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United upgrading service to Hawaii from SFO

United Airlines is adding wide-body planes on San Francisco International Airport, or SFO, routes to the four main Hawaiian islands, meaning that many flights will offer lie-flat seating in Polaris business class for summer travel. The move sig.....»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsMay 24th, 2021

Gaotu Techedu Announces Second Quarter of 2021 Unaudited Financial Results and Change to Board Composition

BEIJING, Sept. 22, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Gaotu Techedu Inc. (NYSE:GOTU) ("Gaotu" or the "Company"), a leading online large-class tutoring service provider in China, today announced its unaudited financial results for the second quarter ended June 30, 2021. Second Quarter 2021 Highlights[1] Net revenues was RMB2,232.3 million, a 35.3% year-over-year increase. Net revenues of online K-12 courses increased 51.0% year-over-year to RMB2,091.4 million. Gross billings[2] was RMB2,694.7 million, a 12.2% year-over-year increase. Gross billings of online K-12 courses increased 17.2% year-over-year to RMB2,574.5 million. Paid course enrollments[3] increased 4.1% year-over-year to 1,631 thousand. Paid course enrollments of online K-12 increased 4.5% year-over-year to 1,563 thousand. Net loss was RMB918.8 million, compared with net income of RMB18.6 million in the same period of 2020. Non-GAAP net loss was RMB763.9 million, compared with non-GAAP net income of RMB72.7 million in the same period of 2020. Deferred revenue was RMB1,976.4 million, compared with RMB2,733.7 million as of December 31, 2020. Second Quarter 2021 Key Financial and Operating Data (In thousands of RMB, except for paid course enrollments and percentages) Three Months Ended June 30, 2020 2021 Pct. Change Net revenues 1,650,314 2,232,254 35.3% K-12 courses 1,384,968 2,091,355 51.0% Foreign language, professional, admission and     other services 265,346 140,899 (46.9%) Gross billings 2,400,996 2,694,732 12.2% K-12 courses 2,196,077 2,574,536 17.2% Foreign language, professional, admission and     other services 204,919 120,196 (41.3%) Paid course enrollments (In thousands) 1,567 1,631 4.1% K-12 courses 1,496 1,563 4.5% Foreign language, professional, admission and     other services 71 68 (4.2)% Net income (loss) 18,627 (918,791) NM Non-GAAP net income (loss) 72,712 (763,890) NM   [1] For a reconciliation of non-GAAP numbers, please see the table captioned "Reconciliations of non-GAAP measures to the most comparable GAAP measures" at the end of this press release. Non-GAAP income (loss) from operations, non-GAAP net income (loss) exclude share-based compensation expenses. [2] Gross billings is a non-GAAP financial measure, which is defined as the total amount of cash received for the sale of course offerings in such period, net of the total amount of refunds in such period. See "About Non-GAAP Financial Measures" and "Reconciliations of non-GAAP measures to the most comparable GAAP measures" elsewhere in this press release. [3] Paid course enrollments for a certain period refer to the cumulative number of paid courses enrolled in and paid for by our students, including multiple paid courses enrolled in and paid for by the same student. Paid courses refer to our courses that are charged not less than RMB99.0 per course in fees. Six Months Ended June 30, 2021 Highlights Net revenues was RMB4,172.6 million, a 41.5% year-over-year increase. Net revenues of online K-12 courses increased 56.0% year-over-year to RMB3,907.6 million. Gross billings was RMB3,876.1 million, a 2.7% year-over-year increase. Gross billings of online K-12 courses increased 8.8% year-over-year to RMB3,577.1 million. Paid course enrollments increased 2.4% year-over-year to 2,398 thousand. Paid course enrollments of online K-12 increased 2.4% year-over-year to 2,195 thousand. Net loss was RMB2,344.7 million, compared with net income of RMB166.6 million in the same period of 2020. Non-GAAP net loss was RMB2,093.3 million, compared with non-GAAP net income of RMB263.5 million in the same period of 2020. First Six Months of 2021 Key Financial and Operating Data (In thousands of RMB, except for paid course enrollments and percentages) Six Months Ended June 30, 2020 2021 Pct. Change Net revenues 2,947,894 4,172,597 41.5% K-12 courses 2,505,057 3,907,626 56.0% Foreign language, professional, admission and     other services 442,837 264,971 (40.2)% Gross billings 3,775,395 3,876,074 2.7% K-12 courses 3,286,669 3,577,148 8.8% Foreign language, professional, admission and     other services 488,726 298,926 (38.8)% Paid course enrollments (In thousands) 2,341 2,398 2.4% K-12 courses 2,143 2,195 2.4% Foreign language, professional, admission and     other services 198 203 2.5% Net income (loss) 166,615 (2,344,710) NM Non-GAAP net income (loss) 263,453 (2,093,310) NM Larry Xiangdong Chen, the Company's founder, Chairman and CEO, commented, "In the second quarter of 2021, our revenue has reached a record high to 2.232 billion RMB. In order to support the equality of education, ever since May, we have successively collaborated with multiple non-profit organizations such as the China Charity's Aid Foundation for Children, the China Youth Development Foundation, the China Next Generation Education Foundation, and the Henan Normal University through cash donation or free course offerings, to aid the revitalization of rural area education and achieve the goal of equal access of education for everyone. At the same time, we have recently and rapidly adjusted the organizational structure of the group, to focus on professional education and STEAM education, and further exploring possibilities on digital products and vocational education. We say that 2014 is Gaotu's first attempt as a startup , and 2016 is our second start, then we can also say that 2021 is our third start. We should always keep the goal of education in mind, always firmly believe that education is a noble profession. It's undeniable that we have boundless faith in the bright future of the Chinese education industry." "Additionally, we are pleased to welcome Ms. Jin Cui to join our Board as the AC Chairwoman. We look forward to drawing upon Ms. Cui's extensive experience as our business continues to grow. We thank Mr. Xin Fan for his dedication for his tenure as Board Director for the past two years. Despite of the change in board, our business strategy remains unchanged." Shannon Shen, CFO of the Company, added, "In the second quarter, we have upgraded our organizational structure. We will continue to develop in the area of professional education, STEAM education, vocational education and product digitalization. In exploring professional education, the public office exam sector has maintained its relatively high level; paid users in the financial certificate sector have increased 4 times year over year. Professional education is rapidly changing and upgrading. In the future, we will focus on those areas that are strongly supported by the government, creating a multi-facet, interactive platform that encompassing all educational categories for life-long learning." Financial Results for the Second Quarter of 2021 Net Revenues Net revenues reached RMB2,232.3 million, a 35.3% increase from RMB1,650.3 million in the second quarter of 2020. The increase was mainly driven by the growth in paid course enrollments for K-12 courses during the period from the fourth quarter of 2020 to the second quarter of 2021, which was contributed by both first-time paid course enrollments and retention of existing students. The net revenues in the second quarter of 2021 was partially attributable to the paid course enrollments of the fourth quarter of 2020. Cost of Revenues Cost of revenues rose by 100.8% to RMB724.3 million from RMB360.7 million in the second quarter of 2020, mainly due to the increased recruitment of instructors and tutors, the increase in compensation for attracting and retaining high quality teaching staff, as well as the increase in learning material cost and rental expenses. Gross Profit and Gross Margin Gross profit increased 16.9% to RMB1,508.0 million from RMB1,289.7 million in the second quarter of 2020. Gross profit margin decreased to 67.6% from 78.1% in the same period of 2020. The decrease was primarily due to the increase in compensation for instructors and tutors, simultaneously resulting from the increased number of them and more competitive salaries provided, to attract excellent talents to improve teaching quality and students' learning experience. Non-GAAP gross profit increased by 18.2% to RMB1,543.5 million from RMB1,305.4 million in the same period of 2020. Non-GAAP gross profit margin decreased to 69.1% from 79.1% in the same period of 2020. Operating Expenses Operating expenses were RMB2,362.7 million, which increased from RMB1,450.4 million in the second quarter of 2020. Selling expenses increased to RMB1,641.1 million from RMB1,204.8 million in the second quarter of 2020. The increase was primarily a result of higher marketing expenses to expand user base and enhance our brands, and an increase in compensation to sales and marketing staff. Research and development expenses increased by 204.9% to RMB426.5 million, from RMB139.9 million in the second quarter of 2020. The increase was primarily due to an increase in the number of education content development professionals and technology development personnel, as well as an increase in compensation for such staff. General and administrative expenses increased to RMB242.0 million from RMB105.7 million in the second quarter of 2020. The increase in general and administrative expenses was mainly due to an increase in the number of general and administrative personnel, an increase in compensation paid to such staff. Impairment loss on intangible assets and goodwill was RMB53.1 million for the second quarter of 2021, compared to nil for the same period of 2020. The impairment loss was mainly due to the decline of fair value related to the intangible assets and goodwill in connection with the acquisition of Tianjin Puxin Online School Education Technology Co., Ltd. that was completed in December 2020. Considering recent regulatory policies concerning after-school tutoring services, the acquisition will not likely to achieve the target goals the management had estimated at the time of acquisition. Loss from Operations Loss from operations was RMB854.7 million, compared with the loss from operations of RMB160.8 million in the second quarter of 2020. The decrease was primarily due to higher spending in sales and marketing activities to extend volume growth and strengthen brand perception and an increase in the number of personnel, as well as an increase in compensation for our staff. Non-GAAP loss from operations was RMB699.8 million, compared with non-GAAP loss from operations of RMB106.7 million in the second quarter of 2020. Interest Income and Realized Gains from Investment Interest income and realized gains from investments, on aggregate, was RMB23.5 million, compared with RMB24.2 million in the second quarter of 2020. Interest income and realized gains from investments was primarily the interest income of cash, cash equivalents and short-term wealth management investments, as well as the realization of gains generated from short-term and long-term wealth management investments. Other Income (Expense) Other expense was RMB36.5 million, compared with other income of RMB87.7 million in the second quarter of 2020. Other expense in the second quarter of 2021 primarily consisted of related cost of the value-added tax exemption offered by the government during the COVID-19 outbreak, which amounted to RMB56.7 million, net of other income of RMB20.2 million. Net Income (Loss) Net loss was RMB918.8 million, compared with net income of RMB18.6 million in the second quarter of 2020. Non-GAAP net loss was RMB763.9 million, compared with non-GAAP net income of RMB72.7 million in the second quarter of 2020. Cash Flow Net operating cash outflow for the second quarter of 2021 was RMB318.6 million. The outflow of net operating cash this quarter was primarily due to higher marketing expenses paid to improve our market share and brand awareness, and an increase in compensation. Cash used in capital expenditures was RMB107.0 million. Basic and Diluted Net Loss per ADS Basic and diluted net loss per ADS were RMB3.59, in the second quarter of 2021. Non-GAAP basic and diluted net loss per ADS, were RMB2.99, in the second quarter of 2021. Share Outstanding As of June 30, 2021, the Company had 170,935,557 ordinary shares outstanding. Cash and Cash Equivalents, Restricted Cash, Short-term Investments and Long-term Investments As of June 30, 2021, the Company had cash and cash equivalents, restricted cash, short-term investments and long-term investments of RMB5,486.9 million in the aggregate, compared with a total of RMB8,217.2 million of cash and cash equivalents, short-term investments and long-term investments as of December 31, 2020. Deferred Revenue As of June 30, 2021, the Company's deferred revenue balance was RMB1,976.4 million, compared with RMB2,733.7 million as of December 31, 2020. Deferred revenue primarily consisted of tuition collected in advance. Other Payables As of June 30, 2021, other payables in non-current liabilities totaled RMB26.6 million, all of which were payables related to the purchase of the Zhengzhou properties. Update on PRC Regulatory Policy As previously disclosed, Gaotu's business, financial condition and corporate structure are expected to be materially affected in future periods by the changing regulatory environment primarily in China's after school tutoring industry, although the magnitude of the impact remains uncertain at this time. Business Outlook Due to the uncertainty related to the recent regulatory and operating environment, the Company has decided not to issue guidance in the near term in order to give the management more flexibility to focus on the Company's operations. Board Change Mr. Xin Fan has resigned from the board of directors of the Company, for personal reasons, effective on September 22, 2021. The Company has appointed Ms. Jin Cui as an independent director of the Company, effective on the same day. Ms. Cui will also become the chairwoman of the audit committee of the board of directors, as well as a member of the compensation committee and the nominating and corporate governance committee. Conference Call The Company will hold an earnings conference call on Wednesday, September 22, 2021, at 8:00 AM U.S. Eastern Time (8:00 PM on the same day, Beijing/Hong Kong Time). Dial-in details for the earnings conference call are as follows: International: 1-412-317-6061 US: 1-888-317-6003 Hong Kong:.....»»

