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Bob Menendez will ‘100%’ not be removed from Senate because the Dems won’t do it: Clay Travis

Bob Menendez will ‘100%’ not be removed from Senate because the Dems won’t do it: Clay Travis.....»»

Category: topSource: yahooDec 3rd, 2023

After racist threats forced a Southeast Asian restaurant to close down, the owner reopened a new restaurant as an homage to his immigrant parents

The stereotype of Asians eating dogs is rooted in outdated beliefs. David Rasavong opened his restaurant as a homage to his immigrant parents. He closed his previous restaurant after false accusations of serving dog meat.Richard Vogel/AP PhotoA Southeast Asian restaurant closed down last year after facing false accusations of serving dog meat.The accusations are grounded in the racist stereotype of Asians eating dogs.The restaurant reopened recently with support from the community.David Rasavong first noticed strange reviews for his Fresno restaurant on a Monday night in May. He had just put his kids to bed when he saw several Google reviews mentioning dog meat. Rasavong didn't think too much of it; just reported them to Google before going to sleep.The next morning, Rasavong woke up to find his restaurant's Yelp, Facebook, Instagram, and email accounts flooded with dozens of scathing reviews and comments. Rasavong recalled some of them: "Disgusting." "How can you do this?" "You guys should be arrested."They accused the restaurant of killing, selling, and serving dog meat.Rasavong soon discovered that a supposed animal rights activist had taken to social media to imply that a dog tied up at someone else's house next door would be served on his restaurant Tasty Thai's menu.Within days of the accusation — grounded in the racist stereotype of Asians eating dogs — Rasavong shuttered his restaurant, which he had opened just seven months earlier as a homage to his immigrant parents. It no longer felt safe with the continuing stream of harassment and the people lingering outside the restaurant.Rasavong's parents are from Laos and spent about two years in refugee camps in Thailand before immigrating to the United States in 1981.Courtesy of David RasavongA harmful racist stereotypeRasavong particularly remembers the phone calls he fielded at the restaurant."Naively, I thought we could talk sense to people," Rasavong told Business Insider. "But when I started listening to the voice mails and taking calls, it was, 'Go back to your country, you're disgusting. You guys are all dog eaters.'"There were also vitriolic comments online, including people who said, "This is why I don't eat at Chinese restaurants," falsely conflating all Asians, according to Rasavong.The harassment didn't stop there. After Tasty Thai received the barrage of negative reviews, Rasavong said a handful of other Asian restaurants in the area also began getting phone calls and verbal attacks."It broke my heart," Rasavong said.Anna Le Nguyen and Minh Rasavong Oriyavong help out in the kitchen of Love & Thai.Richard Vogel/APThe stereotype of Asians eating dog meat is rooted in outdated and exaggerated beliefs, harnessed as a means of othering and exoticizing Asian people. The practice has persisted in the US for more than 150 years, grounded in xenophobia toward the arrival of Chinese immigrants in the 1800s.During the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis, a replica of a Filipino village featuring a group of Igorot tribe members grilling dogs. Staged just two years after the US won the Philippine-American War, the exhibition was advertised as "The Call of the Wild: Head-Hunting, Dog-Eating, Wild People from the Philippines."More recently in 2016, an Oregon senate candidate apologized after he said Vietnamese refugees were a "huge problem" because they were "harvesting people's dogs and cats."The stereotype has only intensified amid a surge in anti-Asian sentiment and hate crimes during the coronavirus pandemic. In 2022, Asian-owned businesses saw the largest increase in hate speech on Yelp, according to the review platform's latest annual trust and safety report. In 2021, Yelp removed just nine anti-Asian posts. In 2022, it removed 475.Rallying togetherIn November, Rasavong reopened his restaurant under a new name: Love & Thai."The name means the world to us. It's how I pay homage to my parents," he told Business Insider.Rasavong's parents have three children and eight grandchildren.Courtesy of David RasavongRasavong was surprised and heartened by the support he received from the community around him. Local and international graphic designers, interior designers, and artists offered their services for free, while local organizations helped get the word out.A mural in the new restaurant, painted by local artist Hana Luna Her, depicts Rasavong's mother when she was young, dressed in traditional Laotian clothing. She stands next to an elephant, the national animal of Laos, and expansive rice fields that blend into the Golden Gate Bridge, where Rasavong's parents immigrated to in 1981, and Fresno, where the restaurant is located. Above the mural are the words, "Spread the love."The mural by Hana Luna Her at Love & Thai pays homage to Rasavong's family's journey to America.Courtesy of David Rasavong"We believe that's the most important thing. There's too much hate and anger toward each other in this day and age," Rasavong said.Customers have flocked to Love & Thai and shown their support, and Rasavong wants to share that support with others in the community."I want the community to continue to support each other, to give each other the benefit of the doubt before assuming things based on stereotypes," Rasavong said. "We'll all be in a better place for it."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytJan 13th, 2024

Meet the families who are ditching America to travel abroad as digital nomads

Digital nomads are uprooting their kids from American schools to enjoy a globetrotting life of private chefs and European castles. Remote work has lead to a boom in people traveling the world — and now people are taking their kids with them.Arantza Pena PopoShirly and Erez Weinstein had in many ways achieved the American dream. They immigrated to the United States from Israel in the early aughts, bought a house in the suburbs of Atlanta with access to high-quality public schools for their two kids, and excelled in their tech careers. There was just one problem: They weren't happy."Our life was just really busy," Shirly Weinstein told me. "Work, school, after-school — we hardly had any down time or time as a family."They also weren't satisfied with the education options for their kids. "We wanted something more from school," Erez Weinstein said. "We tried Montessori, charter, public, but all these different options felt like more of the same."The kids felt similarly. "Life was boring," Ella, their 11-year-old daughter, told me. So, to shake things up, in 2018 the family sold most of their possessions, bought an RV, and