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Category: topSource: bizjournalsAug 14th, 2022

2 German volunteers went to Ukraine to fight the Russians. Confusion, chaos, and then COVID-19, defeated them instead.

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy called on foreign fighters to help defend against Russian attacks. Many weren't what the Ministry of Defense had in mind. Lukas and Tobias, two German volunteers, arrive in the western city of Lviv, just over a week after Russia's invasion of Ukraine began.Alan Chin for Insider To help defend against Russian attacks, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy called on foreign fighters.  Volunteers poured in, but many were perhaps not what the Ministry of Defense had in mind. On March 2, two German volunteers arrived in Lviv, ready to become war heroes. Chaos ensued. The two Germans burst into the hostel in Lviv, Ukraine, at 2 a.m., bumping into the door frame and shouting questions about where the beds were and how to find the bathroom. It was March 2, a week into Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and the hostel was mostly filled with shell-shocked women and children escaping war to the east. The Germans were starkly out of place. Marie and Etterem, the Ukrainian-Turkish couple who ran the place, had been sleeping on the kitchen floor down in the basement—now doubling as an air raid bunker—to leave more room for guests. They got up to prepare tea for the newcomers, giving the men a chance to explain themselves."We are volunteer soldiers for the International Legion of the Ukrainian military," Lukas, the younger of the two men, said. His companion, Tobias, twitched with excitement as he interrupted with, "We're here to fight the Russians."Marie and Etterem thanked the men for their bravery and headed back to bed. The Germans stepped out onto the balcony for a smoke, inviting me—a jet-lagged journalist who had been staying at the hostel since the war began—to join their late-night conversation. Sharply dressed in pristine blue-and-white tennis shoes, with a nose piercing and studded ears, Lukas, 33, had been living in Montenegro for the last six months while working at his father's IT company. He had come with a small backpack containing little that might come in handy for a soldier, and just enough money to pay for a few nights at a hostel.As he would tell me later, Lukas was bored with his tech job and was looking for something "real." Ukraine seemed as real as it could get. When he told his family and his girlfriend that he planned to join the International Legion, they tried to hide his passport. He slipped out in the middle of the night. "It was my decision and no one could stop me," Lukas said.Tobias—a decade older, at 44—was a luxury watchmaker by trade and spent weekends DJ-ing at techno clubs. Tall and lanky, with gauged earlobes and an uneven buzz cut, he carried only a small, overstuffed suitcase on two wheels, a well-worn black backpack, and a khaki shoulder bag that he seemed unwilling to part with. A simple black watch hung on his wrist. Tobias had been watching the news from his home in Fulda, outside Frankfurt, and was moved by a striking image of a Ukrainian girl carrying a Kaloshnikov in Kyiv. She looked to be around the same age as his daughter, Luna. "What if that were my Luna?" he remembers thinking. "How could I let her do this fight alone?"  Over the last year, Tobias had fallen out with his father and sister, lost ownership of the business he'd spent years building, and relapsed into binge drinking and drugs. He hadn't seen either of his two kids in more than six months. "My family is everything, and I don't have them anymore," he said. So, why not go to Ukraine, he figured."Were we supposed to just stand by and watch?" Tobias asked, digging into his pocket for his lighter. "We are from Germany," he said, halting his incessant fidgeting to emphasize his words and allude to his country's WWII history. "Not again."Neither man had any military experience or combat training, or even a connection to Ukraine. Lukas, smoking a joint, pulled his jacket more tightly around himself. He had brought rolling papers, but not a scarf or gloves. It was just 26 degrees that night in Lviv, and snowing.'Please come, we will give you weapons'On February 26—two days after the start of the Russian bombardment—Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy invited foreign nationals who considered themselves friends of Ukraine to join the fight, saying, "Please come. We will give you weapons."A day after that, Ukraine's Ministry of Defense provided more details: "Anyone who wants to join the defense of Ukraine, Europe, and the world can come and fight side by side with the Ukrainians against the Russian war criminals." Practically unprecedented in modern times, it brought to mind the call for anti-fascist volunteers to Spain in the 1930s, when over 60,000 volunteers from 50 countries (George Orwell among them) rushed to the Republicans' side in the Spanish civil war.These foreign fighters would be incorporated into the military under a voluntary contract with the same rights and responsibilities as the 100,000 or more Ukrainian militiamen already organized within 25 Territorial Defense Force brigades around the country.The International Legion added to Ukraine's 200,000-plus active-duty troops and 900,000 reservists—Europe's second largest military force, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. Only Russia oversees a bigger military in the region, dwarfing the forces of its neighbors, with over 900,000 active-duty soldiers and two million reservists.Formed at breakneck speed, many of the recruits were perhaps not who the Ministry of Defense had hoped to attract or was prepared to train. And, although legislation already existed to recruit foreigners, the military infrastructure that is needed to prepare inexperienced volunteers for war was still developing.On March 2, Ukraine updated its guidelines, and specified that recruits must sign up at the nearest Ukrainian embassy, complete a background check, and pass a health screening before presenting for service. (By March 7, Ukraine said 20,000 foreign recruits from 52 countries had applied to join the International Legion. Some estimates suggest the number has grown to 40,000.)But by that time, Tobias and Lukas were already in Ukraine—heading to training in their sneakers and jeans. The Georgian LegionTobias and Lukas had met at the train station in Przemysl, a small town on the Polish-Ukrainian border, during the long wait for the next train to Lviv—40 miles to the east. Tobias had overheard Lukas chatting with another man in German and, happy to hear his mother tongue, introduced himself. Lukas had been telling people that he was heading to Ukraine as a humanitarian volunteer. But when Tobias mentioned that he already had a military contact inside Ukraine, Lukas came clean. Tobias (left) and Lukas at the train station in Lviv.Alan Chin for InsiderA few days earlier, back in Germany, Tobias had reached out to the Ukrainian embassy in Frankfurt and learned that Ukraine's borders were open for volunteer fighters from anywhere in the world. No visa was required, so travel wouldn't be a problem. Tobias went on Facebook in search of a contact for the International Legion. He discovered instead the Georgian Legion—a battalion of volunteer soldiers mostly from the ex-Soviet country, many of whom carried anger towards Russia from when President Putin attacked their country in 2008. Tobias was given an email address and instructed to reach out once he crossed into Ukraine. While Tobias might have thought he had nothing to lose, his family saw things differently. "It was like a rollercoaster," Tobias' daughter, Luna, told me when I reached her by phone. "Always waiting for messages to know if he was okay."Lukas had done even less research, jumping on a train without any plans, instructions, or contacts. Once in Ukraine, he figured, it wouldn't be difficult to connect with a recruiter for the Legion. And then, he met Tobias, who seemed to have all the information Lukas needed. The Germans decided to continue the journey together. On that first frigid night in Lviv, they arrived too late to meet their Georgian contact. Instead, they were told they should find a place to sleep, and a car would come for them the next morning to take them to the training center.  The hostel was the only place their taxi driver could find with two open beds in the packed city, which had become a transit hub for hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the bombardments of Kyiv, Kharkiv, and other cities.  Lukas (left) helps Tobias repack his bags as they prepare to meet their Georgian Legion escort at the hostel in Lviv, Ukraine.Katie Livingstone for InsiderThe next morning, after just a few hours of sleep, the Germans showered and repacked their bags. Lukas finished first and watched as Tobias struggled to stuff all his things into his two bags. After a while, Lukas gamely plopped onto Tobias' suitcase so that his companion could more easily zip it up.Sure enough, later that morning a dark blue skoda with two armed soldiers pulled up in front of the hostel. The car was unmarked, but the soldiers wore the telltale yellow armband meant to differentiate Ukrainian troops from Russian soldiers. Making their way to the car, the Germans promised me they would stay in touch. (Over the next three weeks, I would hear from them almost daily, and meet them for several more interviews. They asked that Insider use only their first names.)  Tobias and Lukas climbed into the back seat and off they sped to some unknown location to begin their service to Ukraine. 'Katastrophe'In a hushed phone call that first night, Tobias explained that he and Lukas had been taken to the Georgian Legion's barracks, just outside Lviv. The place was barren and disorganized. They had expected to receive gear and start training right away. Instead, they spent most of that day and night drinking and smoking with their new brothers-in-arms while trying to communicate in whatever lingua-franca passed for the moment. (Most of the soldiers were Georgian, and about a third were from other places.) "Katastrophe," Tobias repeated over and over again. "There's no organization, no organized training. Everyone just wants to kill the Russians." Lukas and Tobias depart the Lviv hostel for training with the Georgian Legion.Katie Livingstone for InsiderThe next morning, Tobias and Lukas were told the Georgians were evacuating the base after getting a report that Russians were heading their way. They should take a train to Kyiv, they were told.But the details were foggy. Still without any military gear, they told me they were instructed to pose as Red Cross volunteers and prepare reports on any suspicious activity that they observed en route. "They want us to spy on the people on the train," Tobias said. Once in the capital, they would meet up with another squadron at a safe-house. After that, they'd go to the front, they were told.When asked why the Legion would make such a request of two foreigners with no experience in the country who couldn't speak the local languages, Lukas said simply: "They asked, so we are going." Out of Lukas' earshot, Tobias offered another explanation. "The Georgian officer asked Lukas to stop smoking in the room twice last night. And he didn't want to. He's not thinking. Then, the officer asked us to go to Kyiv, and Lukas agreed. Katastrophe," Tobias lamented. He had agreed to accompany Lukas because he didn't want the younger man to go alone, he said.Fissures in the brotherhood were already becoming apparent.Meanwhile, since the war began, no Russian troops have been reported in Lviv by any media outlets. Instead, across Lviv, paranoia about Russian saboteurs was palpable. At the hostel where Tobias and Lukas stayed, Marie and Etterem said they received almost nightly calls from an intelligence officer asking if any of their guests seemed dubious. One night, prior to the Germans' arrival, police had burst into the small lodge and interrogated all of the male foreigners staying there, and then left without another word. Hundreds of check-points have gone up around greater Lviv and residents are told to call a hotline to report anything suspicious."I remember two crazy Germans," Mamuka Mamulashvili, the commander of the Georgian Legion, told me when I reached him over Skype. I showed him a picture of Tobias and Lukas, just to be sure, and Mamulashvili burst out laughing, explaining that he tries to personally interview every recruit. "That's them.""My officers told me there were these two guys trying to party in the barracks, and they had to go. They were gone the next day," Mamulashvili said. Mamulashvili said the Georgian Legion is a Special Forces battalion made up of combat-ready fighters, and that it has been repeatedly confused with Ukraine's newly-organized International Legion, which has training capacity for less experienced soldiers."I don't know anything about the 'spy story,' though," he added with a smirk, after I summarized what the Germans had told me.'Ukraine must know its heroes'Unlike the packed trains carrying mostly women and children toward the Polish border, the trains heading east had plenty of seats. Tobias and Lukas' trip to Kyiv was uneventful, even as their excitement grew. "We have gone past some blown-up buildings, and I think I saw an unexploded missile in a field," Tobias texted from the train."This isn't what I signed up for," Lukas admitted in an audio message, adding, "But we are ready." Tobias and Lukas arrived at Kyiv's central train station that evening, still wearing their civilian clothes. As instructed, they called their Georgian commander back in Lviv. The phone rang and rang. No one answered. Now at the war's doorstep, they had no plan and no idea where they would spend the night.By this point in the war—ten days after Kyiv was first hit—Russian missile assaults had driven over a million people to the west and into neighboring countries. That day, Russian troops had occupied the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia, stirring up decades-old fears of nuclear war. Incessant bombing had started in Mariupol, southeast from Kyiv—the start of one of the worst civilian disasters in Ukraine since the war began.Tobias on the train from Lviv to Kyiv, where he and Lukas hoped to finally reach the front line.TobiasBut Ukrainian forces had stalled the 40-mile-long line of Russian troops heading into the capital from Belarus, repelling forces from the capital through a stunningly successful combination of air defense tactics and street combat. Zelenkskyy continued to speak to the Ukrainian people from Kyiv's iconic city squares, proving to the world that the capital was still in Ukrainian hands. Still, shelling was heard nightly and many residents of the capital took refuge in the city's subway stations, which had been built during the Cold War to withstand a nuclear attack. Without a better idea, Tobias and Lukas began approaching uniformed soldiers to ask if they could join their squads. They eventually found two friendly Ukrainian reservists in fatigues and, with the help of a translation app on their phones, introduced themselves. The reservists said their squadron had not yet been mobilized. They invited the Germans back to their makeshift barracks, in the back of a storefront, to sleep for the night. "Only civilians are protecting the train station! There's a ring of Russians around Kyiv! We don't know how to get out!" Tobias exclaimed on the phone that night. I checked the news and, in fact, trains were still leaving daily to the east. With their Georgian commander still not picking up their calls, the Germans passed the hours drinking the reservists' alcohol and smoking the last of the marijuana Lukas had brought—bonding over their united mission against Russia. Tobias (second from left) and Lukas (right) hang out with the Ukrainian reservists they met at the Kyiv train station. The Ukrainians invited them to stay at their makeshift barracks.TobiasThe next morning, the reservists drove Tobias and Lukas around Kyiv to search for a new group to join, the Germans told me. But no one would have them. "They told us to leave because the war is lost and it is too dangerous," Tobias said later. (In fact, the steadfast resolve of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians alike has been well documented. Insider was unable to speak to the reservists by phone to confirm details of the visit.)Their best bet was to return to Lviv and try to reconnect with the International Legion there, Tobias and Lukas decided.  Back at Kyiv's train station, they found, for the first time, they were heading in the same direction as throngs of other people. Children still in their pajamas from hasty escapes, elderly people with blank stares and almost no luggage. When a Lviv-bound train pulled up at the platform, the scene was chaotic, as hundreds of people tried to push their way onto the already crowded train. The Germans noticed a shell-shocked woman standing nearby, who seemed unable to jostle her things onto the train. They sprung into action, securing the woman a seat on the next train out and, as her escorts, finding just enough space to squeeze themselves into the train's corridor. The woman, named Yulia, was 38 and had fled the besieged northeastern city of Kharkiv. She carried just one small suitcase and said she wasn't sure if her apartment had been bombed. She said she thought it had.  On the long ride west, Tobias and Lukas hatched a plan to escort Yulia to Germany. "It's too dangerous for a woman to travel on her own," Tobias told me later that night, with conviction and satisfaction in his voice. But the next morning, after another night spent in the bunk-beds of the Lviv hostel, they changed their minds about leaving Ukraine so quickly. They accompanied Yulia to the bus station, and waved as she headed towards Poland, where she had family waiting for her."I am very grateful to these guys who literally dragged me onto the train to Lviv," she later posted on Facebook. (She also confirmed the details of Tobias and Lukas' story to Insider.) "I can't tell you how I felt at that moment, only tears of joy and gratitude. Ukraine must know its heroes—Sláva Ukrayíni! (Glory to Ukraine!)"Reinvigorated by their brief visit to Kyiv, Tobias and Lukas finally gave up on the Georgians and decided to focus on the International Legion. But it still wasn't clear how they would do that. So, once again, they began approaching men in uniform.Soon, a friendly man in fatigues was leading them to a small building that had just been repurposed into a military post for the International Legion. Inside, they were led past the long line of Ukrainian men presenting for service with the Territorial Defense Forces, to the much shorter line reserved for foreigners.Tobias and Lukas were asked a few questions and then heard the words they had been waiting for: The International Legion of the Ukrainian armed forces would welcome them at its training center. The Yavoriv training center was located at a former NATO base, 15 miles from the Polish border. Tobias and Lukas would spend the night at a way-station in Novoyavorivsk, not far from the base. Finally, it seemed, Tobias and Lukas were on the right course.'Drive as fast as the rockets!'The first day at the Yavoriv training center of the International Legion was a blur of activity. There were recruits from the US, Canada, Israel, and several other countries. Taking pictures at the base was forbidden and the recruits were told to switch their phones to airplane mode to avoid detection.As Tobias and Lukas would later tell me, Ukrainian soldiers took their passport details and had them sign documents, which they said they couldn't understand because they were written in Ukrainian. No copies were provided. Every recruit was given pants with a digital camouflage pattern (too thin for the winter, they said), several button-down shirts, some undershirts and underwear (several sizes too big, they said), boots, and a duffle bag. They were offered a Kalashnikov, but no ammunition since foreign recruits were not allowed to carry loaded weapons on the base.Days on the base started every day at 6 a.m. with breakfast in the mess hall, followed by marches in formation and combat exercises. They were taught about Russian weaponry and field tactics via PowerPoint presentations. Recruits sat shoulder to shoulder in packed rooms, often without enough chairs.Tobias in uniform during training at Yavoriv.LukasTo verify what the men were telling me, I went to one of the International Legion's offices in Lviv and interviewed Col. Anton Myronovych, a public affairs officer for the Ukrainian military.He told me the contracts he's seen are translated into English—it's the same contract as Ukrainian volunteers for the Territorial Defense Forces—and trainees receive copies of everything they sign. Foreign fighters are also entitled to the same pay and benefits as Ukrainians. "There's no difference between Ukrainians and foreigners in this situation," he said. Col. Myronovych said that troops in the International Legion are initially trained in separate groups according to their skill level, and later put into squadrons with skilled soldiers. When international battalions are sent to the front, he said, they are paired with Ukrainian battalions already on the battlefield to face the enemy as a united force. At Yavoriv, Lukas had grown tight-lipped. He said he couldn't talk while on the base. But Tobias was in high spirits. "They're crazy happy I have a license to drive trucks," Tobias said in a WhatsApp message after the first day of training. He imagined they might assign him to transport goods to the front since there were so few available drivers. "But this is also very dangerous," he said. "So I'll have to drive as fast as the rockets!"'Someone watching your back'One of the first people Tobias and Lukas met in Novoyavorivsk was Kevin, a sturdy, 58-year-old Irishman with bright white hair. Unlike most of the other recruits, Kevin had arrived in Ukraine with a bullet-proof vest and a helmet, and seemed well versed in modern weaponry and tactics. As a young man, he had served in the Irish special forces, and had later worked as a security contractor in some of the world's hotspots. (Kevin would later show me dog-eared pictures of from his military days, which he'd brought with him to Ukraine.) With high blood pressure and persistent pain from, he said, a crushed vertebra from a parachuting accident years ago, he was no longer in top form, but he thought he could still be useful in a fight.Like the Germans, Kevin had hoped to join a small squadron and get out to the front line as soon as possible. "When you see the suffering, the killing of women and children and the elderly, it's pretty hard to just sit back and watch it happen," Kevin told me later. Kevin displays two photographs from his younger days as a soldier.Katie Livingstone for InsiderWhen Kevin contacted the Ukrainian embassy in Ireland, they only insisted on recruits having some military experience, according to an email reviewed by Insider. After Kevin crossed the border, he found a military representative, who directed him to the training center at Yavoriv. In Tobias and Lukas, Kevin saw men with "good hearts." "We all agreed that we would help and look out for each other," Kevin told me when I first interviewed him. "In situations like this, it is essential to have someone watching your back and vice versa." Meanwhile, three other recruits had also joined the Germans' unofficial crew. There was William, a moody, 25-year-old Frenchman, who cited his hundreds of hours playing Call of Duty when asked about his military experience; Misha, 42 and Czech, who admitted he didn't know how to handle a gun but said he could survive off the land for months at a time if needed; and Erik, a 20-year-old medic from Germany, had brought along a well-stocked first aid kit and flak jacket from his time training (but not fighting) with the military back home.'I came to fight for Ukraine, not to die for Ukraine'Within about three days, doubt once again had set in. There wasn't any time for questions, or enough equipment for hands-on practice. Many of the recruits weren't taking the training seriously, and were smoking cigarettes during drills. Then, there was the constant clamor of air raid sirens—day and night—and the furious rush to take cover in case they signaled a true threat. And all over the base, the men noticed that fellow recruits were getting sick. On around the third day of training, Tobias started feeling unwell. A high fever kept him up at night. Kevin wouldn't admit it, but others noticed something wrong in him, too. William fainted twice during their morning exercises. The three men started skipping training to rest—which was fine, since no one required them to attend. There was no COVID-19 testing available on the base, but all three suspected they'd come down with the virus. With a hint of hyperbole, the men said that half of the recruits appeared to be sick, and some were giving up on training entirely and leaving the camp. (Col. Myronovych denied any large-scale Covid outbreak, or shortage of medical care.) "I am wondering if I made the right decision to come," Tobias wrote in a WhatsApp message.  "But it is too late to turn back now." At around the same time, Neumann, a German field medic who was helping to lead some of their drills, started showing signs of mounting stress, the men said. He had begun shouting during their lessons, they said, losing his patience more often with both the recruits and the Ukrainian officers. That afternoon, Neumann pulled Tobias, Kevin and a few others aside. He whispered urgently that he had overheard some of the Ukrainian officers talking. Behind their backs, officers were referring to recruits like them—those without combat training but with a will to fight—as "cannon fodder" and "mine meat." They'd be used to open up the battlefield and test their enemy's capabilities before risking more valuable, better-trained troops, he said. With tears streaming down his face, he urged the men to leave. Insider was unable to reach Neumann, and the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine did not respond to requests for comments on these accusations. When I asked Col. Myronovych about this, he said he didn't recognize the name Neumann, and denied that such an attitude existed.Foreign recruits have access to the same training resources and safety measures as Ukrainian members of the Territorial Defense Forces, Col. Myronovych said, adding that the Legion was doing the best they could to quickly and effectively train these rookie troops alongside veteran soldiers. "They cannot only fight and die in the first day. They have to survive. They have to stay safe. It's one of our goals—they have to come back alive." Back at Yavoriv, Neumann's warning terrified Tobias, Lukas, and the others. Erik's tactical first aid vest, which he brought with him from Germany.Used with permission"I came to fight for Ukraine, not to die for Ukraine," Erik told me later. "Being in these legions is like holding a loaded gun to your head and pulling the trigger." The six men decided it was time to leave, and went to their commanding officer to report their decision. After that, things moved quickly. They were immediately separated from the other troops, and forbidden from reentering the barracks or other communal areas unaccompanied. They were ushered back into the registration area to sign more forms and then into the storerooms to return their gear. Within a couple hours of their announcement, they were waiting for a taxi back to Novoyavorivsk, hoping to make it back to Lviv before the 10 p.m. curfew. Thanks to a last-minute cancellation on Booking.com, they ended up lucking out and finding an apartment in downtown Lviv that could house all six of them for the next week. It only had 2 double beds, but seemed warm and safe. At around midnight, the six soldiers arrived at the apartment, and promptly fell asleep on couches, floors, and beds. Close callThe next morning, at about 5:50 am — as the six men slept in their rented apartment in Lviv — 30 high-precision missiles hit the Yavoriv training center.Initial estimates said that 35 people had been killed and another 134 were wounded, making it one of the most devastating attacks on a military facility since Russia's invasion of Ukraine began. A Russian spokesman later said that the strike had targeted "foreign mercenaries" and a large shipment of weapons from the west. The six men, safe in Lviv, only learned of the bombing when they awoke hours later. They had slept through the sirens that had blared across the region to announce the danger. Groggy and still incredulous from the many false alarms they had endured in the last week, they pulled up shaky videos of the base on social media. They saw smoke rising from courtyards they recognized, strewn with debris, and heard victims crying for help in the background. They tried calling a few of the fellow trainees, who's numbers they'd collected. For hours, no one picked up. It seemed that the horrible reality of war had finally started to sink in, and they didn't yet seem to have the words to describe the mix of relief and guilt they were feeling at having narrowly escaped the carnage."If I was there, I could have at least tied a tourniquet," Erik said later. The men spent the rest of the day arguing about what to do next. The three youngest – Lukas, William, and Erik – talked about going to the front to join the unofficial squadrons they'd heard about. But at this point, Tobias and Kevin had been paying everyone's way, and they announced they were tired of it. The next day, Kevin told Lukas, William, and Erik they had to go. "Wake up. This isn't a game and we're not your parents," Kevin told them as his parting words, handing them bus money and a spare iPhone since Erik's had disappeared at the base.  From left to right, Kevin, William, and Eric at the apartment in Lviv.Katie Livingstone for InsiderEleven days after arriving in Ukraine with Tobias, Lukas left without saying goodbye. He was out of the war zone by later that afternoon. "I am dead," Lukas told me later over WhatsApp.Back in Montenegro, Lukas vowed to return to Ukraine soon, better prepared, to finish his mission. Maybe he hadn't understood how easily it would be to die in a war that had already claimed thousands of Ukrainian and Russian lives. William ultimately stayed in Ukraine for a few more weeks to volunteer with the Cross of Malta, and has since returned to his IT job in France. Erik is gone too. Back home, he told me he was having nightmares about the people he didn't help. Misha was the next to left Ukraine. Only Tobias and Kevin remained.They had come to "kill some Russians," as they often said, and still weren't ready to give up on that. They went to the train station to volunteer, but were turned away because, they were told, each group already had enough help. Tobias thought about trying to link up with the reservists in Kyiv, who had been mobilized since their first meeting. In truth, Tobias was too sick to do much of anything. On top of the fever, headaches and racing hearts, Kevin had also run out of his blood pressure medicine, and Tobias was out of the pills he took to manage his anxiety.On Wednesday, March 16, both men tested positive for COVID-19.Tobias' positive COVID-19 test.Tobias On Friday, Tobias sat outside their apartment under the glare of a full moon, whispering because it was after curfew and he didn't want the neighbors to call the police. "I don't want my kids to grow up without a father," he said emotionally, finally realizing he didn't want to die in this war."I am too sick to fight. I am useless, I must go home," Tobias said. He left Ukraine on March 21.A week later, while trying out tricks on a bike he had bought for his son, Tobias fell—breaking his shoulder. He sent me a picture, displaying his wounded body. "Unbelievable," Tobias texted. "Back from Ukraine and totally injured in Germany." Kevin made the same concession and returned to Ireland—though he, like Lukas, plans to return to Ukraine soon. Less than three weeks after valiantly trekking across Europe to join a fight more visceral and complicated than any of them had imagined, Tobias, Lukas, and the others had returned home without ever meeting a Russian soldier. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderApr 29th, 2022