Category: earningsSource: benzingaSep 22nd, 2021

Stocks Can"t Follow Through on Recent Rally

Stocks Can't Follow Through on Recent Rally SPECIAL ALERT: The March episode of the Zacks Ultimate Strategy Session will be available for viewing no later than Wednesday, March 10. Kevin Matras, Jeremy Mullin, Daniel Laboe, Brian Bolan and Sheraz Mian will cover the investment landscape from several angles in this popular event. Don't miss your chance to hear: ▪ Jeremy and Brian Agree to Disagree on Investing in SPACs versus traditional IPOs ▪ Kevin answers your questions in Zacks Mailbag ▪ Sheraz and Daniel choose one portfolio to give feedback for improvement ▪ And much more Remember, we need your input. Please submit your questions for Zacks Mailbag and Portfolio Makeover by Thursday morning, March 4. Email now to mailbag@zacks.com. Then log on to Zacks.com and bookmark this page. The NASDAQ gave back more than half of yesterday’s rally in Tuesday’s session, as tech again came under pressure and kept stocks from adding onto recent gains. What a boring session this was compared to Monday! As we got back to work yesterday, investors were greeted by a new single dose covid vaccine from Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and news that the $1.9 Trillion stimulus plan got through one chamber of Congress. But there wasn’t much going on today. We did get a strong fourth-quarter report from retail giant Target (TGT), which beat on both the top and bottom lines. However, as is par for the course this earnings season, shares dropped by more than 6%. Investors may have been disappointed with the lack of a 2021 guidance. Shares are up slightly after hours, as of this writing. Another bit of good news was the 10-year Treasury yield finishing below 1.5% for a third straight session. It’s surge past 1.6% last Thursday took a big toll on the market as investors worry about the impact of rising rates on the economic recovery and the Fed’s super accommodative stance. However, the market shrugged everything off and decided to take a break following the best day of 2021 so far. The NASDAQ dropped 1.69% (or about 230 points) to 13.358.79. This decline is far from the steepest for the index this year, but it was still disappointing since it spoiled more than half of yesterday’s 3% surge. Facebook (FB) and Apple (AAPL) were each down by more than 2%, while Amazon (AMZN) and Microsoft (MSFT) were off by over 1%. Tesla (TSLA) slipped 4.4%. Meanwhile, the S&P declined 0.81% to 3870.29, while the Dow was off 0.46% (or about 144 points) to 31,391.52. These indices were up 2.38% and 1.95%, respectively, yesterday. In addition to the continuation of earnings season, the rest of this week will also see some big economic reports. ADP employment will be released tomorrow. Last month’s report was pretty solid with private payrolls adding 174K jobs, which was three times better than expectations. Of course, the major jobs report comes from the BLS on Friday. Today's Portfolio Highlights: Stocks Under $10: Our homes are getting smarter and smarter these days thanks to companies like Arlo Technologies (ARLO). This Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) uses AI capabilities to deliver a seamless, smart home experience. The company has benefited from people upgrading their homes during this pandemic. ARLO has beaten the Zacks Consensus Estimate in each of the last four reports with an average surprise of 36%, but Brian was most impressed that the earnings surprises have been increasing over that time. Earnings estimates for this year have moved sharply higher over the past week and its valuation “isn’t that bad” either. The editor added ARLO on Tuesday, while also getting out of Fluidigm Corp. (FLDM) after the company was “brutalized” over the past week. Read the full write-up for more on today’s action. Surprise Trader: Who doesn’t love ‘Taco Tuesday’? Dave is certainly a big fan, and now he’s putting his portfolio where his stomach is by adding Del Taco (TACO), the country’s second largest Mexican-American quick service restaurant. The company has beaten the Zacks Consensus Estimate for three straight quarters now, including a positive surprise of 60% last time. TACO has a positive Earnings ESP of 18.52% heading into the next report after the bell on Monday, March 8. Dave added the stock on Tuesday with a 12.5% allocation, while also getting out of the disappointing Brigham Minerals (MNRL) position. Read the full write-up for more on today’s moves.   Zacks Short Sell List: The portfolio only swapped out one position in this week’s adjustment, but the change brought a nice double-digit return. The service short-covered Viasat (VSAT) for an 11.8% profit in just two weeks, and then filled the open spot by adding BioMarin Pharmaceuticals (BMRN). Learn more about this emotion-free portfolio that takes advantage of falling and volatile markets by reading the Short Sell List Trader Guide. Until Tomorrow, Jim Giaquinto Recommendations from Zacks' Private Portfolios: Believe it or not, this article is not available on the Zacks.com website. The commentary is a partial overview of the daily activity from Zacks' private recommendation services. If you would like to follow our Buy and Sell signals in real time, we've made a special arrangement for readers of this website. Starting today you can see all the recommendations from all of Zacks' portfolios absolutely free for 7 days. Our services cover everything from value stocks and momentum trades to insider buying and positive earnings surprises (which we've predicted with an astonishing 80%+ accuracy). Click here to "test drive" Zacks Ultimate for FREE >>  Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 21st, 2021

United upgrading service to Hawaii from SFO

United Airlines is adding wide-body planes on San Francisco International Airport, or SFO, routes to the four main Hawaiian islands, meaning that many flights will offer lie-flat seating in Polaris business class for summer travel. The move sig.....»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsMay 24th, 2021

THE POINT-OF-SALE APP MARKETPLACES REPORT: How payments firms are upgrading their service offerings to meet evolving merchant demands

BIIIn an increasingly digitized world, brick-and-mortar retailers are faci.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderApr 29th, 2018

Google is "upgrading" paying users of its Google Drive cloud storage service to something called Google One: Here"s what that means (GOOG, GOOGL)

Google is changing up its cloud storage options and upgrading all consumers paying for Google Drive storage to a new service called Google One in the next few months. The new service is going to come with expert.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 14th, 2018

How payments firms are upgrading their service offerings to meet evolving merchant demands

BIIIn an increasingly digitized world, brick-and-mortar retailers are facing immense pressure to under.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 19th, 2018

Goldman Raises Year-End Oil Price Target To $90

Goldman Raises Year-End Oil Price Target To $90 Just days after Goldman's head commodity analyst Jeff Currie told Bloomberg TV that the bank anticipates oil spiking to $90 if the winter is colder than usual, on Sunday afternoon Goldman went ahead and made that its base case and in a note from energy strategist Damien Courvalin, he writes that with Brent prices reaching new highs since October 2018, the bank now forecasts that this rally will continue, "with our year-end Brent forecast of $90/bbl vs. $80/bbl previously." What tipped the scales is that while Goldman has long held a bullish oil view, "the current global oil supply-demand deficit is larger than we expected, with the recovery in global demand from the Delta impact even faster than our above consensus forecast and with global supply remaining short of our below consensus forecasts." Among the supply factors cited by Goldman is hurricane Ida - the "most bullish hurricane in US history" - which more than offset the ramp-up in OPEC+ production since July with non-OPEC+ non-shale production continuing to disappoint. Meanwhile, as noted above, on the demand side Goldman cited low hospitalization rates which are leading more countries to re-open, including to international travel in particularly COVID-averse countries in Asia. Finally, from a seasonal standpoint, Courvalin sees winter demand risks as "further now squarely skewed to the upside" as the global gas shortage will increase oil fired power generation. From a fundamental standpoint, the current c.4.5 mb/d observable inventory draws are the largest on record, including for global SPRs and oil on water, and follow the longest deficit on record, started in June 2020. For the oil bears, Goldman does not see this deficit as reversing in coming months as its scale will overwhelm both the willingness and ability for OPEC+ to ramp up, with the shale supply response just starting. This sets the stage for inventories to fall to their lowest level since 2013 by year-end (after adjusting for pipeline fill), supporting further backwardation in the oil forward curve where positioning remains low. But what about a production response? While Goldman does expect short-cycle production to respond by 2022 at the bank's higher price forecast, from core-OPEC, Russia and shale, this according to Goldman, will only lay bare the structural nature of the oil market repricing. To be sure, there will likely be a time to be tactically bearish in 2022, especially if a US-Iran deal is eventually reached. The bank's base-case assumption is for such an agreement to be reached in April, leading the bank to then trim its price target to an $80/bbl price forecast in 2Q22-4Q22 (vs. its 4Q21-1Q22 $85/bbl quarterly average forecast). This would, however, remain a tactical call and a likely timespread trade according to Courvalin, with long-dated oil prices poised to reset higher from current levels, especially as the hedging momentum shifts from US producer selling to airline buying (a move which Goldman says to position for with a long Dec-22 Brent and short Dec-22 Brent put trade recommendations).   Meanwhile, the lack of long-cycle capex response - here you can thank the green crazy sweeping the world - the quickly diminishing OPEC spare capacity (Goldman expects normalization by early 2022), the inability for shale producers to sustain production growth (given their low reinvestment rate targets) and oil service and carbon cost inflation will all instead point to the need for sustainably higher long-dated oil prices. Remarkably, Goldman now expects the market to return to a structural deficit by 2H23, which leads it to raise its 2023 oil price forecast from $65/bbl to $85/bbl, and the mid-cycle valuation oil price used by Goldman's equity analysts to $70/bbl. Translation: expect a slew of price hikes on energy stocks in the coming days from Goldman. Finally, where could Goldman's forecast - which would infuriate the white house as gasoline prices are about to explode higher - be wrong? For what it's worth, the bank sees the greatest risk on the timeline of its bullish view. On the demand side, it would take a potentially new variant that renders vaccine ineffective. Beyond that, however, the bank expects limited downside risk from China, with its economists not expecting a hard landing and with our demand growth forecast driven by DMs and other EMs instead. This leaves near-term risks having to come from the supply side, most notably OPEC+, which next meets on October 4. And while an aggressively faster ramp-up in production by year-end would soften (but not derail) our projected deficit, it would only further delay the shale rebound, which would reinforce the structural nature of the next rally given binding under-investment in oil services by 2023. In addition, a large ramp-up in OPEC+ production would simply fast-forward the decline in global spare capacity to historically low levels, replacing a cyclical tight market with a structural one. The full report as usual available to pro subscribers in the usual place. Tyler Durden Sun, 09/26/2021 - 20:36.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nyt6 hr. 40 min. ago

The US government requests - and is granted - the most user data from tech companies compared to countries like the UK, France, and Japan: report