started traveling full time around the US and abroad while homeschooling.For the next four years, the kids did not attend formal classes, instead learning from their experiences in different countries, and did occasional academic work on digital platforms like Khan Academy. Then, in 2022, the family learned about Boundless Life, a startup trying to build a global network for digital-nomad families, complete with built-in community, project-based education, and furnished homes where families live for three months at a time.While the phrase "digital nomad" might conjure an image of a single 27-year-old software engineer writing code from a hostel in Chiang Mai, Thailand, Boundless Life — which has locations in Portugal, Indonesia, Italy, and Greece — targets a different demographic of long-term travelers: parents and their elementary-school-age children. The startup's aim, according to its cofounder Mauro Repacci, is to allow parents "the freedom to travel as a single person might, but with your kids."Boundless Life is one of a handful of programs — like the Green School in Bali and The Hive in the Dominican Republic — that cater primarily to international students and their remote-working parents. While there isn't great data on it, experts I spoke with say that only a small fraction of the estimated 35 million global digital nomads are traveling with children — which makes sense. Whether figuring out school or supporting kids' ability to maintain lasting friendships, many parents are wary of uprooting their families' lives for long-term travel.But with the growth of remote work and newfound energy to reimagine education in response to the coronavirus pandemic, businesses are jumping at the opportunity to make "nomading" with children a real possibility.Last summer I visited the Boundless campus in Sintra, Portugal. When I arrived by train from Lisbon, it was easy to see why the company had chosen the medieval mountain town as its pilot location. The Moorish castles and orange clay roofs give the town a classic European charm, and it has just the right amount of creature comforts and English-speaking waitstaff to please less adventurous travelers. At just shy of 400,000 inhabitants, Sintra is also big enough to absorb the 25 Boundless families without the expats dominating all the local haunts. At school, kids are fed organic meals made by a local chef.Simone StolzoffThe Boundless community, which includes families from around the world, felt a bit like a family camp. Families each had their own private accommodations scattered throughout the city, but they frequently spent time at one another's apartments for meals and aperitifs. Parents went out for afternoon espressos and lingered at school drop-off to chat about business opportunities before heading to a mosaic-tiled coworking space replete with WiFi and Portuguese custard tarts.In the school, a remodeled two-story building blocks away from Sintra's castles, mixed-aged groups of students hunched over tubs of water to learn about density and volume. For lunch, the kids ate organic meals provided by a local chef. After school, kids from different families entertained themselves in the cobblestone streets and parks under light adult supervision. Tim, a freelance computer programmer from Ohio, joined Boundless in 2022 after taking his kids out of school at the start of COVID. "The school said 'Zoom Kindergarten,' and I said screw that," he told me.One couple from Seattle — Edward, a marketing consultant, and Jessica, an entrepreneur — not only pulled their four kids under 13 out of school to sign on with Boundless Life, but they also persuaded another family to join them for the experiment. "We wanted to travel, but you can't babysit a 1-year-old and homeschool a 7-year-old at the same time," Jessica said. "Education was the question. If we could figure out the education piece, the rest would fall into place."According to Boundless' cofounder and head of education, Rekha Magon, Boundless' vision is for families to hop to Sintra for a semester and then to Italy's Tuscany region for another, all while their children progress through the same curriculum, which extends from preschool to age 12. "Education should be removed from a single building and exist in the world," she told me. I've had more social interactions in the past week than months back home — and I didn't have to send a single email to coordinate.This was perfect for the Weinsteins, who consider themselves part of the worldschooling movement — a growing community of families who have decided to eschew traditional education in favor of long-term travel and "learning from the school of life," as Erez Weinstein told me.Compared with all the education options they had tried in Atlanta, Boundless was the first school that seemed to align with their desire for project-based learning with a global perspective. "If Boundless had locations all over the world, we would be set," Shirly Weinstein said. "It's beyond travel. It's experiencing the world." And while the kids seemed to be thriving, perhaps the true beneficiaries were the parents. As one Boundless parent told me, "I've had more social interactions in the past week than months back home — and I didn't have to send a single email to coordinate."Boundless had recreated the village.As a Brazilian from Montreal with Italian ancestry, Mauro Repacci is a fitting founder for a company that promotes global citizenship. The idea for Boundless came about after Repacci and his cofounder Marcos Carvalho sold their previous company, a home-buying platform called NestReady, and were looking to take a sabbatical. It was the summer of 2021. COVID restrictions were loosening and the built-up demand for travel was palpable."During the pandemic, like many people, we started to ask how we wanted to live our life, how we wanted to raise our kids," Repacci told me. "And we felt like we were limiting ourselves by staying in the same country for a long time." He added, "We felt something was missing." He started to tell friends about his aspiration to travel and take time off — perhaps a few months in Costa Rica, another few in Europe or Southeast Asia. His friends were intrigued by the idea of long-term travel but had hesitations about their kids falling behind in school.The Boundless founders chose the medieval mountain town of Sintra, Portugal as their first location.Rolf E. Staerk/ShutterstockRepacci and Carvalho started a WhatsApp group with dozens of friends and friends of friends who were all trying to figure out how to make long-term travel work with kids. They researched international schools and looked into the feasibility of hiring a private tutor to travel with them full time. Their brainstorming quickly transformed into a business idea. According to Lona Alia, the head of revenue for the nomad-travel-insurance provider SafetyWing, several factors have led to the growth of digital-nomad families. "There's remote work, the availability of high-speed internet, flexible