Byrna Technologies Reports FY 2021 Third Quarter Results

ANDOVER, Mass., Oct. 8, 2021 /PRNewswire/ --Byrna Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ:BYRN) ("Byrna" or "the Company") today announced financial results for its fiscal third quarter ended August 31, 2021 ("Q3 FY21"). Third Quarter 2021 Highlights Financial Revenues rose 107.3% to $8.7 million from $4.2 million in last year's third quarter Gross profit increased by 129.6% to $4.9 million from $2.1 million in last year's third quarter Gross margin improved to 56.2% from 50.7% in last year's third quarter Available cash of $58.4 million at August 31, 2021 Operational Acquired assets of Ballistipax® and introduced "Byrna Shield" product line Introduced new products ranging from a price point personal safety alarm at $29.99 to the Byrna Mission-4 and Byrna Shield at $899 Commenced sales of Byrna products at 82 Bi-Mart stores in the Pacific Northwest Commenced sales on Amazon.com e-commerce platform "Growing brand awareness, the introduction of new Byrna products and increased international sales drove the increase in Q3 FY21 net revenues," said Bryan Ganz, CEO of Byrna. "Although sales were anchored by our e-commerce platform, we started to experience strong growth in international dealer sales.  Revenue growth in Q3FY21 did not include any material contribution from Byrna's dedicated Amazon store that commenced sales in late August 2021, however, we expect to see Amazon become an increasingly important sales channel over time. Over the last month Amazon sessions grew from approximately 750 per day the first week of September to approximately 3,000 sessions per day the last week of September.  While this is still only 15% of the daily sessions on Byrna's own website, it is growing rapidly and we expect to see traffic to our Amazon storefront ultimately equal or exceed traffic to the Byrna website.  We continued to expand our brick-and-mortar retail presence during Q3FY21, with the commencement of sales of the Byrna HD, ammo and accessories at 82 Bi-Mart locations in the Pacific Northwest." Mr. Ganz continued, "Gross profit rose at faster rate than net revenue in Q3FY21, up 130% from last year's third quarter, as gross profit margins climbed year over year. These higher gross profit margins were the result of continued manufacturing efficiencies and the introduction of higher margin products – partially offset by an increase in lower margin international dealer sales.  These production efficiencies are the result of continued investment in our production facilities, processes and people – each of which is vital to advance our long-term growth strategy.  With the funds available from our recent capital raise, resulting in the strongest balance sheet in our history, we are finally in the position to make these necessary investments."  Third Quarter 2021 Business Overview Revenues increased 107.3% to $8.7 million in Q3FY21 from $4.2 million in the third quarter of 2020 ("Q3FY20").  The year over year increase was driven by higher e-commerce and international sales and an expanded product range. Gross profit rose to $4.9 million, or 56.2% of reported net revenue, in Q3FY21.  This was up from a gross profit of $2.1 million, or 50.7% of net revenue, in Q3FY20.  The improvement was largely driven by higher sales volumes, the introduction of higher margin products and improved operating efficiencies in the Company's US production facility.  Operating expenses rose to $6.7 million in Q3FY21 from $2.7 million in Q3FY20 as the Company added people and infrastructure required to support the Company's growth. Specifically, payroll related costs increased by $1.5 million as the Company added several critical positions and acquired employees in the acquisition of both Mission Less Lethal and Ballistipax. Non-cash stock compensation costs also increased by $1.0 million from Q3FY2020, reflecting long-term incentive stock compensation programs for a number of key management personnel.  Higher sales volumes drove increases in variable expenses such as freight, which increased by $0.3 million from Q3FY20. The Company also incurred $0.25 million in one-time legal costs incurred to protect Byrna's intellectual property from infringement.  With the Company's rapid growth and the listing on Nasdaq, the cost of D&O insurance increased by $0.3 million. The Company also incurred higher public company costs as a result of our listing on Nasdaq.  Additionally, R&D expenditures continued to climb as the Company kicked off the development of several new products which we expect to commercialize in 2022.  Net loss in Q3FY2021 was $(1.8) million, or $(0.08) per share, compared to a net loss of $(0.6) million, or $(0.04) per share, in Q3FY2020, due primarily to the higher operating expenses outlined above.  For the three quarters ending August 30, 2021 the Company is reporting net loss of $(75,000).  Backing out long-term stock-based compensation, non-GAAP net loss1 for Q3FY2021 was $(0.9) million or $(0.04) per share, bringing non-GAAP adjusted net income for the year-to-date to $2.4 million, or $0.07 per share. Financial Position as of August 31, 2021: Total cash of $58.5 million, including $0.1 million of restricted cash, up from total cash of $9.7 million at November 30, 2020, including restricted cash of $6.5 million Total assets of $76.3 million, up from $21.2 million at November 30, 2020 No current or long-term debt 1 See non-GAAP financial measures at the end of this press release for a reconciliation and a discussion of non-GAAP financial measures. FY 2021 Outlook For FY 2021 ending November 30, 2021, Byrna reiterated its revenue guidance of $40 - $42 million, reflecting year-over-year growth of approximately 146% at the mid-point of the range. The guidance is based on the Company's current order flow, and the growth expected from: (1) the recent and planned introduction of new products; (2) increased availability of ammo (after shortages in prior periods); (3) additional e-commerce sales via a dedicated Amazon store that kicked off in late August 2021; (4) anticipated increases in international sales; and (5) broader brand awareness among consumers Gross margin for FY 2021 is expected to range between 53% - 56%, as compared to gross margin of 45.3% in FY 2020. The anticipated improvement in gross margin is expected to be supported by the introduction of new higher margin products, including the recent launch of the Byrna SD and planned launches of the Byrna SD XL and the shoulder-fired launchers acquired in the Mission acquisition including the Byrna TCR and Byrna MLR. Q3 FY21 New Product Introductions Byrna Banshee military-grade, 130dB* personal safety alarm: entry level product and our first product that is forward-facing; capable of producing an ear-piercing alert designed to draw attention and thwarts potential attacks. Byrna Eco-Kinetic .68 caliber round: one of the lowest priced non-lethal rounds on the market.  Water-soluble round designed to dissolve completely when left out in the elements, making it truly environmentally friendly.  Byrna SD Launcher: based on the popularity of the Byrna HD, which has sold more than 100,000 units over the past two years, the Byrna SD is the natural evolution of Byrna's handheld personal security device.     Byrna Mission-4 High-Capacity Rifle: expands our brand to law enforcement and private security; premium priced product identifies and caters to our most engaged customers. Byrna Shield Ballistic Backpack:  features a concealed, patented, rapidly deployable ballistic body armor system, hidden securely within a rugged yet comfortable backpack. Q4 FY 21 New Marketing Campaigns With the recent capital raise, Byrna is now able to kick off a number of new and exciting marketing campaigns in the 4th quarter including; Billboards – Starting on October 11th Byrna will Launch in 5 markets – San Diego, Kansas City, Dallas, St Louis, Orlando Direct Mail – In October Byrna will be sending out more than 350,000 pieces of direct mail Outsourced Email Media Buy- Byrna will be sending emails to more than 500,000 gun enthusiasts  Influencers - 10-15 anchor influencers to launch content in October and another 25-30 in November SMS Text Message Marketing Campaign Print Media Advertising – Gun Digest, Conceal Carry and Recoil magazines among others FY 2022 Planned Introductions The below launchers are designed to utilize Byrna's patented fintail projectiles.  These projectiles, which are designed to spin-stabilize in flight, are significantly more accurate, carry greater payloads and travel at higher speeds over longer distances than traditional round ball projectiles. Pump Action Launcher (PAL) - Operating like a pump action shotgun, the PAL is being designed to offer law enforcement the ability to disarm a threat at distances of up to 150 feet without the need to use lethal force. Byrna demonstrated the capabilities of this launcher in June in Los Angeles County where representatives of several Police and Sherriff's departments test-fired a prototype PAL. Byrna PE - The Byrna PE will be designed to provide civilians and security professionals with an easy to carry, compact handheld launcher capable of firing up to ten highly accurate payload rounds from a single magazine.  In addition to the launchers described above that will utilize Byrna's patented fintail projectiles, Byrna expects to shortly introduce a 12-gauge round that will allow the .68 caliber fintail projectile to be fired from any 12-gauge shotgun.  This will allow the owners of almost 100 million shotguns in the United States alone to take advantage of Byrna's patented and highly effective .68 caliber non-lethal fintailed round without having to spend as much as $1,000 to purchase the Byrna PAL.  Byrna expects these rounds to retail for approximately $7.00 per round. Conference CallByrna Technologies will host a conference call later this morning at 9:00 am ET to review these results. To listen to the call live, dial (201) 493-6744 or (877) 445-9755 and ask for the Byrna Technologies call. The question-and-answer portion of the call will be open to industry research analysts.  To listen to a simultaneous webcast of the call, please visit ir.byrna.com ten minutes prior to the start of the call and click on the Investors section to download and install any necessary audio software.  If you are unable to listen live, the conference call webcast will be archived on Byrna Technologies' website for thirty days. About Byrna Technologies Inc. Byrna is a technology company, specializing in the development, manufacture, and sale of innovative non-lethal personal security solutions. For more information on the Company, please visit the corporate website here or the Company's investor relations site here. The Company is the manufacturer of the Byrna® HD personal security device, a state of the art handheld CO2 powered launcher designed to provide a non-lethal alternative to a firearm for the consumer, private security, and law enforcement markets. To purchase Byrna products, visit the Company's e-commerce store www.byrna.com or www.amazon.com.  Forward Looking Information This news release contains "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the securities laws. All statements contained in this news release, other than statements of current and historical fact, are forward-looking. Often, but not always, forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of words such as "plans," "expects," "intends," "anticipates," and "believes" and statements that certain actions, events or results "may," "could," "would," "should," "might," "occur," or "be achieved," or "will be taken." Forward-looking statements include descriptions of currently occurring matters which may continue in the future. Forward-looking statements in this news release include but are not limited to the Company's statements related to its revenue and gross profit margin projections, future order fulfillment, anticipated order flow, growth expectations, dealer stocking, plans for introduction of new products, anticipated product features and timeline including the traffic and sales anticipated from the Company's new Amazon store, the success of our investment of capital in advancing long term growth, the success of our long term incentive compensation plans in facilitating retention and recruitment, success and timing of new product development and introduction, our anticipated growth and margin contributors, our success in appealing to new markets including by offering a broader range of products, and our plans for new marketing campaigns, and other plans and expectations discussed.  Forward-looking statements are not, and cannot be, a guarantee of future results or events. Forward-looking statements are based on, among other things, opinions, assumptions, estimates, and analyses that, while considered reasonable by the Company at the date the forward-looking information is provided, inherently are subject to significant risks, uncertainties, contingencies, and other factors that may cause actual results and events to be materially different from those expressed or implied. Any number of risk factors could affect our actual results and cause them to differ materially from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements in this news release, including, but not limited to, disappointing market responses to current or future products or services or to related marketing campaigns, shortages of materials needed by our suppliers, including suppliers of plastic components, or by us, the potential disruption of production, distribution, or marketing for any reason including but not limited to  competitive factors or issues related to  the pandemic (particularly with respect to our production and suppliers in South Africa where the province in which we and our chemical irritant supplier are located is experiencing a severe outbreak), civil unrest, supply chain shortages or interruptions, including material shortages, that could affect our extended supply chain, unavailability of parts, particularly parts sourced from limited or sole source providers, reduced air freight capacity, or otherwise; determinations by dealers, distributors or other third party controlled distribution channels, including Amazon, not to carry our products, potential cancellations of existing or future orders including as a result of any fulfillment delays, introduction of competing products, negative publicity, the recent safety alert, product recalls, litigation, enforcement proceedings or other regulatory or legal developments; changes in consumer or political sentiment or the law regulating the Company's products or other regulatory factors including the impact of commerce and trade laws and regulations including export related matters or sanctions or embargos that could affect the Company's supply chain or markets; larger than expected demand for the previously announced technical factory safety update, product design or manufacturing defects and related product recalls, future restrictions on the Company's cash resources impacting the availability of sufficient cash to meet operating expenses, other costs of goods or sales, and increased costs of production or sales and other events  that could potentially reduce demand for the Company's products or result in order cancellations. The order in which these factors appear should not be construed to indicate their relative importance or priority. We caution that these factors may not be exhaustive; accordingly, any forward-looking statements contained herein should not be relied upon as a prediction of actual results.  Investors should carefully consider these and other relevant factors, including those risk factors in Part I, Item 1A, ("Risk Factors") in our most recent Form 10-K and the updated risk factors delineated in Part 1, Item 1A of our Form 10-Q for the quarter ended May 31, 2021, should understand it is impossible to predict or identify all such factors or risks, should not consider the foregoing list, or the risks identified in our SEC filings, to be a complete discussion of all potential risks or uncertainties, and should not place undue reliance on forward-looking information. The Company assumes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking information, except as required by applicable law. BYRNA TECHNOLOGIES INC. Condensed Consolidated Statements of Operations and Comprehensive Loss (Amounts in thousands except share and per share data) (Unaudited) For the Three MonthsEnded For the Nine MonthsEnded August 31, August 31, 2021 2020 2021 2020 Net revenue $ 8,703 $ 4,198 $ 30,997 $ 5,537 Cost of goods sold (3,815) (2,069) (13,807) (2,926).....»»

Category: earningsSource: benzingaOct 8th, 2021

How Peloton went from a pandemic-era success story worth $50 billion to laying off more than 4,000 workers and losing 4 top execs in a month

Peloton was at the top of the connected-fitness food chain during the pandemic, but its business took a hit when the world began to reopen. John Smith/VIEWpress Peloton has laid off thousands of workers this year and replaced its CEO.  Two cofounders, including its former CEO, have left, along with the chief commercial officer. Now another top exec is leaving. Peloton was a Wall Street darling during the pandemic with a market cap of around $50 billion. In the height of the pandemic, Peloton was on top of the world. Its stock pushed $171 per share and its market cap hovered around $50 billion.Now, just this year, the company has laid off more than 4,000 staff members, has seen four top executives depart, and reportedly is considering a potential sale to the likes of Amazon, Apple, or Nike. Peloton's stock has been trading well below the IPO price of $29 per share, at one point dropping as low as $8.22.It's a stunning reversal for a company once at the top of the connected-fitness food chain, and it's the result of a culmination of factors, including the fading popularity of at-home fitness and a mishandled logistics operation. Here's how Peloton got its start and became a fitness world darling, and how it crashed and burned.Peloton was founded in 2012 by a group of ex-IAC employeesPeloton's five cofounders.PelotonJohn Foley, Hisao Kushi, Tom Cortese, and Graham Stanton — four of Peloton's five cofounders — met working at media and internet company IAC. The fifth cofounder, Yony Feng, met the group through his roommate who worked at IAC. Foley has said that the vision for the company was his, but that his four cofounders "took it, ran with it, and built it while I was gone" raising money, he told Fortune in 2021.Prior to founding Peloton, Foley was president at Barnes & Noble, overseeing its e-commerce business. The early version of its bike was 'janky,' and it struggled to find investorsJen Van Santvoord rides her Peloton exercise bike at her home on April 7, 2020.Ezra Shaw/Getty ImagesFoley is a self-professed "boutique fitness addict," as well as an avid cyclist. But the early versions of the Peloton bike didn't look like something you'd find in a high-end fitness studio, the company's first instructor, Jenn Sherman, told Fortune. "They had this little tiny corner of the office that was sectioned off by black velvet curtains. There was a camera on a tripod sticking through a circle people literally cut out of the curtain. There was a janky, broken bike in there — the instructor bike was like this rusted piece of crap. It was ridiculous," she said. Still, Sherman signed on. Meanwhile, Foley was on the road for the first three years, pitching what he told Insider in 2018 was as many as 400 investors. "I got 400 'nos,'" he said at the time. "The worst part is that we're not talking about 400 individual pitches. A lot of people would want me to come back four or five times and have me meet more partners and pitch again. I would say that I've been turned down maybe five or six thousand times."Still, the company scraped together funding from more than 200 angel investors and put its first bike on Kickstarter in 2013 for an "early bird" price of $1,500.Peloton quickly developed a cult followingInstructor Hannah Corbin teaching a live class at Peloton's Manhattan studio.PelotonPeloton began shipping bikes in 2014, with Foley and the other cofounders showing off how they worked at pop-up stores inside shopping centers.But it didn't take long for the company to develop a cult following, thanks in large part to its roster of high-wattage instructors. When the company opened its own studio in New York City, owners of the company's $2,000 bike would make a pilgrimage to Manhattan in order to take a live class with their favorite instructor. Eventually, big-name investors came calling. "I would say that it took about five years for the really smart money to start getting involved," Foley told Insider in 2018. "When Mary Meeker is calling you to say, 'Hey, I want to invest' — that's pretty cool."That year, Peloton raised $550 million in venture capital funding at a valuation of $4.1 billion, according to Pitchbook. Peloton expanded its offerings as spinning faded in popularityPeloton unveiled the Tread at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show.Avery Hartmans/Business InsiderPeloton introduced its second product, a $4,000 treadmill called the Peloton Tread, in 2018, and added new types of classes, like high-intensity interval training and yoga, to keep users engaged or get new customers to sign onto a digital subscription, no equipment required. By 2019, the company had sold 577,000 bikes and treadmills. In August of that year, Peloton filed for an initial public offering, revealing it had over 500,000 paying subscribers, but also spiraling losses from major investments in marketing and licensing music for its classes. Peloton went public on September 26, 2019 in what was at the time the third-worst trading debut for a major IPO since the financial crisis.Peloton's stock plummeted following its 2019 holiday adA still from the "Peloton wife" ad.PelotonAhead of the holidays in 2019, Peloton made what was seen as a major public misstep with its infamous "Peloton wife" ad. The ad, featuring a woman whose husband gifts her a Peloton bike for Christmas, was viewed as being sexist and playing into outdated standards of beauty. Public outrage over the ad sent Peloton's stock plunging 9%, wiping out $942 million in market value in a single day. But Peloton stood by the commercial, issuing a statement saying it was "disappointed" by how people had "misinterpreted" the ad. The pandemic became a major boon for Peloton's businessCari Gundee rides her Peloton exercise bike at her home on April 06, 2020 in San Anselmo, California.Ezra Shaw/Getty ImagesThen, in early 2020, the pandemic hit. Suddenly stuck inside, people turned to at-home fitness and found connection in Peloton's streamed workout classes. The company's share price took off. By May 2020, Peloton reported a 66% increase in sales and a 94% increase in subscribers. In September of that year, Peloton said that it had had its first profitable quarter, with sales spiking 172% since the same quarter the year prior and revenue rising to $607 million. But the unexpected uptick in demand showed the cracks in Peloton's logistics operation. Delivery times for new equipment became longer and longer, and Peloton's typically diehard fans began expressing their frustration online. Then, some customers began experiencing issues with their bikes where pedals snapped off mid-ride. The company took weeks or months to make repairs, further frustrating users. After 120 reports of bikes breaking and 16 reports of customers getting injured, the company issued a recall affecting 30,000 bikes. Still, 2020 was all around a stellar year for Peloton that included debuting new, higher-end versions of the bike and treadmill and inking a multi-year deal with Beyoncé. A year after the "Peloton wife" ad, the company's market value had hit $34 billion. In early 2021, Peloton reported its first-ever billion-dollar quarter, driven by holiday sales and sustained demand for at-home fitness as the pandemic raged on. Foley pledged to manufacture "tens of millions" of treadmills and bikes to keep up with surging sales and spend $100 million to speed up deliveries hampered by port congestion. Peloton had to issue a treadmill recall following a child's deathA user runs on the Peloton Tread.Michael Loccisano/Getty ImagesBut in March, tragedy struck when a child was fatally injured in an accident with a Peloton treadmill. Shares dipped 4% following the news and regulators urged a recall.Foley initially pushed back, calling the warnings "inaccurate and misleading," but by May, the company announced a recall of the higher-end Tread+. In an effort to make the treadmill safer, Peloton also made a change that resulted in it becoming unusable unless users paid $39 per month. Following customer outrage, the company said it would work on a fix. As the pandemic began to recede, so did Peloton's popularityPeloton's New York City studio.John Smith/VIEWpressAs the nation continued to move toward reopening — and returning to the gym and fitness studios — Peloton's business took a punch. The company's stock dropped 34% following its fiscal first-quarter earnings in November, which included a dismal outlook for the months ahead.  "It is clear that we underestimated the reopening impact on our company and the overall industry," Foley said in a call with shareholders.Peloton was also being chased by rivals like Echelon and iFit Health, which offer similar, cheaper products. Peloton filed a lawsuit against them in November, accusing them of patent infringement. In the meantime, Peloton had been taking reputational hits. A hiring freeze set in, and Black employees voiced concerns over their pay compared to the industry standard. A character in the "Sex and the City" reboot died after using his bike, and then the same thing happened to a "Billions"character soon after. And in December, Foley threw a lavish holiday party as the company's stock tanked. By January, the company was discussing layoffs, reportedly pausing production of new equipment, and halting plans to open a new $400 million factory. Employees told Insider the company's warehouses were filled with excess bikes. Peloton began laying off employees, replaced Foley, and eyed a potential acquisitionAn instructor during a Peloton class.Scott Heins/Getty ImagesIn February, The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon was eyeing Peloton as a potential acquisition — soon after, the Financial Times reported that Nike was considering the same. Wall Street analysts posited that Apple would be another natural fit as the new owner of Peloton. The possibility of a sale sent Peloton's stock jumping 25%.Days later, Foley announced that he would step down as Peloton's CEO and that the company was slashing 2,800 jobs, about 20% of its workforce. The company said that the fired employees would receive a free year's subscription to the platform, along with a "meaningful cash severance allotment" and other benefits. Its roster of instructors will not be impacted by the layoffs.During a conference call following the company's second-quarter earnings, Foley said was taking responsibility for what happened at Peloton. "We've made missteps along the way. To meet market demand, we scaled our operations too rapidly. And we overinvested in certain areas of our business," he said. "We own this. I own this. And we're holding ourselves accountable," he added.Experts told Insider that the company fell prey to the "bullwhip effect," spending big on logistics while expecting that demand would remain high — when demand cooled, Peloton was left with costly supply chain operations that now require a major overhaul. Barry McCarthy, the former chief financial officer of Spotify and Netflix, replaced Foley as CEO. In a leaked memo to employees, McCarthy called the layoffs "a bitter pill" but said that the company needs to accept "the world as it is, not as we want it to be if we're going to be successful.""Now that the reset button has been pushed, the challenge ahead of us is this…… do we squander the opportunity in front of us or do we engineer the great comeback story of the post-Covid era?" he wrote. "I'm here for the comeback story."Now Foley has severed his remaining ties to the companyPeloton co-founder John FoleyMark Lennihan/APJuly brought news of 570 additional job cuts, and in August, the company announced yet another round of layoffs, slashing roughly 800 customer-service and distribution team members — and raising prices on some equipment. In September, Foley stepped down as executive chairman. Cofounder and Chief Legal Officer Hisao Kushi and Chief Commercial Officer Kevin Cornils also left the company.In a statement, Foley said: "Now it is time for me to start a new professional chapter. I have passion for building companies and creating great teams, and I am excited to do that again in a new space. I am leaving the company in good hands." Lead independent director Karen Boone took over as chair. Now, another top exec is leaving as well: Chief Marketing Officer Dara Treseder is exiting the company in early October, The New York Times' DealBook newsletter reported. Treseder was instrumental in helping Peloton double its membership, which has reached more than 6.9 million, a company spokesperson told DealBook.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsider12 hr. 1 min. ago

"Global Gloom": World Markets Plunge To Start The Week As Global Currency Crash Hits Max Pain And Beyond