The US, Germany, France, the UK, and Japan lead in the number of data requests it sends to tech companies like Facebook and Twitter. Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images Apple, Facebook, and Twitter saw an overall increase in the number of user data requests they got from world governments. Governments are typically granted data requests for "law enforcement" purposes, such as investigating international theft, fraud, or trafficking. Major tech companies have all released some form of a transparency report after criticism from digital rights advocates and politicians. See more stories on Insider's business page. Though data privacy is becoming increasingly sought after in the digital era, data show it still isn't fully guaranteed in many countries.The US government asked for and received more user data from tech companies than any other country in 2020, according to a new report from internet security and technology firm Techrobot.The study, which analyzes transparency reports from Apple, Facebook, and Twitter between 2019 and 2020, found growth in the number of requests for user data in 15 countries. The US made 66,598 requests for data in the first quarter of 2020, up 21% in the same period from the previous year. Of those requests, 76% of them - roughly 50,000 pieces of information - were subsequently shared by the tech companies. Many Americans remain skeptical and fearful that social media companies can give their data to a third party, including the US government. The US topped the most requests for Facebook and Twitter information, with 61,528 and 3,429 requests respectively. Facebook also saw six times the amount of data requests from the US than the second-highest country, Germany.Overall, several countries saw significant data request numbers, like Denmark and South Korea, which both saw 400% increases in requests from 2019 to 2020, and Germany, which requested the most information from Apple.However, governments are privy to user data in emergencies within the purview of the tech companies' terms of service - typically under a warrant in emergent situations or criminal investigations across international borders."Government request circumstances can vary from instances where law enforcement agencies are working on behalf of customers who have requested assistance," according to Apple, including in cases involving stolen or missing devices and credit card fraud. "Additionally, requests can relate to emergency situations where there is imminent harm to the safety of any person.""We comply with government requests for user information only where we have a good-faith belief that the law requires us to do so," Facebook says about its transparency guidelines. "When we do comply, we only produce information that is narrowly tailored to that request."In situations where it approves a government request, Facebook can produce basic subscriber metadata, like a user's name, payment information, email, and IP addresses, as well as stored content like photos, videos, and messages.Twitter retains the right to disclose user information for both emergencies and routine legal demands issued by law enforcement, according to Twitter's guidelines on information requests."Where appropriate, Twitter will push back on requests for account information which are incomplete or improper, such as requests that are facially invalid or overbroad in scope," Twitter continued.Over the past few years, tech companies have engaged in battles between each other and the US federal government over the confidentiality of user data. Earlier this month, the National Conference of State Legislatures outlined a comprehensive approach to privacy regulation, covering how data is collected, stored, disclosed, and deleted.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsider7 hr. 28 min. ago

As Advisory Panel Warned, CDC Director"s Anti-Science Decision Makes Boosters "Available To Anyone Who Wants One"

As Advisory Panel Warned, CDC Director's Anti-Science Decision Makes Boosters 'Available To Anyone Who Wants One' Now that CDC chief Dr. Rochelle Walensky - possibly working on behalf of her political puppet masters - has overridden her agency's advisory panel to expand the eligibility for Pfizer booster jabs to high-risk workers (a group that ACIP, the advisory panel, had decided to exclude given a paucity of efficacy and safety data), many employers are confused about whether the new guidance applies to them - and whether they might be left in a difficult situation with employees who didn't get the first two vaccines. At the end of the day, the big worry is that hundreds of thousands of shots allocated for workers might simply go unused, left to expire while dozens of poorer countries would be overjoyed to have them. According to the Hill, chaotic and at times contradictory messaging from federal health officials has culminated in a confusing set of recommendations about who should, and shouldn't receive booster jabs, and why? Panel members initially said they had excluded approving jabs on an employment basis because there wasn't enough evidence those people were losing protection. That decision was clearly a disappointment to the Biden Administration, which is possibly why Dr. Walensky interceded. The depth of Dr. Walsensky's contradiction of the science can be found in the exact wording of her decree: Starting immediately, anyone between the ages of 18 and 64 who is at increased risk of COVID-19 "exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting" can get a third dose. Legal experts told the Hill that those words are so vague, practically anyone could qualify. Already, many local level officials appear to be leaning toward simply giving boosters to anyone who asks. "There's going to be confusion. If we are going to create guidelines that are essentially making the vaccine available to almost everyone, the simplest solution is, make it available to everyone," said Celine Gounder, an infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist at NYU and Bellevue Hospital. "The best public health programs are the ones that are simple and easy to understand and clear, and the more complexity you build into it, the more difficult it is to roll out." That statement above about not creating obstacles to the third shot - that's coming from a scientist who doubted whether they were even necessary. Gounder, who advised the Biden transition team on COVID-19, has been critical of the administration's fervent push for boosters, and said the evidence for a third dose based on occupation was mixed at best. "You have to step back and ask the question, why is it that we're vaccinating people in high risk settings? Is it because they as individuals are at high risk, or is it because it would be disruptive to the workplace," Gounder said. As far as the dramatic conclusion to what was supposed to be a 'staid' scientific process - the CDC director overruling her advisory panel on the issue of occupancy-based eligibility in a late night statement - that should be enough to alert Americans that something strange is happening. Despite the panel's claims, Dr. Walensky took to the White House press briefing on Friday to claim that she did not "overrule" the advisory committee and that she had listened to both sides on the issue of whether to approve boosters by occupational risk. Amusingly, the assiduously pro-Democratic the Washington Post was willing to dismiss this usurpation of "the science" as simply another communications breakdown from the doddering Dems. “Everyone is kind of confused,” he said. The current discontent has deep roots. In April, Pfizer chief executive Albert Bourla said a third coronavirus dose was “likely” to be needed. In late July, Pfizer-BioNTech announced that their vaccine’s efficacy waned over time. Data from Israel confirmed a drop. Then, last month, as the delta variant of the coronavirus surged and the World Health Organization decried the distribution of third shots in wealthy countries while poor countries were lacking first doses, President Biden announced that most Americans could begin getting boosters of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines Sept. 20 — subject to the government’s regulatory processes, which unfolded in recent days and focused only on Pfizer. Regulators already allowed third shots for the immunocompromised who have received Pfizer or Moderna shots but have not yet made recommendations for all recipients of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. The deluge of phone calls about booster shots to Primary Health clinics in Southwestern Idaho began weeks ago. On Friday morning, the group’s Garden City clinic, where Maddie Morris fields inquiries, saw an increase in calls, mostly from senior citizens. “The calls seem pretty nonstop,” the customer service representative said. “It seems like a lot of people are anxious to get a booster.” Doctors say confusion clouds patients’ willingness to receive boosters. In Idaho, the problem coincides with the primary health-care system’s struggle to meet the demands of the latest covid-19 crush, which earlier this month plunged the state into crisis standards of care — essentially the rationing of health care as demand overwhelms resources. Unfortunately for them, it looks like the whole thing is back-firing... Maybe they'll think twice next time around (though we doubt it, since 'next time' is literally happening in the coming weeks when they do this all again with Moderna). Tyler Durden Sun, 09/26/2021 - 13:30.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nyt11 hr. 28 min. ago

I went to Stew Leonard"s for the first time and the unique customer experience made me actually enjoy grocery shopping

Growing up, I never knew Stew Leonard's existed, but I was pleasantly surprised with the unique in-store shopping experience. Stew Leonard's store front Taylor Rains/Insider I went to Stew Leonard's for the first time and the experience made grocery shopping feel like less of a chore. The store is full of appetizing food and interesting decorations, colors, displays, and animatronics. The $400 million business prides itself on its store brands, which soared 40% in sales during the pandemic. See more stories on Insider's business page. Many people hate grocery shopping, including me. I have always dreaded the weekly run, but a family-owned supermarket chain in the Northeast added a little fun to the chore. Stew Leonard's storefront in Norwalk, Connecticut Miro Vrlik Photography/Shutterstock Stew Leonards was founded in 1969 and is a chain of seven grocery stores in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York. The iconic business is the world's largest dairy store and brings in over $400 million in sales each year Stew Leonard's employees Stew Leonard's Growing up in Florida, I never knew the supermarket existed, but I was pleasantly surprised with the unique in-store shopping experience when I visited the Newington, Connecticut location recently. Stew Leonard's storefront in Newington, Connecticut Taylor Rains/Insider The first thing I noticed was the store's rustic feel, almost like it didn't belong in Connecticut. The wood building looks like a giant barn, complete with a silo, which is in line with Stew's farm theme. Inside Stew Leonard's Taylor Rains/Insider When I entered the building lobby, I saw a garden of flowers, plants, and pumpkins - right in time for the fall season. Also in the space was a photo booth and a rock that outlined the company's policy of "the customer is always right." "The customer is always right" policy Taylor Rains/Insider Once inside the main building, I was immediately overwhelmed with the number of signs, colors, decorations, and displays. Donut stand Taylor Rains/Insider At the entrance sat a mouth-watering donut stand full of fresh pastries. Meanwhile, just past was a stage with five animatronic dairy characters that put on a show every few minutes. I'm sure they're a hit with the kids. Stew Leonard's animatronics Taylor Rains/Insider After watching the show, I made my way to the produce section, which is the start of the store's single long shopping aisle. Produce section Taylor Rains/Insider Stew Leonards is set up like a roadmap, zig-zagging customers through each section of the store via an established path. While shoppers can exit the main path or decide to bypass sections, the store's pre-arranged route eliminates aisles and streamlines the shopping experience. Shopper in produce section Taylor Rains/Insider Walking through produce was a treat because of all the organic, fresh fruits and vegetables. In the section was the first of eight mini-shows that the store has set up, which are animatronic characters that sing for customers. Fresh fruits Taylor Rains/Insider The shows are activated by a big "push" button, which I obviously had to try. The banana was kiddish, but cute, though I'm sure the employees get tired of hearing the same tune every day. Animatronic character Taylor Rains/Insider In addition to the singing banana, the store also had a parrot... Animatronic character Taylor Rains/Insider a pig... Animatronic character Taylor Rains/Insider and chickens. Animatronic characters Taylor Rains/Insider A unique service Stew offers that I have not seen anywhere else is the fresh fruit and vegetable stand, where employees will cut produce for customers to save them time at home. Fruit and vegetable cutting stand Taylor Rains/Insider One of my favorite aspects of the store was the free samples. On the day I went, there was a vendor with flavored seltzer water and another with fresh pineapple, both of which were pretty tasty. Samara vendor Taylor Rains/Insider One useful feature of the store is its in-house butcher. The butcher had all types of fresh-cut beef, like sirloin, ribeye, and filet mignon. I opted for the teriyaki steak tips and they proved to taste much better than pre-packed meat. Employee prepares steak tips Taylor Rains/Insider The bread section was also impressive. Stew's has in-store bakers that produce fresh bread every day, and the store had offerings that I had not seen at other supermarkets, like pre-cut ciabatta bites and pumpkin seed loaves. Bread section Taylor Rains/Insider I was also intrigued by the fresh-made bagels, which come in all sorts of interesting flavors, like cheddar, rainbow, garlic, blueberry, and french toast. Bagels Taylor Rains/Insider Past the meat and bread is all of the international cheese, which is my favorite section. There was an entire wall dedicated to cheddar and a stand full of other types, like mozzarella, ricotta, and burrata. Stew employees produce over 500 pounds of fresh mozzarella cheese a day. International cheeses Taylor Rains/Insider I also really enjoyed exploring the seafood section, which was full of fresh fish, like salmon, flounder, and shellfish. Every meat looked delicious and I was impressed with the quality of the salmon I took home for dinner. Seafood section Taylor Rains/Insider At the end of the shopping experience are a few places to pick up lunch or dinner before heading to check-out. Stew's has a BBQ stand... BBQ stand Taylor Rains/Insider a pizza stand... Pizza stand Taylor Rains/Insider and a sushi shelf to choose from. Sushi shelf Taylor Rains/Insider Customers can buy some hot food to eat at home or take upstairs to Stew's in-store dining area, which was what I opted for. I ordered the pizza combo for $6, which came with two slices and a drink. Eating pizza at Stew's upstairs dining room Taylor Rains/Insider Throughout the store were all sorts of interesting decorations, like Mickey and Yoda doing aerobatics and an upside-down cow. The cow symbolizes the advice Stew got from his friends at Disney when coming up with marketing ideas: "gravity doesn't matter." Upside-down cow Taylor Rains/Insider Source: Stew Leonard's Before check-out, I had to take a look at Stew's Doggy Bar, which is full of unique treats. I grabbed the doggy pops for my dog Indiana, who gave them a 10/10. Stew's doggy bar Taylor Rains/Insider Also before check-out is a gift shop with Stew Leonard's swag... Swag shop Taylor Rains/Insider and a wall full of fresh-made soups. All of the options looked delicious and I ended up grabbing three, which are the perfect size for an easy lunch. Soups Taylor Rains/Insider Stew's does not have self-check-out, which is my preference, but the line went quickly. For customers with only a few items, there are dedicated express check-out lanes. Check-out area Taylor Rains/Insider On the way out, customers can stop by the ice cream shop serving up unique flavors, like pistachio and apple pie. Pistachio is my favorite flavor and it did not disappoint. Ice cream shop Taylor Rains/Insider Stew Leonard's prides itself on its store brands, which make up over 60% of its supermarket. According to Stew Leonard Jr, the private brand boomed during the pandemic, soaring 40% in summer 2020. Stew Leonard Sr and Stew Leonard Jr Stew Leonard's Source: Store Brands Leonard Jr explained major brands sold out quickly during COVID, so people opted for alternates, which he sees as a good opportunity for customers to try the store brand. In particular, the company's organic foods and citrus products did well during the pandemic. Stew Leonard's store branded marinara sauce Taylor Rains/Insider Source: Store Brands Stew's also had to buy products from restaurants because the store and national brands ran out. One five-pound bag of french fries it bought from a local restaurant and sold for $5 was bringing in $5,000 a week in June 2020. Different brands of peanut butter Taylor Rains/Insider Source: Store Brands Stew's success has been complemented by its eventful history. The supermarket was named the "Disneyland Dairy Store' by the New York Times in 1983 and ranked in Fortune Magazine's "100 Best Companies to Work For in America" list 10 consecutive years from 2002 to 2011. Stew's farm fresh eggs Taylor Rains/Insider Source: New York Times, Stew Leonard's Furthermore, it solidified its place in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1992 for having "the greatest sales per unit area of any single food store in the United States." Guinness book of world records plaque Taylor Rains/Insider Source: Stew Leonard's The supermarket was also a stomping ground for food celebrities like Martha Stewart, who bought ingredients from the store, and Paul Newman who asked Stew Leonard Sr. for help in launching his salad dressing. Stew Leonard's cow named after Martha Stewart Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images Source: Inc I am not surprised by Stew Leonard's immense success and love from the local communities. Its unique in-store experience made grocery shopping actually enjoyable, and there is no doubt I will become a regular customer. Stew Leonards Taylor Rains/Insider Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsider14 hr. 40 min. ago