schooling, and Airbnb," Alia, who is part of a digital-nomad family herself, told me. But perhaps the biggest factor is a cultural shift toward the value of experiences, Alia said. "Many people are realizing that the traditional path of acquiring material goods isn't necessarily the key to happiness, and are instead choosing to invest in experiences, such as travel."For the Boundless founders, figuring out the education piece of the puzzle was key. For families to actually be able to make the leap, Boundless would need a curriculum that was rigorous enough to adhere to parents' standards and flexible enough so families could bounce between locales without their kids falling behind. To solve the problem, Repacci and Carvalho brought on their head of education, Magon, and head of brand and product, Elina Zois. Boundless decided to base its educational model on the Nordic Baccalaureate, an interdisciplinary curriculum based on the Finnish education system that emphasizes project-based work, experiential learning, and cultural immersion. Classrooms are multiage and class sizes are kept small — fewer than 15 kids a class for students under 6 and fewer than 18 for those ages 6 to 12. During my visit, the school felt like a more expansive definition of what an education could be. Learning was not limited by the four walls of the classroom — it took place in parks, pottery studios, restaurants, and museums.  Several educators I spoke with were skeptical about how the Boundless framework would translate into meaningful learning experiences for students from a range of academic needs, and how students would be able to integrate their Boundless experience if they transitioned back into more traditional school environments.Learning at Boundless was not limited by the four walls of the classroom.Simone StolzoffBut parents I met told me Boundless had sparked a level of intellectual curiosity in its children that spilled over to "normal life" upon returning stateside. "Getting to try out a different type of school was life-changing," one parent said. After returning to US public school this year, they said their kids were doing better than they had before doing Boundless. "Not because anything is better at their school this year than last year, but because they are different," the parent said.The company serves about 85 families and 250 kids during any given semester. But despite some early success, Boundless Education, like the organization itself, is still very much a startup. The school isn't accredited — though it's undergoing the accreditation process — and the administration is still figuring out the kinks, like how to quantitatively measure student growth and how to cater to older and more advanced students' needs.There are also financial and cultural barriers to joining Boundless. For one, there's the price. It costs the equivalent of about $1,600 a child, a month, to take part in Boundless Education, and the equivalent of $460 a parent, a month, for coworking and concierge services — and that doesn't include the cost of housing. Though participants were relatively diverse racially and culturally, most of the families I met in Sintra were high earners from North America.Plus, there are cultural and logistical challenges to picking up your family and living around the world for months at a time. Boundless advises families on how to obtain digital-nomad visas for countries that offer them, but the prospect of working abroad long term can be challenging depending on your country of origin. "The biggest barriers to more people nomading are in-laws, grandparents, and a lack of imagination," Andreas Wil Gerdes, a leader in the worldschooling movement, said. "For 200 years, the majority of people have lived in a work-centric model of existence. Finally, people are going back to a life-centric model, but it will take time to catch on."Gerdes is generally supportive of Boundless' mission but commented that the company served a limited slice of those who might be able to benefit from living and learning abroad. "Boundless is the brain-dead solution for people who don't want to have to make any decisions," he said. "But it's a step in the right direction."On my last night in Sintra, the Boundless families gathered together at Praia de Maçãs, a beach 20 minutes from downtown. Kids dashed in and out of the waves, occasionally running to shore to grab a snack or tug at their parents' trunks. "How long have you guys known each other?" I asked a few preteens who were building castles in the sand. "I dunno. A few days," one said, barely looking up.Standing there on the edge of the European continent, I realized that although Boundless is cloaked in the sheen of a venture-backed startup, the business is actually a return to a more collective form of child-rearing. Sure, there's an app that parents use to interact, a curriculum that uses the UN sustainability goals for lesson plans, and a business model that's a response to a global workforce trend. But as I immersed myself in this network of families who were loosely looking after one another's children, Boundless felt more retro-chic than modern. I came to Sintra thinking Boundless might be too good to be true, but perhaps that was a failure of my own imagination.After leaving the beach, I joined the families for pizza at an outdoor restaurant. There were no iPads at the dinner table or calendar invites needed to organize the get-together. In a community full of families, conversations were not dominated by talk of academic tutors and afterschool programs. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. I came to Sintra thinking Boundless might be too good to be true, but perhaps that was a failure of my own imagination. Maybe I, like so many others, am still too attached to the idea that school ought to look like 20 students facing the same way in a classroom for seven hours a day. Sure, Boundless is an expensive, turn-key study-abroad experience for elementary-school-age children and their parents, but it's also a refreshing take on what it means to give a child an education, which, especially in America, is in need of a refresh.Certainly there are risks of uprooting children from their routines and communities. Programs like Boundless may not be attractive or accessible to everyone, and it's unclear whether Boundless will be able to scale its programming to meet the growing demand. But when I think about the atomization of our modern lives, each of us cordoned off in our little boxes made of ticky-tack, learning from textbooks and digital apps, I see Boundless as a welcome alternative. Perhaps the world is the classroom we've been waiting for.Simone Stolzoff is a writer and author from San Francisco. His debut book, The Good Enough Job: Reclaiming Life from Work, was published by Penguin Random House earlier this year. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 28th, 2023

Timeline: What Did The Feds Not Do About Alleged Biden Family Corruption & When Did They Not Do It?