"Global Gloom": World Markets Plunge To Start The Week As Global Currency Crash Hits Max Pain And Beyond The rout which hammered stocks on Friday, nearly pushing them to close at a new 2022 low, resumed overnight when the global FX crisis returned with a bang, and a flash crash in the British pound which as noted late last night, plummeted 500pips in thin trading, to fresh record lows following Friday's shocking mini-budget announcement which confirmed the UK has no idea what it is doing and will cut rates and issue more debt just as the BOE is desperately trying to tighten financial conditions. The plunge in cable was however just one symptom of a bigger malaise, namely the relentless surge in the dollar which overnight hit fresh record highs as the BBDXY rose as high as 1,355 before briefly fading the surge... ... as every dollar-denominated debt issuer in the world is suffering crippling pain and begging Powell to do something to ease the unprecedented shock of the strongest dollar in history just as the world slumps into a global depression. Alas, so far there is nothing but silence from the Fed - which will likely have to make some announcement on central bank currency swaps at some point before the open today to avoid an even more epic FX rout - and as traders await something to break big time across global markets... This is the week of the barbell trade: deep OTM calls and puts as things either break or CBs panic. — zerohedge (@zerohedge) September 26, 2022 ... this morning futures have tumbled another 0.7%, as eminis drop to 3,683 while Nasdaq futures are down 0.8% to 11,290 on fears that Federal Reserve rate hikes to combat persistently elevated inflation will crush the economy into a full-blown recession, or depression, and the VIX soared above 32. It wasn't just FX and stocks crashing: British bonds also cratered as yields surged to the highest in more than a decade, sparking talk of emergency action by the Bank of England. For one example of the total chaos look no further than 5Y UK Gilts which have exploded 51bps higher and last traded around 4.58% as the market now prices in Similar implosions were observed in US TSYs, where the 10Y traded just shy of Friday's mini blowout, and was last seen at 3.7828% as bond traders are hit by VaR shocks at the same time in every possible market. Turning back to stocks, the rout wasn't isolated to just one market and an index of global stocks traded to the lowest since 2020. European equities extended declines after sliding into a bear market on Friday, with mining and energy stocks underperforming as metals and oil fell. “We’re in a period of global gloom, with pessimism blanketing different countries for different reasons,” said Ed Yardeni, president of his eponymous research firm, who warned of growing storm clouds for the US economy. “The latest data jibe with our growth recession scenario, but the risks of a full-blown recession are obviously increasing,” he wrote in a note Monday. In premarket trading, major US tech and internet stocks including Apple, Amazon and Microsoft tumbled. Here are some other notable premarket movers: Farfetch (FTCH US) shares fall as much as 4.43% in US premarket trading, after Citi begins coverage of the luxury online retailer with a sell rating, with broker flagging “weak” underlying profitability. Shares of US-listed Macau casinos jump in premarket trading, after Macau government said tour groups from mainland China could resume as early as November. Wynn Resorts (WYNN US) jumps 5.4%; Las Vegas Sands (LVS US) +6.9%, Melco (MLCO US) +9.6% and MGM resorts (MGM US) +1.6% Cryptocurrency-exposed stocks edged higher in premarket trading on Monday as Bitcoin rose above $19,000. Marathon Digital (MARA US) +1.9%, Coinbase (COIN US) +0.4% Keep an eye on Diana Shipping (DSX US) and Safe Bulkers (SB US) as Jefferies downgraded them to hold from buy and lowered dry bulk estimates to reflect the decline in dry bulk charter rates. European shares extended their fall to Dec. 2020 lows; sliding 1% and extending losses as investors priced a major economic shock and recession. The Stoxx 600 Index was down 1% by 10:50am in London, touching its lowest since December 2020, with real estate and banks among the worst performing sectors, while technology shares outperformed. Italy’s FTSE MIB bucked broader European declines to trade little changed, after Giorgia Meloni won a clear majority in Sunday’s election, in line with expectations. Banks and real estate stocks were the worst-performing sectors in Europe on Monday, with declines led by UK stocks as the pound and UK bonds slump. The Stoxx 600 Banks Index and the Stoxx 600 Real Estate are both down at least 2.5% while the benchmark gauge is 1.1% lower. The bank index decline is led by UK names including Virgin Money (-10%), Lloyds (-4.6%) and NatWest (-4.5%). Virgin Money was today resumed with a hold rating at Berenberg; broker said that the lender is expected to see revenue declines and a sector- lagging return on tangible equity which will affect ability to re-rate. Among real estate stocks, the UK’s Safestore Holdings (-4.2%), Assura (-3.9%) and Derwent London (-3.8%) are among the worst performers; non-index member housebuilders, including Persimmon, Bellway and Taylor Wimpey, are also plunging as the pound’s slump prompts talk of emergency action by the Bank of England. Here are the most notable movers today: The Stoxx 600 Tech Index rises as much as 2.4%, set for its biggest one-day outperformance against the broader Stoxx 600 since early-August, with semiconductor stocks leading gains. Among chip stocks, ASML rose as much as +3.7% after Santander upgraded the stock to neutral from underperform Italy’s FTSE MIB index gains, bucking weaker markets in Europe, after Giorgia Meloni won a clear majority in Sunday’s election. While the outcome was in line with expectations, the fact that the coalition didn’t obtain a super majority needed to change the constitution reassures investors. Telecom Italia rose as much +7.4%, FinecoBank +5.1%, Moncler +4.4% Unilever shares rise as much as 3.7% after it announced that CEO Alan Jope will retire from the company at the end of 2023, in a move that Jefferies analyst Martin Deboo (buy) sees as a positive development. RPS Group shares rise as much as 13% after Tetra Tech’s agreed deal to buy the company at 222p/share in cash, representing a 7.8% premium to an offer WSP made in August. Liberum does not rule out a counterbid. Belimo shares rise as much as 8.5% since the market isn’t fully pricing in its growth outlook, Berenberg says in a note, moving to buy and establishing a Street-high CHF440 target. The stock gains as much as 8.1%, the most since March 2021. Zalando shares rise as much as 4.8% after Citi analyst says they like the long-term investment story, short-term earnings risks are still high. UK Domestics: the most remarkable reaction to Friday’s not-so-mini budget, however, might be in lenders’ shares. The decline in banking stocks reflects investors’ pessimistic view on Britain’s economy. HSBC fell as much as 2.9%; Lloyds -4.3%, NatWest -4.7% and Barclays -3.0%. Virgin Money UK shares drop as much as 10% after Berenberg resumed a hold rating in note, stating that in many ways the UK small banks are “more different than they are alike.” Utilities are the day’s worst-performing European sector. Citi analyst Piotr Dzieciolowski says the EU’s funding for its policy response has so far been insufficient and also expects uncertainty to persist for UK names. United Utilities fell as much as -3.4%, Drax -3.8% Geopolitical risks from the war in Ukraine to escalating tensions over Taiwan and unrest in Iran also weighed on sentiment. Meanwhile, the OECD cut almost all growth forecasts for the Group of 20 next year while anticipating further interest-rate hikes, and a gauge of German business confidence deteriorated. Earlier in the session, a rout in Asian stocks extended into Monday as rising concerns about a global recession and weak demand hit the region’s exporters and materials producers. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index declined as much as 2.3% to the lowest since April 2020, dragged lower by TSMC, BHP and Toyota Motor. All but one sector traded lower with materials leading the slump.  South Korean stocks fell the most in the region, with the benchmark tumbling 3% to more than a two-year low. The Korean market’s heavy tech exposure has proven costly amid rising rates and a stronger dollar, with fears that a looming recession may wreak havoc on global demand. Gauges in Hong Kong and China reversed earlier gains as the region’s selloff intensified.   Korea Assets Are Asia’s Biggest Losers on Global Recession Angst “Investor sentiment is again at the stage of extreme fear,” said Lee Kyoung-Min, an analyst at Daishin Investment. “It is becoming solid and clear that Kospi and other global stock markets are on a mid-to-long term downward trend.” Asian stock benchmarks are being buffeted by global headwinds as well as risks of their own. The Federal Reserve’s relentless rate hike campaign is pushing Asian currencies lower and raising the risk of capital outflows, while China’s adherence to Covid Zero is hurting growth in the region’s economic giant.  If Monday’s losses are extended through the week, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index will see its longest run of declines since 2015. Japan stocks declined more than 2% as the nation resumed trading after a holiday on Friday. The Philippine stock market was closed Monday as Super Typhoon Noru barreled into the main Luzon island.  Among the key issues investors are watching this week are speeches by central bank officials in US and Europe, including Fed Chair Jerome Powell on Tuesday. Japanese equities tumbled as the market reopened following a three-day weekend, tracking US peers lower after the Fed’s hawkish comments last week deepened fears of a global downturn. The Topix fell 2.7% to close at 1,864.28, while the Nikkei declined 2.7% to 26,431.55. Toyota Motor contributed the most to the Topix decline, decreasing 3.2% after its monthly production update lagged expectations. Out of 2,169 stocks in the index, 145 rose and 1,985 fell, while 39 were unchanged. “There is a possibility that inflation will not subside and interest rates will rise further, which the markets will not like,” said Shoji Hirakawa, a chief global strategist at Tokai Tokyo Research. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 index fell 1.6% to close at 6,469.40, as energy and mining shares plummeted. An energy gauge including oil and coal linked securities declined by the most since March 2020.  The New Zealand market was closed for a holiday In India, key stocks gauges plunged to their lowest closing levels in almost two months as the global equity rout continues. The S&P BSE Sensex dropped 1.6% to 57,145.22 in Mumbai to its lowest since July 28. The NSE Nifty 50 Index fell 1.8%, its biggest single-day plunge since Sept. 16. Both the indexes, down in four of the past five weeks, have lost almost 6% since this month’s peak. Volatility in domestic equities is likely to remain elevated this week, pending monthly derivatives expiry on Thursday. Of 30 shares in the Sensex index, 24 fell and 6 advanced. All but one of the 19 sector sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. declined, led by utilities and power companies.  The Indian rupee weakened to a new record against the dollar amid surging US Treasury yields. The Reserve Bank of India’s rate-setting panel will announce monetary policy later this week. As noted above, while stocks are ugly, rates are a horrorshow as Treasuries extended their worst bond slide in decades as a dollar gauge rose to yet another record. Treasuries extended losses in a bear flattening move with yields cheaper by up to 10bp across the belly of the curve. US 10-year yields around 3.78%, cheaper by 6bp on the day with 5s30s spread flatter by 5bp, dropping as low as -45.4bp in European session; UK yields cheaper by 60bp to 25bp from front- end out to long-end of the curve. The Move comes as market participants brace for accelerated policy tightening from global central banks and headlines such as this: *TRADERS PRICE IN UP TO 200BPS OF BOE RATE HIKES BY NOVEMBER Yields on 2-year gilts are 60bp cheaper heading into early US session, while the pound recovers slightly after reaching a fresh all-time low. US session focus on 2-year auction, while a barrage of Fed speakers are expected for the week. Peripheral spreads widen to Germany with 10y BTP/Bund widening 7bps to 238bps. FX, of course, is a disaster, with the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index rising a fifth consecutive day as the greenback advanced versus most of its Group-of-10 peers. The pound plunged almost 5% to $1.0350 in Asian trading, the lowest recorded in Bloomberg data going back to 1971, while gilts crashed after the UK government vowed to press ahead with more tax cuts, stoking fears that new fiscal policies will send inflation and debt soaring, triggering emergency rate hikes. The options market signals no respite even as the pound rebounded from a record low hit during the Asia session. The yield on two- year bonds surged more than 55 basis points to 4.51%, while the 10-year yield rose 37 basis points to 4.19%. Money markets price in more than 150 basis points of rate increases by the BoE’s next policy meeting in November The euro steadied after earlier dropping to $0.9554; European bond yields rose; Italian bonds underperformed German peers. Giorgia Meloni won a clear majority in Sunday’s Italian election, setting herself up to become the country’s first female prime minister at the head of the most right-wing government since World War II. Germany’s IFO business expectations slid to 75.2 in September from 80.3 in August. That’s the lowest since April 2020. Analysts had predicted a drop to 79. An index of current conditions also fell. The Australian and New Zealand dollars pared some losses after earlier touching fresh 2-year lows. Aussie bond yields rose by up to 13bps, led by the front end The yen weakened amid a broadly stronger dollar. Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said the government’s intervention in the foreign exchange market last week was appropriate given the recent volatility in the yen The currency’s rally is “untenable” for risk assets, according to a note by Morgan Stanley strategists led by Michael Wilson, while Sian Fenner, senior Asia economist for Oxford Economics, said that “It’s a king US dollar...“It’s adding to inflationary pressures and more central banks raising rates more than we have historically seen.” In commodities, WTI slides almost 1% to trade near $78/bbl. Spot gold mostly unchanged near $1,643/oz. Bitcoin climbs above $19,000. Trading this week will be punctuated by a number of economic reports including US initial jobless claims and gross-domestic-product data, along with PMI figures from China. Choppiness in price moves is likely with a steady stream of Federal Reserve officials speaking through the week. Looking at today's calendar, we get the September Dallas Fed manufacturing activity index, and the August Chicago Fed national activity index. Central bank speakers include the Fed's Bostic, Collins, Logan and Mester; ECB's Lagarde also speaks as does Nagel, Guindos, Centeno and Panetta speak, BoE's Tenreyro speaks. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures little changed at 3,706.25 MXAP down 2.0% to 142.24 MXAPJ down 1.4% to 463.08 Nikkei down 2.7% to 26,431.55 Topix down 2.7% to 1,864.28 Hang Seng Index down 0.4% to 17,855.14 Shanghai Composite down 1.2% to 3,051.23 Sensex down 1.2% to 57,378.30 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 1.6% to 6,469.41 Kospi down 3.0% to 2,220.94 STOXX Europe 600 down 0.2% to 389.70 German 10Y yield little changed at 2.08% Euro little changed at $0.9683 Brent Futures down 0.7% to $85.59/bbl Brent Futures down 0.7% to $85.59/bbl Gold spot up 0.1% to $1,645.98 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 113.22 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng must do more to reassure the markets about his plans for the economy after a selloff sent the pound crashing to an all-time low against the dollar, said Gerard Lyons, an external adviser to Prime Minister Liz Truss The UK’s foreign currency holdings are a fraction of the huge stockpiles built up by some of its peers, making unilateral intervention in the market to prop up the plunging pound a tall order for UK policymakers. The UK had $108 billion in foreign currency reserves at the end of August, according to data from the IMF Hedge funds ramped up bullish bets on the pound just days before the UK government’s unexpectedly large tax cuts sent the currency tumbling The ECB’s newest policy maker, Boris Vujcic, says “it’s clear that this is the right way to go,” backing this month’s 75-basis point interest-rate hike ECB Vice President Luis de Guindos said the biggest problem facing the continent’s economy is record inflation, which is becoming more broad-based, threatening investment and consumer spending ECB Governing Council member Yannis Stournaras says the central bank must maintain the main principles of gradualism and flexibility, since the problem it faces is different from the one that the US Fed faces China made it more expensive to bet against the yuan in the derivatives market, ramping up support for the currency as it slides toward the weakest level since the 2008 financial crisis A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asia-Pac stocks traded mostly negative in a resumption of last week's global stock rout amid the continued surge in the dollar and higher yields, while there was also FX volatility which saw a flash crash in GBP/USD to a record low. ASX 200 was dragged lower amid losses in the commodity-related sectors and with sentiment dampened by the collapse of potential M&A deals involving Ramsay Health-KKR and Link Administration-Dye & Durham. Nikkei 225 underperformed with Mazda Motors among the worst hit as it considers exiting Russian operations. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp retraced most of their initial losses with Hong Kong underpinned following the scrapping of hotel quarantine policy and with casinos boosted as Macau is to resume tour groups from China, while the property industry benefits after China Construction Bank formed a CNY 30bln housing rental fund and some Twitter sources also circulated that some China state banks were reportedly ordered to buy stocks to contain selling. Top Asian News PBoC injected CNY 42bln via 7-day reverse repos with the rate kept at 2.00% and CNY 93bln via 14-day reverse repos with the rate kept at 2.15% for a net CNY 133bln injection. There were rumours circulating on social media of a coup against Chinese President Xi, although experts and journalists in Beijing dismissed the rumours and said there was no evidence to support them, according to The Print. Philippines Stock Exchange announced a trading suspension for Monday amid a typhoon in the capital, according to Reuters. European bourses are softer after a mixed cash open and despite a brief foray higher, Euro Stoxx 50 -0.5%, as sentiment remains subdued amid recession/inflation concerns. The breakdown features modest outperformance in the FTSE MIB as Italian election results are in-line with expectations. Stateside, futures are lower across the board in-fitting with peers going into a week of Fed speak and inflation data. Top European News UK PM Truss said she is determined to make the special relationship with the US even more special and said she agreed with US President Biden that it is vital to protect the Northern Ireland Good Friday Agreement, while she wants to find a way forward with a negotiated solution with the EU, according to Reuters and a CNN interview. UK PM Truss is to review visa schemes in an attempt to ease UK labour shortages, according to FT. UK Chancellor Kwarteng hinted that more tax cuts are on the way and claimed his tax cuts “favour people right across the income scale” amid accusations they mainly help the rich, according to Evening Standard. UK Chancellor Kwarteng said he is focused on growing the economy and the longer term when asked about the market reaction to his statement on Friday. Kwarteng added that he shares ideas with BoE Governor Bailey but added that Bailey is completely independent and Kwarteng is confident the BoE is dealing with inflation, according to Reuters. UK opposition Labour Party leader Starmer said they would reintroduce the top rate of income tax at 45% which the government announced to scrap last week, while he added that they will support the government plan to lower the basic rate of income tax to 19%, according to Reuters. Italy's right-wing bloc is seen winning the national election with 43.3% and centre-left bloc is seen winning 25.4%, according to the first projection by LA7 TV based on the actual vote count.. Click here for newsquawk snap analysis. Italy's Meloni said Italians gave clear backing to a centre-right government led by the Brothers of Italy and said the situation is difficult and needs contribution from everyone. It was separately reported that Italy's Democratic Party conceded in the election and said it will be the main opposition force, while Italy's Meloni claimed leadership of the next Italian government, according to Reuters and AFP. FX DXY climbed to a fresh YTD high of 114.58 before paring modestly, but remaining firmer, as GBP in particular lifts off worst levels. Cable succumbed to a flash crash overnight, with GBP/USD hitting an all-time-low around 1.0350 as participants confidence in the economy slips. EUR suffers amid the mentioned USD move but derives relative benefit from GBP, while ECB speakers thus far have added little. Antipodeans and CAD weighed on by broader risk and commodity pressure. Japanese Finance Minister Suzuki said the government and BoJ share views on concerns about a weak JPY, while he added that FX intervention had a certain effect and there is no change to the stance that they will respond to market moves as needed, according to Reuters. PBoC set USD/CNY mid-point at 7.0298 vs exp. 7.0019 (prev. 6.9920) PBoC imposed a 20% risk reserve requirement for FX forward sales from September 28th to rein in yuan weakness. Fixed Income Gilts have retained some composure after slumping over 200ticks at the commencement of trade and have settled around halfway between intraday extremes. EGBs downbeat in sympathy while BTPs marginally lag core-EGB peers as Italian as-expected election results are digested with BTP-Bund only modestly wider as such. Stateside, USTs are pressured in-fitting with peers and also conscious of the week's supply docket getting underway via a 43bln 2yr. Central Banks Fed’s Bostic (2024 voter) said inflation is too high and that they need to do all they can to bring it down and said demand is beginning to shrink which will ultimately pay dividends in inflation levels. Bostic also stated that there are scenarios where they can avoid deep pain but there will likely be some job losses, according to Reuters. BoJ's Kuroda says the BoJ will maintain accommodative monetary conditions to support companies, hopes to support a positive economic cycle, long-term inflation expectations have begun to heighten, via Reuters. Intervention from the MoF is an "appropriate" move, does not think gov't intervention and BoJ policy are contradictory. Amamiya says the domestic economy is picking up, must carefully watch how FX moves affect the economy and prices. BoJ Governor Kuroda says when he stated that BoJ forward guidance will not change for 2-3yrs, did not refer to guidance on keeping short and long-term rates at present of lower levels via Reuters. ECB's de Guindos says Q3 and Q4 point towards growth rates being close to zero within the EZ, the scenario is market by high uncertainty, lower growth and higher inflation. ECB's Panetta says ECB is assessing the potential of distributed ledger technology (DLT) and "the extent to which it could improve our services.". Capital Economics calls for the BoE to "get on the front foot with a big rate hike". Allianz's El-Erian says, on GBP, the fall is about extra tax cuts and Chancellor Kwarteng could recalibrate this. Alternative, would be for the BoE to hike at an emergency meeting. Adding, he would hike by 100bp. BoE publishes key elements of the 2022 annual cyclical scenario stress test; includes a scenario where the Bank Rate is assumed to rise rapidly to a peak of 6% in early 2023 before gradually reduced to sub-3.5%. Commodities WTI and Brent November futures remain subdued in early European trade following last week’s recession-induced losses. Spot gold trades in tandem with the Buck and sees resistance at around USD 1,650/oz after falling to USD 1,627/oz as a casualty of the Sterling flash crash overnight. LME metals are softer across the board with 3M copper futures having a hard time reclaiming USD +7,500/t status with upside capped by the Buck. Iraq began trial operations at the Karabala oil refinery which has a production capacity of 140k bpd, according to a statement from the Oil Ministry. German Chancellor Scholz signed a strategic agreement with UAE’s President on accelerating energy security and industrial growth, while UAE’s ADNOC signed an agreement with Germany’s RWE which includes ADNOC exporting its first LNG cargo to RWE and will conduct trial shipments of low-carbon ammonia to Germany. Furthermore, Chancellor Scholz said while visiting Doha that he talked with the Emir about LNG deliveries and that they want to achieve further progress, according to Reuters. Germany is preparing a national electricity price cap to be implemented this fall in the scenario the EU falls to agree on a similar move for the entirety of the bloc, via WSJ citing officials. Vitol's CEO said at the Asia Pacific Petroleum Conference that Russian gas supply cuts put enormous strain on supply-demand in Europe and that high gas prices are to impact 60%-80% of demand, while Ecopetrol's CEO said they are increasing crude exports to Europe this year to replace Russian supplies and are drilling 600 oil wells this year. Anglo American (AAL LN) tightens copper production guidance for Chile to 560k-580k tonnes of copper (prev. 560k-600k tonnes) due to lower throughput at Los Bronces caused by a combination of water restrictions and a change in ore characteristics, via Reuters. US Event Calendar 08:30: Aug. Chicago Fed Nat Activity Index, est. 0.23, prior 0.27 10:30: Sept. Dallas Fed Manf. Activity, est. -10.0, prior -12.9 Central Banks 10:00: Boston Fed’s Susan Collins Speaks to Boston Chamber of... 12:00: Fed’s Bostic Discusses Income Inequality 12:30: Fed’s Logan Speaks at Banking Conference 16:00: Fed’s Mester Discusses Economic Outlook DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap I wonder whether any research report has ever been written whilst watching synchronised swimming? Well if not, then you’re reading the first ever as I’m getting a head start on the early morning news by starting this on Sunday evening watching my daughter Maisie do her second session after getting into the local club. Watching this sport is going to take some getting used to after years of watching football, cricket, golf, F1, athletics, rugby... actually.... virtually every sport bar synchronised swimming. I think everyone felt they were swimming in a tsunami of newsflow last week after one of the most incredible macro weeks in recent memory in terms of breadth of events. Yes there have been more extreme weeks in crises but last week had a bit more variety and was outside of a crisis period. If over 500bps of global rate hikes wasn’t enough, you also had 2yr US yields moving higher for the 12th successive day on Friday (the longest steak since data begins in 1976), the BoJ intervening in FX markets for the first time since 1998, and what can only be termed as one of the darker days for sterling assets on record on Friday after a mammoth tax giveaway in what was a mini-budget in name and not by nature. Henry and I put a note out on Friday night (link here) showing that it was the third worst day for Sterling (-3.57%) since Black Wednesday in 1992, with the worst two since being the day after the Brexit vote (-8.1%) and after the initial covid shock in 2020 (-3.71%) when there was a global flight to dollars. We also show a graph of daily Sterling moves back to 1862 and on that it was the 41st worst day in history spanning 47,000 trading days. Obviously in the long era of fixed FX rates there were the occasional big devaluations which were much bigger than Friday. This morning is Asia it fell around -4.5% at one point (1.0392) which was a record low against the Dollar. It's around -2.78% as I type. This follows a weekend interview where Chancellor Kwarteng suggested that more tax cuts were to come so that certainly was a red rag to markets. Will we hear from the upper echelons of the BoE today? Watch out for any comments, especially at the market open. DB's George Saravelos suggested on Friday that the Bank of England need to do an inter meeting hike to restore policy credibility. There’s also a graph in our note mentioned above showing that Friday was the worst day for 5yr gilts (+50.3bps) since a +200bps hike in 1985 when sterling was also slumping. So maybe omens here. I suppose the only slight mystery is the timing of the sell-off as the mini-budget in magnitude was broadly in-line with the recent elevated fiscal expectations that had been building. However perhaps it was the unabashed revival of trickle-down economics that had markets a little aghast. It goes against the current economic orthodoxy and the overall zeitgeist of our immediate times. As such there is likely to be concerns of a credibility issue. We are publishing our long-term study today with the title “How we got here, and where we’re going?”. In it we try to put the current macro woes into historical context in an attempt to work out where we’re going. There are quite a few people who have proof-read it on my team and they were all thoroughly depressed at the end. I didn't feel that way writing it but maybe it's a case of starting point perceptions. Anyway, look out for it around the European lunchtime. Overnight in Italy, the right-wing alliance led by Giorgia Meloni's Brothers of Italy party was on course to become the nation’s first woman prime minister after exit polls gave it a clear majority. With the full results due later today, she is predicted to win up to 26% of the vote ahead of her closest rival Enrico Letta from the centre left. The right wing alliance is slated to be on course for around 43% of the vote, enough for a majority if correct. As I type, the euro is extending its losses against the dollar for the fifth day, its longest streak since April 28, falling as much as -0.5% to 0.9638, albeit being overshadowed by Sterling. For this week we have an array of consumer-driven economic data in the US and some important European inflation prints. We will also get a number of consumer sentiment indicators across the key economies and PMIs from Asia. Away from the data, there are more than 30 central banker appearances across the Fed and the ECB to keep markets busy. Tomorrow also sees referendums in the Russia-annexed Ukrainian territories as the conflict goes into its eight month. Going through the data in more details now. Starting with the US, the PCE and personal income and spending data will be front and centre for markets next week as they gauge the extent of inflationary pressures and the strength of the consumer. The Fed’s preferred inflation gauge, the PCE, due Friday, will be watched for signs of price pressures we saw in last week's CPI report. Our US economists expect core PCE to edge higher by +0.5% MoM (vs +0.1% in July) which won’t allow the Fed to take the foot off the tightening pedal. For the other two data points, our team forecasts a +0.1% MoM increase for both income and consumption. Final US Q2 GDP will also be released on Thursday and although DB expect no change to the -0.6% second reading, watch out for the annual benchmark revisions back to Q1 2017. History could be re-written that could have some implications for how we all think about the economy. In other US data, we will also get the consumer confidence index on Tuesday, along with durable goods orders, and inventories data on Wednesday, with the Chicago PMI on Friday. Over in Europe, all eyes will be on September's inflation data, including the Euro Area flash CPI release on Friday. Our economists are expecting the measure to hit a record +9.5%, up from the previous record of +9.1% in August. Other data in the region will include consumer and economic sentiment from Germany, France, Italy and the Eurozone throughout the week. Meanwhile, EU energy ministers will meet again on Friday regarding the emergency intervention amid elevated energy prices. Finally, next week's earnings line up will feature a number of retail bellwethers on Thursday. Among them will be Nike, H&M and Next. Micron will report that day as well. See our usual day by day guide to the week at the end which contains many of the key Fed and ECB speakers including Powell and Lagarde. Stock markets across Asia are mostly lower this morning. The Kospi (-2.40%), Nikkei (-2.30%) and the S&P/ASX 200 (-1.40%) are leading the declines. Meanwhile, the Hang Seng (+0.11%) is swinging between gains and losses after rising by +2.45% initially with Chinese shares mixed as the Shanghai Composite (-0.10%) is trading lower while the CSI (+0.46%) is up as we go to press. Stock futures in DMs are pointing to further losses with contracts on the S&P 500 (-0.49%), NASDAQ 100 (-0.46%) and DAX (-0.33%) all moving lower. Early morning data showed that Japan’s manufacturing sector continued to expand albeit at a slower pace as the latest au Jibun Bank manufacturing PMI slipped to a 20-month low of 51.0 in September from 51.5 in August, pulled lower by high energy and raw material prices that was exacerbated by a weak yen. At the same time, the au Jibun Bank services PMI returned to expansion, recording a level of 51.9 in September from August's 49.5 final reading. Moving on to China, in order to stabilise expectations in the FX market, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) today raised the risk reserve requirement on foreign exchange forward sales to 20% from 0% beginning September 28 as the yuan faces increasing depreciation pressure, in line with most major currencies amid broad dollar strength. Looking back now on a week that will not be forgotten anytime soon. While there were historic central bank hikes all week, the biggest news came from the fiscal authorities, following the UK’s budget Friday, which had the largest tax cut package since the 1970s. Gilt yields had their largest one-day increase in decades with 2yrs +44.7bps, 5yrs +50.3bps, and 10yrs +33.3bps. As we mentioned at the top, 5yrs yields saw their largest move since 1985 after a +200bps hike aimed at helping a plunging currency. The pound fell -3.57% against the US dollar to within a percentage point of the weakest in the post-Bretton Woods 51yr free float era. It was already a busy macro week before the blockbuster budget, where we got more than 500bps of global central bank hikes and a currency intervention from Japan. In terms of the biggest players, the Fed delivered its third consecutive 75bp hike while the BoE delivered its second 50bp hike in a row, with both banks guiding toward yet more tightening, while the BoJ remained the outlier by keeping its accommodative policy in place, which isn’t going to help the yen turnaround even with intervention. When all was said and done, sovereign bonds and equities sold off in size, while yield curves flattened. 2yr Treasuries (+33.4bps, +7.9bps Friday), 2yr Bunds (+38.5bps, +7.2bps Friday), 2yr Gilts (+82.1bps, +44.7bps Friday) reached their highest levels since 2007, 2008, and 2008, respectively, as markets priced in more tightening to overcome inflationary pressures (and in the case of the UK, fiscal expansion). 10yr Treasuries (+23.5bps, -2.9bps Friday) ended the week a touch lower on the day but hit their highest levels since 2011 during the week, while 10yr Bunds (+26.8bps, +5.9bps Friday), and 10yr Gilts (+69.1bps, +33.3bps Friday) hit their highest levels since 2013 and 2011, respectively. The mixture unsurprisingly proved unpalatable to risk assets, driving the STOXX 600 and S&P 500 back to their lows for the year. The STOXX 600 retreated -4.37% on the week and -2.34% on Friday, the worst weekly and daily return since mid-June. The S&P 500 fell -4.65% (-1.75% Friday), returning to bear market territory. The FTSE managed to stay above its YTD lows, but still fell -3.01% on the week, its worst weekly return since mid-June as well, and retreated -1.97% on Friday, the worst daily return since early July. Tyler Durden Mon, 09/26/2022 - 08:08.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedge15 hr. 17 min. ago

How Peloton went from a pandemic-era success story worth $50 billion to laying off more than 4,000 workers and losing 3 top execs in a month

Peloton was at the top of the connected-fitness food chain during the pandemic, but its business took a hit when the world began to reopen. John Smith/VIEWpress Peloton has laid off thousands of workers this year and replaced its CEO.  Two cofounders, including its former CEO, have left the company. Now another top exec is leaving. Peloton was a Wall Street darling during the pandemic with a market cap of around $50 billion. In the height of the pandemic, Peloton was on top of the world. Its stock pushed $171 per share and its market cap hovered around $50 billion.Now, just this year, the company has laid off more than 4,000 staff members, has seen three top executives depart, and reportedly is considering a potential sale to the likes of Amazon, Apple, or Nike. Peloton's stock has been trading well below the IPO price of $29 per share, at one point dropping as low as $8.22.It's a stunning reversal for a company once at the top of the connected-fitness food chain, and it's the result of a culmination of factors, including the fading popularity of at-home fitness and a mishandled logistics operation. Here's how Peloton got its start and became a fitness world darling, and how it crashed and burned.Peloton was founded in 2012 by a group of ex-IAC employeesPeloton's five cofounders.PelotonJohn Foley, Hisao Kushi, Tom Cortese, and Graham Stanton — four of Peloton's five cofounders — met working at media and internet company IAC. The fifth cofounder, Yony Feng, met the group through his roommate who worked at IAC. Foley has said that the vision for the company was his, but that his four cofounders "took it, ran with it, and built it while I was gone" raising money, he told Fortune in 2021.Prior to founding Peloton, Foley was president at Barnes & Noble, overseeing its e-commerce business. The early version of its bike was 'janky,' and it struggled to find investorsJen Van Santvoord rides her Peloton exercise bike at her home on April 7, 2020.Ezra Shaw/Getty ImagesFoley is a self-professed "boutique fitness addict," as well as an avid cyclist. But the early versions of the Peloton bike didn't look like something you'd find in a high-end fitness studio, the company's first instructor, Jenn Sherman, told Fortune. "They had this little tiny corner of the office that was sectioned off by black velvet curtains. There was a camera on a tripod sticking through a circle people literally cut out of the curtain. There was a janky, broken bike in there — the instructor bike was like this rusted piece of crap. It was ridiculous," she said. Still, Sherman signed on. Meanwhile, Foley was on the road for the first three years, pitching what he told Insider in 2018 was as many as 400 investors. "I got 400 'nos,'" he said at the time. "The worst part is that we're not talking about 400 individual pitches. A lot of people would want me to come back four or five times and have me meet more partners and pitch again. I would say that I've been turned down maybe five or six thousand times."Still, the company scraped together funding from more than 200 angel investors and put its first bike on Kickstarter in 2013 for an "early bird" price of $1,500.Peloton quickly developed a cult followingInstructor Hannah Corbin teaching a live class at Peloton's Manhattan studio.PelotonPeloton began shipping bikes in 2014, with Foley and the other cofounders showing off how they worked at pop-up stores inside shopping centers.But it didn't take long for the company to develop a cult following, thanks in large part to its roster of high-wattage instructors. When the company opened its own studio in New York City, owners of the company's $2,000 bike would make a pilgrimage to Manhattan in order to take a live class with their favorite instructor. Eventually, big-name investors came calling. "I would say that it took about five years for the really smart money to start getting involved," Foley told Insider in 2018. "When Mary Meeker is calling you to say, 'Hey, I want to invest' — that's pretty cool."That year, Peloton raised $550 million in venture capital funding at a valuation of $4.1 billion, according to Pitchbook. Peloton expanded its offerings as spinning faded in popularityPeloton unveiled the Tread at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show.Avery Hartmans/Business InsiderPeloton introduced its second product, a $4,000 treadmill called the Peloton Tread, in 2018, and added new types of classes, like high-intensity interval training and yoga, to keep users engaged or get new customers to sign onto a digital subscription, no equipment required. By 2019, the company had sold 577,000 bikes and treadmills. In August of that year, Peloton filed for an initial public offering, revealing it had over 500,000 paying subscribers, but also spiraling losses from major investments in marketing and licensing music for its classes. Peloton went public on September 26, 2019 in what was at the time the third-worst trading debut for a major IPO since the financial crisis.Peloton's stock plummeted following its 2019 holiday adA still from the "Peloton wife" ad.PelotonAhead of the holidays in 2019, Peloton made what was seen as a major public misstep with its infamous "Peloton wife" ad. The ad, featuring a woman whose husband gifts her a Peloton bike for Christmas, was viewed as being sexist and playing into outdated standards of beauty. Public outrage over the ad sent Peloton's stock plunging 9%, wiping out $942 million in market value in a single day. But Peloton stood by the commercial, issuing a statement saying it was "disappointed" by how people had "misinterpreted" the ad. The pandemic became a major boon for Peloton's businessCari Gundee rides her Peloton exercise bike at her home on April 06, 2020 in San Anselmo, California.Ezra Shaw/Getty ImagesThen, in early 2020, the pandemic hit. Suddenly stuck inside, people turned to at-home fitness and found connection in Peloton's streamed workout classes. The company's share price took off. By May 2020, Peloton reported a 66% increase in sales and a 94% increase in subscribers. In September of that year, Peloton said that it had had its first profitable quarter, with sales spiking 172% since the same quarter the year prior and revenue rising to $607 million. But the unexpected uptick in demand showed the cracks in Peloton's logistics operation. Delivery times for new equipment became longer and longer, and Peloton's typically diehard fans began expressing their frustration online. Then, some customers began experiencing issues with their bikes where pedals snapped off mid-ride. The company took weeks or months to make repairs, further frustrating users. After 120 reports of bikes breaking and 16 reports of customers getting injured, the company issued a recall affecting 30,000 bikes. Still, 2020 was all around a stellar year for Peloton that included debuting new, higher-end versions of the bike and treadmill and inking a multi-year deal with Beyoncé. A year after the "Peloton wife" ad, the company's market value had hit $34 billion. In early 2021, Peloton reported its first-ever billion-dollar quarter, driven by holiday sales and sustained demand for at-home fitness as the pandemic raged on. Foley pledged to manufacture "tens of millions" of treadmills and bikes to keep up with surging sales and spend $100 million to speed up deliveries hampered by port congestion. Peloton had to issue a treadmill recall following a child's deathA user runs on the Peloton Tread.Michael Loccisano/Getty ImagesBut in March, tragedy struck when a child was fatally injured in an accident with a Peloton treadmill. Shares dipped 4% following the news and regulators urged a recall.Foley initially pushed back, calling the warnings "inaccurate and misleading," but by May, the company announced a recall of the higher-end Tread+. In an effort to make the treadmill safer, Peloton also made a change that resulted in it becoming unusable unless users paid $39 per month. Following customer outrage, the company said it would work on a fix. As the pandemic began to recede, so did Peloton's popularityPeloton's New York City studio.John Smith/VIEWpressAs the nation continued to move toward reopening — and returning to the gym and fitness studios — Peloton's business took a punch. The company's stock dropped 34% following its fiscal first-quarter earnings in November, which included a dismal outlook for the months ahead.  "It is clear that we underestimated the reopening impact on our company and the overall industry," Foley said in a call with shareholders.Peloton was also being chased by rivals like Echelon and iFit Health, which offer similar, cheaper products. Peloton filed a lawsuit against them in November, accusing them of patent infringement. In the meantime, Peloton had been taking reputational hits. A hiring freeze set in, and Black employees voiced concerns over their pay compared to the industry standard. A character in the "Sex and the City" reboot died after using his bike, and then the same thing happened to a "Billions"character soon after. And in December, Foley threw a lavish holiday party as the company's stock tanked. By January, the company was discussing layoffs, reportedly pausing production of new equipment, and halting plans to open a new $400 million factory. Employees told Insider the company's warehouses were filled with excess bikes. Peloton began laying off employees, replaced Foley, and eyed a potential acquisitionAn instructor during a Peloton class.Scott Heins/Getty ImagesIn February, The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon was eyeing Peloton as a potential acquisition — soon after, the Financial Times reported that Nike was considering the same. Wall Street analysts posited that Apple would be another natural fit as the new owner of Peloton. The possibility of a sale sent Peloton's stock jumping 25%.Days later, Foley announced that he would step down as Peloton's CEO and that the company was slashing 2,800 jobs, about 20% of its workforce. The company said that the fired employees would receive a free year's subscription to the platform, along with a "meaningful cash severance allotment" and other benefits. Its roster of instructors will not be impacted by the layoffs.During a conference call following the company's second-quarter earnings, Foley said was taking responsibility for what happened at Peloton. "We've made missteps along the way. To meet market demand, we scaled our operations too rapidly. And we overinvested in certain areas of our business," he said. "We own this. I own this. And we're holding ourselves accountable," he added.Experts told Insider that the company fell prey to the "bullwhip effect," spending big on logistics while expecting that demand would remain high — when demand cooled, Peloton was left with costly supply chain operations that now require a major overhaul. Barry McCarthy, the former chief financial officer of Spotify and Netflix, replaced Foley as CEO. In a leaked memo to employees, McCarthy called the layoffs "a bitter pill" but said that the company needs to accept "the world as it is, not as we want it to be if we're going to be successful.""Now that the reset button has been pushed, the challenge ahead of us is this…… do we squander the opportunity in front of us or do we engineer the great comeback story of the post-Covid era?" he wrote. "I'm here for the comeback story."Now Foley has severed his remaining ties to the companyPeloton co-founder John FoleyMark Lennihan/APJuly brought news of 570 additional job cuts, and in August, the company announced yet another round of layoffs, slashing roughly 800 customer-service and distribution team members — and raising prices on some equipment. In September, Peloton announced that Foley had stepped down as executive chairman and that cofounder and Chief Legal Officer Hisao Kushi also was leaving the company.In a statement, Foley said: "Now it is time for me to start a new professional chapter. I have passion for building companies and creating great teams, and I am excited to do that again in a new space. I am leaving the company in good hands." Lead independent director Karen Boone took over as chair. Now, another top exec is leaving as well: Chief Marketing Officer Dara Treseder is exiting the company in early October, The New York Times' DealBook newsletter reported. Treseder was instrumental in helping Peloton double its membership, which has reached more than 6.9 million, a company spokesperson told DealBook.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsider15 hr. 33 min. ago