I flew American Airlines to Europe for the first time during the pandemic and found it"s back to normal with bad food, uncomfortable seats, and free alcohol

American did a great job of getting me to Madrid on time but the flight was far from memorable. One thing I didn't miss was the bad airplane food. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider American Airlines is one of four US carriers flying overseas to Europe and has recently started increasing services as more countries open to American tourists. Transatlantic flights are pretty much back to normal, besides having to wear a mask. Hot meals and alcohol are once again served in all cabins including economy class. See more stories on Insider's business page. American Airlines is one of the leading US carriers flying between the US and Europe, especially from its international gateway in New York. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider The summer before the pandemic saw American fly to 23 European destinations from the US. Fast forward to the summer of 2021, however, and that number stood at 11 as American wasn't as quick to rebuild in Europe following its reopening. Flying American Airlines to Europe during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider Source: Cirium But even still, American has maintained service to core cities like London; Madrid; and Rome, while opening new routes including New York-Athens. Athens, Greece. Shutterstock Read More: American and JetBlue just unveiled a new partnership with 33 new routes combined— here's what it means for travelers And American has proved to be an inexpensive option when crossing the pond, as I found when planning a recent work trip to Doha, Qatar with flights on American, British Airways, and Qatar Airways. Flying American Airlines to Europe during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider Read More: Gulfstream just debuted its new $75 million ultra-long-range plane that's also the world's largest purpose-built private jet: Meet the G700 I flew American Airlines from New York to Madrid during the summer of vaccinated travel. Here's what it was like. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider Read More: I booked a flight on American Airlines despite the airline canceling thousands of flights this summer – here's how I'm preparing for the worst After recent bad experiences on American, I was a bit nervous to fly the carrier overseas. I made sure to do extra research on backup options in case something went wrong, and even arrived at the airport four hours early. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider Read More: I was stranded in Bogotá airport for 10 hours and it taught me the true value of credit card perks and not taking no for an answer But having flown American internationally earlier in the summer, I knew how to prepare. The first step was to download Verifly, American's preferred health passport service that speeds along airport check-in and document verification. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider I submitted all my required documentation and got the green light. As a result, check-in at the airport was less painful than expected as I was able to use a self-serve kiosk to get my boarding pass. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider For those checking a bag, though, there was a bit of a line, as is usually the case in international terminals. I was glad to have only brought a carry-on. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider I was instantly relieved once I had my boarding pass and headed straight to the gate with only a minimal line at security. I felt silly having arrived four hours before departure but as the old saying goes, better safe than sorry. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider One benefit of flying out of American's Terminal 8 at John F. Kennedy International Airport is that Bobby Van's Steakhouse is open, and Priority Pass members through Chase can get a free meal. I had the burger and it was delicious. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider Read More: I used a credit perk to dine for nearly free at an airport restaurant and it's my new favorite travel hack The rest of the concourse was quiet as I arrived before the bulk of the evening overseas departures. Even still, there were shops and restaurants open for business in a good sign for the industry. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider I headed straight to the gate after lunch and got my first glimpse at the aircraft taking us to Spain, the mighty Boeing 777-200. American now only flies Boeing 777 aircraft between New York and Europe in a win for business class and first class customers that get to enjoy the airline's best premium cabin products. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider Pandemic-era safety measures including social distancing floor placards and plexiglass portions at the gate counter were still on display. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider Boarding began around 45 minutes prior to departure in American's standard group boarding procedure. Most US airlines have abandoned back-to-front boarding. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider American's Boeing 777-200 aircraft seat 273 passengers across three cabins, with classes of service including business, premium economy, and economy. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider Source: SeatGuru In economy, seats are arranged in a 10-abreast, 3-4-3 configuration that's standard for most airlines flying the 777. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider Seat pitch in economy is between 31 and 32 inches, according to SeatGuru, while seat width is a standard 17 inches. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider Source: SeatGuru I booked this flight quite late and there weren't too many seats from which to choose that didn't require paying an extra fee. American isn't alone in the practice of charging for advance seat assignments on long-haul flights but I despise the practice as these tickets are expensive enough as it is. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider But to American's credit, there were a good showing of complimentary aisle and window seats towards the back of the plane from which to select. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider And to my surprise, the most unique seats in economy were available for selection. The last three rows on this aircraft are arranged in a 2-4-2 configuration meaning there are six two-seat pairs. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider I thought I had lucked out by selecting one of them but my excitement was short-lived. Simply put, these seats were not the most comfortable for a larger traveler. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider The small width didn't help and I felt like I was taking up part of the seat next to me. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider One thing that could've helped was if the armrest for the window seat was moveable, but it was fixed in place. I was so close to the seat in front of me that my tray table couldn't even lay flat (a problem I didn't have on the other carriers on which I flew during this trip). Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider My top concern was having enough room once my seat neighbor arrived. But I lucked out and had both seats to myself as nobody showed up to claim the other. Flying American Airlines to Europe during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider There was a gap between the seat and the cabin wall which offered some additional legroom and a place to store the pillow and blanket kit left on the seat. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider American is quite generous with seat features on its wide-body aircraft. Each seat has an 8.9-inch in-flight entertainment screen with a variety of movies, television shows, games, and music. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider The moving map proved handy during the flight to keep track of our location. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider A tethered remote is also available to control the system and act as a game controller or keyboard for the seat-to-seat chat function. It also comes in handy when scrolling through content since the touch functionality is quite poor in that regard. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider In-flight WiFi is also available on the aircraft for a price. And for those using devices during the flight, in-seat power is offered through USB charging ports and 110v C power outlets at seats. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider The rest of the aircraft was quite full, which surprised me as it was quite late in the season for transatlantic travel. Some passengers were visiting family and friends while others were starting their study abroad term. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider Bad weather in New York wreaked a bit of havoc on the airport but we weren't overly affected. I was quite relieved that our departure was pretty close to on time as I had a connection to make in Madrid. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider The storm did, however, make for some great views as we blasted out of New York. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider Madrid is quite a short flight from New York and while I wanted to go straight to sleep, I did want to see what the meal service was like. This was the first time I'd had a hot meal on American during the pandemic. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider As I waited for the service to begin, I had a look at what was on offer in the movie department. American had quite a good selection in all categories, and I ultimately picked "The Vault." Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider First attendants started the drink service first with a selection of soft drinks, juices, wine, and beer. Alcohol isn't currently served in economy on American's domestic flights but it flows freely on transatlantic hops. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider I ordered a club soda along with some red wine to help ease my sleep after the meal. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider Next came the meal service as flight attendants quickly passed out the trays. I felt like I was being served in a cafeteria as one flight attendant curtly asked, "chicken or pasta?" Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider I unwrapped the entree to find that not much has changed at all when it comes to American's economy catering. The chicken dish was accompanied by a side salad, cheese and crackers, and a cinnamon dessert bar. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider I couldn't describe the chicken beyond that it was served in a tomato-based sauce. I enjoyed the sides more than the main and was glad I had the burger at Bobby Van's before the flight. Next time, I think I'll head straight to sleep. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider Flight attendants were very quick to complete the meal service, though, and got it done in under an hour and a half. The flight to Madrid is only six hours and 30 minutes so every second counts. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider Ready for bed with a full stomach, I used the pillow and blanket that American had left on the seat and did my best to get comfortable. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider Another downside of the two-seat row is that there's a gap between the seat and window, making propping a pillow up against the cabin wall near-impossible. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider But even then, it wasn't too difficult to get to sleep and I woke just before breakfast was served. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider Flight attendants once more came around to serve drinks first, followed by a pre-packaged cold breakfast. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider On offer for the optimistic morning meal included Chobani strawberry yogurt, a raspberry fig bar, and coconut cashew granola. All in all, it was quite standard but still enjoyable. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider The flight to Madrid was nearing its end and I can't say I was upset to see it go. American did a great job of getting me to Spain on time but the in-flight experience was exactly what I expected it to be. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider I did appreciate the modernity of the aircraft and the efficiency of the crew but there wasn't anything memorable about this flight. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider Besides having to wear a mask, though, I'd say that American is back to normal on these flights, for better or worse. Flying American Airlines from New York to Madrid, Spain during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsider14 hr. 40 min. ago

I stayed at a free 10-day quarantine hotel in NYC when I got COVID-19. Programs like these need to be more widespread if we want to get a hold on the virus.