Timeline: What Did The Feds Not Do About Alleged Biden Family Corruption & When Did They Not Do It? Authored by Ben Weingarten via RealClear Investigations, Nov. 2018-June 2020: Hunter Biden Probe Begins; President Trump Impeached While Pursuing Biden-Ukraine Information; Alleged Justice Department Undermining of Probe Begins June 2020-Dec. 2021: Evidence of Influence-Peddling With Nexus to Joe Biden Grows; Alleged Sabotage of Hunter Biden Probe Intensifies Jan. 2022-Jan. 2023: Prosecution Sought and Denied; IRS Whistleblowers Blindsided by What They Characterize as U.S. Attorney David Weiss’ Apparent Lack of Authority Feb. 2023-May 2023: Hunter’s Counsel Pleads Case Over Weiss’ Head; IRS Whistleblowers Emerge – and Face a Chill; Plea Deal Develops June 2023: FBI Stonewalls Congress Over Alleged Burisma-Biden Bribes; Trump Indictments Grow; Plea Deal Emerges; Weiss Strains To Harmonize His Story With Attorney General Merrick Garland About His Claimed Ultimate Authority July 2023: Burisma-Biden Bribes Document Released; Whistleblowers Testify About Obstructed Case Publicly; Hunter Biden’s Plea Deal Collapses in Court Aug. 2023-Present: Another Trump Indictment; Weiss Gets Special Counsel Authority He Wasn’t Supposed To Need; Biden Impeachment Inquiry Opens; Hunter Hit With Gun Indictment Timeline in Detail The IRS whistleblowers prepare to testify under penalty of perjury. (AP) Nov. 2018-June 2020:Hunter Biden Probe Begins; President Trump Impeached While Pursuing Biden-Ukraine Information; Alleged Justice Department Undermining of Probe Begins Nov. 2018: The Internal Revenue Service’s Washington D.C. office opens investigation into Hunter Biden, code name “Sportsman,” as an offshoot of a probe into a foreign-based amateur online pornography platform. According to IRS Special Agent Joseph Ziegler, the case agent who will later turn whistleblower, evidence will emerge Biden paid prostitutes to cross state lines – potential Mann Act violations. It is not clear whether the Justice Department pursues. Jan. 2019: According to Special Agent Ziegler, the Delaware U.S. Attorney’s Office and FBI open a separate Hunter Biden investigation. March/April 2019: Ziegler develops criminal charging material approved by IRS superiors and sent to Justice Department’s tax division for review. The two entities will work jointly on the case, as is customary. The Washington, D.C. and Delaware investigations will be merged. April 25, 2019: Joe Biden announces his candidacy for president. Viktor Shokin: The Ukrainian prosecutor who was fired, Joe Biden boasted, after the Vice President threatened to withhold U.S. aid. Aug. 15, 2019: Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) commences what will become a multi-year investigation into Hunter Biden and Joe Biden’s brother James and their “financial connections to foreign governments and questionable foreign nationals.” Sept. 24, 2019: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) opens impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump alleging Trump withheld Ukrainian aid to pressure officials to investigate the activities of Hunter and Joe Biden vis-à-vis the firing of Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin. In 2016, Biden leveraged $1 billion in U.S. aid to force Shokin’s firing. Shokin had been investigating Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company on whose board Hunter Biden had sat. Prosecutors will scrutinize Hunter over alleged tax crimes stemming from the hundreds of thousands of dollars Burisma paid him annually. Oct. 2019: FBI learns that a Delaware computer repair shop obtained Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop, and the following month verifies its authenticity. Dec. 2019: FBI takes possession of the laptop and notifies IRS it “likely contained evidence of tax crimes,” according to IRS Supervisory Special Agent Gary Shapley. Shapley, Ziegler’s colleague, will lead his investigatory team and also turn whistleblower. Dec. 8, 2019: In an interview, Joe Biden says “I don’t know what he was doing” regarding Hunter Biden’s Burisma work. Dec. 18, 2019: House votes to impeach Donald Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Jan. 27, 2020: Email evidence indicates that Hunter Biden has meeting with impeachment lawyers in Trump-Ukraine proceedings. Feb. 5, 2020: Senate acquits Trump on a party-line vote, concluding first impeachment. March 6-April 1, 2020: Shapley’s team prepares physical search warrants in Hunter Biden case. Having established probable cause for the warrants, IRS plans to conduct about 15 contemporaneous interviews. Shapley claims career DOJ officials halt IRS’ actions. April 8, 2020: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) drops out of Democrat presidential primary, making Joe Biden the presumptive nominee. June 16, 2020: Shapley tells IRS superiors “DOJ Tax has made a concerted effort to drag their feet concerning conducting search warrants and interviewing key witnesses in an effort to push those actions to a timeframe where they can invoke the Department of Justice rule of thumb concerning [ceasing activities] affecting elections.” Shapley alleges superiors took no action. Hesitant prosecutor Lesley Wolf: She fretted over the "optics" of a Biden search warrant, according to testimony. Home News/YouTube June 2020-Dec. 2021:Evidence of Influence-Peddling with Nexus to Joe Biden Grows; Alleged Sabotage of Hunter Biden Probe Intensifies June 30, 2020: FBI informant tells handler that Burisma founder Mykola Zlochevsky told him he had been coerced into paying Joe and Hunter Biden $5 million apiece in exchange for help getting Shokin fired. This is memorialized in an FBI FD-1023 form. Shapley’s team will not see the document until years later, after being thrown off the case. Mykola Zlochevsky: Burisma boss and alleged briber of Bidens. Wikipedia Aug.