“Global Gloom": World Markets Plunge To Start The Week As Global Currency Crash Hits Max Pain And Beyond

“Global Gloom": World Markets Plunge To Start The Week As Global Currency Crash Hits Max Pain And Beyond The rout which hammered stocks on Friday, nearly pushing them to close at a new 2022 low, resumed overnight when the global FX crisis returned with a bang, and a flash crash in the British pound which as noted late last night, plummeted 500pips in thin trading, to fresh record lows following Friday's shocking mini-budget announcement which confirmed the UK has no idea what it is doing and will cut rates and issue more debt just as the BOE is desperately trying to tighten financial conditions. The plunge in cable was however just one symptom of a bigger malaise, namely the relentless surge in the dollar which overnight hit fresh record highs as the BBDXY rose as high as 1,355 before briefly fading the surge... ... as every dollar-denominated debt issuer in the world is suffering crippling pain and begging Powell to do something to ease the unprecedented shock of the strongest dollar in history just as the world slumps into a global depression. Alas, so far there is nothing but silence from the Fed - which will likely have to make some announcement on central bank currency swaps at some point before the open today to avoid an even more epic FX rout - and as traders await something to break big time across global markets... This is the week of the barbell trade: deep OTM calls and puts as things either break or CBs panic. — zerohedge (@zerohedge) September 26, 2022 ... this morning futures have tumbled another 0.7%, as eminis drop to 3,683 while Nasdaq futures are down 0.8% to 11,290 on fears that Federal Reserve rate hikes to combat persistently elevated inflation will crush the economy into a full-blown recession, or depression, and the VIX soared above 32. It wasn't just FX and stocks crashing: British bonds also cratered as yields surged to the highest in more than a decade, sparking talk of emergency action by the Bank of England. For one example of the total chaos look no further than 5Y UK Gilts which have exploded 51bps higher and last traded around 4.58% as the market now prices in Similar implosions were observed in US TSYs, where the 10Y traded just shy of Friday's mini blowout, and was last seen at 3.7828% as bond traders are hit by VaR shocks at the same time in every possible market. Turning back to stocks, the rout wasn't isolated to just one market and an index of global stocks traded to the lowest since 2020. European equities extended declines after sliding into a bear market on Friday, with mining and energy stocks underperforming as metals and oil fell. “We’re in a period of global gloom, with pessimism blanketing different countries for different reasons,” said Ed Yardeni, president of his eponymous research firm, who warned of growing storm clouds for the US economy. “The latest data jibe with our growth recession scenario, but the risks of a full-blown recession are obviously increasing,” he wrote in a note Monday. In premarket trading, major US tech and internet stocks including Apple, Amazon and Microsoft tumbled. Here are some other notable premarket movers: Farfetch (FTCH US) shares fall as much as 4.43% in US premarket trading, after Citi begins coverage of the luxury online retailer with a sell rating, with broker flagging “weak” underlying profitability. Shares of US-listed Macau casinos jump in premarket trading, after Macau government said tour groups from mainland China could resume as early as November. Wynn Resorts (WYNN US) jumps 5.4%; Las Vegas Sands (LVS US) +6.9%, Melco (MLCO US) +9.6% and MGM resorts (MGM US) +1.6% Cryptocurrency-exposed stocks edged higher in premarket trading on Monday as Bitcoin rose above $19,000. Marathon Digital (MARA US) +1.9%, Coinbase (COIN US) +0.4% Keep an eye on Diana Shipping (DSX US) and Safe Bulkers (SB US) as Jefferies downgraded them to hold from buy and lowered dry bulk estimates to reflect the decline in dry bulk charter rates. European shares extended their fall to Dec. 2020 lows; sliding 1% and extending losses as investors priced a major economic shock and recession. The Stoxx 600 Index was down 1% by 10:50am in London, touching its lowest since December 2020, with real estate and banks among the worst performing sectors, while technology shares outperformed. Italy’s FTSE MIB bucked broader European declines to trade little changed, after Giorgia Meloni won a clear majority in Sunday’s election, in line with expectations. Banks and real estate stocks were the worst-performing sectors in Europe on Monday, with declines led by UK stocks as the pound and UK bonds slump. The Stoxx 600 Banks Index and the Stoxx 600 Real Estate are both down at least 2.5% while the benchmark gauge is 1.1% lower. The bank index decline is led by UK names including Virgin Money (-10%), Lloyds (-4.6%) and NatWest (-4.5%). Virgin Money was today resumed with a hold rating at Berenberg; broker said that the lender is expected to see revenue declines and a sector- lagging return on tangible equity which will affect ability to re-rate. Among real estate stocks, the UK’s Safestore Holdings (-4.2%), Assura (-3.9%) and Derwent London (-3.8%) are among the worst performers; non-index member housebuilders, including Persimmon, Bellway and Taylor Wimpey, are also plunging as the pound’s slump prompts talk of emergency action by the Bank of England. Here are the most notable movers today: The Stoxx 600 Tech Index rises as much as 2.4%, set for its biggest one-day outperformance against the broader Stoxx 600 since early-August, with semiconductor stocks leading gains. Among chip stocks, ASML rose as much as +3.7% after Santander upgraded the stock to neutral from underperform Italy’s FTSE MIB index gains, bucking weaker markets in Europe, after Giorgia Meloni won a clear majority in Sunday’s election. While the outcome was in line with expectations, the fact that the coalition didn’t obtain a super majority needed to change the constitution reassures investors. Telecom Italia rose as much +7.4%, FinecoBank +5.1%, Moncler +4.4% Unilever shares rise as much as 3.7% after it announced that CEO Alan Jope will retire from the company at the end of 2023, in a move that Jefferies analyst Martin Deboo (buy) sees as a positive development. RPS Group shares rise as much as 13% after Tetra Tech’s agreed deal to buy the company at 222p/share in cash, representing a 7.8% premium to an offer WSP made in August. Liberum does not rule out a counterbid. Belimo shares rise as much as 8.5% since the market isn’t fully pricing in its growth outlook, Berenberg says in a note, moving to buy and establishing a Street-high CHF440 target. The stock gains as much as 8.1%, the most since March 2021. Zalando shares rise as much as 4.8% after Citi analyst says they like the long-term investment story, short-term earnings risks are still high. UK Domestics: the most remarkable reaction to Friday’s not-so-mini budget, however, might be in lenders’ shares. The decline in banking stocks reflects investors’ pessimistic view on Britain’s economy. HSBC fell as much as 2.9%; Lloyds -4.3%, NatWest -4.7% and Barclays -3.0%. Virgin Money UK shares drop as much as 10% after Berenberg resumed a hold rating in note, stating that in many ways the UK small banks are “more different than they are alike.” Utilities are the day’s worst-performing European sector. Citi analyst Piotr Dzieciolowski says the EU’s funding for its policy response has so far been insufficient and also expects uncertainty to persist for UK names. United Utilities fell as much as -3.4%, Drax -3.8% Geopolitical risks from the war in Ukraine to escalating tensions over Taiwan and unrest in Iran also weighed on sentiment. Meanwhile, the OECD cut almost all growth forecasts for the Group of 20 next year while anticipating further interest-rate hikes, and a gauge of German business confidence deteriorated. Earlier in the session, a rout in Asian stocks extended into Monday as rising concerns about a global recession and weak demand hit the region’s exporters and materials producers. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index declined as much as 2.3% to the lowest since April 2020, dragged lower by TSMC, BHP and Toyota Motor. All but one sector traded lower with materials leading the slump.  South Korean stocks fell the most in the region, with the benchmark tumbling 3% to more than a two-year low. The Korean market’s heavy tech exposure has proven costly amid rising rates and a stronger dollar, with fears that a looming recession may wreak havoc on global demand. Gauges in Hong Kong and China reversed earlier gains as the region’s selloff intensified.   Korea Assets Are Asia’s Biggest Losers on Global Recession Angst “Investor sentiment is again at the stage of extreme fear,” said Lee Kyoung-Min, an analyst at Daishin Investment. “It is becoming solid and clear that Kospi and other global stock markets are on a mid-to-long term downward trend.” Asian stock benchmarks are being buffeted by global headwinds as well as risks of their own. The Federal Reserve’s relentless rate hike campaign is pushing Asian currencies lower and raising the risk of capital outflows, while China’s adherence to Covid Zero is hurting growth in the region’s economic giant.  If Monday’s losses are extended through the week, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index will see its longest run of declines since 2015. Japan stocks declined more than 2% as the nation resumed trading after a holiday on Friday. The Philippine stock market was closed Monday as Super Typhoon Noru barreled into the main Luzon island.  Among the key issues investors are watching this week are speeches by central bank officials in US and Europe, including Fed Chair Jerome Powell on Tuesday. Japanese equities tumbled as the market reopened following a three-day weekend, tracking US peers lower after the Fed’s hawkish comments last week deepened fears of a global downturn. The Topix fell 2.7% to close at 1,864.28, while the Nikkei declined 2.7% to 26,431.55. Toyota Motor contributed the most to the Topix decline, decreasing 3.2% after its monthly production update lagged expectations. Out of 2,169 stocks in the index, 145 rose and 1,985 fell, while 39 were unchanged. “There is a possibility that inflation will not subside and interest rates will rise further, which the markets will not like,” said Shoji Hirakawa, a chief global strategist at Tokai Tokyo Research. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 index fell 1.6% to close at 6,469.40, as energy and mining shares plummeted. An energy gauge including oil and coal linked securities declined by the most since March 2020.  The New Zealand market was closed for a holiday In India, key stocks gauges plunged to their lowest closing levels in almost two months as the global equity rout continues. The S&P BSE Sensex dropped 1.6% to 57,145.22 in Mumbai to its lowest since July 28. The NSE Nifty 50 Index fell 1.8%, its biggest single-day plunge since Sept. 16. Both the indexes, down in four of the past five weeks, have lost almost 6% since this month’s peak. Volatility in domestic equities is likely to remain elevated this week, pending monthly derivatives expiry on Thursday. Of 30 shares in the Sensex index, 24 fell and 6 advanced. All but one of the 19 sector sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. declined, led by utilities and power companies.  The Indian rupee weakened to a new record against the dollar amid surging US Treasury yields. The Reserve Bank of India’s rate-setting panel will announce monetary policy later this week. As noted above, while stocks are ugly, rates are a horrorshow as Treasuries extended their worst bond slide in decades as a dollar gauge rose to yet another record. Treasuries extended losses in a bear flattening move with yields cheaper by up to 10bp across the belly of the curve. US 10-year yields around 3.78%, cheaper by 6bp on the day with 5s30s spread flatter by 5bp, dropping as low as -45.4bp in European session; UK yields cheaper by 60bp to 25bp from front- end out to long-end of the curve. The Move comes as market participants brace for accelerated policy tightening from global central banks and headlines such as this: *TRADERS PRICE IN UP TO 200BPS OF BOE RATE HIKES BY NOVEMBER Yields on 2-year gilts are 60bp cheaper heading into early US session, while the pound recovers slightly after reaching a fresh all-time low. US session focus on 2-year auction, while a barrage of Fed speakers are expected for the week. Peripheral spreads widen to Germany with 10y BTP/Bund widening 7bps to 238bps. FX, of course, is a disaster, with the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index rising a fifth consecutive day as the greenback advanced versus most of its Group-of-10 peers. The pound plunged almost 5% to $1.0350 in Asian trading, the lowest recorded in Bloomberg data going back to 1971, while gilts crashed after the UK government vowed to press ahead with more tax cuts, stoking fears that new fiscal policies will send inflation and debt soaring, triggering emergency rate hikes. The options market signals no respite even as the pound rebounded from a record low hit during the Asia session. The yield on two- year bonds surged more than 55 basis points to 4.51%, while the 10-year yield rose 37 basis points to 4.19%. Money markets price in more than 150 basis points of rate increases by the BoE’s next policy meeting in November The euro steadied after earlier dropping to $0.9554; European bond yields rose; Italian bonds underperformed German peers. Giorgia Meloni won a clear majority in Sunday’s Italian election, setting herself up to become the country’s first female prime minister at the head of the most right-wing government since World War II. Germany’s IFO business expectations slid to 75.2 in September from 80.3 in August. That’s the lowest since April 2020. Analysts had predicted a drop to 79. An index of current conditions also fell. The Australian and New Zealand dollars pared some losses after earlier touching fresh 2-year lows. Aussie bond yields rose by up to 13bps, led by the front end The yen weakened amid a broadly stronger dollar. Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said the government’s intervention in the foreign exchange market last week was appropriate given the recent volatility in the yen The currency’s rally is “untenable” for risk assets, according to a note by Morgan Stanley strategists led by Michael Wilson, while Sian Fenner, senior Asia economist for Oxford Economics, said that “It’s a king US dollar...“It’s adding to inflationary pressures and more central banks raising rates more than we have historically seen.” In commodities, WTI slides almost 1% to trade near $78/bbl. Spot gold mostly unchanged near $1,643/oz. Bitcoin climbs above $19,000. Trading this week will be punctuated by a number of economic reports including US initial jobless claims and gross-domestic-product data, along with PMI figures from China. Choppiness in price moves is likely with a steady stream of Federal Reserve officials speaking through the week. Looking at today's calendar, we get the September Dallas Fed manufacturing activity index, and the August Chicago Fed national activity index. Central bank speakers include the Fed's Bostic, Collins, Logan and Mester; ECB's Lagarde also speaks as does Nagel, Guindos, Centeno and Panetta speak, BoE's Tenreyro speaks. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures little changed at 3,706.25 MXAP down 2.0% to 142.24 MXAPJ down 1.4% to 463.08 Nikkei down 2.7% to 26,431.55 Topix down 2.7% to 1,864.28 Hang Seng Index down 0.4% to 17,855.14 Shanghai Composite down 1.2% to 3,051.23 Sensex down 1.2% to 57,378.30 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 1.6% to 6,469.41 Kospi down 3.0% to 2,220.94 STOXX Europe 600 down 0.2% to 389.70 German 10Y yield little changed at 2.08% Euro little changed at $0.9683 Brent Futures down 0.7% to $85.59/bbl Brent Futures down 0.7% to $85.59/bbl Gold spot up 0.1% to $1,645.98 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 113.22 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng must do more to reassure the markets about his plans for the economy after a selloff sent the pound crashing to an all-time low against the dollar, said Gerard Lyons, an external adviser to Prime Minister Liz Truss The UK’s foreign currency holdings are a fraction of the huge stockpiles built up by some of its peers, making unilateral intervention in the market to prop up the plunging pound a tall order for UK policymakers. The UK had $108 billion in foreign currency reserves at the end of August, according to data from the IMF Hedge funds ramped up bullish bets on the pound just days before the UK government’s unexpectedly large tax cuts sent the currency tumbling The ECB’s newest policy maker, Boris Vujcic, says “it’s clear that this is the right way to go,” backing this month’s 75-basis point interest-rate hike ECB Vice President Luis de Guindos said the biggest problem facing the continent’s economy is record inflation, which is becoming more broad-based, threatening investment and consumer spending ECB Governing Council member Yannis Stournaras says the central bank must maintain the main principles of gradualism and flexibility, since the problem it faces is different from the one that the US Fed faces China made it more expensive to bet against the yuan in the derivatives market, ramping up support for the currency as it slides toward the weakest level since the 2008 financial crisis A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asia-Pac stocks traded mostly negative in a resumption of last week's global stock rout amid the continued surge in the dollar and higher yields, while there was also FX volatility which saw a flash crash in GBP/USD to a record low. ASX 200 was dragged lower amid losses in the commodity-related sectors and with sentiment dampened by the collapse of potential M&A deals involving Ramsay Health-KKR and Link Administration-Dye & Durham. Nikkei 225 underperformed with Mazda Motors among the worst hit as it considers exiting Russian operations. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp retraced most of their initial losses with Hong Kong underpinned following the scrapping of hotel quarantine policy and with casinos boosted as Macau is to resume tour groups from China, while the property industry benefits after China Construction Bank formed a CNY 30bln housing rental fund and some Twitter sources also circulated that some China state banks were reportedly ordered to buy stocks to contain selling. Top Asian News PBoC injected CNY 42bln via 7-day reverse repos with the rate kept at 2.00% and CNY 93bln via 14-day reverse repos with the rate kept at 2.15% for a net CNY 133bln injection. There were rumours circulating on social media of a coup against Chinese President Xi, although experts and journalists in Beijing dismissed the rumours and said there was no evidence to support them, according to The Print. Philippines Stock Exchange announced a trading suspension for Monday amid a typhoon in the capital, according to Reuters. European bourses are softer after a mixed cash open and despite a brief foray higher, Euro Stoxx 50 -0.5%, as sentiment remains subdued amid recession/inflation concerns. The breakdown features modest outperformance in the FTSE MIB as Italian election results are in-line with expectations. Stateside, futures are lower across the board in-fitting with peers going into a week of Fed speak and inflation data. Top European News UK PM Truss said she is determined to make the special relationship with the US even more special and said she agreed with US President Biden that it is vital to protect the Northern Ireland Good Friday Agreement, while she wants to find a way forward with a negotiated solution with the EU, according to Reuters and a CNN interview. UK PM Truss is to review visa schemes in an attempt to ease UK labour shortages, according to FT. UK Chancellor Kwarteng hinted that more tax cuts are on the way and claimed his tax cuts “favour people right across the income scale” amid accusations they mainly help the rich, according to Evening Standard. UK Chancellor Kwarteng said he is focused on growing the economy and the longer term when asked about the market reaction to his statement on Friday. Kwarteng added that he shares ideas with BoE Governor Bailey but added that Bailey is completely independent and Kwarteng is confident the BoE is dealing with inflation, according to Reuters. UK opposition Labour Party leader Starmer said they would reintroduce the top rate of income tax at 45% which the government announced to scrap last week, while he added that they will support the government plan to lower the basic rate of income tax to 19%, according to Reuters. Italy's right-wing bloc is seen winning the national election with 43.3% and centre-left bloc is seen winning 25.4%, according to the first projection by LA7 TV based on the actual vote count.. Click here for newsquawk snap analysis. Italy's Meloni said Italians gave clear backing to a centre-right government led by the Brothers of Italy and said the situation is difficult and needs contribution from everyone. It was separately reported that Italy's Democratic Party conceded in the election and said it will be the main opposition force, while Italy's Meloni claimed leadership of the next Italian government, according to Reuters and AFP. FX DXY climbed to a fresh YTD high of 114.58 before paring modestly, but remaining firmer, as GBP in particular lifts off worst levels. Cable succumbed to a flash crash overnight, with GBP/USD hitting an all-time-low around 1.0350 as participants confidence in the economy slips. EUR suffers amid the mentioned USD move but derives relative benefit from GBP, while ECB speakers thus far have added little. Antipodeans and CAD weighed on by broader risk and commodity pressure. Japanese Finance Minister Suzuki said the government and BoJ share views on concerns about a weak JPY, while he added that FX intervention had a certain effect and there is no change to the stance that they will respond to market moves as needed, according to Reuters. PBoC set USD/CNY mid-point at 7.0298 vs exp. 7.0019 (prev. 6.9920) PBoC imposed a 20% risk reserve requirement for FX forward sales from September 28th to rein in yuan weakness. Fixed Income Gilts have retained some composure after slumping over 200ticks at the commencement of trade and have settled around halfway between intraday extremes. EGBs downbeat in sympathy while BTPs marginally lag core-EGB peers as Italian as-expected election results are digested with BTP-Bund only modestly wider as such. Stateside, USTs are pressured in-fitting with peers and also conscious of the week's supply docket getting underway via a 43bln 2yr. Central Banks Fed’s Bostic (2024 voter) said inflation is too high and that they need to do all they can to bring it down and said demand is beginning to shrink which will ultimately pay dividends in inflation levels. Bostic also stated that there are scenarios where they can avoid deep pain but there will likely be some job losses, according to Reuters. BoJ's Kuroda says the BoJ will maintain accommodative monetary conditions to support companies, hopes to support a positive economic cycle, long-term inflation expectations have begun to heighten, via Reuters. Intervention from the MoF is an "appropriate" move, does not think gov't intervention and BoJ policy are contradictory. Amamiya says the domestic economy is picking up, must carefully watch how FX moves affect the economy and prices. BoJ Governor Kuroda says when he stated that BoJ forward guidance will not change for 2-3yrs, did not refer to guidance on keeping short and long-term rates at present of lower levels via Reuters. ECB's de Guindos says Q3 and Q4 point towards growth rates being close to zero within the EZ, the scenario is market by high uncertainty, lower growth and higher inflation. ECB's Panetta says ECB is assessing the potential of distributed ledger technology (DLT) and "the extent to which it could improve our services.". Capital Economics calls for the BoE to "get on the front foot with a big rate hike". Allianz's El-Erian says, on GBP, the fall is about extra tax cuts and Chancellor Kwarteng could recalibrate this. Alternative, would be for the BoE to hike at an emergency meeting. Adding, he would hike by 100bp. BoE publishes key elements of the 2022 annual cyclical scenario stress test; includes a scenario where the Bank Rate is assumed to rise rapidly to a peak of 6% in early 2023 before gradually reduced to sub-3.5%. Commodities WTI and Brent November futures remain subdued in early European trade following last week’s recession-induced losses. Spot gold trades in tandem with the Buck and sees resistance at around USD 1,650/oz after falling to USD 1,627/oz as a casualty of the Sterling flash crash overnight. LME metals are softer across the board with 3M copper futures having a hard time reclaiming USD +7,500/t status with upside capped by the Buck. Iraq began trial operations at the Karabala oil refinery which has a production capacity of 140k bpd, according to a statement from the Oil Ministry. German Chancellor Scholz signed a strategic agreement with UAE’s President on accelerating energy security and industrial growth, while UAE’s ADNOC signed an agreement with Germany’s RWE which includes ADNOC exporting its first LNG cargo to RWE and will conduct trial shipments of low-carbon ammonia to Germany. Furthermore, Chancellor Scholz said while visiting Doha that he talked with the Emir about LNG deliveries and that they want to achieve further progress, according to Reuters. Germany is preparing a national electricity price cap to be implemented this fall in the scenario the EU falls to agree on a similar move for the entirety of the bloc, via WSJ citing officials. Vitol's CEO said at the Asia Pacific Petroleum Conference that Russian gas supply cuts put enormous strain on supply-demand in Europe and that high gas prices are to impact 60%-80% of demand, while Ecopetrol's CEO said they are increasing crude exports to Europe this year to replace Russian supplies and are drilling 600 oil wells this year. Anglo American (AAL LN) tightens copper production guidance for Chile to 560k-580k tonnes of copper (prev. 560k-600k tonnes) due to lower throughput at Los Bronces caused by a combination of water restrictions and a change in ore characteristics, via Reuters. US Event Calendar 08:30: Aug. Chicago Fed Nat Activity Index, est. 0.23, prior 0.27 10:30: Sept. Dallas Fed Manf. Activity, est. -10.0, prior -12.9 Central Banks 10:00: Boston Fed’s Susan Collins Speaks to Boston Chamber of... 12:00: Fed’s Bostic Discusses Income Inequality 12:30: Fed’s Logan Speaks at Banking Conference 16:00: Fed’s Mester Discusses Economic Outlook DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap I wonder whether any research report has ever been written whilst watching synchronised swimming? Well if not, then you’re reading the first ever as I’m getting a head start on the early morning news by starting this on Sunday evening watching my daughter Maisie do her second session after getting into the local club. Watching this sport is going to take some getting used to after years of watching football, cricket, golf, F1, athletics, rugby... actually.... virtually every sport bar synchronised swimming. I think everyone felt they were swimming in a tsunami of newsflow last week after one of the most incredible macro weeks in recent memory in terms of breadth of events. Yes there have been more extreme weeks in crises but last week had a bit more variety and was outside of a crisis period. If over 500bps of global rate hikes wasn’t enough, you also had 2yr US yields moving higher for the 12th successive day on Friday (the longest steak since data begins in 1976), the BoJ intervening in FX markets for the first time since 1998, and what can only be termed as one of the darker days for sterling assets on record on Friday after a mammoth tax giveaway in what was a mini-budget in name and not by nature. Henry and I put a note out on Friday night (link here) showing that it was the third worst day for Sterling (-3.57%) since Black Wednesday in 1992, with the worst two since being the day after the Brexit vote (-8.1%) and after the initial covid shock in 2020 (-3.71%) when there was a global flight to dollars. We also show a graph of daily Sterling moves back to 1862 and on that it was the 41st worst day in history spanning 47,000 trading days. Obviously in the long era of fixed FX rates there were the occasional big devaluations which were much bigger than Friday. This morning is Asia it fell around -4.5% at one point (1.0392) which was a record low against the Dollar. It's around -2.78% as I type. This follows a weekend interview where Chancellor Kwarteng suggested that more tax cuts were to come so that certainly was a red rag to markets. Will we hear from the upper echelons of the BoE today? Watch out for any comments, especially at the market open. DB's George Saravelos suggested on Friday that the Bank of England need to do an inter meeting hike to restore policy credibility. There’s also a graph in our note mentioned above showing that Friday was the worst day for 5yr gilts (+50.3bps) since a +200bps hike in 1985 when sterling was also slumping. So maybe omens here. I suppose the only slight mystery is the timing of the sell-off as the mini-budget in magnitude was broadly in-line with the recent elevated fiscal expectations that had been building. However perhaps it was the unabashed revival of trickle-down economics that had markets a little aghast. It goes against the current economic orthodoxy and the overall zeitgeist of our immediate times. As such there is likely to be concerns of a credibility issue. We are publishing our long-term study today with the title “How we got here, and where we’re going?”. In it we try to put the current macro woes into historical context in an attempt to work out where we’re going. There are quite a few people who have proof-read it on my team and they were all thoroughly depressed at the end. I didn't feel that way writing it but maybe it's a case of starting point perceptions. Anyway, look out for it around the European lunchtime. Overnight in Italy, the right-wing alliance led by Giorgia Meloni's Brothers of Italy party was on course to become the nation’s first woman prime minister after exit polls gave it a clear majority. With the full results due later today, she is predicted to win up to 26% of the vote ahead of her closest rival Enrico Letta from the centre left. The right wing alliance is slated to be on course for around 43% of the vote, enough for a majority if correct. As I type, the euro is extending its losses against the dollar for the fifth day, its longest streak since April 28, falling as much as -0.5% to 0.9638, albeit being overshadowed by Sterling. For this week we have an array of consumer-driven economic data in the US and some important European inflation prints. We will also get a number of consumer sentiment indicators across the key economies and PMIs from Asia. Away from the data, there are more than 30 central banker appearances across the Fed and the ECB to keep markets busy. Tomorrow also sees referendums in the Russia-annexed Ukrainian territories as the conflict goes into its eight month. Going through the data in more details now. Starting with the US, the PCE and personal income and spending data will be front and centre for markets next week as they gauge the extent of inflationary pressures and the strength of the consumer. The Fed’s preferred inflation gauge, the PCE, due Friday, will be watched for signs of price pressures we saw in last week's CPI report. Our US economists expect core PCE to edge higher by +0.5% MoM (vs +0.1% in July) which won’t allow the Fed to take the foot off the tightening pedal. For the other two data points, our team forecasts a +0.1% MoM increase for both income and consumption. Final US Q2 GDP will also be released on Thursday and although DB expect no change to the -0.6% second reading, watch out for the annual benchmark revisions back to Q1 2017. History could be re-written that could have some implications for how we all think about the economy. In other US data, we will also get the consumer confidence index on Tuesday, along with durable goods orders, and inventories data on Wednesday, with the Chicago PMI on Friday. Over in Europe, all eyes will be on September's inflation data, including the Euro Area flash CPI release on Friday. Our economists are expecting the measure to hit a record +9.5%, up from the previous record of +9.1% in August. Other data in the region will include consumer and economic sentiment from Germany, France, Italy and the Eurozone throughout the week. Meanwhile, EU energy ministers will meet again on Friday regarding the emergency intervention amid elevated energy prices. Finally, next week's earnings line up will feature a number of retail bellwethers on Thursday. Among them will be Nike, H&M and Next. Micron will report that day as well. See our usual day by day guide to the week at the end which contains many of the key Fed and ECB speakers including Powell and Lagarde. Stock markets across Asia are mostly lower this morning. The Kospi (-2.40%), Nikkei (-2.30%) and the S&P/ASX 200 (-1.40%) are leading the declines. Meanwhile, the Hang Seng (+0.11%) is swinging between gains and losses after rising by +2.45% initially with Chinese shares mixed as the Shanghai Composite (-0.10%) is trading lower while the CSI (+0.46%) is up as we go to press. Stock futures in DMs are pointing to further losses with contracts on the S&P 500 (-0.49%), NASDAQ 100 (-0.46%) and DAX (-0.33%) all moving lower. Early morning data showed that Japan’s manufacturing sector continued to expand albeit at a slower pace as the latest au Jibun Bank manufacturing PMI slipped to a 20-month low of 51.0 in September from 51.5 in August, pulled lower by high energy and raw material prices that was exacerbated by a weak yen. At the same time, the au Jibun Bank services PMI returned to expansion, recording a level of 51.9 in September from August's 49.5 final reading. Moving on to China, in order to stabilise expectations in the FX market, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) today raised the risk reserve requirement on foreign exchange forward sales to 20% from 0% beginning September 28 as the yuan faces increasing depreciation pressure, in line with most major currencies amid broad dollar strength. Looking back now on a week that will not be forgotten anytime soon. While there were historic central bank hikes all week, the biggest news came from the fiscal authorities, following the UK’s budget Friday, which had the largest tax cut package since the 1970s. Gilt yields had their largest one-day increase in decades with 2yrs +44.7bps, 5yrs +50.3bps, and 10yrs +33.3bps. As we mentioned at the top, 5yrs yields saw their largest move since 1985 after a +200bps hike aimed at helping a plunging currency. The pound fell -3.57% against the US dollar to within a percentage point of the weakest in the post-Bretton Woods 51yr free float era. It was already a busy macro week before the blockbuster budget, where we got more than 500bps of global central bank hikes and a currency intervention from Japan. In terms of the biggest players, the Fed delivered its third consecutive 75bp hike while the BoE delivered its second 50bp hike in a row, with both banks guiding toward yet more tightening, while the BoJ remained the outlier by keeping its accommodative policy in place, which isn’t going to help the yen turnaround even with intervention. When all was said and done, sovereign bonds and equities sold off in size, while yield curves flattened. 2yr Treasuries (+33.4bps, +7.9bps Friday), 2yr Bunds (+38.5bps, +7.2bps Friday), 2yr Gilts (+82.1bps, +44.7bps Friday) reached their highest levels since 2007, 2008, and 2008, respectively, as markets priced in more tightening to overcome inflationary pressures (and in the case of the UK, fiscal expansion). 10yr Treasuries (+23.5bps, -2.9bps Friday) ended the week a touch lower on the day but hit their highest levels since 2011 during the week, while 10yr Bunds (+26.8bps, +5.9bps Friday), and 10yr Gilts (+69.1bps, +33.3bps Friday) hit their highest levels since 2013 and 2011, respectively. The mixture unsurprisingly proved unpalatable to risk assets, driving the STOXX 600 and S&P 500 back to their lows for the year. The STOXX 600 retreated -4.37% on the week and -2.34% on Friday, the worst weekly and daily return since mid-June. The S&P 500 fell -4.65% (-1.75% Friday), returning to bear market territory. The FTSE managed to stay above its YTD lows, but still fell -3.01% on the week, its worst weekly return since mid-June as well, and retreated -1.97% on Friday, the worst daily return since early July. Tyler Durden Mon, 09/26/2022 - 08:08.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedge16 hr. 1 min. ago