The program was completely free and helped me keep my roommate safe, but very few people know about it and very few cities have a similar program. A scene from the first floor of the USC Hotel on April 27, 20202 where USC medical staff are allowed to self-quarantine after working in high-risk hospital. Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images I discovered the hotel program after testing positive for COVID-19 and researching places to safely quarantine. The program is open to all New Yorkers and tourists who have tested positive, but few people know about it. As the Delta variant spreads, programs like this are a great way to limit transmission. Catherine Morrison is a writer and recent graduate from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author. See more stories on Insider's business page. Dani and his mother Gloria hadn't planned to stay in New York City for long. Traveling from Paraguay, they arrived in New York on June 28. They came to get a vaccination for Dani, 20, an electrical engineering student who is not yet eligible for the COVID vaccine in their home country.The day before they were scheduled to board their flight home, Dani and Gloria found themselves staying in a hotel with scheduled meals, nurses visits, and outdoor breaks. They had tested positive for COVID-19, and the city recommended a stay at a COVID-19 isolation hotel. I met them because I had checked in, too.NYC Health and Hospitals initially implemented the Isolation Hotel Program in April 2020. While the program provides a safe, affordable space for local residents and travelers to quarantine, very few have ever heard of it. So much so that I thought it was an online scam when I was desperately researching places I could stay to avoid infecting my roommate. New York's COVID-19 hotels are a powerful weapon in the arsenal against the pandemic, especially as variants continue to rise.According to a spokesperson for NYC Health and Hospitals, the initial goal of the program was to provide safer spaces for patients suspected or confirmed to be exposed to COVID-19, who had been discharged from inpatient and emergency room settings, and who did not have places to isolate or quarantine. Now, the program is open to any New York residents - individuals who tested positive and their roommates - or out-of-state travelers who have tested positive or have been exposed to the virus.New York operated five hotels at the peak of the pandemic, but hotels were decommissioned as infection rates decreased. Since March 2020, over 24,000 New York residents have checked in, but the hotels have never been at capacity. The Laguardia Plaza Hotel on the afternoon of July 8, captured during a scheduled outdoor break Catherine Morrison While New York's isolation program is not the only one in the country, it is one of the largest. Other major cities like Chicago, Baltimore, San Francisco, Seattle, Dallas, Miami, and cities across California also have programs for those in need of quarantining spaces. More rural areas, however, have yet to implement such programs."We know of no other city that created a hotel program as early or extensively as our own," a spokesperson for NYC Health and Hospitals said.Now that variants have sparked a new wave, officials anticipate the number of patients to increase again, but shouldn't we be doing more to ensure people in need know about this option? Staying in the isolation hotel I checked into the hotel on the same day as Dani and Gloria. I had woken up that morning with a runny nose and a slight cough. To plan for the worst, I made my way to the CityMD walk-in clinic to get a rapid test. As I left the clinic, I got a call from the doctor."I'm sorry, but your result was actually positive," she said. The person I was most worried about infecting was my roommate. After texting her that I was positive, I locked myself in my room until she could go get tested - thankfully she tested negative. Knowing that I wouldn't want to put her at risk by staying in our small apartment, I started looking into options for alternative housing. She was the one who sent me a text about the isolation hotel program. Immediately, I got on the phone and, within three hours, a car was downstairs, ready to drive me off to the hotel - at no charge because they didn't want me to take public transit.Eligible under the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the city offers the program to guests entirely free, including a 10-night stay with three daily meals, a weekly laundry service, and four outdoor breaks a day.During the outdoor breaks, I spoke with the other guests to hear about how they got to the hotel. Everyone I met decided to enroll in fear of getting someone else infected.Dani and Gloria were staying at Dani's aunt's apartment in Astoria, Queens when they got the news. Unsure of what to do, they got a call from the city the next morning informing them of the program and were brought via government-ordered ride share service to the LaGuardia Plaza Hotel."We were scared and we were looking for hotels to go to because we didn't want to infect [Dani's aunt]," Dani said. "And then they called us. We were so relieved." Dani and Gloria on June 30, 2021, two days after arriving in New York City. Catherine Morrison As I met more hotel guests, I questioned why more New Yorkers didn't use this program. Most infected residents probably assume there aren't reasonable alternatives and decide to isolate at home. But as household transmission is responsible for a vast majority of infections, and 77% of those infected with COVID admit they cannot effectively isolate at home, why wouldn't more New Yorkers try to find a safe space to quarantine?While it could be fear of leaving their homes, or being surrounded by other sick guests, or not having the knowledge of the program, it's evident that, in order for these programs to be most successful, the city needs to find ways to make it more accessible and the case for isolating effectively more compelling.No one knows about this programMy classmate who also got infected when I did, Nidhi Upadhyaya, only learned about the program after the city contacted her two days after getting tested, once she had already found alternative accommodation."I was absolutely terrified about infecting my roommate," Upadhyaya said. From social media advertisements to billboards to pamphlets handed out at testing centers around the city, there's so much more the city could do to make individuals aware of the program."The program almost seems intentionally hidden," Jon Orbach, my other classmate who tested positive, said. "There could be advertisements on the subway or online. The only way of knowing about this program would have been word of mouth, so any advertisements would have increased public awareness."A spokesperson from NYC Health and Hospitals explained that the city has released multiple campaigns promoting the hotel program, including on social media - though they have mainly been aimed at individuals with COVID-19 or those who have been exposed. My room at the LaGuardia Plaza Hotel. Catherine Morrison Missing from the hotel were New York's homeless - some of the most vulnerable during the pandemic. Between July 2019 and June 2020, 613 homeless New Yorkers died, a 52% increase from the previous year, indicating the tragic effects of the pandemic. With many of the city's homeless living in shelters, where keeping a safe distance is nearly impossible, COVID was the leading cause of this increase in deaths. However, New York is not alone in facing this problem. With over 580,000 people in the United States experiencing homelessness and COVID breakouts occurring in shelters around the country, it's essential that this community have access to services like hotel isolation programs.A spokesperson from NYC Health and Hospitals told me that people are most commonly referred to the program from a medical setting. Unfortunately, the homeless often don't have access to medical services that would allow for them to access referrals or learn about the isolation program. The spokesperson did say that the Department of Homeless Services also maintains a hotel isolation program. While breakthrough cases were once seen as rare, they are now happening all over the country. As cases continue to increase, it's clear that isolation programs will be even more important. Those living in community living situations, with elderly or sick people in their homes, and those with medical issues themselves benefit tremendously from having a safe place to quarantine.It's important that cities that already have services in place work to better market their programs to reach residents and visitors. As well, it's crucial that they integrate the homeless community into their program to ensure they're able to access the shelter they need to recover.For those cities and states that don't yet have hotel isolation programs at all, it's time to work with cities like New York who have established hotel isolation programs to make quarantining spaces available across the country.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsider14 hr. 40 min. ago

Netflix true-crime documentary dives into cryptic death of crypto millionaire Gerald Cotten

QuadrigaCX CEO Gerald Cotten died under strange circumstances in 2018, causing $190 million worth of his clients' funds to go missing. Gerald Cotten. Facebook Netflix announced an upcoming documentary about the Quadriga Bitcoin saga and the death of CEO Gerald Cotten. Cotten's sudden death in 2018 led to the disappearance of millions of dollars worth of his investors' Bitcoin funds. The Netflix documentary will follow investors-turned-investigators looking into theories on the founder's sudden death. See more stories on Insider's business page. A new Netflix true-crime documentary is tackling a bizarre story from the world of cryptocurrency.Netflix's 'Trust No One: The Hunt for the Crypto King' explores the story of Gerald Cotten, founder and CEO of Canadian crypto exchange business QuadrigaCX, whose passed away unexpectedly in 2018.The documentary follows a group of Quadriga investors turned sleuths who dig into the suspicious death of Cotten and the millions of missing cryptocurrency they believe Cotten stole from them, according to a tweet from Netflix announcing the film.Cotten encrypted and stored about $190 million worth of his customers' Bitcoin caches and held sole responsibility for the passwords needed to access those funds. Then, the crypto millionaire suddenly died in India from complications from Crohn's disease about three years ago. Cotten neglected to pass on the passwords to the accounts, and in 2019, when investigators tracked down Cotten's digital wallets, all the money was gone. Customers have since struggled to regain access to their money, citing withdrawl issues and lack of communication from the company. The circumstances sparked speculation from some in the crypto community that the CEO faked his death and stole his clients' money. Official investigations into the matter have yet to produce any definitive answers. A sneak preview of the Netflix doc contains images that suggest the documentary will show the investors dive deeper into these conspiracies.The streaming service announced the feature alongside a slate of upcoming true-crime projects last week. Netflix has seen a boom with its true-crime docuseries, from 'Tiger King' to 'Making a Murderer.' It has led the pack of other streaming giants, producing the most projects in the true-crime genre as of 2020.'Trust No One: The Hunt for the Crypto King' will be released sometime in 2022.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsider14 hr. 40 min. ago

How We Know Bitcoin Is A Force For Good

How We Know Bitcoin Is A Force For Good Authored by Mark Jeftovic via BombThrower.com, Cryptos are the antidote to repressive Central Bank Digital Currencies Yesterday I wrote up why I don’t think any kind of China-style ban on Bitcoin and cryptos would be tenable in (so-called) liberal democracies here in the West. It referenced an earlier piece that described the threefold governance structure I see competing for relevance over the coming decades. Somebody linked to those in the comments from a Tom Luongo piece (which I rather enjoyed enough to subscribe to his newsletter) but when I read through some of the other comments around Bitcoin, how it’s a globalist Trojan horse for surveillance capitalism and social credit I realized I needed to get a piece out to speak specifically to this aspect of future governance. I cover this a lot in The Crypto Capitalist Letter, in fact it’s a pillar of our macro economic thesis (which you can download free here). It all comes down to the differences between real crypto currencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dash, Monero, et al and coming Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs), like China’s Digital Yuan, like the coming FedCoin, and anything else that will be issued by central banks, directly from governments or even in conjunction with Big Tech platforms. There are the two main types of digital money that will co-exist in the future. Each type of digital money corresponds to a governance mode of the future. Which type of this money you make your own or your business’ financial centre of gravity will have an outsized impact on whether you live in the future as a neo-Feudal serf or as a sovereign individual. Each one has its own fundamental architecture, and the governance and economics that result from those architectures reflect the governance models of the mode that is built on them. This is critical and builds on what I’ve been writing about for  years now, drawing on the work of relatively obscure commentators like Vincent Locascio and Steven Zarlenga. The latter who wrote in his Lost Science of Money, whoever controls the monetary system, controls society. “a main arena of human struggle is over the monetary control of societies and that control has been and is now exercised through obscure theories about the nature of money. If it had to be summarized in one sentence, it is that by misdefining the nature of money, special interests have often been able to assume the control of society’s monetary system, and in turn, the society itself. ”. It is because of how fundamentally the monetary architecture is reflected in the governance stack that sits atop of it that I can make the case with rather high confidence that Bitcoin and cryptos are not Trojan horses for globalist control. They are the opposite – they are the mechanisms through which people, all people, any person, the masses – can reclaim their own economic autonomy and become self-ruling and free. The defining feature that makes them so is simply that a liberating crypto-currency is designed such that the blockchain is decentralized anybody can take part in validating the blockchain the possessor controls the private keys to the units he or she owns This is Bitcoin. These are cryptos in general. They may also contain other features that confer a “sound money” status on them, like Bitcoin’s 21 million unit hard cap or Ethereum’s EIP 1559 protocol. But it is these three attributes, especially the last one, of holding one’s own private keys, that make them emancipatory monetary technologies. The crypto folks have an expression: “Not your keys, not your coins”. I expect this to be the defining feature that demarcates the difference between a bona fide crypto currency that empowers its holders and centralized digital cash (tokens) that governments and central banks run to control the populace. Those skeptical of Bitcoin, who suspect a globalist, Davos-inspired regimen of surveillance and social credit are correct about digital cash being the conduit for those, but they’ve simply conflated all forms of digital money and view Bitcoin as typical or a test-run of them. This misconception arises simply from not knowing or understanding the differentiators between a crypto like Bitcoin and a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), like a coming “FedCoin”. CBDCs will very much be tools of elitists to implement top-down command-and-control economics and even Great Reset-style social management through monetary policy. CBDCs will in all likelihood not be designed to put the private keys over the currency units into the hands of its possessor. Digital “cash” under CBDCs will be centrally programmable and implemented without end-user consent across all national governance and Davos-inspired initiatives. CBDCs will be the rails of all manner of economic programs (like UBI and MMT) and social policy objectives which simply are not possible, or desirable under cryptos: Expiry dates on “cash” in your wallet Negative interest rates if you try to save any of it Social credit objectives (no jab / no stimmie) Instant taxation on transactions and payments Social justice pricing (cup of coffee costs 10X if you’re in a higher tax bracket) Built-in climate tariffs Capital controls Infinitely inflatable, issue on demand If you thought the Federal Reserve was suffering from mission creep now that they’ve decided to tackle climate change and social justice, just wait until they get the ability to program what you can do with your monthly stimmie after it already in your wallet. (Anybody remember the original Robocop?) That is what we’re looking at with CBDCs and if that’s your dystopian vision of what digital cash means, you’re not wrong. You’re just misdirecting your apprehensions if you think that’s what Bitcoin means. This is because it and most of the other digital currencies are the antidote to CBDCs. Which is why they are subject to such hostility from policy makers, the corporate press and elites. This will be a battle. A never-ending tension between these two digital money systems – crypto currencies, which are actually fungible, inelastic, deflationary (purchasing power increases over time) and which gives their holders economic autonomy in this new era. On the other side we’ll have these centrally issued, programmable digital tokens. Which side of the ledger the majority of your economic activity happens on will govern your future status as a Neo-Serf or an autonomous Sovereign Individual. If the dynamic becomes extreme it could even result in a kind of monetary Apartheid. The good news is that today, at this moment in time, it’s still largely self-selecting. I’ve written many times, that crypto’s (real cryptos, not CBDCs or even stablecoins) are all about optionality. Crypto’s like Bitcoin confer options on their holders (HODL-ers), while the coming CBDCs will be all about limiting them. *  *  * I cover this dynamic extensively in The Crypto Capitalist Letter, a long with a tactical focus on publicly traded crypto stocks. Get the overall investment / macro thesis free when you subscribe to the Bombthrower mailing list, or try the premium service for a month with our fully refundable trial offer. Tyler Durden Sun, 09/26/2021 - 12:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedge15 hr. 12 min. ago