-Sept. 2020: IRS agents obtain WhatsApp messages between an executive from Chinese energy company CEFC and Hunter Biden from summer 2017, in which Biden says, “I am sitting here with my father and we would like to understand why the commitment made has not been fulfilled,” regarding a deal with the company. Biden threatens that should the deal not be resolved with the Chinese government-connected company’s executives – “I will make certain that between the man sitting next to me and every person he knows … you will regret not following my direction.” Investigators believe Biden was staying at the family’s Delaware beach guest house at this time. They seek location data for messages to corroborate in part whether Joe was with Hunter. The now-infamous WhatsApp message obtained by IRS agents.Miranda Devine (NY Post)/X Sept. 3, 2020: Delaware Assistant U.S. Attorney Lesley Wolf shoots down plan to nail down the Bidens’ location during the China call. According to Shapley, Wolf says while “a lot of evidence in our investigation would be found in the guest house … there is no way we will get that approved.” Wolf cites “optics” as a “driving factor in the decision.” Shapley also recalls prosecutors did not want investigators reviewing CEFC communications, irrespective of any potential national security implications. Wolf also indicates that a search warrant for emails from Blue Star Strategies, a Democrat-tied firm that lobbied for Burisma, in Shapley’s words, “would likely not get approved.” The agent adds, “This was a significant blow to the Foreign Agents Registration Act piece of the investigation” – that is, whether Hunter Biden lobbied for foreign individuals and entities as an unregistered foreign agent, a felony. Sept. 4, 2020: Justice Department issues “cease and desist” of investigative activities in Hunter Biden case in run-up to the presidential election. Sept. 7, 2021: Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), then ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, begins probe into sales of Hunter Biden’s paintings after he turns to art as a career. The sales raise ethical and national security concerns, in the view of House Republicans, given the lack of clarity about who the buyers are. The parties pursued will largely ignore requests while Republicans are in minority. The White House waves off ethics concerns.  Sen. Charles Grassley: Flagged “millions of dollars in questionable financial transactions." AP Sept. 23, 2020: Sen. Grassley and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) release report revealing “millions of dollars in questionable financial transactions between Hunter Biden and his associates and foreign individuals, including the wife of the former mayor of Moscow and individuals with ties to the Chinese Communist Party.” Oct. 14, 2020: New York Post breaks the story of the abandoned Hunter Biden laptop. Among the paper’s revelations: Hunter introduced then-Vice President Biden to a top Burisma executive in April 2015, months before the vice president would help get Shokin fired. This is at odds with the Democrat presidential nominee’s claim he had “never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings.” Twitter and Facebook suppress the story. Oct. 19, 2020: Politico publishes letter signed by 51 prominent intelligence community officials indicating the New York Post’s story “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” Oct. 20, 2020: Investigators seek to do a “walk by” to confirm the location of and security around Hunter Biden’s California residence in preparation for an interview. DOJ Tax objects. Oct. 22, 2020: Shapley raises concern to prosecutors that his team has not been granted access to Hunter Biden’s laptop. Assistant U.S. Attorney Wolf confirms prosecutors kept it from investigators, which Shapley calls “unprecedented.” Wolf also indicates prosecutors would not permit a physical search warrant on Hunter Biden. Sen. Ron Johnson: Pushed GOP Senate inquiries along with Grassley. Rumble During the final presidential debate that evening, Biden rebuts claims about his family’s business dealings, citing the intelligence community letter. Biden also says, “My son has not made money, in terms of this thing about … China … The only guy that made money from China is this guy [Trump] … nobody else has made money from China.” Biden also states unequivocally, “I have not taken a penny from any foreign source ever in my life.” Oct. 23, 2020: Justice Department and FBI Special Agents from the Pittsburgh field office brief Wolf, among others, on contents of FD-1023 alleged Burisma-Biden bribes. It’s later learned that the Pittsburgh office believed that the allegations seemed credible, was partially corroborated, and merited investigation. Nov. 3-Nov. 7, 2020: The 2020 presidential election. Joe Biden wins and elected as the 46th U.S. president. Nov. 9, 2020: Sen. Grassley sends letter to then-Attorney General William Barr calling on Justice Department to review evidence that Hunter Biden and James Biden may have violated the Foreign Agent Registrations Act based on their dealings with CEFC. Nov. 18, 2020: Sens. Grassley and Johnson release a supplement to their report on potential conflicts of interest stemming from the Biden family’s foreign business, including additional CEFC findings. Kevin Morris, Hollywood lawyer: He loaned Hunter a bundle to pay off delinquent taxes.New York Post/YouTube Dec. 3, 2020: Investigators prepare for a Dec. 8 “day of action,” to consist of document requests and some 12 interviews, including of Hunter Biden. As investigators meet with prosecution team at Delaware U.S. Attorney’s Office, Lesley Wolf allegedly indicates she does not want them asking questions of subjects pertaining to Joe Biden. Dec. 7, 2020: Investigators plan to notify Hunter Biden and his Secret Service protection on the morning of Dec. 8 that he will be approached that day for an interview as part of an official investigation. Deviating from the plan, FBI headquarters notifies Secret Service headquarters and President-elect Biden’s transition team of coming interview, in Shapley’s words “essentially tipp[ing] off a group of people very close to President Biden and Hunter Biden,” and giving “this group an opportunity to obstruct the approach on the witnesses.” Dec. 8, 2020: Hunter Biden’s attorneys call Shapley and his FBI counterpart, indicating Hunter will not participate in an interview. Investigators secure only “one substantive interview” on day of action, from Hunter Biden business associate Rob Walker. During that interview, skirting Wolf’s instructions, investigators briefly pursue a line of questioning