Multipolar World Order – Part 1

Multipolar World Order – Part 1 Authored by Iain Davis via OffGuardian.org, Russia’s war with Ukraine is first and foremost a tragedy for the people of both countries, especially those who live—and die—in the battle zones. The priority for humanity, though apparently not for the political class, is to encourage Moscow and Kyiv to stop killing men, women and children and negotiate a peace deal. Beyond the immediate confines of the conflict, the war is also seen by some as representative of an alleged clash between great powers and, perhaps, between civilisations. All wars are momentous, but the ramifications of Ukrainian war are already global. Consequently, there is a perception that it is the focal point of a confrontation between two distinct models of global governance. The NATO-led alliance of the Western nations continues to push the unipolar, G7, international rules-based order (IRBO). It is opposed, some say, by the Russian and Chinese-led BRICS and the G20-based multipolar world order. In this 3 part series we will explore these issues and consider if it is tenable to place our faith in the emerging multipolar world order. There are very few redeeming features of the unipolar world order, that’s for sure. It is a system that overwhelmingly serves capital and few people other than a “parasite class” of stakeholder capitalist eugenicists. This has led many disaffected Westerners to invest their hopes in the promise of the multipolar world order: Many have increasingly come to terms with the reality that today’s multipolar system led by Russia and China has premised itself upon the defense of international law and national sovereignty as outlined in the UN Charter. [. . .] Putin and Xi Jinping have [. . .] made their choice to stand for win-win cooperation over Hobbesian Zero Sum thinking. [. . .] [T]heir entire strategy is premised upon the UN Charter. If only that were so! Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to be the case. But even if it were true, Putin and Xi Jinping basing “their entire strategy” upon the UN Charter, would be cause for concern, not relief. For the globalist forces that see nation-states as squares on the grand chessboard and that regard leaders like Putin, Biden and Xi Jinping as accomplices, the multipolar world order is manna from heaven. They have spent more than a century trying to centralise global power. The power of individual nation-states at least presents the possibility of some decentralisation. The multipolar world order finally ends all national sovereignty and delivers true global governance. World Order We need to distinguish between the ideological concept of “world order” and the reality. This will help us identify where “world order” is an artificially imposed construct. Authoritarian power, wielded over populations, territory and resources, restricted by physical and political geography, dictates the “world order.” The present order is largely the product of hard-nosed geopolitics, but it also reflects the various attempts to impose a global order. The struggle to manage and mitigate the consequences of geopolitics is evident in the history of international relations. For nearly 500 years nation-states have sought to co-exist as sovereign entities. Numerous systems have been devised to seize control of what would otherwise be anarchy. It is very much to the detriment of humanity that anarchy has not been allowed to flourish. In 1648, the two bilateral treaties that formed the Peace of Westphalia concluded the 30 Years War (or Wars). Those negotiated settlements arguably established the precept of the territorial sovereignty within the borders of the nation-state. This reduced, but did not end, the centralised authoritarian power of the Holy Roman Empire (HRE). Britannica notes: The Peace of Westphalia recognized the full territorial sovereignty of the member states of the empire. This isn’t entirely accurate. That so-called “full territorial sovereignty” delineated regional power within Europe and the HRE, but full sovereignty wasn’t established. The Westphalian treaties created hundreds of principalities that were formerly controlled by the central legislature of the HRE, the Diet. These new, effectively federalised principalities still paid taxes to the emperor and, crucially, religious observance remained a matter for the empire to decide. The treaties also consolidated the regional power of the Danish, Swedish, and French states but the Empire itself remained intact and dominant. It is more accurate to say that the Peace of Westphalia somewhat curtailed the authoritarian power of the HRE and defined the physical borders of some nation states. During the 20th century, this led to the popular interpretation of the nation-state as a bulwark against international hegemonic power, despite that never having been entirely true. Consequently, the so-called “Westphalian model” is largely based upon a myth. It represents an idealised version of the world order, suggesting how it could operate rather than describing how it does. Signing of the Peace of Westphalia, in Münster 1648, painting by Gerard Ter Borch If nation-states really were sovereign and if their territorial integrity were genuinely respected, then the Westphalian world order would be pure anarchy. This is the ideal upon which the UN is supposedly founded because, contrary to another ubiquitous popular myth, anarchy does not mean “chaos.” Quite the opposite. Anarchy is exemplified by Article 2.1 of the UN Charter: The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members. The word “anarchy” is an abstraction of the classical Greek “anarkhos,” meaning “rulerless.” This is derived from the privative prefix “an” (without) in conjunction with “arkhos” (leader or ruler). Literally translated, “anarchy” means “without rulers”—what the UN calls “sovereign equality.” A Westphalian world order of sovereign nation-states, each observing the “equality” of all others while adhering to the non-aggression principle, is a system of global, political anarchy. Unfortunately, that is not the way the current UN “world order” functions, nor has there ever been any attempt to impose such an order. What a shame. Within the League of Nations and subsequent UN system of practical “world order,”—a world order allegedly built upon the sovereignty of nations—equality exists in theory only. Through empire, colonialism, neocolonialism—that is, through economic, military, financial and monetary conquest, coupled with the debt obligations imposed upon targeted nations—global powers have always been able to dominate and control lesser ones. National governments, if defined in purely political terms, have never been the only source of authority behind the efforts to construct world order. As revealed by Antony C. Sutton and others, private corporate power has aided national governments in shaping “world order.” Neither Hitler’s rise to power nor the Bolshevik Revolution would have occurred as they did, if at all, without the guidance of the Wall Street financiers. The bankers’ global financial institutions and extensive international espionage networks were instrumental in shifting global political power. These private-sector “partners” of government are the “stakeholders” we constantly hear about today. The most powerful among them are fully engaged in “the game” described by Zbigniew Brzezinski in The Grand Chessboard. Brzezinski recognised that the continental landmass of Eurasia was the key to genuine global hegemony: This huge, oddly shaped Eurasian chess board—extending from Lisbon to Vladivostok—provides the setting for “the game.” [. . .] [I]f the middle space rebuffs the West, becomes an assertive single entity [. . .] then America’s primacy in Eurasia shrinks dramatically. [. . .] That mega-continent is just too large, too populous, culturally too varied, and composed of too many historically ambitious and politically energetic states to be compliant toward even the most economically successful and politically pre-eminent global power. [. . .] Ukraine, a new and important space on the Eurasian chessboard, is a geopolitical pivot because its very existence as an independent country helps to transform Russia. Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire. [. . .] [I]t would then become a predominantly Asian imperial state. The “unipolar world order” favoured by the Western powers, often referred to as the “international rules-based order” or the “international rules-based system,” is another attempt to impose order. This “unipolar” model enables the US and its European partners to exploit the UN system to claim legitimacy for their games of empire. Through it, the transatlantic alliance has used its economic, military and financial power to try to establish global hegemony. In 2016, Stewart Patrick, writing for the US Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a foreign policy think tank, published World Order: What, Exactly, are the Rules? He described the post-WWII “international rules-based order” (IRBO): What sets the post-1945 Western order apart is that it was shaped overwhelmingly by a single power [a unipolarity], the United States. Operating within the broader context of strategic bipolarity, it constructed, managed, and defended the regimes of the capitalist world economy. [. . .] In the trade sphere, the hegemon presses for liberalization and maintains an open market; in the monetary sphere, it supplies a freely convertible international currency, manages exchange rates, provides liquidity, and serves as a lender of last resort; and in the financial sphere, it serves as a source of international investment and development. The idea that the aggressive market acquisition of crony capitalism somehow represents the “open markets” of the “capitalist world economy” is risible. It is about as far removed from free market capitalism as it is possible to be. Under crony capitalism, the US dollar, as the preferred global reserve currency, is not “freely convertible.” Exchange rates are manipulated and liquidity is debt for nearly everyone except the lender. “Investment and development” by the hegemon means more profits and control for the hegemon. The notion that a political leader, or anyone for that matter, is entirely bad or good, is puerile. The same consideration can be given to nation-states, political systems or even models of world order. The character of a human being, a nation or a system of global governance is better judged by their or its totality of actions. Whatever we consider to be the source of “good” and “evil,” it exists in all of us at either ends of a spectrum. Some people exhibit extreme levels of psychopathy, which can lead them to commit acts that are judged to be “evil.” But even Hitler, for example, showed physical courage, devotion, compassion for some, and other qualities we might consider “good.” Nation-states and global governance structures, though immensely complex, are formed and led by people. They are influenced by a multitude of forces. Given the added complications of chance and unforeseen events, it is unrealistic to expect any form of “order” to be either entirely good or entirely bad. That being said, if that “order” is iniquitous and causes appreciable harm to people, then it is important to identify to whom that “order” provides advantage. Their potential individual and collective guilt should be investigated. This does not imply that those who benefit are automatically culpable, nor that they are “bad” or “evil,” though they may be, only that they have a conflict of interests in maintaining their “order” despite the harm it causes. Equally, where systemic harm is evident, it is irrational to absolve the actions of the people who lead and benefit from that system without first ruling out their possible guilt. Since WWII, millions of innocents have been murdered by the US, its international allies and its corporate partners, all of whom have thrown their military, economic and financial weight around the world. The Western “parasite class” has sought to assert its IRBO by any means necessary— sanctions, debt slavery or outright slavery, physical, economic or psychological warfare. The grasping desire for more power and control has exposed the very worst of human nature. Repeatedly and ad nauseam. Of course, resistance to this kind of global tyranny is understandable. The question is: Does imposition of the multipolar model offer anything different? Signing the UN Charter – 1948 Oligarchy Most recently, the “unipolar world order” has been embodied by the World Economic Forum’s inappropriately named Great Reset. It is so malignant and forbidding that some consider the emerging “multipolar world order” salvation. They have even heaped praise upon the likely leaders of the new multipolar world: It is [. . .] strength of purpose and character that has defined Putin’s two decades in power. [. . .] Russia is committed to the process of finding solutions to all people benefiting from the future, not just a few thousand holier-than-thou oligarchs. [. . .] Together [Russia and China] told the WEF to stuff the Great Reset back into the hole in which it was conceived. [. . .] Putin told Klaus Schwab and the WEF that their entire idea of the Great Reset is not only doomed to failure but runs counter to everything modern leadership should be pursuing. Sadly, it seems this hope is also misplaced. While Putin did much to rid Russia of the CIA-run, Western-backed oligarchs who were systematically destroying the Russian Federation during the 1990s, they have subsequently been replaced by another band of oligarchs with closer links to the current Russian government. Something we will explore in Part 3. Yes, it is certainly true that the Russian government, led by Putin and his power bloc, has improved the incomes and life opportunities for the majority of Russians. Putin’s government has also significantly reduced chronic poverty in Russia over the last two decades. Wealth in Russia, measured as the market value of financial and non-financial assets, has remained concentrated in the hands of the top 1% of the population. This pooling of wealth among the top percentile is itself stratified and is overwhelmingly held by the top 1% of the 1%. For example, in 2017, 56% of Russian wealth was controlled by 1% of the population. The pseudopandemic of 2020–2022 particularly benefitted Russian billionnaires—as it did the billionaires of every other developed economy. According to the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report 2021, wealth inequality in Russia, measured using the Gini coefficient, was 87.8 in 2020. The only other major economy with a greater disparity between the wealthy and the rest of the population was Brazil. Just behind Brazil and Russia on the wealth inequality scale was the US, whose Gini coefficient stood at 85. In terms of wealth concentration however, the situation in Russia was the worst by a considerable margin. In 2020 the top 1% owned 58.2% of Russia’s wealth. This was more than 8 percentage points higher than Brazil’s wealth concentration, and significantly worse than wealth concentration in the US, which stood at 35.2% in 2020. Such disproportionate wealth distribution is conducive to creating and empowering oligarchs. But wealth alone doesn’t determine whether one is an oligarch. Wealth needs to be converted into political power for the term “oligarch” to be applicable. An oligarchy is defined as “a form of government in which supreme power is vested in a small exclusive class.” Members of this dominant class are installed through a variety of mechanisms. The British establishment, and particularly its political class, is dominated by men and women who were educated at Eton, Roedean, Harrow and St. Pauls, etc. This “small exclusive class” arguably constitutes a British oligarchy. The UK’s new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, has been heralded by some because she is not a graduate of one of these select public schools. Educational privilege aside, though, the use of the word “oligarch” in the West more commonly refers to an internationalist class of globalists whose individual wealth sets them apart and who use that wealth to influence policy decisions. Bill Gates is a prime example of an oligarch. The former advisor to the UK Prime Minister, Dominic Cummings, said as much during his testimony to a parliamentary committee on May 2021 (go to 14:02:35). As Cummings put it, Bill Gates and “that kind of network” had directed the UK government’s response to the supposed COVID-19 pandemic. Gates’ immense wealth has bought him direct access to political power beyond national borders. He has no public mandate in either the US or the UK. He is an oligarch—one of the more well known but far from the only one. CFR member David Rothkopf described these people as a “Superclass” with the ability to “influence the lives of millions across borders on a regular basis.” They do this, he said, by using their globalist “networks.” Those networks, as described by Antony C. Sutton, Dominic Cummings and others, act as “the force multiplier in any kind of power structure.” This “small exclusive class” use their wealth to control resources and thus policy. Political decisions, policy, court rulings and more are made at their behest. This point was highlighted in the joint letter sent by the Attorneys General (AGs) of 19 US states to BlackRock CEO Larry Fink. The AGs observed that BlackRock was essentially using its investment strategy to pursue a political agenda: The Senators elected by the citizens of this country determine which international agreements have the force of law, not BlackRock. Their letter describes the theoretical model of representative democracy. Representative democracy is not a true democracy—which decentralises political power to the individual citizen—but is rather a system designed to centralise political control and authority. Inevitably, “representative democracy” leads to the consolidation of power in the hands of the so-called “Superclass” described by Rothkopf. There is nothing “super” about them. They are ordinary people who have acquired wealth primarily through conquest, usury, market rigging, political manipulation and slavery. “Parasite class” is a more befitting description. Not only do global investment firms like BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street use their immense resources to steer public policy, but their major shareholders include the very oligarchs who, via their contribution to various think tanks, create the global political agendas that determine policy in the first place. There is no space in this system of alleged “world order” for any genuine democratic oversight. As we shall see in Part 3, the levers of control are exerted to achieve exactly the same effect in Russia and China. Both countries have a gaggle of oligarchs whose objectives are firmly aligned with the WEF’s Great Reset agenda. They too work with their national government “partners” to ensure that they all arrive at the “right” policy decisions. US President Joe Biden, left, and CFR President Richard N. Haass, right. The United Nations’ Model of National Sovereignty Any bloc of nations that bids for dominance within the United Nations is seeking global hegemony. The UN enables global governance and centralises global political power and authority. In so doing, the UN empowers the international oligarchy. As noted previously, Article 2 of the United Nations Charter declares that the UN is “based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.” The Charter then goes on to list the numerous ways in which nation-states are not equal. It also clarifies how they are all subservient to the UN Security Council. Despite all the UN’s claims of lofty principles—respect for national sovereignty and for alleged human rights—Article 2 declares that no nation-state can receive any assistance from another as long as the UN Security Council is forcing that nation-state to comply with its edicts. Even non-member states must abide by the Charter, whether they like it or not, by decree of the United Nations. The UN Charter is a paradox. Article 2.7 asserts that “nothing in the Charter” permits the UN to infringe the sovereignty of a nation-state—except when it does so through UN “enforcement measures.” The Charter states, apparently without reason, that all nation-states are “equal.” However, some nation-states are empowered by the Charter to be far more equal than others. While the UN’s General Assembly is supposedly a decision-making forum comprised of “equal” sovereign nations, Article 11 affords the General Assembly only the power to discuss “the general principles of co-operation.” In other words, it has no power to make any significant decisions. Article 12 dictates that the General Assembly can only resolve disputes if instructed to do so by the Security Council. The most important function of the UN, “the maintenance of international peace and security,” can only be dealt with by the Security Council. What the other members of the General Assembly think about the Security Council’s global “security” decisions is a practical irrelevance. Article 23 lays out which nation-states form the Security Council: The Security Council shall consist of fifteen Members of the United Nations. The Republic of China, France, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics [Russian Federation], the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America shall be permanent members of the Security Council. The General Assembly shall elect ten other Members of the United Nations to be non-permanent members of the Security Council. [. . .] The non-permanent members of the Security Council shall be elected for a term of two years. The General Assembly is allowed to elect “non-permanent” members to the Security Council based upon criteria stipulated by the Security Council. Currently the “non-permanent” members are Albania, Brazil, Gabon, Ghana, India, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico, Norway and the United Arab Emirates. Article 24 proclaims that the Security Council has “primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security” and that all other nations agree that “the Security Council acts on their behalf.” The Security Council investigates and defines all alleged threats and recommends the procedures and adjustments for the supposed remedy. The Security Council dictates what further action, such as sanctions or the use of military force, shall be taken against any nation-state it considers to be a problem. Article 27 decrees that at least 9 of the 15 member states must be in agreement for a Security Council resolution to be enforced. All of the 5 permanent members must concur, and each has the power of veto. Any Security Council member, including permanent members, shall be excluded from the vote or use of its veto if they are party to the dispute in question. UN member states, by virtue of agreeing to the Charter, must provide armed forces at the Security Council’s request. In accordance with Article 47, military planning and operational objectives are the sole remit of the permanent Security Council members through their exclusive Military Staff Committee. If the permanent members are interested in the opinion of any other “sovereign” nation, they’ll ask it to provide one. The inequality inherent in the Charter could not be clearer. Article 44 notes that “when the Security Council has decided to use force” its only consultative obligation to the wider UN is to discuss the use of another member state’s armed forces where the Security Council has ordered that nation to fight. For a country that is a current member of the Security Council, use of its armed forces by the Military Staff Committee is a prerequisite for Council membership. The UN Secretary-General, identified as the “chief administrative officer” in the Charter, oversees the UN Secretariat. The Secretariat commissions, investigates and produces the reports that allegedly inform UN decision-making. The Secretariat staff members are appointed by the Secretary-General. The Secretary-General is “appointed by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.” Under the UN Charter, then, the Security Council is made king. This arrangement affords the governments of its permanent members—China, France, Russia, the UK and the US—considerable additional authority. There is nothing egalitarian about the UN Charter. The suggestion that the UN Charter constitutes a “defence” of “national sovereignty” is ridiculous. The UN Charter is the embodiment of the centralisation of global power and authority. UN Headquarters New York – Land Donated by the Rockefellers The United Nations’ Global Public-Private Partnership The UN was created, in no small measure, through the efforts of the private sector Rockefeller Foundation (RF). In particular, the RF’s comprehensive financial and operational support for the Economic, Financial and Transit Department (EFTD) of the League of Nations (LoN), and its considerable influence upon the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA), made the RF the key player in the transformation of the LoN into the UN. The UN came into being as a result of public-private partnership. Since then, especially with regard to defence, financing, global health care and sustainable development, public-private partnerships have become dominant within the UN system. The UN is no longer an intergovernmental organisation, if it ever was one. It is a global collaboration between governments and a multinational infra-governmental network of private “stakeholders.” In 1998, then-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the World Economic Forum’s Davos symposium that a “quiet revolution” had occurred in the UN during the 1990s: [T]he United Nations has been transformed since we last met here in Davos. The Organization has undergone a complete overhaul that I have described as a “quiet revolution”. [. . .] [W]e are in a stronger position to work with business and industry. [. . .] The business of the United Nations involves the businesses of the world. [. . .] We also promote private sector development and foreign direct investment. We help countries to join the international trading system and enact business-friendly legislation. In 2005, the World Health Organisation (WHO), a specialised agency of the UN, published a report on the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in healthcare titled Connecting for Health. Speaking about how “stakeholders” could introduce ICT healthcare solutions globally, the WHO noted: Governments can create an enabling environment, and invest in equity, access and innovation. The 2015, Adis Ababa Action Agenda conference on “financing for development” clarified the nature of an “enabling environment.” National governments from 193 UN nation-states committed their respective populations to funding public-private partnerships for sustainable development by collectively agreeing to create “an enabling environment at all levels for sustainable development;” and “to further strengthen the framework to finance sustainable development.” In 2017, UN General Assembly Resolution 70/224 (A/Res/70/224) compelled UN member states to implement “concrete policies” that “enable” sustainable development. A/Res/70/224 added that the UN: [. . .] reaffirms the strong political commitment to address the challenge of financing and creating an enabling environment at all levels for sustainable development [—] particularly with regard to developing partnerships through the provision of greater opportunities to the private sector, non-governmental organizations and civil society in general. In short, the “enabling environment” is a government, and therefore taxpayer, funding commitment to create markets for the private sector. Over the last few decades, successive Secretary-Generals have overseen the UN’s formal transition into a global public-private partnership (G3P). Nation-states do not have sovereignty over public-private partnerships. Sustainable development formally relegates government to the role of an “enabling” partner within a global network comprised of multinational corporations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), civil society organisations and other actors. The “other actors” are predominantly the philanthropic foundations of individual billionaires and immensely wealthy family dynasties—that is, oligarchs. Effectively, then, the UN serves the interests of capital. Not only is it a mechanism for the centralisation of global political authority, it is committed to the development of global policy agendas that are “business-friendly.” That means Big Business-friendly. Such agendas may happen to coincide with the best interests of humanity, but where they don’t—which is largely the case—well, that’s just too bad for humanity. Kofi Annan (8 April 1938 – 18 August 2018) Global Governance On the 4th February 2022, a little less then three weeks prior to Russia launching its “special military operation” in Ukraine, Presidents Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping issued an important joint statement: The sides [Russian Federation and Chinese People’s Republic] strongly support the development of international cooperation and exchanges [. . .], actively participating in the relevant global governance process, [. . .] to ensure sustainable global development. [. . .] The international community should actively engage in global governance[.] [. . .] The sides reaffirmed their intention to strengthen foreign policy coordination, pursue true multilateralism, strengthen cooperation on multilateral platforms, defend common interests, support the international and regional balance of power, and improve global governance. [. . .] The sides call on all States [. . .] to protect the United Nations-driven international architecture and the international law-based world order, seek genuine multipolarity with the United Nations and its Security Council playing a central and coordinating role, promote more democratic international relations, and ensure peace, stability and sustainable development across the world. The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) defined “global governance” in its 2014 publication Global Governance and the Global Rules For Development in the Post 2015 Era: Global governance encompasses the totality of institutions, policies, norms, procedures and initiatives through which States and their citizens try to bring more predictability, stability and order to their responses to transnational challenges. Global governance centralises control over the entire sphere of international relations. It inevitably erodes a nation’s ability to set foreign policy. As a theoretical protection against global instability, this isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but in practice it neither enhances nor “protects” national sovereignty. Domination of the global governance system by one group of powerful nation-states represents possibly the most dangerous and destabilising force of all. It allows those nations to act with impunity, regardless of any pretensions about honouring alleged “international law.” Global governance also significantly curtails the independence of a nation-state’s domestic policy. For example, the UN’s Sustainable Development Agenda 21, with the near-time Agenda 2030 serving as a waypoint, impacts nearly all national domestic policy—even setting the course for most domestic policy—in every country. National electorates’ oversight of this “totality” of UN policies is weak to nonexistent. Global governance renders so-called “representative democracy” little more than a vacuous sound-bite. As the UN is a global public-private partnership (UN-G3P), global governance allows the “multi-stakeholder partnership”—and therefore oligarchs—significant influence over member nation-states’ domestic and foreign policy. Set in this context, the UN-DESA report (see above) provides a frank appraisal of the true nature of UN-G3P global governance: Current approaches to global governance and global rules have led to a greater shrinking of policy space for national Governments [. . . ]; this also impedes the reduction of inequalities within countries. [. . .] Global governance has become a domain with many different players including: multilateral organizations; [. . .] elite multilateral groupings such as the Group of Eight (G8) and the Group of Twenty (G20) [and] different coalitions relevant to specific policy subjects[.] [. . .] Also included are activities of the private sector (e.g., the Global Compact) non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and large philanthropic foundations (e.g., Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Turner Foundation) and associated global funds to address particular issues[.] [. . .] The representativeness, opportunities for participation, and transparency of many of the main actors are open to question. [. . .] NGOs [. . .] often have governance structures that are not subject to open and democratic accountability. The lack of representativeness, accountability and transparency of corporations is even more important as corporations have more power and are currently promoting multi-stakeholder governance with a leading role for the private sector. [. . .] Currently, it seems that the United Nations has not been able to provide direction in the solution of global governance problems—perhaps lacking appropriate resources or authority, or both. United Nations bodies, with the exception of the Security Council, cannot make binding decisions. A/Res/73/254 declares that the UN Global Compact Office plays a vital role in “strengthening the capacity of the United Nations to partner strategically with the private sector.” It adds: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development acknowledges that the implementation of sustainable development will depend on the active engagement of both the public and private sectors[.] While the Attorneys General of 19 states might rail against BlackRock for usurping the political authority of US senators, BlackRock is simply exercising its power as valued a “public-private partner” of the US government. Such is the nature of global governance. Given that this system has been constructed over the last 80 years, it’s a bit too late for 19 state AGs to complain about it now. What have they been doing for the last eight decades? The governmental “partners” of the UN-G3P lack “authority” because the UN was created, largely by the Rockefellers, as a public-private partnership. The intergovernmental structure is the partner of the infra-governmental network of private stakeholders. In terms of resources, the power of the private sector “partners” dwarfs that of their government counterparts. Corporate fiefdoms are not limited by national borders. BlackRock alone currently holds $8.5 trillion of assets under management. This is nearly five times the size of the total GDP of UN Security Council permanent member Russia and more than three times the GDP of the UK. So-called sovereign countries are not sovereign over their own central banks nor are they “sovereign” over international financial institutions like the IMF, the New Development Bank (NDB), the World Bank or the Bank for International Settlements. The notion that any nation state or intergovernmental organisation is capable of bringing the global network of private capital to heel is farcical. At the COP26 Conference in Glasgow in 2021, King Charles III—then Prince Charles—prepared the conference to endorse the forthcoming announcement of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ). He made it abundantly clear who was in charge and, in keeping with UN objectives, clarified national governments role as “enabling partners”: The scale and scope of the threat we face call for a global systems level solution based on radically transforming our current fossil fuel based economy. [. . .] So ladies and gentleman, my plea today is for countries to come together to create the environment that enables every sector of industry to take the action required. We know this will take trillions, not billions of dollars. [. . .] [W]e need a vast military style campaign to marshal the strength of the global private sector, with trillions at [its] disposal far beyond global GDP, and with the greatest respect, beyond even the governments of the world’s leaders. It offers the only real prospect of achieving fundamental economic transition. Unless Putin and Xi Jinping intend to completely restructure the United Nations, including all of its institutions and specialised agencies, their objective of protecting “the United Nations-driven international architecture” appears to be nothing more than a bid to cement their status as the nominal leaders of the UN-G3P. As pointed out by UN-DESA, through the UN-G3P, that claim to political authority is extremely limited. Global corporations dominate and are currently further consolidating their global power through “multi-stakeholder governance.” Whether unipolar or multipolar, the so-called “world order” is the system of global governance led by the private sector—the oligarchs. Nation-states, including Russia and China, have already agreed to follow global priorities determined at the global governance level. The question is not which model of the global public-private “world order” we should accept, but rather why we would ever accept any such “world order” at all. This, then, is the context within which we can explore the alleged advantages of a “multipolar world order” led by China, Russia and increasingly India. Is it an attempt, as claimed by some, to reinvigorate the United Nations and create a more just and equitable system of global governance? Or is it merely the next phase in the construction of what many refer to as the “New World Order”? Tyler Durden Sat, 09/24/2022 - 19:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 24th, 2022

