: timeAug 9th, 2023