wherein Walker discusses Joe’s involvement in Hunter’s business. Dec. 9, 2020: News of Hunter probe becomes public, with reporting suggesting investigation extends beyond Hunter’s taxes to potential money laundering and financial ties to foreign figures and businesses. Hunter releases a statement: “I take this matter very seriously but I am confident that a professional and objective review of these matters will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately.” Dec. 10-14, 2020: From the “day of action,” investigators find that documents concerning one of Hunter’s business entities, Owasco, were archived in a northern Virginia storage unit. Investigators prepare to search it. Wolf, according to Shapley, tips off Hunter’s defense counsel to the planned search, possibly thwarting a potential investigative coup. March 2, 2021: In a Shapley-convened briefing, investigators mention possibility of blowing whistle on the Justice Department’s handling of the case. May 3, 2021: In memo to superiors, Shapley indicates probe “has been hampered and slowed by claims of potential election meddling. Through interviews and review of evidence obtained, it appears there may be campaign finance criminal violations ... Wolf stated on the last prosecution team meeting that she did not want any of the agents to look into the allegation.” Aug. 18, 2021-Oct. 21, 2021: Wolf suggests DOJ Tax will not approve another set of desired interviews. According to Shapley, Wolf indicates that the investigative team would get “into hot water” specifically if it pursued planned interviews of the president’s grandchildren over charges made with Hunter Biden’s credit card possibly by his kids. Oct. 13, 2021: Hunter Biden’s friend Kevin Morris loans him $1.4 million to settle outstanding taxes. Subsequent reporting suggests that all told, Morris will pay off well over $2 million in delinquent taxes on behalf of the president’s son. Delaware U.S. Attorney (and now special counsel) David C. Weiss: Was he the one "in charge"? Department of Justice Jan. 2022-Jan. 2023:Prosecution Sought and Denied; IRS Whistleblowers Blindsided by Weiss’ Apparent Lack of Authority Jan. 27, 2022: IRS recommends charging Hunter Biden for felony tax evasion and filing of false tax returns in 2014, 2018, and 2019, and misdemeanor failure to file or pay taxes for 2015-2019. Such charges each have a six-year statute of limitations. Feb. 25, 2022: IRS sends report outlining charges to Delaware U.S. Attorney’s Office. Wolf and, according to Shapley, her DOJ Tax counterpart support the IRS’ recommendations. DOJ Tax prepares memo recommending prosecution, the IRS whistleblowers learn. They will not see the memo. Matthew M. Graves: Declined to  prosecute in the District of Columbia, according to IRS whistleblower testimony. Department of Justice March 2022: DOJ Tax presents prosecution memo to U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia laying out alleged offenses chargeable in that venue. Prosecutors aim to charge Hunter Biden criminally over foreign income from Burisma “and a scheme to evade his income taxes through a partnership with a convicted felon,” Devon Archer, as well as “potential FARA issues.” Shapley learns the Biden-appointed U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Matthew Graves, reviews the memo but refuses to partner with his Delaware counterpart. “We in the IRS didn’t realize at the time that meant there was no ability to charge there” – that is, that without Graves’ buy-in, Weiss as Delaware U.S. Attorney could not bring his case in Washington, D.C. – Shapley testifies. During this period, DOJ requests of IRS and FBI all “management-level emails and documents on this case.” Whistleblowers indicate that typically such materials are collected at sub-management level in advance of discovery in connection with an impending case. Shapley provides “sensitive case reports and memorandums” documenting “DOJ’s continued unethical conduct,” which he had been providing superiors for several years. Facing impending charges, and with statutes of limitation set to lapse on 2014 and 2015 tax offenses, Hunter’s defense counsel reportedly calls for prosecutors not to charge, indicating willingness to sign statute of limitation extensions. Prosecutors and Biden’s counsel will agree to multiple extensions. March 14, 2022: Prosecutors have first taxpayer conference with defense counsel, allowing target to dispute charges. March 28-29, 2022: Sens. Grassley and Johnson release financial records corroborating prior reports on Hunter and James Biden’s business with Chinese nationals connected to the Chinese Communist Party. Merrick Garland: Attorney General on the defensive. AP April 26, 2022: Attorney General Merrick Garland defends Hunter Biden investigation before Senate Appropriations Committee, indicating “There will not be interference of any political or improper kind” in the probe, that it will be free of “any influence from the White House,” and that Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss, the “Trump appointee” overseeing the case “is in charge.” The same day, according to Special Agent Ziegler’s deposition, prosecutors have second taxpayer conference with Hunter Biden’s defense counsel. During that conference, Politico later reports, Biden’s lawyers present a 100-page presentation to dissuade DOJ from charging him. Lawyers focus on casting the prosecution as political – driven from start by Trump – and suggest that to carry it out would damage DOJ’s reputation. May 9, 2022: Sens. Grassley and Johnson send letter to Weiss asking whether he possesses financial records to the Bidens’ China dealings, including those the senators had publicized. Weiss does not answer, with the Justice Department interceding. July 25, 2022: Sen. Grassley writes to AG Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray alleging whistleblowers disclosed to his office that in fall 2020, the FBI obtained information about Hunter Biden’s alleged criminal financial and related activity, only to bury and halt investigation of it by claiming it was disinformation. Aug. 12, 2022: IRS whistleblowers learn that Chris Clark, Hunter Biden’s counsel, warns prosecutors that if they charge Hunter, they will be committing “career suicide.” Late Aug.