Netflix"s head of accessibility grew up with deaf parents, and it made her more aware that TV subtitles can be terrible

Heather Dowdy's job is to make Netflix accessible to people with disabilities. TV subtitles are now used by 80% of its viewers, the platform said. Heather Dowdy, Netflix's director of product accessibility.Netflix Netflix's first Director of Product Accessibility, Heather Dowdy, told Insider what drives her. Growing up with deaf parents, she was aware of gaps in subtitles and when they "messed up." Netflix found that 80% of its viewers use subtitles at least once a month. It was only when she watched TV at a friend's house as a child that Heather Dowdy realized people didn't always use subtitles.Dowdy, who was hired as Netflix's first director of product accessibility last year, used to watch shows like "Family Matters" at home when she grew up in Chicago in the 1990s. The subtitles would always be on, because her parents are deaf. "That's what my parents automatically had," she told Insider.This experience shapes her job at Netflix, where she is tasked with making the platform more accessible to people with disabilities.Having deaf parents meant she was constantly aware of mistakes and gaps in subtitles, she said. "Because I have the privilege of hearing, I could tell, 'Oh, they really messed that up — you're totally missing the really important point.'"In fact, some people with hearing loss call subtitles "craptions," she said.According to the US Census, 11.5 million Americans have some sort of hearing impairment, ranging from difficulty in hearing conversation to total hearing loss.But TV subtitles are now used far more widely than by people who are deaf or hard of hearing. About 40% of Netflix's global users use them all the time, while 80% use them at least once a month, according to the company's internal data. Dowdy said that's due in part to people watching more than one screen at a time, so text helps them follow the story."That's more than people that have a disability — that's a lot of other folks that are benefiting from a technology that was initially, you know, created to support people with hearing aids," she said.The fact that her work impacts a far wider audience than those with disabilities is a plus for Dowdy. "That's really what my role is about — there are so many benefits to looking at the disability community and then understanding how that benefits all of us," she said."The great thing is we don't have to know if you have a disability, we just are focused on what exactly is the feature that allows you to participate."'Feedback is crucial'Dowdy said people who are hard of hearing or deaf aren't included enough in the process of making subtitles. "Feedback is crucial in making sure we are on the right track," she said, noting that the focus groups she holds "don't hold back on feedback at all."She proactively engages with disability organizations and holds focus groups, which is a first for Netflix. A spokesperson for the streamer told Insider it had mainly been reactive to the disability community before hiring Dowdy.Feedback from blind and visually impaired people has added richness to Netflix's audio descriptions, or extra audio that explains visual elements of a show for people who are blind or visually impaired, including "things like the texture of skin and hair, and all of these other things that add context," Dowdy said.Example of captions used in "Stranger Things."NetflixThe subtitles of Netflix's latest series of "Stranger Things," which aired in May, received praise for its vivid audio descriptions like "tentacles undulating moistly," "wet footsteps squelch," and "unearthly susurration.""You have folks that thought it was too much for them, even in the new series," Dowdy acknowledged, "but the point is people are watching and are being included, and I'll take that over 'I can't access it at all.'"This year, President Biden appointed Dowdy to the US Access Board, the government agency that works on accessibility.She has published internal accessibility guidelines and made shows and films with characters with disabilities easier to discover on the platform by creating collections of content, and started rolling out "badges" that show when films have audio descriptions and subtitles.'It really is a journey'Dowdy studied at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and graduated with a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering. She said that she always wanted to use her degree to improve access to technology for disabled people. She went on to work for Motorola as a product manager with the accessibility engineering team, before joining Microsoft, where she led a program that funded AI startups focused on accessible tech.She's driven by the fact that disabled people can be left behind by tech or given second-rate options. She said it's frustrating, for example, that she can't share content from YouTube or Instagram with her friends who are deaf, because of the poor quality of the automated transcription.Dowdy once went to the movies with a deaf young person she was mentoring. The were given a handheld device that showed subtitles for the film. When the movie started, it became clear the device had no battery left. "The theater didn't think that they needed to be charged in between movies," she said. "I've been so challenged with how to take a person's personal experience and open up access for them and more folks like them — and then for everyone," Dowdy said.This fits with her approach to accessibility: "You solve for one and you extend it to many."'It isn't going to be perfect'Netflix outsources its subtitles to third-party agencies, and they are either automated or manually written. Dowdy doesn't have a preference: "We're open to whatever combination and whatever avenues get us to scale and quality.""I think it's really important to understand where technology can really complement humans," she said. "I have seen where you can have such a hybrid approach where, you know, the tech gets you so far and then humans are able to correct and really kind of bring in that context that's needed."Dowdy's next challenge is to create subtitles and audio descriptions in more languages for Netflix users. Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, and French are rolling out over the next year, and the platform will eventually offer accessibility in 20 languages.Dowdy wrote in a May blog post that "for decades, your access to entertainment was determined by where you lived and what language you spoke," meaning that until recently people who needed audio descriptions or subtitles "could only enjoy a story if it was made in their local language."She said Netflix, like all platforms, has a way to go on accessibility: "It really is a journey and it isn't going to be perfect — it is constant iteration."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 24th, 2022

House Passes Election Bill That Makes It Harder To Decertify Presidential Results

House Passes Election Bill That Makes It Harder To Decertify Presidential Results Authored by Joseph Lord via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours) The House of Representatives on Sept. 21 passed an election law bill designed to address President Donald Trump’s legal efforts to decertify some electoral slates in 2021. The U.S. Capitol building in Washington on Dec. 29, 2020. (Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images) The bill, dubbed the Presidential Election Reform Act, passed in a mostly-party line vote with a handful of GOP defections. The final vote, coming in at 229–203, included the support of 221 Democrats and nine Republicans. During the aftermath of the 2020 election, when Trump was trying to determine how to move forward on his claims of widespread election fraud, lawyer John Eastman was among the attorneys in Trump’s inner circle who supported an effort to refuse to certify electoral slates from states where concerns of election fraud were most prevalent. The 12th Amendment Eastman’s position—that Vice President Mike Pence had the power under the 12th Amendment to reject some electoral slates—was heavily taken to by Trump, who tried to convince Pence to refuse to certify some electoral slates. Specifically, the effort centered on an ambiguous line in the 12th Amendment, passed after the near-crisis of the election of 1800 which saw Congress go through dozens of ballots before finally declaring Thomas Jefferson the winner. That line reads “the President of the Senate [i.e., the vice president] shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted.” Eastman proposed that Pence could legally refuse to count the ballots of states deemed most at risk of election fraud. Opponents of Trump’s 2021 effort have said that the Constitution only intends for the vice president’s role in the Jan. 6 certification of electoral slates to be a “ceremonial” one, while proponents of the effort have pointed to similar events in the past, particularly in regards to the presidential elections of 1800, 1876, and 1960. However, there is no hard-set legal consensus on the issue either way. Ultimately, the effort was unsuccessful, as Pence refused to use his role to deny certification of contested electoral slates. ‘Opening the Door to Mass Litigation’ Though there is no consensus among legal experts as to the lawfulness or validity of the effort, altering the electoral certification process has been a key focus for many of Trump’s adversaries during the 117th Congress. The focus on the issue has intensified since the beginning of the Jan. 6 Committee hearings, which presented Trump’s efforts as criminal and undemocratic. The bill passed by the House on Wednesday was sponsored by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and co-sponsored by outgoing Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.). Both members serve on the House Jan. 6 panel. In addition to naming the vice president’s role in electoral certification a ceremonial one, the bill would up the number of lawmakers needed to sustain an objection to a state’s reported electoral slate. Currently, a vote on the validity of electoral slates can be forced by a single member of the House and a single member of the Senate, causing the House and Senate to have to vote to sustain or strike down the objection. Under the new bill, that figure would be upped to one-third of the House and one-third of the Senate before a vote on an objection could move forward. Cheney fell into the camp of those who claim the role is purely ceremonial, saying on the House floor in Washington that the bill would guarantee that Jan. 6 is “as the constitution envisioned, a ministerial day.” Further, Cheney said that it will “ensure that in the future our election process reflects the will of the people.” “The American people are supposed to decide an election, not Congress,” Lofgren said, echoing Cheney. Jan. 6 panel member Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) portrayed the bill as a necessary one to update the rules of the Electoral College, which has long been targeted by Democrats, who often portray the system as undemocratic. The party has long hosted calls for the total abolition of the college and movement to a popular vote basis for electing the president. However, most House Republicans are critical of the bill. House Administration Committee Ranking Member Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) said that the bill is “opening the door to mass litigation.” In addition, Davis argued that the legislation tramples state sovereignty over election law. Davis added that Democrats are “desperately trying to talk about their favorite topic, and that is former President Donald Trump.” In his opening speech on the bill delivered on the House floor, Davis argued that, despite efforts to present the contrary perspective, the 12th Amendment has long been used by members of both parties to ensure the legitimacy of an election’s results. Davis describes the mechanism as one that preserves the checks and balances of the three federal branches on each other. Contrary to the position espoused by Democrats, Davis said, lawmakers challenging election results when they see something suspicious “is not an affront to democracy—it’s democracy in action.” Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), who has faced accusations from the Jan. 6 Committee of leading reconnoitering missions into the Capitol in the days before Jan. 6, also blasted the bill, saying that Congress’s focus should be on pressing contemporary issues like inflation and energy costs rather than on Jan. 6. Democrats, by contrast, spent much of their time speaking on the floor by relating the bill to the events of Jan. 6 and the future of American democracy. In a statement indicative of this approach, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) insisted that the bill was not a partisan issue, but “a democracy issue.” “There are ambiguities in our electoral system and they can jeopardize our democracy—that’s what this bill is about,” Hoyer added later. The party also spent a great deal of time applauding Cheney for her role in pushing for the bill. “President Abraham Lincoln would be standing with Liz Cheney if he were on this floor,” said Hoyer, who called Cheney “as Republican as anyone” in the House. 12th Amendment Issue Remains Contested John Eastman, the Trump attorney who was most supportive of the 12th Amendment scheme, disagreed about the legality of the effort. Eastman told The Epoch Times before the vote that discussing the role of the 12th Amendment out of the context of the situation on the ground at the time is mistaken. He noted that the Constitution gives states the power to make their own election laws and determine the manner in which states will choose their electoral slates. In every U.S. state at this point, the popular vote is the method for choosing this slate. But Eastman also pointed to several last-minute changes by secretaries of state, executive orders from governors, and county clerks that changed or overshot the statutorily-required, legislature-approved legal regulations like deadlines and signature verification. “Those election codes were violated, there’s no dispute about that,” Eastman contended. “That means the election was not constitutionally conducted. How big the impact was is hard to say.” He added, “It was rather extraordinary, the illegality of it.” The use of the 12th Amendment and the vice president’s role, Eastman argued, was a last resort—albeit a legal one—stemming from the unwillingness of courts to consider the legal issues involved and the unwillingness of governors to call legislatures into special sessions to address the concerns. Finally, Eastman turned to the issue of the 12th Amendment. “It seems a little odd that [the Founders] would waste a whole amendment on just a ceremonial thing,” Eastman argued, shunting the claim that the vice president’s role is merely ceremonial. “That’s not the way the Founders typically operate.” Eastman further argued that the electoral process was designed in large part to ensure that Congress does not have the final say in choosing the president, as such a system would “destroy the separation of powers.” Read more here... Tyler Durden Fri, 09/23/2022 - 22:55.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytSep 24th, 2022

Running A Successful Ghost Kitchen Business

A ghost kitchen offers professional services, like food preparation, cooking facility, (mostly) for pre-cooked delivery-only meals. It’s usually located in a commercial kitchen that may have been closed down or abandoned. [Source] A ghost kitchen can be anything from a small, single-storey building with large kitchen space to a large warehouse with multiple kitchens, all […] A ghost kitchen offers professional services, like food preparation, cooking facility, (mostly) for pre-cooked delivery-only meals. It’s usually located in a commercial kitchen that may have been closed down or abandoned. [Source] A ghost kitchen can be anything from a small, single-storey building with large kitchen space to a large warehouse with multiple kitchens, all equipped with the latest in food preparation technology, including refrigeration and freezer units, cooking equipment, and prep tables. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Henry Singleton Series in PDF Get the entire 4-part series on Henry Singleton in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q2 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more   Ghost kitchens are often run by companies specializing in catering or food services such as restaurants and hotels. They may also be operated by individuals who want to earn extra income by running their own businesses without having to worry about hiring staff or managing expenses on their own. There are three main types of ghost kitchens: Commercial kitchen — this type of business can be run out of an existing business or on its own premises, but it is not part of the business. The owner/operator prepares and delivers food from their own home kitchen. Private chef — this type of business is run from someone's home, with food delivered in bulk directly to clients' homes or offices. Delivery-only — this type of company operates as a delivery service for large catering companies or restaurants who want to ensure their customers receive fresh food every day without having to worry about storing it themselves. Benefits Of A Ghost Kitchen The concept of ghost kitchens is to operate a food business without any storefront or physical footfall. This means you can make use of third-party apps like Doordash to make and deliver your food. [Source] By using these apps, you will be able to have your food delivered in minutes and keep all the money you earn minus the commission percentage. It's a great way to build your clientele while avoiding the extra costs that come with opening up a brick-and-mortar location. Depending on your business, you can operate multiple brands from the same outlet — catering to different audiences. For example, a restaurant that sells burgers and fries can also sell fish and chips. This allows you to offer customers multiple options when it comes to food and drinks. Ideally, this will mean more profits for you and more options for customers! A ghost kitchen is like a coworking space — so you can scale up or down depending on your needs. Think of it as an incubator for food startups that want to grow and scale their businesses, but don't have the capital to buy equipment or pay long-term leases. Many people enjoy cooking and like the idea of helping others cook their favorite dishes. If you love cooking too, then ghost restaurants can be a great way for you to get involved with something more than just about making money for yourself. Challenges Of Running A Ghost Kitchen A ghost kitchen reduces a restaurant to a commodity — a restaurant is both food + experience. This is good news for customers who want the best possible meal at an affordable price, but it's bad news for restaurants that need to experiment with their menus and make sure that everything from customer service to menu items meets customers' expectations. Because this type of business targets price-conscious customers, there's not much room for experimentation with menu items or new concepts. That means you'll have to keep your eye on your profit margins, which can be tricky when you're running multiple brands offering the same food. Ghost kitchens are typically low-margin and high-volume businesses, which means that you need to be able to turn over your product quickly. To do this, you will need to have a strong focus on the quality of your food and ingredients, as well as on customer service. You should also be prepared for the fact that there is no guarantee that customers will return, so you will have to make sure that they have a great experience every time they buy from you. The gray area of running multiple brands offering the same food is another challenge that comes with running a ghost kitchen business. If you are selling both branded and unbranded foods, customers may get confused or even think that they are buying from different brands when they are actually buying from the same brand. This can confuse customers and affect sales over time. As such, when you launch your first restaurant on a ghost kitchen, consider it your MVP - then, once it is successfully set up, rinse and repeat with more brands and cuisines. The biggest challenge of running a ghost kitchen business is the lack of visibility — most customers don't know you exist. That's why it's important to have a strong presence online and in the physical world. This is where an effective social selling strategy would prove useful. You may focus on topics related to restaurant marketing, or showcase visual assets related to your ghost kitchen to secure Tips To Launch A Successful Ghost Kitchen Business Build a solid business plan that can scale fast — helps secure funding. Your first step should be to build a solid business plan. This will help you secure funding so that you can get started on building your team and marketing campaigns. [Source] The goal is to have a plan in place before investing in any equipment or buying ingredients. If you're just getting started out of college, this is especially important because it can take years for the right opportunities to present themselves. You don't want to spend all of your savings on an idea before it even gets off the ground! Prepare a menu that can scale (that is, uses similar ingredients and base preparation methods). A good ghost kitchen should be able to expand into new markets as demand increases. This means that they need a menu that can be made quickly and easily enough so that they don't have trouble meeting demand at peak times when their clients are hungry! From a ghost kitchen business perspective, it is important to invest in top-quality food that will garner high ratings. This ensures that your top recommendations on apps like DoorDash or Zomato are always visible and accessible. Investing in quality food also ensures that you can keep your clients coming back for more. Prepare solid training videos and brochures that can help hire and train new recruits quickly. Restaurants and cloud kitchens are high-churn businesses. Doing this will ensure that you have more time to concentrate on other aspects such as marketing, customer support, and technology integration with the app platforms. Invest in social media marketing to both promote as well as capture feedback from customers who have tried your service out for themselves! Since ghost kitchens are high-churn businesses, there is no better way of getting feedback than through social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter. You can then repurpose this feedback as standalone social media content. You can use social media channels to post photos of your food-grade products, as well as ask for feedback on the dishes you serve them each time they visit your restaurant/kitchen facility. Final Word The ghost kitchen business is a great way to go into the restaurant industry while avoiding many of the challenges that eating establishments are faced with. It is also a great way to get your feet wet in the industry so that you can learn more about the types of challenges that restaurants face and how to run a restaurant effectively. Running a ghost kitchen requires more than just having a location and a good cooking menu. It also requires the right people, equipment, and money to keep the business going. If you think you have what it takes to run a ghost kitchen, you should go for it. Remember to hire the best people, mind your finances and choose the right recipe to make sure your new business is successful......»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkSep 23rd, 2022

How to connect Last.fm to Apple Music on your desktop, iPhone, or iPad to track all your music habits

You can connect Last.fm to Apple Music using the official desktop app for Mac and PC, or a third-party app like Soor on your iPhone. There are a few ways to link Last.fm and Apple Music.DVKi/Shutterstock You can connect Last.fm to Apple Music using the official desktop app, or a third-party app. The official Last.fm desktop app lets you scrobble Apple Music on Mac or PC. If you're using an iPhone or iPad, you should download a Last.fm-enabled app like Marvis Pro. Historically, Last.fm and Apple Music have never worked well together. Unlike Spotify, there's no universal way to connect your Last.fm account to Apple Music and track everything you listen to at any time.But things have gotten better over the last few years. Now, you can scrobble your Apple Music tracks to Last.fm from a Mac, PC, or iOS/iPadOS device — you just need to download some apps.Quick tip: There isn't currently a way to scrobble Apple Music on Android.How to connect Last.fm to Apple Music on Mac or PCInstead of directly connecting your Last.fm account with your Apple Music account, you'll need to connect the Last.fm app to your computer. This will make it so anything you play in the Music app (Mac) or iTunes (PC) will automatically scrobble to Last.fm.1. On your Mac or PC, head to the Last.fm website's "Track My Music" page.2. Under the Last.fm Desktop Scrobbler heading, click the red Download Now button.3. Download the Last.fm app and install it, then open it.4. When prompted, connect the app to your Last.fm account. Depending on your system, you might also need to give the app permission to read what music your computer is playing.5. If you're on a PC, click the Last.fm icon in the taskbar at the bottom of your screen, then Settings. In the pop-up that appears, make sure that iTunes has a checkmark next to it.Anything that you listen to in the Music app or iTunes should now automatically scrobble to Last.fm. If you open the Last.fm app while listening, it'll tell you exactly what's playing — the Mac app will even tell you how many times you've listened to that specific artist and song.The macOS app shows how many times you've heard the song, along with some info about the band.Last.fm; Apple; William Antonelli/InsiderImportant: If you listen to Apple Music using the online web player instead of the app, check out the Last.fm Web Scrobbler instead. This is a free extension that works with Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, and Opera, and will track everything you listen to through the Apple Music web player.How to connect Last.fm to Apple Music on iPhone or iPadThere is an official Last.fm app for iOS/iPadOS, but it doesn't work very well with Apple Music. To properly scrobble Apple Music with that app, you need to manually open the app and press a button every so often.Instead, you'll want to use a third-party app like Soor or Marvis Pro. These are alternative music apps that let you view and play your Apple Music library, and will scrobble to Last.fm while you do so.Unfortunately, neither app is free. Soor costs $6.99, while Marvis Pro is $7.99. You'll also need to make sure that you listen to Apple Music through those apps, not the default Music app, if you want to scrobble your music.But both apps automatically scrobble your music instead of making you press an extra button, making them much better for constant Last.fm music tracking.Soor shows you what you've scrobbled recently.Soor; Apple; William Antonelli/InsiderRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytSep 23rd, 2022

These 5 former House candidates might"ve been the next AOC, but entrenched politicians blocked their path