The "Great Game" Moves On

The 'Great Game' Moves On Authored by Alasdair Macleod via GoldMoney.com, Following America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, her focus has switched to the Pacific with the establishment of a joint Australian and UK naval partnership. The founder of modern geopolitical theory, Halford Mackinder, had something to say about this in his last paper, written for the Council on Foreign Relations in 1943. Mackinder anticipated this development, though the actors and their roles at that time were different. In particular, he foresaw the economic emergence of China and India and the importance of the Pacific region. This article discusses the current situation in Mackinder’s context, taking in the consequences of green energy, the importance of trade in the Pacific region, and China’s current deflationary strategy relative to that of declining western powers aggressively pursuing asset inflation. There is little doubt that the world is rebalancing as Mackinder described nearly eighty years ago. To appreciate it we must look beyond the West’s current economic and monetary difficulties and the loss of its hegemony over Asia, and particularly note the improving conditions of the Asia’s most populous nations. Introduction Following NATO’s defeat in the heart of Asia, and with Afghanistan now under the Taliban’s rule, the Chinese/Russian axis now controls the Asian continental mass. Asian nations not directly related to its joint hegemony (not being members, associates, or dialog partners of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) are increasingly dependent upon it for trade and technology. Sub-Saharan Africa is in its sphere of influence. The reality for America is that the total population in or associated with the SCO is 57% of the world population. And America’s grip on its European allies is slipping. NATO itself has become less relevant, with Turkey drawn towards the rival Asian axis, and its EU members are compromised through trading and energy links with Russia and China. Furthermore, France is pushing the EU towards establishing its own army independent of US-led NATO — quite what its role will be, other than political puffery for France is a mystery. It is against this background that three of the Five Eyes intelligence partnership have formed AUKUS – standing for Australia, UK, and US — and its first agreement is to give Australia a nuclear submarine capability to strengthen the partnership’s naval power in the Pacific. Other capabilities, chiefly aimed at containing the Chinese threat to Taiwan and other allies in the Pacific Ocean, will surely emerge in due course. The other two Five Eyes, Canada and New Zealand, appear to be less keen to confront China. But perhaps they will also have less obvious roles in due course beyond pure intelligence gathering. The US, under President Trump, had failed to contain China’s increasing economic dominance and its rapidly developing technological challenge to American supremacy. Trump’s one success was to peel off the UK from its Cameron/Osbourne policy of strengthening trade and financial ties with China by threatening the UK’s important role in its intelligence partnership with the US. For the UK, the challenge came at a critical time. Brexit had happened, and the UK needed global partners for its future trade and geopolitical strategies, the latter needed to cement its re-emergence onto the world stage following Brexit. Trump held out the carrot of a fast-tracked US/UK trade deal. The Swiss alternative of neutrality in international affairs is not in the UK’s DNA, so realistically the decision was a no-brainer: the UK had to recommit itself entirely to the Anglo-Saxon Five-Eyes partnership with the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand and turn its back on China. But gathering intelligence and building naval power in the Pacific won’t defeat the Chinese. All simulations show that the US, with or without AUKUS, cannot win a military conflict against China. But AUKUS is not a formal model on NATO lines which commits its members by treaty to aggression against a common enemy. While Taiwan remains a specific problem, the objective is almost certainly to discourage China from territorial expansion and protect and give other Pacific nations on the Asian periphery the security to be independent from the SCO behemoth. The trade benefits of closer relationships with these independent nations are also an additional reason for the UK to join the CPTPP — the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. It qualifies for membership through its sovereignty over the Pitcairn Islands. And that is why China has also applied to join. Therefore, AUKUS’s importance is in the signal sent to China and the whole Pacific region, following the abandonment of land-based operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan. The maritime threat to China is a line which must not be crossed. We are entering a new era in the Great Game, where the objective has changed from dominance to containment. Having lost its position of ultimate control in the Eurasian land mass America has selected its partners to retain control over the high seas. And the UK has found a new geopolitical purpose, re-establishing a global role now that it is independent from the EU. The French cannot join the CPTPP being bound into the common trade policies of the EU. Seeing the British escape the strictures of the EU and rapidly obtain more global influence than France could dream of has touched a raw nerve. Mackinder vindicated The father of geopolitics, Halford Mackinder, is frequently quoted and his theories are still relevant to the current situation. Much has been written about Mackinder’s prophecies. His concept of the World Island was first mentioned in his 1904 presentation to the Royal Geographic Society in London: “a pivot state, resulting in its expansion over the marginal lands of Euro-Asia”. In 1943 he updated his views in an article for the Council on Foreign Relations, adding to his heartland theory. Written during the Second World War, his commentary reflected the combatants and their positions at that time. But despite this, he made a perceptive comment relative to the situation today and AUKUS: “Were the Chinese for instance organised by the Japanese to overthrow the Russian Empire and conquer its territory they might constitute the yellow peril to the world’s freedom just because they would add an oceanic frontage to the resources of the great continent.” When Mackinder wrote his article the Japanese had already invaded Manchuria, but their subsequent defeat removed them from an active geopolitical role, and in place of a Soviet defeat China has entered a peaceful partnership with Russia that extends to all its old Central Asian soviet satellites. It is the focus on the ocean frontage that matters, upon which the maritime silk road depends. The article brings into play another aspect mentioned by Mackinder, and that is the Heartland’s tremendous natural resources, “…including enough coal in the Kuznetsk and Krasnoyarsk basins capable of supplying the requirements of the whole world for 300 years”. And: “In 1938 Russia produced more of the following food stuffs than any other country in the world: wheat, barley, oats, rye, and sugar beets. More manganese was produced in Russia than in any other country. It was bracketed with United States in the first place as regards iron and it stood second place in production of petroleum”. Through its partnership with Russia all these latent resources are available to the Chinese and Russian partnership. And the real potential for industrialisation, held back by communism and now by Russian corruption, has barely commenced. After presciently noting that one day the Sahara may become the trap for capturing direct power from the sun (foreseeing solar panels), Mackinder’s article ended on an optimistic note: “A thousand million people of ancient oriental civilisation inhabit the monsoon lands of India and China [today 3 billion, including Pakistan]. They must grow to prosperity in the same years in which Germany and Japan are being tamed to civilisation. They will then balance that other thousand million who live between the Missouri and the Yenisei [i.e., Central and Eastern America, Britain, Europe and Russia beyond the Urals]. A balanced globe of human beings and happy because balanced and thus free.” Both China and now India are rapidly industrialising, becoming part of a balanced globe of humanity. While the West tries to hang on to what it has got rather than progressing, China and India along with all of under-developed Asia are moving rapidly in the direction of individual freedom of economic choice and improvements in living conditions, to which Mackinder was referring. Obviously, there is some way for this process yet to go, displacing western hegemony in the process. America particularly has found the political challenges of change difficult, with its deep state unable to come to terms easily with the implications for its military and economic power. We must hope that Mackinder was right, and the shift of economic power is best to be regarded as the pains of geopolitical evolution rather than conditions for escalating conflict. But in pursuing its green agenda and eschewing carbon fuels, the West is unwittingly handing a gift to Mackinder’s Heartland, because despite diplomatic noises to the contrary China, India and all the SCO membership will continue to use cheap coal, gas, and oil which Asia has in abundance while Western manufacturers are forced by their governments to use expensive and less reliable green energy. Green obsessions and global trade Meanwhile, the West has gone green-crazy. Banning fossil fuels without there being adequate replacements must be a new definition of insanity, for which the current fuel crises in Europe attest. With over 95% of European logistics currently being shifted by diesel power, switching to battery power or hydrogen by 2030 by banning sales of new internal combustion engine vehicles is a hostage to fortune. While it is hardly mentioned, presumably the Western powers think that by banning carbon fuels they will take the wind out of Russia’s energy quasi-monopoly, because including gas Russia is the largest exporter of fossil fuels in the world. Instead, the West is creating an energy shortage for itself, a point driven home by Gazprom withholding gas flows through its pipelines to Europe, thereby driving up Europe’s energy costs sharply and ensuring a far more severe energy crisis this winter. Even if Russia turns on the taps tomorrow, there is insufficient gas storage in reserve for the winter months. And Europe and the UK have got ahead of themselves by decommissioning coal and gas-fired electricity. In the UK, a massive undersea gas storage facility off the Yorkshire coast has been closed, leaving precious little national storage capacity. As we have seen with the post-covid supply chain chaos, energy problems will not only become acute this winter, but are likely to persist through much of next year. And even that assumes Russia relents and moderates its energy stance to European customers. By way of contrast, though its partnership with Russia China is gifted unlimited access to all carbon fuels. She is still building coal-fired electricity power stations at an extraordinary rate — according to a BBC report there are 61 new ones being commissioned. A further 51 outside China are planned. As a sop to the West China has only said she won’t finance any more outside her territory. And India relies on coal for over two-thirds of its electrical energy. While Europe and America through their green obsessions are denying themselves the availability and technologies that go with carbon fuels, the Russian/Chinese axis will continue to reap the full benefits. The West’s response is likely to be to decry Chinese pollution and its contribution to global warming, but realistically there is little it can do. Demand for Chinese-manufactured goods will continue because China now has a quasi-monopoly on global manufacturing for export. In the unlikely event western consumers become avid savers while their governments continue to run massive budget deficits, their trade deficits will rise even more, allowing Chinese exporters to increase prices for consumers and intermediate goods without losing export sales. While there is nothing it can do about China’s production methods, AUKUS members will undoubtedly lean on other exporting CPTPP members to comply with global green policies. But they will be competing with China, and while they may pay lip service to the climate change agenda, in practice they are unlikely to implement it without holding out for unrealistic subsidies from the western nations driving the climate change agenda. Under current circumstances, it seems unlikely that China’s CPTPP application will lead to membership, given the CPTPP requirement for China’s central government to relinquish ownership of its SOEs and to permit the free flow of data across its borders. In any event, China is focused on developing its Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free trade agreement with ratification signed so far by China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. It will come into effect when ratified by ten out of the fifteen signatories, likely to be in the first half of 2022, and in terms of population will be two and a half times the size of the EU and the US/Mexico/Canada (USMCA) trade agreements combined. With four out of five of the signatories being American allies, RCEP demonstrates that the AUKUS defence partnership is an entirely separate issue from trade. While the US may not like it, if RCEP goes ahead freer trade will almost certainly undermine a belligerent stance in due course. Despite hiccups, the progression of trade dealing in the Pacific region promises to prove Mackinder right about the prospect of a more balanced world. All being well and guaranteed by a balance of naval capabilities between AUKUS and China, a free-trading Pacific region will render the European and American trade protectionist policies an anachronism. But the threat is now from another direction: financial instability, with western nations pulling in one direction and China in another. Since the Lehman collapse and the ensuing financial crisis, China has been careful to prevent financial bubbles. Figure 1 shows that the Shanghai Composite Index has risen 82% since 2008, while the S&P500 rose 430%. While the US has seen financial asset values driven by a combination of QE and investor speculation, these factors are absent and discouraged in China. Government debt to GDP is about half that of the US. It is true that industrial debt is high, like that of the US. But the difference is that in China debt is more productive while in America there has been a growing preponderance of debt zombies, only kept solvent by zero interest rate policies. China’s policy of ensuring that the expansion of bank credit is invested in production and not speculation differs fundamentally from the US approach, which is to deliberately inflate financial assets to perpetuate a wealth effect. China avoids the destabilising potential of speculative flows unwinding because it lays the economy open to the possibility that America will use financial instability to undermine China’s economy. In a speech to the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee in April 2015, Major-General Qiao Liang, the People’s Liberation Army strategist, identified a cycle of dollar weakness against other currencies followed by strength, which first inflated debt in foreign countries and then bankrupted them. Qiao argued it was a deliberate American policy and would be used against China. In his words, it was time for America to “harvest” China. Drawing on Chinese intelligence reports, in early 2014 he was made aware of American involvement in the “Occupy Central” movement in Hong Kong. After several delays, the Fed announced the end of QE the following September which drove the dollar higher, and “Occupy Central” protests broke out the following month. To Qiao the two events were connected. By undermining the dollar/yuan rate and provoking riots, the Americans had tried to crash China’s economy. Within six months the Shanghai stock market began to collapse with the SSE Composite Index falling from 5,160 to 3,050 between June and September 2015. One cannot know for certain if Qiao’s analysis was correct, but one can understand the Chinese leadership’s continued caution based upon it. For this and other reasons, the Chinese leadership is extremely wary of having dollar liabilities and the accumulation of unproductive, speculative money in the economy. It justifies their strict exchange control regime, whereby dollars are not permitted to circulate in China, and all inward capital flows are turned into yuan by the PBOC. Furthermore, domestic monetary policy appears deliberately different from that of America and other western nations. While everyone else has been inflating their way through covid, China has been restricting domestic credit expansion and curtailing shadow banking. The discount rate is held up at 2.9% with market rates slightly lower at 2.2%, and the only reason it is that low is because alternative dollar rates are at zero and EU and Japanese rates are negative. It is this restrictive monetary policy that has led to the current crisis in property developers, with the very public difficulties of Evergrande. Far from being a surprise event, with cautious monetary policies it could have been easily foreseen. Moreover, the government has a sensible policy of not rescuing private sector businesses in trouble, though it is likely to take steps to limit financial contagion. In their glass houses, Western critics continually throw stones at China. But at least her policy makers have attempted to avoid contributing to the global inflation cycle. With prices beginning to rise at an accelerating pace in western currencies, a new global financial crash is in the making. China and her SCO cohort would be adversely affected, but not to the same extent. The fruits of China’s policies of restricting credit expansion are showing in the commodity prices she pays, which in her own currency have increased by ten per cent less than for dollar-based competition, judging by the exchange rate movements since the Fed reduced its funds rate to the zero bound and instigated monthly QE of $120bn on 19-23 March 2020 (see Figure 2). And while both currencies have moved broadly sideways since January, there is little doubt that the fundamentals point to an even stronger yuan and weaker dollar. The domestic benefits of a relatively stronger yuan outweigh the margin compression suffered by China’s exporters. It is worth noting that as well as moderating credit demand, China is attempting to increase domestic consumer spending at the expense of the savings rate, so consumer demand will begin to matter more than exports to producers. It is in line with a long-term objective of China becoming less dependent on exports, and exporters will benefit from domestic sales growth instead. Furthermore, with China dominating global exports of intermediate and consumer goods and while western budget deficits are increasing and leading to yet greater trade deficits, Chinese exporters should be able to secure higher prices anyway. There can be little doubt that the budget deficits financed by monetary inflation in America, the EU, Japan and the UK, plus central bank stimulus packages are now undermining the purchasing power of all the major currencies. The consequences for their purchasing powers are now becoming apparent and attempts to calm markets and consumers by describing them as transient cuts little ice. In terms of their purchasing powers, these currencies are now in a race to the bottom. Not only are the costs of production rising sharply, but following a brief pause of three months, commodity and energy prices look set to rise sharply. Figure 3 shows the Invesco commodity tracker, which having almost doubled since March 2020 now appears to be attempting a break out on the upside. Since global competitiveness is no longer a priority, China would be sensible to let its yuan exchange rate rise against western currencies to help keep a lid on domestic prices and costs. It is, after all, a savings driven economy, with the sustainable characteristics of a strong currency relative to the dollar. Conclusions Having failed in their land-based military objectives, America’s undeclared tariff and financial wars against China are also coming to an end, to be replaced by a policy of maritime containment through the AUKUS partnership. Attempts to stem strategic losses in Asia have now ended with the withdrawal from Afghanistan and from other interventions.The change in geopolitical policy is not yet widely appreciated. But the parlous state of US finances, dollar market bubbles, persistent and increasing price inflation and the inevitability of interest rate increases will make a policy backstop of maritime containment the only geostrategic option left to America. By pursuing more cautious monetary policies, China is less exposed to the inevitable consequences of global monetary inflation. While yuan currency rates are managed instead of set by markets, it is now in China’s interest to see a stronger yuan to contain domestic price and cost inflation. Even though fiat currencies could be destroyed by imploding asset bubbles, these factors contribute to a set of circumstances that appear to lead to a more peaceable outcome for the world than appeared likely before America and NATO withdrew from Afghanistan. There’s many a slip between cup and lip; but it was an outcome forecast by Halford Mackinder nearly eighty years ago. Let us hope he was right. Tyler Durden Sun, 09/26/2021 - 08:10.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nyt18 hr. 28 min. ago