-Early Sept. 2022: In meeting with investigators, Weiss indicates he agrees with IRS team regarding charging 2014-15 tax years, but says DOJ Tax has doubts about case. When asked when Weiss will charge, he says, according to Special Agent Ziegler, “hopefully end of September. It was kind of up in the air.” E. Martin Estrada: Declined to  prosecute in California, according to IRS whistleblower testimony. U.S. Attorney, Central District of California Mid-Sept. 2022: E. Martin Estrada is appointed U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California, the proper venue for charging tax offenses from 2016-19 based on Hunter’s residence there. Prosecutors present charges to Estrada’s office the week he is confirmed. Sept. 22, 2022: Wolf tells investigators that prosecutors will not take action until after midterm elections, despite DOJ’s Public Integrity Section never issuing such an order. Oct. 6, 2022: The Washington Post publishes article indicating there is sufficient evidence to charge Hunter with tax crimes and a false statement related to a gun purchase. Chris Clark accuses investigators of leaking information and calls on Justice Department to pursue leakers. Oct. 7, 2022: In a meeting, Weiss tells colleagues at IRS and FBI that, according to a direct quote recounted by Shapley, “I’m not the deciding official on whether charges are filed.” Weiss also states that D.C. U.S. Attorney Graves will not allow him to bring charges there. The FBI special agent in charge of the FBI’s Baltimore office, overseeing the investigation and present at the meeting, will later reportedly challenge these claims. Weiss also indicates he had asked for special counsel authority from DOJ after Graves declined the charges and was denied. Weiss says he will not be bringing charges against Hunter for the 2014-15 tax years, the statute of limitations for which are to expire in Nov. 2022. “Everyone in that meeting seemed shellshocked … I felt misled” regarding Weiss’ apparent lack of authority, Shapley testified. Oct. 12, 2022: IRS criminal investigation team conducts final interview. Oct. 13, 2022: Sen. Grassley delivers letter to AG Garland, FBI Director Wray, and Weiss indicating that based on protected whistleblower disclosures to his office, “the FBI has within its possession significant, impactful and voluminous evidence with respect to potential criminal conduct by Hunter Biden and James Biden.” Letter calls into question whether authorities have pursued the leads whistleblowers detailed to Grassley concerning an alleged pay-to-play scheme involving CEFC and potential criminal conduct involving Hunter’s business with   and its owner Zlochevsky. Oct. 17, 2022: Last meeting in which prosecutors include Shapley’s IRS criminal investigations team. Oct. 24, 2022: Prosecutors ask IRS for Shapley’s records, in which he had documented alleged prosecutorial misconduct during pendency of case. Shapley and Ziegler will both testify that requesting management communications is highly unusual. The agents indicate that subsequently, the IRS team will be phased out of case. Oct. 26, 2022: Sens. Grassley and Johnson send letter to Weiss stating that in light of DOJ’s failure to respond to oversight requests concerning their congressional investigation, they are delivering more than 200 pages of records “relating to the Biden family’s connections to the Chinese regime and persons connected to its military and intelligence elements.” Oct. 31, 2022: In a letter to Weiss, Clark threatens to put President Biden on the stand should the DOJ charge Hunter criminally. Nov. 2022: After previously agreeing to multiple statute of limitation extensions regarding the 2014 and 2015 tax offenses with Hunter’s counsel concerning Burisma, prosecutors let the statutes of limitation expire – despite willingness of Biden team to continue extending, according to Shapley. Nov. 15, 2022: Donald Trump announces his candidacy for president. Late 2022: The New York Times reports that by this time, Weiss “had found some evidence but determined that he did not have sufficient grounds to indict [Hunter] Biden for major felonies.” It adds that one source indicated Weiss preferred not to bring any charges, even misdemeanors, though another denied it. Jan. 2023: Shapley learns U.S. Attorney Estrada declines to bring charges in the Central District of California. During this month, Clark will reportedly travel to Delaware and plead his case to Weiss to end the investigation into Hunter, indicating that how he handles the decision could have reputational consequences. Christopher J. Clark, Hunter Biden’s counsel, warned prosecutors that charging Hunter would be “career suicide.” Clark Smith Villazor Feb. 2023-May 2023:Hunter’s Counsel Pleads Case Over Weiss’ Head; IRS Whistleblowers Emerge – and Face a Chill; Plea Deal Develops Feb. 1, 2023: Clark contacts multiple officials at Main Justice seeking contacts to whom he can appeal should Weiss charge Hunter.  March 1, 2023: Under questioning from Sen. Grassley during a Judiciary Committee hearing, the attorney general testifies that Weiss “has full authority to make … referrals … or to bring cases in other districts if he needs to do that. He has been advised that he should get anything he needs. I have not heard anything from that office that suggests they are not able to do anything that the U.S. Attorney wants them to do.” Garland adds, “I promised to leave the matter of Hunter Biden in the hands of [Weiss and] … I have pledged not to interfere with that investigation … I have carried through on my pledge.” James Biden: Money allegedly flowed to him, Hunter and other Bidens. March 16, 2023: House Oversight Committee releases records showing $1.3 million in payments from 2015-2017 flowing from Biden family associate Rob Walker to Hunter and James Biden, Joe’s late son Beau’s widow Hallie, and a fourth Biden. The bulk of the funds appear to come from Chinese energy company State Energy HK Limited. March 18, 2023: Donald Trump says he will be indicted in New York. April 4, 2023: Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg indicts Trump on falsified business record charges pertaining to a $130,000 nondisclosure payment to adult film performer Stormy Daniels. April 19, 2023: Attorney