Millennial and Gen Z political candidates eagerly seek a foothold in government, but establishment politicians aren't ready to let go of power. Anna Kim/Insider Insider talked to five former House candidates who lost primaries to more-experienced politicians. The younger candidates said they generally got little to no support from official party leaders. One candidate was told to "wait your turn." Another found consultants unwilling to help. Read more from Insider's "Red, White, and Gray" series. For young political candidates, the road to elective office is often turbulent.When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in 2018 decided to challenge Rep. Joe Crowley in a New York district anchored in the Bronx and Queens, scores of state and local officials lined up behind the longtime Democratic incumbent, who was seen as a likely House speaker-in-waiting.But Ocasio-Cortez wasn't discouraged, convinced that voters in the district were dissatisfied with the way issues like minimum wage and the climate crisis were being addressed.Fueled by grassroots energy from millennials and progressives, the then-28-year-old Ocasio-Cortez defeated Crowley by nearly 14 percentage points.Since then, Ocasio-Cortez has become the face of the younger side of Congress, a cohort that has come to include members such as the 27-year-old GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina — who will exit the House in January after losing his party primary — and Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff of Georgia, who at 35 is the youngest sitting member of the upper chamber.But for many millennial and Generation Z office seekers, simply trying to get local leaders on board with a candidacy can be a frustrating experience with minimal financial or party support.For every candidate like Ocasio-Cortez or Maxwell Alejandro Frost — the 25-year-old Democratic nominee to represent the Central Florida-anchored 10th congressional district and who is poised to be the House's first Gen Z lawmaker — there are dozens of enthusiastic young candidates who are willing to serve but are instead mired in institutional hurdles.Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam competed in this year's Democratic primary for North Carolina's 4th Congressional District.REUTERS/Jonathan Drake'I was told over and over again to wait my turn'Four months in the making, Insider's "Red, White, and Gray" series explores the costs, benefits, and dangers of life in a democracy helmed by those of advanced age, where issues of profound importance to the nation's youth and future — technology, civil rights, energy, the environment — are largely in the hands of those in the twilight of their careers.One former candidate who couldn't break through the establishment is Nida Allam, a 28-year-old Durham County commissioner who ran to represent North Carolina's 4th Congressional District. She was defeated by state Sen. Valerie Foushee, 66, who captured the Democratic nomination over Allam by 9 points, 46% to 37%, in this year's primary. Young leaders-in-waiting often can't help remaining engaged in public policy because they still want to be involved in their communities. But their experiences on the campaign trail reveal some of the obstacles built into the American political system.When Democratic Rep. David Price — who has served in Congress almost continuously since 1987 — announced last year that he was stepping down after the 2022 midterm elections, Allam reflected on the now-82-year-old congressman's legacy and her own future."He's someone that I've looked up to my entire life in the state," she told Insider. "I've been able to build a really great friendship and relationship with him. And I wanted to see this district be represented by a new generation of leadership and someone who could follow in his footsteps but also push our own state party and our leaders to look at issues in a different way."Allam is a progressive who was backed by Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, along with several local elected officials and national groups like the Sanders-aligned Our Revolution and the climate-focused Sunrise Movement. She said she felt that it was important to give voters — and especially younger voters — a reason to cast ballots.But when she first sought a seat on the Durham County Board of Commissioners in 2020, Allam said, she wasn't exactly encouraged to run — a sentiment that extended to her House campaign."When I was running for the congressional seat, but even when I ran for county commission, I was told over and over again to wait my turn," she said. "We constantly hear young people being told that narrative as if these policy decisions aren't going to impact us. You can't just keep saying, 'Oh, we want to excite young voters,' but then you don't actually create an opportunity for them."Allam — the first Muslim woman elected to office in North Carolina — credited Republicans for building a farm team of elected officials that she said Democrats hadn't replicated."Here in North Carolina they recruit folks to run for local office," she said of the state GOP. "They build them up to run for the state legislature and then for statewide and federal offices. And we need to have an infrastructure like that on the Democratic Party side. And that means investing in young people."Living in a congressional district that includes Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where an issue like the climate crisis has strong resonance, Allam said some politicians had skirted around the subject, alienating younger voters."We have folks who are in elective office and climate change is not something that's going to impact them 50, 60 years down the road," she said. "They don't act with the sense of urgency that our generation does."Former House candidate John Isemann faced ex-state lawmaker Tom Kean Jr. in the Republican primary for New Jersey's 7th Congressional District.Caleb Isemann/Isemann Media'Don't tell anyone I answered this call'When John Isemann decided to run for Congress for the first time as a Republican in northern New Jersey's highly competitive 7th Congressional District, he knew he'd be taking on the scion of local GOP royalty: former state Sen. Tom Kean Jr.But Isemann, 28, told Insider he wasn't deterred."I didn't come from money, but I believed I had the skills to build the organization, movement, and brand and was fortunate to have supporters that also believed in that," he said.Kean, the 54-year-old son of the popular 1980s Republican Gov. Tom Kean, served in the state legislature for nearly 21 years. He also ran for Congress in 2000, was the Republican US Senate nominee in 2006, and launched a House bid in 2020. He announced in July 2021 that he would run for Congress against Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski in a rematch of their 2020 contest, which he narrowly lost.Neither Kean Jr. nor Malinowski — who has been the subject of a congressional inquiry and failed to disclose numerous stock trades last year — brought a different kind of politics to the historically Republican district, which stretches from the suburbs of New York City to the Pennsylvania line, Isemann said."The incumbent now is under congressional investigation, for ethics reasons, which is still open," he said. "And then on the other side, you have someone who is a Mayflower, generational politician who's been running for this specific seat since I was 6 years old."When Isemann was mulling over entering the race, he said, one particular incident crystallized the roadblocks that he would face in challenging Kean."As soon as you go out to DC consultants and Jersey consultants and say, 'Hey, I'm going to run against Tom Kean Jr.,' I had people hang up the phone immediately and say, 'Don't tell anybody I answered this call,'" Isemann said. "I had other folks pitch me on, 'Hey, I could set you up for a congressional seat in California or North Carolina — just don't run in that race.'"Kean won the GOP primary in June, securing nearly 46% of the vote, followed by Phil Rizzo, a former pastor, with roughly 24% support. Isemann came in fifth place, receiving about 5% of the vote.Despite his defeat, Isemann said he was grateful to have focused on policy during his campaign, rejecting the sensationalism that he argued has become an all too common part of politics."It's going to take a sacrifice on behalf of Republicans and it's going to take a sacrifice on behalf of like-minded Democrats to get us out of this high pace of polarization that we're in," he said.Unlike Allam, he argued that Democrats had been more effective at cultivating political activism among younger voters."I think the challenging party does a very good job of bringing out youth — the rise of AOC in the blue wave," Isemann said. "But I think we have yet to see a true voice of conservatives and Democrats rise up from the millennial generation or Gen Z."J. Miles Coleman, the associate editor of Sabato's Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, told Insider it's only a matter of time before younger voters "get more into the political bloodstream.""The earliest wave of Gen Z can start running for Congress this cycle, so I'm sure that some of the candidates who lost will have other chances in the future," he said.Ray Reed, who worked on the policy team of then-Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, ran for the Democratic nomination in the suburban St. Louis-anchored Second Congressional District.Channa Steinmetz/Startland News'You got to go through them to get elected'Ray Reed also contends that Gen Z's time "isn't coming — it's here."Reed, who ran in Missouri's 2nd Congressional District, which draws in much of suburban St. Louis, said he didn't feel as though his current representative — GOP Rep. Ann Wagner — was fighting for his community.He also wasn't convinced that state Rep. Trish Gunby was the right choice to represent Democrats in a congressional district the party had been unable to flip over the past decade.So the 25-year-old Democrat — who served on the policy team of former Gov. Jay Nixon and also worked for the Missouri Democratic Party — decided to jump into the race himself."I felt that she would fit the same mold as candidates who had lost time and time again," Reed told Insider, referring to Gunby. "We knew that we'd get a lot of attention because I was 25 years old, and our job was to capitalize off that."But Reed said Gunby's status as a sitting state lawmaker gave her a major boost with voters."I think what ended up really hurting us was that I ran against someone who had already been elected to a state House seat and had a serious iron grip on the stakeholders in the district," he said. "You got to go through them to get elected."Reed continued: "I was running against an older, middle-aged white woman in my race. And here I am — this skinny 25-year-old Black kid talking about forgiving student loans and free healthcare."In the August Democratic primary, Gunby defeated Reed 85% to 15%.Despite the loss, Reed had a positive view of his campaign, which included his advocacy of gun control, reproductive rights, and an extension of the child-tax credit."We still got a lot of folks involved who normally would not have gotten involved, especially young people in the race," he said. "That's why I ran."Reed also spoke highly of Rep. Cori Bush, who was 44 when she defeated the longtime Rep. William Lacy Clay Jr. in a Democratic House primary two years ago. The 2020 contest was Bush's second try at unseating Clay, whose father had previously occupied the seat for decades.Bush, along with Ocasio-Cortez, is part of the Squad, a group of progressive lawmakers pushing for policies like "Medicare for All" and universal childcare."Lacy Clay didn't show up for the community in the way that Congresswoman Bush does," Reed said. "It matters what you do with your influence in Washington."Immigration attorney Jessica Cisneros ran against Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar in 2020 and 2022.AP Photo/Eric Gay'People were just waiting for someone to step up'In 2020, an immigration attorney named Jessica Cisneros ran in a primary against Rep. Henry Cuellar, an anti-abortion Democrat, in the South Texas-based 28th Congressional District.Cisneros — a first-time candidate who in 2014 interned in Cuellar's Washington, DC, office — came up short in the intraparty contest, earning 48% of the vote to the congressman's 52%."Nobody had really been running against Cuellar and mounting a serious challenge for a very long time, really since he was elected," Cisneros told Insider. "And then, here comes a 26-year-old candidate, born and raised in the district and ready to put up a fight."While Cuellar had the support of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Cisneros did earn the backing of other Democrats, including Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders, Warren, and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro."It was a big leap of faith," Cisneros, now 29, said of her first campaign. "It felt incredibly validating to know that I wasn't alone. People were just waiting for someone to step up."Cisneros, who ran on enacting the Green New Deal and establishing a $15 federal minimum wage, was also critical of the 67-year-old Cuellar over his abortion stance. (Weeks after the May contest, the Supreme Court voted to overturn Roe v. Wade.)  When Cisneros ran against Cuellar for the second time, she held the congressman below 50% of the vote in the initial primary before narrowly losing the runoff election (49.7% to 50.3%).Cisneros said the results reflected a "really tough fight" but also presented an opportunity for the party to engage with newly eligible voters."We talk about the Democratic Party being a big-tent party," she said. "Like this is our chance, right? To show that is true, one thing that I really want to stress to people is not to alienate all of these voters but instead bring them into this conversation about what our priorities as the Democratic Party need to be."Attorney and professor Suraj Patel ran against veteran Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerry Nadler in the Democratic primary for New York's 12th Congressional District.AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson'Only one campaign in this race was talking about the future'Suraj Patel, a 38-year-old attorney and professor, ran for the Democratic nomination in a Manhattan-based congressional district in 2018, 2020, and 2022.When he announced his first campaign, he said, local and state Democrats "completely shunned" his campaign."You get phone calls not returned," Patel told Insider. "You get no sort of support in any manner."His campaign this year focused on housing, immigration, and the economy, among other issues.In all of his races, Patel faced Rep. Carolyn Maloney, winning 41% in his first campaign and 39% on his second try, when he came within 4 points of victory. In his third primary race, last month, he also faced Rep. Jerry Nadler, who ran in the new 12th District as a result of court-ordered redistricting. Patel earned 19% of the vote.Nadler, 75, ousted Maloney, 76, from office. The two lawmakers combined have nearly 60 years of experience on Capitol Hill.But where does that leave candidates like Patel who feel as if their major issues aren't being addressed?"Only one campaign in this race was talking about the future," Patel said of his efforts. "At the end of this race, two campaigns were talking about the bills from 1992 or 1994 or contributing to a problem in New York City that's a livability crisis, an inflation crisis, and a rent crisis, all of which stem from a 1990s worldview about development in this city.""If we don't have a new set of leaders with new perspectives on these things," he added, "we are not going to be able to govern this country much longer."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytSep 23rd, 2022

Latino Vote To Determine Outcome In Dozens Of 2022 Midterm Races

Latino Vote To Determine Outcome In Dozens Of 2022 Midterm Races Authored by John Haughey via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), How 32 million eligible Latinos will vote in dozens of pivotal House, Senate, and gubernatorial elections across the country in November will be vital in determining which party controls Congress after this year’s midterm elections. U.S. Rep. Mayra Flores (R-Texas) is applauded after being sworn into Congress in Washington on June 21, 2022, after winning a special election in the state’s Congressional District 34, a traditionally Democratic district where she is running as an underdog in November as one of more than 100 Latino candidates running for the U.S. House and U.S. Senate. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images) Latinos make up the second-largest voting bloc in the United States, constituting 18.7 percent of the nation’s total population. That’s no secret, of course, with candidates of all persuasions aggressively soliciting the Latino vote with Spanish-language political ads in tight races in Texas, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Oregon, and Florida. The Republican National Committee (RNC) on Sept. 8 announced it had hosted this year more than 5,000 separate events appealing for minority votes at 38 voter outreach centers in 19 states, including dozens labeled “Hispanic community centers.” The campaign is meant to sustain the momentum Republicans gained among Latino voters during the Trump presidency. Meanwhile, Democratic heavyweights are directly appealing to Latino voters to seal erosion in what had been a solid, reliable bank of support. Critics within and without the party say Democrats may have taken the Hispanic vote for granted and are only now belatedly focusing on it. President Joe Biden addressed the 45th Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Gala on Sept. 15. He used the occasion to tout how the American Rescue Plan benefits Latinos by providing access to vaccines, better health care, and keeping schools open. On Sept. 25, former President Barak Obama, a Democrat, will address the 5th annual L’ATTITUDE Conference, the nation’s “premier Latino business event,” in San Diego, Calif. Both parties are trying to tailor their candidates’ campaigns to appeal to Latino votes with tactics and strategies based on data and polls collected and analyzed since June by research firms, media groups, and campaigns. Regardless of how the data is interpreted, there is ample opportunity for candidates of both parties to gain favor with a Latino “voting bloc” that is hardly monolithic but—despite distinct ethnic and regional variations—appears predominately commonly concerned with jobs, cost-of-living, and the economy. In 2020, when Latinos cast one-10th of ballots in the presidential election, Biden received an estimated 61 percent of that vote, down from over 70 percent Barak Obama received in his two elections. Latino voters nationwide identified jobs, the economy, health care, schools, and public safety as top priorities in a survey of Latino voters conducted in July by UnidosUS, the nation’s largest Hispanic advocacy group. A Siena College poll of Hispanic voters published Sept. 16 reaffirmed the findings. Both surveys indicate that Latinos are amenable to Republican messaging on jobs and the economy, but a significant majority want progress on gun control and immigration policies. An overwhelming number favor legal access to abortion. The emergence of abortion access as an issue among Latino voters may spell trouble for some Republican hopefuls. For the first time since it conducted Latino voter surveys this century, UnidosUS reported access to abortion was cited by Latino voters as a top five issue, with more than 70 percent of respondents saying it should remain legal. This emerging trend in the wake of June’s U.S. Supreme Court repeal of Roe v Wade could stem the eroding Latino support for their party, Democrats say. That claim may have some validation in the Siena College survey of 522 Hispanic voters conducted Sept. 6-14 within a broader poll of 1,399 registered voters nationwide. That survey found Latinos are more likely to agree with Democrats on more issues than Republicans but will support GOP candidates strong on crime and policing. Worryingly for Democratic candidates, 40 percent of Latino respondents in the Siena poll expressed reservations about the Democratic Party’s progressive wing’s focus on race and gender. Most Latino survey respondents ultimately said their vote would come down to which candidates best address their economic concerns. According to the Sienna poll, Latino voters are evenly split on which party they think can best deliver jobs and lower the cost of living. Overall, 56 percent of the Sienna poll respondents said they would vote blue, and 32 percent said they would vote red in November. While that may sound like good news for Democrats, it may not be enough good news for the party to thwart the forecast that Republicans will retake the House and Senate. According to the Siena survey, young Latino voters, especially men in Texas and Florida, are increasingly registering as Republicans.  That trend is confirmed in a Sept. 2-11 nationwide survey of 400 registered Latino voters published Sept. 14 by BSP Research. All the data, polls, and analyses add to uncertainty for Nov. 8 candidates in dozens of U.S. House races where Latinos constitute 20 percent or more of the constituency. The “Latino vote” is also expected to be a key determinant in several close gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races, such as Arizona and Nevada, where Spanish speakers comprise 25 percent of eligible voters. Latinos are projected to sway outcomes even in districts or states without a large presence in overall voter numbers. In Pennsylvania, Latinos account for less than 10 percent of total voters but have proven to be key in determining winners and losers in close races. Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas, Texas, on Aug. 6, 2022. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images) Arizona Latinos constitute one-third of Arizona’s residents and one-quarter of the state’s registered voters, according to a July analysis by UCLA’s Latino Policy & Politics Institute. By some estimates, Latinos will comprise half the state’s population by 2050. Approximately 840,000 Latinos voted in the 2020 election in Arizona, which saw a record 3.4 million turnout. Biden edged Trump by 10,457 votes. Approximately 644,600 will cast ballots on Nov. 8, according to one forecast. That would amount to a record Latino turnout for an Arizona midterm election and four times the number who voted in the 2002 primary. According to the Arizona Secretary of State’s office, 45 percent of approximately 1 million Latinos registered to vote in the state are enrolled Democrats, 15 percent are registered as Republicans, and nearly 40 percent are not affiliated with a party, reflecting a national trend among all voters in registering as independents or “NAs,” meaning “Non-Affiliated” with a party. How Latinos within that unaffiliated contingent will vote could determine if incumbent Democrat Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) defeats Trump-endorsed Republican challenger Blake Masters as he is favored to do, and if Trump-endorsed Republican Kari Lake beats Democrat Kati Hobbes, Arizona’s current secretary of state in the “tossup” gubernatorial race. Lake has made border security an integral component of her campaign, posting on Twitter after her primary win that on “Day 1, I take my hand off the Bible, give the Oath of Office and we Declare an Invasion on our Southern Border.” But Arizona Latinos, while identifying immigration policy as a concern and opposed to “open borders,” do not rate “border security” as a high priority, making it uncertain how the state’s Latino voters will receive Lake’s campaign. In one survey, Arizona Latinos said they favor keeping abortion legal by 30 percentage points, which hasn’t caused Lake to change her campaign messaging but has prompted Masters to remove his anti-abortion stance from his campaign website.  Pennsylvania Democratic Senate candidate Lt. Gov. John Fetterman celebrates with supporters after a rally in Erie, Pa., on Aug. 12, 2022, while campaigning against Republican hopeful Mehmet Öz in a “tossup” race that could be determined by Latino voters. (Nate Smallwood/Getty Images) Pennsylvania Latinos constitute only 7.6 percent of the Keystone State’s residents and 5.3 percent of its registered voters, according to an analysis by Pew Research. But they are regarded as one of the difference-making constituencies in several congressional district races. While cities such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh include long-established Latino neighborhoods that traditionally vote Democratic, demographic shifts indicate pockets of GOP-registered Latino voters in cities such as Reading and Allentown. Therefore, Pennsylvania Latino voters are targeted as potential lynchpins in the battleground race for governor between Trump-endorsed Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Gettysburg) and Democrat Josh Shapiro. The same is true for the U.S. Senate race between Trump-endorsed TV celebrity Dr. Mehmet Öz and Democrat Lt. Gov. John Fetterman. Latinos made up 4 percent of the total turnout in Pennsylvania’s 2020 election, up from 3 percent in the 2018 midterms, according to Pew Research. Latino voters backed Biden by at least a 3-1 margin in Pennsylvania in 2020, according to UCLA. That proved pivotal in his narrowly winning the battleground state. “Latinos in Pennsylvania will play a decisive role in the 2022 election cycle,” Mi Familia Vota National Programs Manager Irving Zavaleta said during an Aug. 25 media call. According to NALEO’s National Latino Voter Tracking Poll, Pennsylvania Latino respondents generally favored Democrats over Republicans by a 32 percentage-point margin; 21 percent said they were undecided. Seventy-three percent of respondents said abortion should remain legal, with 41 percent saying it was a “deal-breaker” for them; 83 percent said it was important for Pennsylvania’s elected officials to speak out against white nationalism and white supremacy. Only 61 percent of NALEO survey respondents in Pennsylvania were sure they’d vote in November. Zavaleta’s said that relatively low percentage. He added that the large percentage of undecideds among those who say they will vote indicates there has been little outreach to Latino voters in the state by candidates.  Colorado Republican U.S Senate candidate Joe O’Dea speaks during a primary election night watch party on June 28, 2022, in Denver, after securing the GOP nod to challenge Democratic incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) in a state where 21 percent of voters identify as Latino. (David Zalubowski/AP Photo) Colorado According to Univision’s Hispanic Vote, Latinos constitute 21 percent of Colorado’s residents and cast 11 percent of the state’s vote in 2020. NALEO projects that 8.9 percent more Latinos will vote in this year’s midterm election compared to 2018. According to a May study from Emerson College’s nationwide initiative on Latinos, non-registered Colorado Latino voters were split over whether their vote would make a difference, with 41 percent believing their votes don’t matter, 40 percent saying they could be swayed to vote  “if …more informed”, and but 39 percent saying they have no intention of voting. Libre Initiative Action, an Hispanic outreach group backed by Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity, maintains that concerns over inflation and the cost of living among Latinos are giving Republicans an opportunity to win the U.S. Senate race between GOP challenger and underdog Joe O’Dea and incumbent Democrat Sen. Michael Bennett (D-Colo.) Both are running Spanish-language campaign ads. One of seven new U.S. House districts created nationwide following post-2020 Census redistricting, Colorado’s Congressional District 8 (CD 8) has the largest concentration of Hispanic residents, at 38 percent, of any Colorado congressional district. CD 8’s inaugural election in November pits state Rep. Yadira Caraveo (D-Thornton), a pediatrician who ran unopposed in the Democratic primary, against Republican state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer (R-Fort Lupton). The RNC earlier this year opened a “Hispanic Community Center” in Thornton to appeal to CD 8 voters. At the same time, Libre Initiative Action has been very active on behalf of Kirkmeyer’s platform, claiming it has knocked on more than 4,000 doors in the district since August. Read more here... Tyler Durden Thu, 09/22/2022 - 19:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 22nd, 2022

Republican senators vote to block a bill requiring dark-money groups to disclose their donors: "I don"t want to see them doxxed"

The bill's sponsor said Republicans, who've blocked the bill over 10 times, are "as dependent on dark money as a deep-sea diver is on his air hose." Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell outside the Senate chamber on September 14, 2022.Stefani Reynolds / AFP via Getty Images Democrats teed up a procedural vote Thursday on a bill to disclose dark-money groups' donors. Republicans blocked the bill, hindering Democratic efforts to increase transparency in elections. GOP senators told Insider that revealing those donors would make them vulnerable to harassment. Republican senators on Thursday voted to block a bill that would have required so-called dark money groups to disclose their donors, hindering Democrats' efforts to increase transparency in elections.  The Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections (DISCLOSE) Act targets political nonprofit groups and super PACs, requiring them to reveal donors who have contributed more than $10,000 during an election cycle. The measure also applies to groups that spend money on ads supporting or opposing judicial nominees.The bill failed to advance as 49 Republicans voted against it. Republican Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho did not vote.Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer first introduced the bill in 2010 and Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island has re-introduced it in every Congress since, after the landmark 2010 Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court decision allowed outside groups to spend unlimited sums of money on elections.Nonprofits are not legally obligated to disclose their donors. Super PACs, on the other hand, are subject to federal campaign finance disclosure laws, but their funding often comes from dark money groups. Whitehouse told Insider on Wednesday that he believes the GOP's widespread opposition is a demonstration of the party's dependency on dark money."Unfortunately, the Republican party has become as dependent on dark money as a deep-sea diver is on his air hose," said Whitehouse. "And so even though my colleagues know that the public hates this stuff, they try to respond to that hatred with their own efforts to paint us as a dark-money party. They have no choice but to vote against the DISCLOSE Act and protect their dark-money donors."Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island at a hearing on Capitol Hill on April 4, 2022.Anna Moneymaker/Getty ImagesA long-running battleThis is not the first time Republicans have successfully blocked the bill from reaching the necessary 60 votes to open debate on legislation: it's happened at least 10 times in the past 12 years, including with two standalone votes in 2010, two in 2012, and as an amendment to the budget in 2015.More recently, a version of the legislation was included in the Democratic-led For the People Act, a sweeping elections and campaign finance bill that Republicans blocked last year. A particularly strong opponent of the bill is Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who once compared efforts to disclose dark money groups' donors to the "creation of a modern day Nixonian enemies list." He reiterated his opposition on Wednesday morning, saying the bill would "erode the First Amendment."Insider spoke with a handful of Republican senators at the Capitol about their opposition to the bill ahead of the vote.Both Republican Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas invoked the 1958 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People v. Alabama Supreme Court decision, which blocked the state of Alabama — then largely led by segregationist Democrats — from forcing the NAACP's local affiliate to disclose its membership lists, arguing that members had the right to "pursue their lawful private interests privately.""Racist Democrats wanted to go after the NAACP and persecute their supporters," Cruz said. "Democrats have wanted to do this for a long time.""That's the lens through which I think about this and analyze this," Hawley said, arguing that broad donor disclosure would somehow be "weaponized" by Democrats. "I don't want to see them doxxed, and hassled, and harried, and harmed, and that's what this bill is about."Whitehouse scoffed at the argument, which Republicans and conservatives have made repeatedly over the years."If you can't tell the difference between a regular member of the NAACP in the Jim Crow South, with organized violence constant," Whitehouse said, "and a secretive billionaire donor manipulating American democracy through a phony front group, it's gonna be very hard to explain any reality to you." "There clearly is just a massive, massive difference," he added. Republican Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas at a hearing on Capitol Hill on April 4, 2022.Win McNamee/Getty ImagesA bipartisan problemSince the Citizens United ruling 12 years ago, dark money spending has exploded in elections. Nonprofits have poured around $2 billion into elections, most of which can be linked to dark money groups, OpenSecrets found. The 2020 election cycle alone saw $1 billion in dark money spending, with most of those contributions benefitting Democrats, though dark money has long aided Republicans.Cruz and Hawley also mentioned that Democrats benefit from dark money spending just like Republicans, which President Joe Biden noted when he promoted the bill in a speech on Tuesday."I believe sunlight is the best disinfectant. And I acknowledge it's an issue for both parties," Biden said. "But here's the key difference: Democrats in the Congress support more openness and accountability."Whitehouse has called out dark money spending both on the left and right, though he's has long held that conservatives have managed to use dark money to effectively push forward their interests, particularly at the judicial level with the nomination of conservative justices to the Supreme Court. His bill would have required groups that spend money supporting or opposing judicial nominees to disclose their donors. Additionally, Whitehouse's bill applies regardless of political affiliations, and sets the threshold for disclosure at $10,000, ensuring that only the more wealthy and powerful political donors would have faced public scrutiny.And donors are already required to disclose their identities when they give to candidates' campaigns or other political action committees regulated by the Federal Election Commission.When pressed on whether there's any threshold at which it's in the public interest to know who's contributing to political causes, Cruz deflected."So at what threshold should George Soros' contributions be public?" the senator said, referring to the Democratic megadonor and billionaire. Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama outside the Senate chamber on August 1, 2022.Anna Moneymaker/Getty ImagesAmong the senators voting to block the bill was Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, who was not aware of its content when Insider asked him about it on Tuesday but spoke favorably of the idea when it was explained to him."I'm not against people being identified, I'll tell you that," he said. "There's so much money put into this, in this business."Though he noted that he had yet to read the bill."I'm saying that, but I gotta look at the text to see all the details," Tuberville added.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 22nd, 2022

How more than $424 million in taxpayer money is locked away in a forgotten government fund — and lawmakers won"t spend it or return it