How to tell if you"re a covert narcissist

Our work-advice columnist tells a reader how to tell if they're a narcissist, plus a look inside Launch House's work-hard-play-hard culture, in Insider Weekly. Welcome back to Insider Weekly! I'm Matt Turner, co-EIC of business at Insider."Am I a covert narcissist?"That's the question at the heart of Rebecca Knight's latest work-advice column this week. Rebecca's spent her career answering these kinds of questions, most often focused on the emotional life of work. As boundaries between home and work blur in the WFH era, they're more relevant than ever.Also in this week's newsletter:Noom markets itself as an anti-diet app. Users say they count calories and receive generic advice from expensive subscriptions.Private-equity firms are locked in a power struggle with their investors, and lawyers are raking in cash no matter what.Launch House allows startup founders to live and work in mansions. Now it's facing scrutiny over safety.Let me know what you think of all our stories at mturner@insider.comSubscribe to Insider for access to all our investigations and features. New to the newsletter? Sign up here. Download our app for news on the go - click here for iOS and here for Android.From narcissism to hybrid life, our work-life columnist tackles tough questions 20th Century Fox Correspondent Rebecca Knight takes us behind the scenes of her work-life column What's Working?:What most interests me about work and careers are the people-problems. When launching my column, "What's Working?", I wanted to find a way to talk about these things and help workers through the challenges they face.Work and home have merged into one in this pandemic. There is much more of an acknowledgement and a focus on what's going on in our personal lives outside of work. The reader questions I'm getting most often are about personality clashes in the remote setup and about people reassessing what they want out of their lives and out of their jobs.My most memorable column so far was about remote-work paranoia. A reader worried: "There must be another Slack channel that everyone else is having fun on and leaving me out of." That reader tapped into something that a lot of us are feeling right now - and as a remote employee myself, I sometimes feel it, too.So that's why it's important to remember that we're all doing our best in this pandemic. Have compassion for yourself and for others. And if you need any advice, send me a question at rknight@insider.com.Read Rebecca's latest column here: 'I always thought that I was a socially anxious introvert. Now I worry I'm a narcissist. What do I do?'Noom says it offers personalized weight-loss support. Users say otherwise. Noom An industry leader in weight-loss apps, Noom has millions of dollars worth of venture-capital funding. It claims to use psychological methods and customized plans to help users lose weight - though users say they largely get cookie-cutter content. While the app sells itself on a concept of psychological reset and long-term weight control, a registered dietician said Noom advises an extremely low daily calorie goal - "It's not really an adult serving size." Here's why some clients reported feeling anxious and burnt out. Get the full story on Noom's canned advice and expensive subscription service.Private-equity firms are locked in a power struggle with their investors Samantha Lee/Insider Private-equity firms and their investors are at each other's throats with expensive demands and competing interests. Legal teams from both parties are caught in the middle, waging a secret war that investor attorneys see as "a game of holding the line." Ambiguous contractual changes between legal teams, firms, and investors muddy the water, and changes are rarely uniform across the industry. The back-and-forth often results in seven-figure legal expenses, as private-equity-firm billing rates can cost up to $1,500 per hour. But the battle, according to one attorney who works for investors, is one-sided in favor of private-equity.Read about the expensive legal war between private-equity firms and their investorsA wild party and COVID outbreak have raised safety concerns for Launch House Eray Alan Los Angeles startup Launch House, a coliving program meant for founders, threw a mismanaged house party with hundreds of guests. Police had to shut it down - but that's part of the "work hard, play hard" ethos of Launch House, according to former residents.While at times, Launch House was poorly controlled and potentially unsafe, with COVID-19 outbreaks and parties, residents also said there were many benefits. A strong community, invaluable network, and fireside chats with like-minded entrepreneurs all remain part of the culture. But the safety concerns have put the company under scrutiny.This is how Launch House plans to move forward - with the help of venture capitalists.More of this week's top reads:Better's CEO has a specific hiring philosophy that allowed him to quadruple its workforce during the pandemic.These 9 BlackRock execs are powering Aladdin, a powerful behind-the-scenes tech software the asset manager has staked its future on.Shopify beat Amazon in one important metric, as competition intensifies between the e-commerce giants.Insider correspondent Kate Taylor exposed Brandy Melville's allegations of discrimination and sexual exploitation. Here's how she got the story. Alphabet life-sciences unit Verily is planning to untangle itself from Google ahead of a potential IPO.This Stitch Fix employee quit during a fiery all-hands meeting. She says stylists are being manipulated and silenced.Investors of cannabis startup Civilized are pushing out the founders. Insider has the full memo.Compiled with help from Phil Rosen, Lisa Ryan and Jordan Erb.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nyt20 hr. 56 min. ago

An NYC restaurant owner raised staff wages to $25 an hour. She"s had no trouble recruiting - but still doesn"t think she pays employees enough.