Republicans, Democrats, charities, and special-interest groups all have different designs for a languishing — and massive — pot of money. A pool of more than $424.4 million contributed by taxpayers is waiting for Congress to decide how best to use it. In the meantime, no one is using it — and they haven't for years.Bill Oxford/Getty Images The money is supposed to publicly fund presidential campaigns. But it doesn't. Republicans and Democrats in Congress can't agree on what to do with the ever-growing pot. Charities told Insider the money could do great good for suffering Americans. See more stories on Insider's business page. Holed away in a government account is a massive cash stash most anyone — from depleted federal programs to American taxpayers — would love to tap.But it sits idle and untouched.The intended beneficiaries of the taxpayer-fueled Presidential Election Campaign Fund — presidential candidates — don't want it, as they're soured by its restrictions on their election fundraising and spending.Other prospective recipients, meanwhile, can't have it.Congress is what's preventing this. Conservatives would prefer to disband the fund and repurpose its money. Many Democrats want the money to seed a reimagined public campaign-finance program contained within a broader "democracy-reform" agenda that's hamstrung on Capitol Hill. Neither side will budge.Meanwhile, the Presidential Election Campaign Fund's pot had topped more than $424.4 million, as of August 31 — a record amount during the fund's nearly 50-year history, according to US Treasury records reviewed by Insider. A US Treasury document detailing the finances of the Presidential Election Campaign Fund.US TreasuryThe fund grew by more than $600,000 from August 1 to August 31, according to US Treasury records.If current trends continue, the fund will continue to grow each month by six- or seven-figures thanks to the financial heft generated by American taxpayers who check that little box on their annual tax return that directs $3 to the fund.'Help people and communities recover'In a congressional session when lawmakers are measuring economic relief, infrastructure, and "inflation reduction" bills in the billions or trillions of dollars, a few hundred million deserted federal greenbacks may seem comparatively paltry.But some charitable organizations that serve people often possess next to nothing. Several nonprofit leaders told Insider that Congress could use the Presidential Election Campaign Fund money to immediately ease suffering, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic."The best possible use of $400 million would be to provide funds for charities to help people and communities recover," Steve Taylor, United Way Worldwide's senior vice president and counsel for public policy, said, citing a looming eviction crisis, a burdened childcare system, education challenges, and mental-health needs among urgent pandemic-era problems. "Charities are leading the way in addressing these problems, and $400 million in new funding would be a game changer."While the federal government has directed significant funding toward its COVID-19 response, the pandemic is far from over, and people around the world will endure its aftereffects for a long while, said Judy Monroe, the president and CEO of the CDC Foundation, an independent nonprofit that supports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's health-protection work."Additional federal funds that are not actively being utilized could, as deemed appropriate by Congress, be repurposed and brought to bear to address critical needs from COVID-19 to health inequities to strengthening the nation's public-health system to be prepared for the next, inevitable outbreak," Monroe told Insider.Erika Cotton Boyce, a Habitat for Humanity spokesperson, declined to speak specifically about the Presidential Election Campaign Fund but broadly said Congress should "find resources to fund critical programs that will address housing supply and housing affordability, especially homeownership programs for low-income families."Congress has various mechanisms for directing public funding to nonprofit entities. A bill introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, hopes to further help charitable nonprofits "provide services to meet the increasing demand in community needs caused by the coronavirus pandemic, preserve and create jobs in the nonprofit sector, reduce unemployment, and promote economic recovery."Sen. Joni Ernst, a Republican of Iowa, wants the money sent to the US Treasury's general fund and used to help reduce the federal budget deficit.Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty ImagesDebt reduction, pediatric care, Alzheimer's researchSome lawmakers and special-interest advocates have other designs on the more than $424 million.During the 2019-20 congressional session, two Republican lawmakers sponsored similar bills that attempted to kill the Presidential Election Campaign Fund.Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma sought to transfer the campaign fund's cash balance to a pediatric-research initiative administered by the National Institutes of Health.Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, meanwhile, wanted the money sent to the US Treasury's general fund and used to help reduce the federal budget deficit.Neither bill received a hearing, let alone a vote.In September, Ernst tried again with a similar bill that so far has garnered little support.That's a shame, said Joshua Sewell, a senior policy analyst at the nonpartisan Taxpayers for Common Sense who deemed the campaign fund "a vestige of a bygone era." He recommended its money be used to help pay down the country's national debt, which stood at more than $30.3 trillion as of April 30, according to the Treasury Department. Bradley Smith, a former Federal Election Commission chairman who now leads the nonprofit Institute for Free Speech, said Congress should repeal the law establishing the fund and direct its money to the Treasury's general fund. In April, the nonprofit Bipartisan Policy Center released a report that recommended reallocating the fund's money to election administration. Doing so, it said, would provide "consistent, additional federal resources to meet a clear and growing need ... this incentivizes state and local governments to invest in their election infrastructure as well."  Cole plans to reintroduce a new bill targeting the presidential fund, he told Insider. And he's open to broadening where the more than $424 million might go."If the money were to be redirected somewhere other than pediatric-disease research, Alzheimer's research would certainly be a worthy cause," Cole said.Resist and reformCongressional Democrats in 2021 made voting, ethics, and campaign-finance reform a chief priority, which is enshrined in bills known as HR 1 and S 1 — colloquially, the "For the People Act of 2021."A historically robust public financing system for federal elections is part of the For the People Act.But Senate Republicans filibustered the For the People Act, effectively killing it. Democrats then floated a similar, but slimmed-down bill called the "Freedom to Vote Act," which does not include strong public financing language.Supporters of publicly funded campaigns say this is no time to give up — or to give away more than $424 million that's already earmarked and available for the public financing of elections.The For the People Act "represents the boldest democracy reform since Watergate, and any funds currently available for the old system should be used for the new system of federal citizen-funded elections, which must pass so we can get big money out of politics," Beth Rotman, the director of money in politics and ethics for Common Cause, said prior to the bill's stall-out."Getting rid of the money at this point would send the wrong signal," said Meredith McGehee, the former executive director of the nonprofit group Issue One, a self-described "crosspartisan movement for political reform."The pro-Democrat organization End Citizens United, which takes its name from the Supreme Court's 2010 decision that unleashed gushers of new political money into elections, also backed keeping the cash in place."The existing presidential system was designed following Watergate for anti-corruption purposes," the group's spokesperson Bawadden Sayed said, "and we would be supportive of potentially using it for future anti-corruption purposes."Former President Barack Obama campaigns for Joe Biden in Atlanta on November 2, 2020.Elijah Nouvelage/AFP via Getty ImagesThanks, Obama?Public presidential-campaign funding wasn't always so derelict.From the late 1970s to the late 1990s, the Presidential Election Campaign Fund enjoyed a heyday, distributing eight or nine figures of public money to candidates each election cycle.Supporters lauded the program as an elixir to big-money politics and a defense against corruption. Candidates from both parties routinely opted to use it. Doing so allowed them to spend less time fundraising and more time campaigning.And since both sides participated, neither side engaged in the kind of political money arms races emblematic of contemporary presidential elections.But the détente wouldn't last. Citing financial advantages, George W. Bush rejected public matching funds during the 2000 Republican presidential primary. Both Bush and eventual Democratic nominee John Kerry declined public funding in their 2004 presidential primaries. Come 2008, Democrat Barack Obama rendered the Presidential Election Campaign Fund functionally obsolete by becoming the first major-party presidential candidate in post-Watergate politics to reject public funding during a general presidential election. Obama even broke a campaign promise to do so — he previously said he'd use public funding. The future president knew he could privately raise and spend hundreds of millions of dollars more than the public program would afford him. Republican presidential nominee John McCain accepted public money — and lost.No Democratic or Republican presidential nominee has since used public funding. Only a smattering of minor-party and longshot Democratic-primary candidates have patronized the Presidential Election Campaign Fund, who drew about $3 million combined since the 2012 race.The fund didn't distribute a single dollar to any presidential candidate during the 2020 presidential election.It last provided funding to presidential nominating conventions in 2012, as Congress two years later passed, and Obama signed, a law that axed public funding of conventions.Congress siphoned tens of millions of dollars from the presidential fund that otherwise would have gone to party conventions to a pediatric-research fund — the same one that Cole, the Oklahoma congressman, wants to fill with the account's full balance.Until that or any other repurposing decision comes down, the FEC continues to spend taxpayer resources keeping the Presidential Election Campaign Fund alive.The agency's audit division has administrative, oversight, and enforcement responsibilities over the program, Judith Ingram, an FEC spokesperson, said. The independent, bipartisan FEC, which regulates and enforces the nation's campaign-finance laws, employs about 300 people. Its projected 2022 budget is about $76.5 million, meaning the balance of the Presidential Election Campaign Fund could theoretically fund the agency for a full five years.This article was originally published on July 13, 2021, and has since been updated to include new financial data and legislative developments.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytSep 22nd, 2022

Millennials and Gen Z want to stop a climate catastrophe. But first they have to get elected.

Climate change is often viewed as a partisan issue, but it's also generational. If the US wants to save its future, it needs to let young people lead. mack2happy/Christian Offenberg/Getty Images; Jenny Chang-Rodriguez/Insider The climate crisis affects young people most, but older generations are deciding the planet's future. Not all see the generational divide on climate as an impediment to progress. "I'm not young. I'm not old. I worked my fucking butt off," said Rep. Debbie Dingell, 68. When a group of young climate activists confronted Dianne Feinstein at her San Francisco office in 2019, the six-term Democratic senator cited her deep experience in Washington in refusing their demand that she endorse the Green New Deal."I've been doing this for 30 years. I know what I'm doing," Feinstein, then 85, told the students. "You come in here and you say, 'It has to be my way or the highway.' I don't respond to that. I've gotten elected, I just ran, I was elected by almost a million-vote plurality, and I know what I'm doing. So, you know, maybe people should listen a little bit." Feinstein added that the Green New Deal, a package of aggressive environmental reforms championed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, would die at the hands of Senate Republicans. "You can take that back to whoever sent you here," the senator told Isha Clarke, a 16-year-old student from Oakland. One student protested that Feinstein should instead listen to her constituents. "You didn't vote for me," Feinstein chided. "It doesn't matter," a 10-year-old named Magdalena shot back. "We're the ones who are going to be impacted."A video of the exchange — recorded the same year Time magazine named the teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg its "person of the year" — went viral. Clarke, now a sophomore at Howard University and cofounder of Youth vs. Apocalypse, told Insider the protest got a "huge reaction" from the public.  "We are literally facing the end of humanity and politicians are like, 'Sorry, no can do' in the face of people who it's going to impact," Clarke said. The nonbinding Green New Deal resolution, meanwhile, went nowhere — just as Feinstein predicted. The episode illustrates the tension between the nation's youngest Americans, who are demanding political action on a huge scale to fight the planet's climate crisis, and aging government leaders who don't share their sense of urgency. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, told young climate activists in 2019, "You didn't vote for me."Anna Moneymaker/Getty ImagesAfter decades of failure, Democrats finally managed to do something to address the biggest challenge facing the planet. In August, President Joe Biden signed into law a bill that contained significant environmental provisions, including incentivizing clean energy and reducing carbon emissions with more than $300 billion in direct investments and tax credits.But the bill — dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act — proved to be a compromise package that failed to even acknowledge the climate crisis in its name. Some environmentalists derided it as a half measure at best, counterproductive at worst. And the law is insufficient to reach the Biden administration's goal of net-zero carbon emissions by the middle of this century in order to curb the worst effects of climate change, including rising temperatures, warming oceans, rising sea levels, and more intense storms and droughts. With Democrats bracing to lose their razor-thin majority in the House and a challenging 2024 election-season looming, the party will need to energize younger voters and empower a new generation of leaders to build on its partial climate wins — all while many aged leaders simply refuse to yield. 'An unforgiving generation of voters'Climate change is a uniquely generational issue. There's a clear age divide — particularly among Republicans — when it comes to addressing it. Millennials and Gen Zers across the political spectrum are more likely than their parents and grandparents to support climate action. They're better educated on the issues, and they're more open to structural change. They also have much more at stake — older people will likely be dead before planet Earth experiences the most severe impacts.Lawmakers are increasingly aware that younger constituents will hold them accountable on climate. "I hear Republican senators say, 'If we don't clean up our act on climate, we are going to lose the next generation of voters for our party,'" Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat and champion of climate policy, said. "Anybody who has political sense understands that there is an unforgiving generation of voters coming along that is gonna be very pissed that we allowed this to drift for 20 years when we knew better."But today's American political leadership is old and only getting older. About one in four members of Congress are in their 70s or 80s, including octogenarian leaders such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The average member of Congress is more than two decades older than the average American. Biden and his leading 2024 adversary — Donald Trump — are both nearing 80. Young people vote far less frequently than older folks and are often shut out of elected office by a slew of incumbency advantages and veteran lawmakers who refuse to step down.Four months in the making, Insider's "Red, White, and Gray" series explores the costs, benefits, and dangers of life in a democracy helmed by those of advanced age, where issues of profound importance to the nation's youth and future — technology, civil rights, and, yes, energy and the environment — are largely in the hands of those whose primes have passed.Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) rallies hundreds of young climate activists in Lafayette Square to demand that President Joe Biden work to make the Green New Deal into law on June 28, 2021.Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesHistorically, environmental action takes place when young people overwhelmingly demand it and leaders listen.The US passed its bedrock pieces of major environmental legislation back in the early 1970s, under President Richard Nixon, a conservative who privately derided the environmental movement but respected the power of grassroots activism in changing public opinion.Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency, signed the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act, and established the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, among other major environmental achievements. "It's not that Nixon was an environmental guy, it's just the public demanded it and the energy came from younger people," said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University whose forthcoming book digs into the environmental movement of the 1960s. "The climate revolution that's needed — it's there, they're organizing online, but it has to become a tidal wave where it dominates."The generational divide on climate  Age — particularly among conservatives — is a key divider in Americans' views on climate policy.Almost half – 47% – of Republicans and Republican-leaning people between the ages of 18 and 29 think the federal government is doing too little to reduce the effects of climate change, but fewer than one in five Americans aged 65 and older said the same, according to a Pew Research Center poll from May. There's a similarly wide gap on many climate-related issues, from whether energy companies should transition to more renewables to whether stricter environmental laws are worth the cost. Younger Democrats were also more likely to be frustrated by the Biden administration's action on climate than their older counterparts, Pew's polling found before the IRA was passed.  !function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",(function(e){if(void 0!==e.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.querySelectorAll("iframe");for(var a in e.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var r=0;r.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytSep 22nd, 2022

Just 9 House Republicans broke ranks to vote for a bill from Liz Cheney and House Democrats that aims to prevent another January 6. All of them are retiring.

"It's always been this way. So why change it?" Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene told Insider of her vote against a bill to reform the Electoral Count Act. Republican Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois at a January 6 hearing on July 21, 2022.Saul Loeb / AFP via Getty Images The House passed a bill aimed at preventing another January 6. Just 9 Republicans voted for it. The bill amends the Electoral Count Act and clarifies the vote-counting role of the vice president. Senators introduced their own bipartisan bill two months ago, and some say this is just a messaging bill. The House of Representatives passed a bill on Wednesday to reform the Electoral Count Act, with just nine Republicans — all of whom are leaving Congress after this session — joining every Democrat passing the legislation by a 229-203.The "Presidential Election Reform Act," co-sponsored by Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California and Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, aims to prevent another January 6 attack by clarifying the laws that govern Congress's role in counting Electoral College votes."If your aim is to prevent future efforts to steal elections, I would respectfully suggest that conservatives should support this bill," said Cheney in floor remarks ahead of the vote. "If instead your aim is to leave open the door for elections to be stolen in the future, you might decide not to support this or any other bill to address the Electoral Count Act."Most significantly, the bill clarifies that the vice president's role is simply to count votes, and does not include the power to unilaterally reject certain states' electors, as former President Donald Trump argued ahead of the January 6 riot at the Capitol.It also narrows the grounds for objections to a small set of issues, including explicit constitutional requirements for candidates, while requiring those objections to receive the support of at least one third of each chamber to be heard; currently, it takes just one lawmaker in each chamber.The text of the bill was only released this week, and several House Republicans — ranging from moderates like Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina to conservatives like Rep. Chip Roy of Texas — told Insider on Tuesday that they hadn't yet decided whether they would support it. But that afternoon, House Republican leadership began urging their members to vote against the bill, calling it a "political messaging exercise" and likening it to a "federal takeover of elections."Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia told Insider on Tuesday that she would oppose the bill because "Congress did nothing wrong" on January 6."It's always been this way," she said. "So why change it?" On the other hand, retiring Republican Rep. Peter Meijer of Michigan — one of just 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for incitement of an insurrection following January 6 — told Insider on Wednesday that it was "painfully obvious" that the reforms were needed."The ambiguity around the Electoral Count Act was the overwhelming rationale behind objections" on January 6, he said, indicating his support.Despite the bill's passage, it's unclear whether it will ultimately become law. The Senate introduced its own separate bill to reform the Electoral Count Act in July, and it now has ten co-sponsors from each party, a good indication of potential success.On Tuesday, Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah — a member of the group that worked on the reforms in the Senate — condemned Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for the lack of action in the Senate in light of the House voting on its own bill."His delay has now led to a setting where the House is apparently proposing their own bill, which unfortunately will be a party line vote," he told reporters. "I'm afraid that our Democrat friends these days are more interested in messaging than they are in actually legislating. It would be nice to actually get laws passed that will help protect our election system."Here are the 9 House Republicans who voted for the bill:Rep. Liz Cheney of WyomingRep. Adam Kinzinger of IllinoisRep. Peter Meijer of MichiganRep. Tom Rice of South CarolinaRep. Fred Upton of WisconsinRep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of WashingtonRep. John Katko of New YorkRep. Anthony Gonzalez of OhioRep. Chris Jacobs of New YorkRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 21st, 2022

29 romantic gifts to remind your long-distance partner you"re thinking of them

If you're in a long distance relationship, a gift can remind your other half how much you miss them. Here are the best items to show you care. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.EtsyIt's true that long-distance relationships take a lot of effort, and it can be a little more difficult to remind your partner that they're always on your mind when they're not right there beside you. Gestures big or small mean everything, and nothing says you care more than sending over a little something to remind them that they're the only person for you — no matter how far away.We compiled more than 20 long-distance approved gift ideas to spice up virtual date nights or bring a smile to their face. Sneak peek: A throwback to romantic letters, a modern day mixtape, and an adorably comedic tea spoon.Here are the 29 best long-distance relationship giftsA stationary kit for writing old-school love lettersUncommon GoodsA Year Of Connection, available at Uncommon Goods, $30Take a step back from FaceTime and DMs with this mindful stationary kit that brings thoughtfulness back into how we communicate. Send one card to your special someone with romantic envelopes, meaningful prompts, and reflection space.A Scandinavian-inspired conversation gameAmazonThe Hygge Conversation Game, available at Amazon, $20While you may not be able to physically spend lazy Sunday mornings and casual nights together at the moment, this light-hearted game can easily be transferred to FaceTime. This pack perfectly captures the feeling of wellbeing and togetherness that defines the Danish values of hygge, and invites you into 330 cozy conversation starters with your favorite person.A pro-level cocktail kit for virtual date nightsUncommon GoodsThe Specialty Craft Cocktail Kit, available at Uncommon Goods, from $29If your long-distance lover is a cocktail connoisseur, this kit is a must-have for virtual date nights. Featuring all of the ingredients they'll need to mix a one-of-a-kind artisan cocktail — from bespoke pineapple shrub to small batch syrups and garnishes — all they'll need to do is add their spirit of choice. A modern day mixtapeEtsyTheBlankRecordStore 4GB USB Mixtape, available at Etsy, from $21.44 Remember when "I made you a mixtape" was the most romantic thing in the world? This retro-esque USB port will take them back to the good ole days. Even with a more modern-day, practical twist, you can load this bad boy up with all the songs you need to prove your devotion.A set of aesthetically-pleasing touch lampsEtsyFriendship Lamps, available at Etsy, $176Even though you miss them constantly, sometimes a text message here and there doesn't feel like it gets your emotions across. When you touch your lamp, theirs lights up no matter where or how far away they are — a soothing and subtle reminder of your affection that can be placed on their nightstand or desk. A fun set of virtual gamesJackbox GamesThe Jackbox Party Starter, available at Jackbox Games, $19.99 Introduce them to your friends in the most casual (and fun) way possible, albeit remotely, with this set of fun virtual party games. This starter pack contains three updated versions of Jackbox's most beloved games: Tee K.O., Quiplash Trivia, and Murder Party 2. One person needs to own the game to host, the rest of the team joins on their phones.A pair of matching undiesMeUndiesMatching Pairs, available at MeUndies, from $34/month A pair (or two) of fun, PJ-worthy MeUndies makes it so easy to match your bottom half to your better half. Choose from countless colors and designs, including Pride and fandom-inspired wear.A custom anniversary star mapThe Night SkyCustom Star Map, available at The Night Sky, from $50Recapture the moment your hearts skipped a beat with this stunning creation of the night sky, complete with geographically accurate star formations. Every time they see it hanging on their wall, it'll remind them of where it all began. A comedic tea spoonAmazonStir Your Tea and Think of Me Spoon, available at Amazon, $12.99This quirky tea spoon not only induces smiles — it also makes sure that every time they give their morning fix a stir, you'll be on their mind. Sounds like a win-win!A digital picture frame to display your best memories togetherAuraCarver Digital Frame, available at Aura, $179 Photos are the best way to keep the memories alive, but moving them off your phones and onto a countertop is a real gesture. The Carver frame shuffles through countless digital photos as it holds unlimited storage space.A weighted blanket to bring physical comfortGravityGravity Weighted Blanket, available at Amazon and Gravity, from $136.50A weighted blanket can help ease the loneliness of missing that body next to you at night. It's certainly not the same, but that warmth still brings comfort — especially if it was gifted by you. This blanket from Carver is our top pick for an extra-heavy weighted blanket among those we tested.A bracelet that vibrates when your partner is thinking of youUncommon GoodsLong Distance Touch Bracelet Set, available at Uncommon Goods, $138This bracelet set helps show your love from afar: Simply touch your bracelet and the other half on your partner's wrist will light up and vibrate to show you're thinking of them.Fresh flowers delivered to their doorUrbanStemsUrban Stems Flower Delivery, from $55Nothing brightens up a lonely room or says, "Wish I could be there" for special occasions you're missing quite like a gorgeous bouquet of flowers. Urban Stems is the best flower delivery service we've tested with so many different arrangements, perfect for any partner.An instant love letterUncommon GoodsLovebox Spinning Heart Messenger, available at Uncommon Goods, from $100Love letters in the mailbox are great, but this unique gift let's you deliver them instantly. After sending them the physical box, you can send your partner special messages via the app and a large red heart spins on their box to inform them their digital love letter inside is ready to read.A necklace that says they're your perfect fitEtsyJuneSixth Personalized Tiny Puzzle Piece Necklace, available at Etsy, from $24Let your partner know they're your other half with these adorable puzzle necklaces. The way you just fit together just makes sense, even miles apart.A Disney+ subscription for date nightsDisney PlusDisney Plus Gift Subscription, $79.99/yearNetflix — erm, Disney+ — and chill from across the country with a subscription that lets you both access movies from nostalgic Disney classics to Marvel hits. The streaming service contains a variety of old and new content that's available to watch in multiple countries.A gourmet meal from homeGoldbellyRestaurant Meals, available at Goldbelly, prices varyIf they're missing home, chances are it's about more than just you. Surprise them with their favorite restaurant or hometown meal from Goldbelly. A gift card for a trip or experience togetherAirbnbAirbnb Gift Card, from $100Make the next time you two are together a special adventure. Whether it's a destination or virtual experience, an Airbnb gift card never expires and is an easy way to start new memories.A book subscription to pass the timeBook of the MonthBook Subscription, available at Book of the Month, from $49.99Start a book club with your significant other as a fun activity to pass the time. Book of the Month subscription offers quality bonding time at the start and finish of each book. An art piece with a custom Spotify playlistAmazonCustom Spotify Glass Art, available at Amazon, from $12.95This Spotify glass art lets your partner scan a custom song code to pull up a playlist you've created of all the tunes  that remind  you of each other. And the art piece comes on a wooden stand so it doubles as something nice to look at on the nightstand.A romantic candleAmazonHomesick Love Letters Candle, available at Amazon, Nordstrom, and Homesick, $38The heart grows fonder with this candle's romantic scent inspiration. Fill your partner's space with soft notes of lemon, sandalwood, and rose that are just as passionate as love letters.A delicious box of chocolatesBon Bon Bon/InsiderMedium Mystery Mix Bons, available at Bon Bon Bon, $52.50Chocolates are the sweetest just-because gift to brighten their day. This tasty gift set includes a mix of 15 favorite Bons chocolate that are all beautifully wrapped individually.GrafomapGrafomapCustom map, available at Grafomap, from $19Whether it's the special place you two met or got engaged, this custom map poster keeps that memory alive. It doubles as a great interior piece and a cherished memento to store at home.A weekender bag to make travel easierDagne DoverLandon Carryall Bag, available at Dagne Dover, from $125An extra-long weekender is exactly what they need for when they get to come visit you. This Dagne Dover bag prepares for any type of weekend trip as it contains a shoe bag, water bottle holder, and a laptop sleeve on the inside.  Paired mugs to remind them of your love every dayKate SpadeDaisy Place Love You More Mug Set, available at Kate Spade, $40There's no question you two are a pair like these cute mugs. And if words aren't enough, show your partner how much you love them with these matching mugs.A scratch-off poster of bucket list movies to watch togetherUncommon Goods100 Movies Scratch Off Poster, available at Uncommon Goods, $15The next virtual watch party just became easier with this scratch-off movie poster. Explore 100 iconic films to scratch off your movie night bucket list.A jar of pre-written love messagesAmazonLong Distance Messages in a Bottle, available at Amazon, $23.99"I miss you" text messages are too predictable. Instead, send these pre-written love messages tucked away in capsules for your partner to open once a day.Conversation prompts to spice up your phone callsAmazon141 Outrageous Conversation Starters, available at Amazon, $19.99Rather than recapping each other's day, get to know each other more with this couples game. Switch out normal conversations with this card game's ridiculous prompts that guarantee a fun phone call.A neck massager when you can't be there to work out the kinksAmazonShiatsu Neck and Back Massager, available at Amazon, $39.09When they're having a stressful day, this neck and back massager is a soothing companion when your hands are too far for a massage. The heated massage device has eight kneading massage nodes and three speeds level to alleviate muscle soreness and stiffness.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 21st, 2022

A House Republican and Democrat are introducing a bill that would require members of Congress to file financial disclosures electronically

Amid a broader push to ban members of Congress from trading stocks, the "Easy to READ Act" the public can at least read financial disclosures. Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia and Republican Rep. Dusty Johnson of South Dakota.Bill Clark and Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images Some members of Congress file financial disclosures that are basically illegible. And it's legal. Reps. Spanberger and Johnson are introducing a bill that would require electronic submissions. The goal is to increase transparency amid a broader conversation about banning stock trading. A bipartisan duo of House members will introduce a bill on Tuesday to require members of Congress to file financial disclosures electronically, according to a release shared exclusively with Insider.Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia and Republican Rep. Dusty Johnson of South Dakota are introducing the Easy to Read Electronic and Accessible Disclosures (READ) Act, which would allow users to search, sort, and download financial disclosure data filed by House members, Senators, and candidates for both chambers.The simple, two-page bill would also ensure that the resulting user interface is accessible to people with disabilities by mandating compliance with the Rehabilitation Act. As Insider's Dave Levinthal reported in May, members of Congress are currently allowed to submit their yearly financial disclosures — as well as periodic reports on their stock trades — via paper on a pre-printed form. That's led to lots of members submitting disclosures that are essentially impossible to read.Retiring Republican Rep. Fred Upton, for example, often hand-writes his reports.A financial disclosure from Rep. Fred Upton, a Republican from MichiganUS House of RepresentativesMeanwhile, Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna of California files reports that his office claims are legible when filed, only to appear garbled when uploaded electronically."[Khanna] is committed to transparency and looking into options to make it easier to read the scan of his disclosure forms in the future," spokesperson Marie Baldassarre told Insider in May. "The originals he files are always very legible."A stock trade disclosure from Rep. Ro Khanna, a Democrat from CaliforniaUS House of Representatives"Poor penmanship shouldn't be the enemy of transparency," said Spanberger in the release. "By making this change, we can increase transparency and help rebuild a degree of trust in our democracy.""This bill is commonsense," said Johnson in the release. "Congress has a public trust problem, and we should do all we can to ensure our constituents have faith in their elected officials."The bill has been endorsed by outside advocacy groups across the political spectrum, including the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), Public Citizen, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Taxpayers Protection Alliance, National Taxpayers Union, and FreedomWorks."Government is only as effective as it is open and accessible," said Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette, a government affairs manager at POGO. "This means that government records, including financial disclosures filed by elected officials, must be easy to find and easy to understand.""These requirements will help bring critical transparency to the financial situation of members of Congress and more opportunity to spot potential conflicts of interest," added Hedtler-Gaudette.The bill comes amid a broader push to ban members of Congress from trading stocks. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated last week that a bill banning trading could come to the floor this month, though some lawmakers in her own party are skeptical that will happen.Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon told Insider last week that a consensus bill to tackle the issue wouldn't come until after the midterms.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytSep 20th, 2022

Crypto donor dead set on preventing the next global pandemic gave millions to Trump-backed candidates who opposed COVID regulations to court MAGA base

Nascent political donor Ryan Salame only cares about getting pandemic preparedness advocates elected. Three of his picks so far fail that simple test. Republican Rep. Ted Budd of North Carolina; Alabama Republican Senate hopeful Katie Britt; North Carolina Republican House hopeful Bo Hines.Getty Images Crypto financier Ryan Salame has donated millions to Republican candidates. Salame's top issue is pandemic preparedness and staving off the next global outbreak. Three of the candidates Salame supported this year railed against COVID restrictions. A rising crypto donor who's made it his mission to prop up candidates passionate about pandemic preparedness funneled millions towards three Trump-endorsed candidates who campaigned against COVID-19 public health regulations.Ryan Salame, the CEO of cryptocurrency firm FTX Digital Markets and founder of the American Dream Federal Action super PAC, said that he spent $13.4 million in this year's Republican primary races to help ensure that the federal government will be better prepared to combat the next global contagion than it was for COVID-19. "Living through and going through COVID, it became abundantly clear that we're not prepared for pandemics and not prepared for … future viral outbreaks," Salame told the Washington Examiner, adding that "it's one of the best things that we can do for future generations." Salame supported Trump-backed candidates Rep. Ted Budd, who is running for North Carolina's open Senate seat, Katie Britt, who is running to replace her boss, retiring Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, and House hopeful Bo Hines, who is running for the open seat in North Carolina's 13th congressional district. The three Republican candidates have all clashed with COVID restrictions in their attempts to woo the MAGA faithful to their side. Britt, who got the Trump nod after the embattled former president dumped prior endorsee Rep. Mo Brooks for saying the party should move on from trying to overturn the 2020 election, led an effort to "Keep Alabama open" in November 2020, as infections spiked. Budd pushed to rescind statewide pandemic protections in May 2021, demanding that Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper lift any COVID-related rules for schools, hospitals, prisons, child care providers, and public transit because Trump's Operation Warp Speed program had fixed everything. Budd recently opposed having vaccine mandates in place for federal workers. Hines took to Twitter in August 2021 to lobby against vaccine mandates of any kind. "Ban COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates in our workplaces, our children's schools, and throughout #NC13!" he wrote online to his more than 50,000 followers. Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas is one of the 15 Republicans American Dream Federal Action bankrolled in recent months that actually seems to fit the bill Salame has in mind. Boozman promoted a get-the-vaccine drive in March 2021 — "This is important for the health of every resident and the eagerness we all share to return to normal as quickly as possible," he said in a release — and continues to seek accountability for pandemic-related spending. Salame's GOP-backing effort is the ideological ying to the Democrat-supporting yang spearheaded by cryptocurrency billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried.Bankman-Fried's political arm, Protect Our Future, pumped more than $24 million into the coffers of 18 left-leaning, pandemic prevention-minded campaigns — 15 of which will be on the ballot this fall. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytSep 19th, 2022