Amanda Cohen raised menu prices by 30% to afford a $25-an-hour starting wage for staff. She's had no issue hiring - and diners accept the new prices. Across the US, restaurant workers have been demanding better pay and working conditions. Damien Eagers/PA Images via Getty Images A Manhattan restaurant owner raised prices so she could pay all staff a $25-an-hour starting wage. "I still don't think we pay them enough," Amanda Cohen, owner of Dirt Candy, told Insider. Restaurants are struggling to find staff - but Cohen says she hasn't had "a single problem." See more stories on Insider's business page. A Manhattan restaurant owner thinks the $25-an-hour starting wage she pays her staff still isn't high enough.Amanda Cohen, who owns vegetarian tasting restaurant Dirt Candy, hiked up wages when she reopened indoor dining in May 2021, after realizing how badly some workers struggled financially during lockdown.Cohen said she previously thought she paid her staff a decent wage, but that it became clear she was not paying them enough. The pandemic forced her to close her restaurant in March 2020 and lay off her 30 employees."I know none of them have enough savings to weather this," she told Insider. "I want my staff to have more."While the restaurant was closed, she decided that she'd raise wages when she reopened.The chefs were previously paid between $18 and $21 an hour and front-of-house staff between $23 and $25. Now their wages all start at $25, with built-in raises based on the length of service, she said."I still don't think we pay them enough," she said.Cohen said that even before the pandemic, the restaurant industry was rife with poaching and had "really turned into this gig economy where these cooking jobs started to feel really disposable, as though you could hop from one to the next" for better wages.During the pandemic, restaurant workers have been demanding better pay and working conditions, "justifiably so," Cohen said. Some workers quit the industry, causing restaurants to slash hours, limit services, or even close for good.It's not just restaurants that have been hit by what's billed as "The Great Resignation." Businesses ranging from ride-hailing apps and small stores to hotels and delivery services have been struggling to find new workers or retain existing staff, saying they don't need to take low-paying jobs in such a competitive labor market.Cohen said Dirt Candy, which now has around 25 staff, provides employees with paid time off and health insurance. She said that in other industries, these provisions were "just standard, but in a restaurant, somehow it became sort of the norm not to treat our employees like professionals."The restaurant also has a no-tipping policy, which has been in place since 2015."We don't have to trick you into paying a 20% 'tip' at the end of your meal to cover our labor costs," Dirt Candy says on its website.Cohen said some staff had left Dirt Candy during the pandemic to move to a new town or different industry, but that she'd been able to find replacements easily."We have not had a single problem with finding staff," she said.Cohen said that the wage hikes meant she had to raise prices by around 30%.She streamlined the restaurant's menu, too. Previously, it offered tasting menus of five and ten courses, but now it just offers one five-course menu, which she said slashed the restaurant's food costs and meant she could afford to pay staff more."We put the focus on staff comes first and everything comes second," Cohen said. "I can't succeed without a staff."Other restaurants have voiced concerns that price hikes could lead to fewer visitors, but Cohen said her menu changes hadn't deterred diners. She said that the restaurant, which seats 44, was serving between 85 and 90 diners on an average night, which was roughly the same as pre-pandemic."I think for a pandemic, we're doing just fine," she said.Do you own or manage a restaurant that's struggling to find staff? Or are you a hospitality worker who quit your job - or the industry - over pay, benefits, or working conditions? Contact this reporter at gdean@insider.com.Expanded Coverage Module: what-is-the-labor-shortage-and-how-long-will-it-lastRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nyt22 hr. 56 min. ago

Watch a raven take out a Google drone mid-air as the tech giant is forced to ground its home delivery service due to bird attacks

The delivery service, operated by Alphabet-owned company Wing, was suspended after nesting ravens felt threatened by the drones and attacked. Muhammed Enes Yildirim/Anadolu Agency/Robert Alexander/Getty Images Home delivery drones in Australia had to be suspended after they were repeatedly attacked by birds. Delivery service operator Wing said it would wait while researchers assess the birds' behavior. A man who filmed one of the attacks said "it's only a matter of time" until a drone is brought down. See more stories on Insider's business page. A home drone delivery service in Canberra, Australia, was forced to temporarily shut down after its devices kept getting attacked by ravens guarding their nests, The Canberra Times reported.Wing, operated by Google's overarching company Alphabet, has been delivering everything from coffee, medicine, and office supplies to Canberra residents since 2019. But on Tuesday, it announced it would be pausing its services due to several reported incidents of ravens swooping down on the flying machines. This comes at a time where demand for drone deliveries is surging due to Canberra's ongoing coronavirus lockdown. The latest attack was captured on video and posted online by Ben Roberts, a local resident who orders coffee every morning with the service.He told The Canberra Times: "It's a matter of time before they bring one down. They think it's Terminator or something."Magpies as well as other birds like hawks and wedge-tailed eagles have also been known to attack drones.You can watch the video here. In a statement to customers in the local area, Wing said: "We've identified some birds in the area demonstrating territorial behaviors and swooping at moving objects," according to ABC News Australia."While this is common during nesting season, we are committed to being strong stewards of the environment, and would like to have ornithological experts investigate this further to ensure we continue to have minimal impact on birdlife in our service locations."A spokesperson for the company also said that contact with birds is very rare out of the many thousands of drone deliveries."In the unlikely event that a bird makes direct contact with our drone, we have multiple levels of redundancy built into our operations to ensure we can continue to fly safely," the spokesperson said, according to The Times."Service will be temporarily paused for a small number of our customers in Harrison during this time," a spokeswoman told the Canberra Times.Ornithologist Neil Hermes told ABC News Australia that while ravens are very territorial, they have never attacked drones before."They will swoop dogs and activity around their nests, but attacking drones is new," Hermes said. Wayne Condon, the chief pilot and instructor with UAV Training Australia, told the network that drone operators should avoid known nesting locations."At the end of the day, it's their sky, and we are the visitor. Fingers crossed, if you act fast enough, you'll be able to save your aircraft and not injure the bird!" Condon told The Canberra Times. Last month, a 5-month-old infant tragically died in Brisbane, Australia, after the mother dropped it trying to dodge a swooping magpie.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nyt22 hr. 56 min. ago

Pret A Manger is tempting US coffee lovers with its subscription service, capitalizing on a booming trend among retailers

Pret A Manger's announcement follows a successful rollout in the UK, which garnered 16,500 subscriptions on its debut day. In 2020, Pret garnered 16,500 subscriptions on its first day in the UK. Photo by: Newscast/Universal Images Group via Getty Images Pret A Manger has launched its coffee-subscription program in New York City and Washington, D.C. It follows a successful rollout in the UK, which garnered 16,500 subscriptions on its debut day. The coffee market is showing resilience, said an expert from the Speciality Coffee Association. See more stories on Insider's business page. Cafe chain Pret A Manger has launched its coffee subscription service in New York and Washington D.C., the company recently announced. Its US debut comes after a successful rollout in the UK market. In 2020, Pret garnered 16,500 subscriptions on its first day in the UK. "After seeing success in the UK market, Pret A Manger is eager to offer its US customers a program with similar benefits, starting with a free first month for all new subscribers," the company said in a statement. The coffee market has shown resilience during the pandemic, according to Peter Giuliano, chief research officer of the Speciality Coffee Association. "Lots of people were predicting reduced coffee consumption caused by the pandemic, some even predicting the end of the small coffee shop," he told Insider. Some brands have been able to adapt to a new normal, however. "Chains who made a strong pivot to at home consumption, focusing on programs like subscription services, seemed more resilient during the pandemic," Giuliano said.The service will operate via Apple or Google digital wallets or QR codes, which are emailed to subscribers. As in the UK, customers have to wait 30 minutes between each order using the service. This is to prevent people buying drinks wastefully or for friends without a subscription, Insider's Grace Dean reported. "We recognize our customers need for ease, flexibility and value, and this subscription model will be able to provide that," said Jorrie Bruffett, president of Pret A Manger in the US.Bruffett said the chain has also invested in new technology to enhance the overall customer experience. "This innovation in technology comes with a new app redesign and more exclusive perks to be launched later this year," he said in a statement. The subscription economy has experienced growth of more than 435% over the last nine years, according to Zuora, a subscription-management platform.Like Pret, other chains in the restaurant space have tested out subscription-based models as a way to retain customers. Restaurants are following the success of models from Netflix and Amazon in the subscription sales industry, which is projected to hit $263 billion by 2025 according to Juniper Research. In 2020, Panera debuted an unlimited-coffee subscription for its MyPanera loyalty program members, which costs $9 a month, or about $108 annually. More recently, Taco Bell announced it is testing an in-app-only taco subscription in Arizona for $5. Customers who sign up for a Taco Lover's Pass can indulge in a free taco daily, for 30 days. Pret's subscription service was first launched as a plan to turn around its finances, which were knocked by the COVID-19 pandemic. The company's sales slumped 74% in 2020, compared with 2019. Insider's Grace Dean reported. It also cut a third of its UK workforce in 2020 and closed multiple stores in the US.But Sean Keith, director of new business development at Eagle Eye, which powers Pret's subscription, previously told Insider that the subscription program was a success for bringing in new customers and keeping them coming back."We see businesses that are playing in subscriptions are out-competing businesses that are not," he said. Pret's classic plan is $19.99 a month and includes all organic coffees and teas with a flavored syrup add-on. Its premium plan costs $29.99 a month and includes all espresso-based, barista-made drinks, as well as organic coffees and teas with an espresso shot or flavored syrup add-on. Both plans include hot or iced drinks of any size. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nyt22 hr. 56 min. ago

Trump says he has "a mouth that tells the truth" while making false statements at Georgia rally

"They want to go after me because I have, they think, a big mouth I don't have a big mouth... I have a mouth that tells the truth," Trump said President Donald Trump discusses the potential impact of Hurricane Michael during a meeting with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and FEMA Administrator Brock Long in the Oval Office of the White House on October 10, 2018 in Washington, DC. Win McNamee/Getty Images Former President Donald Trump slammed the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in a rally in Georgia on Saturday. Trump said Democrats think he has a "big mouth" and don't want him to talk about Afghanistan. Trump claimed he only speaks the "truth" but delivered a speech filled with inaccuracies and lies. See more stories on Insider's business page. Former President Donald Trump said Democrats are "after" him because they think he has a "big mouth" during a rally in Georgia on Saturday. "They want to go after me because I have, they think, a big mouth. I don't have a big mouth, you know what I have, I have a mouth that tells the truth," Trump told the crowd. The former president was discussing the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in a speech filled with inaccuracies and false statements. Trump recounted a bizarre exchange of what he said happened when Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar learned of the US withdrawal. "He gets a call or a message. It said the military has left. He said 'you're nuts' in their language," Trump said of Baradar. Trump blamed President Joe Biden for sending people to Afghanistan to help with the withdrawal "who weren't even familiar with all of it" including 13 service members who were killed in an ISIS-K terror attack.However, it was Trump who started the process to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, at one point even bragging about it.Trump falsely claimed those evacuated were not eligible to be evacuated. He also claimed the administration "abandoned hundreds of American citizens in enemy-occupied territory." The US began evacuating Americans and Afghan allies soon after the Taliban took over Kabul on August 15. Biden considered extending the August 31 deadline to withdraw all troops from the country but the Taliban threatened "consequences" if the US did not leave by the deadline.More than 120,000 people had been evacuated from the country by the time the last US plane left Kabul. Evacuees were vetted before boarding flights out of the country, in secondary stops, as well as before coming into the US, for those who are being processed to be resettled here. Trump also criticized Republicans at the rally and reiterated the false claim that the 2020 presidential election was rigged. He was joined by three Republicans who he's endorsed: Herschel Walker, who recently launched a Senate campaign, Rep. Jody Hice, who he's endorsed to replace Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and Sen. Burt Jones, who worked to overturn the election results in Georgia, the Associated Press reported. The former president used the rally to slam officials like Raffensperger, a Republican who maintained the election in the state was fair and accurate. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytSep 26th, 2021