on behalf of Shapley sends letter to relevant congressional committees indicating Shapley’s desire to make protected whistleblower disclosures to Congress. Letter leaks to Wall Street Journal. April 24-25, 2023: Associate Deputy Attorney General Bradley Weinsheimer contacts Shapley’s counsel asking him for a call in light of Wall Street Journal reporting, and the two parties speak. The Daily Mail will later report that Shapley’s counsel felt Weinsheimer “seemed concerned and keen to investigate, and promised he would get Shapley’s team legal permission to share all the details of his allegations.” April 26, 2023: Chris Clark finally lands sought-after meeting with Main DOJ, sitting down with Weinsheimer, alongside Weiss. Danny Werfel, IRS commissioner: His "no retaliation" vow is called into doubt. Department of Justice/Wikipedia April 27, 2023: Under questioning in a House Ways and Means Committee hearing, IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel testifies that “there will be no retaliation for anyone making an allegation or called into a whistleblower hotline.” May 3, 2023: Ranking Senate Budget Committee Member Grassley and House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.), submit letter to Garland and Wray indicating whistleblowers have disclosed the FBI possesses an FD-1023 alleging a criminal bribery scheme involving then-Vice President Biden and a foreign national. The congressmen indicate that it is “unclear what steps, if any, were taken to investigate the matter,” and that therefore they will be reviewing the matter. Comer issues subpoena calling on FBI to produce FD-1023 forms aimed at capturing the alleged Burisma-Biden bribe document. May 10, 2023: House Oversight Committee releases bank records memo revealing Biden family business deals in Romania and China. May 11, 2023: Weinsheimer thanks Clark for meeting, indicates Hunter Biden investigation is reaching end, and prosecutors are prepared to make a deal. May 15, 2023: Shapley learns his team has been removed from the Hunter Biden case at DOJ’s request, which his counsel reports to relevant House committees. That same day, Delaware Assistant U.S. Attorney Wolf calls Clark, proposing a deal whereby Hunter will not have to plead guilty through use of a deferred prosecution agreement – satisfying Clark’s reported “core demand” of prosecutors. Clark indicates defense will draft a proposed agreement accordingly. May 16, 2023: House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-Mo.) requests briefing from IRS Commissioner regarding perceived retaliation against IRS whistleblower. That same day, Weinsheimer speaks with Shapley’s counsel. In an apparent change in tone, Weinsheimer indicates that DOJ headquarters will not be involved in the whistleblowers’ case. All issues are to run through Weiss. Shapley lawyer Mark Lytle will later say that Weinsheimer, after making “earlier promises and assurances … seemed no longer interested.” His co-counsel, Tristan Leavitt, says he believes that Weinsheimer “wanted intel from Gary [Shapley] before his Hill testimony,” which would come weeks later. Rep. Jim Jordan: Seeks the paper trail on IRS whistleblowers' removal from the Hunter Biden case. RCP May 18, 2023: IRS’ Ziegler sends letter to IRS leadership recounting criticism over its lack of action in connection with concerns he and colleagues raised during Hunter Biden case, and expressing disappointment over Ziegler and his team having been removed from it. That day, Hunter Biden’s lawyers send two Delaware prosecutors, including Wolf, the first draft of a proposed deal under which Hunter will not have to plead guilty. The deal would give Biden immunity from other potential offenses authorities had investigated – which would include Foreign Agent Registration Act charges – should he pay taxes owed, among other conditions. Delaware U.S. Attorney’s office, sympathetic to proposal, shares its own suggested terms that do not require Biden to plead guilty. May 19, 2023: Two superiors respond to Special Agent Ziegler’s email with a reminder that “you need to follow your chain of command.” They insinuate he may have made “unauthorized disclosures” by including “potential grand jury” material, and including recipients unable to receive such material. That same day, Hunter Biden’s lawyers prepare a draft pretrial diversion agreement covering tax and gun issues, guaranteeing immunity from prosecution of offenses previously investigated, and stating that DOJ will dismiss charges if Biden upholds his end of deal – no guilty plea necessary. May 22, 2023: Shapley’s counsel sends another letter to relevant House committees indicating the IRS is taking additional retaliatory measures aimed at intimidating whistleblowers into silence. May 23, 2023: In a major reversal, Wolf tells Hunter Biden’s counsel that Weiss now wants Biden to plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts of failing to pay taxes. May 24, 2023: In a CBS News interview, Shapley goes public with allegations DOJ “slow-walked” Hunter Biden probe. May 25, 2023: IRS sends mass email to personnel instructing them as to proper protocol for reporting wrongdoing like that alleged in the Biden case. The email omits that such employees may bring their concerns to Congress. Also that day, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) sends oversight letter to AG Garland requesting documents in connection with IRS whistleblowers’ removal from the Hunter Biden case. May 26, 2023: Shapley testifies behind closed doors before House Ways and Means Committee to make protected whistleblower disclosures. Rep. James Comer, Kentucky Republican and chairman of the House Oversight Committee. AP June 2023:FBI Stonewalls Over Alleged Burisma-Biden Bribes; Trump Indictments Grow; Plea Deal Emerges; Weiss Strains To Harmonize His Story With AG Garland About His Claimed Ultimate Authority June 1, 2023: Ziegler testifies behind closed doors before the House Ways and Means Committee to make protected whistleblower disclosures. June 2, 2023: After DOJ reportedly communicates to Hunter Biden’s counsel that he would need to plead guilty to tax charges, and counsel agrees he will do so for two misdemeanor counts of willfully failing to pay taxes – but not gun charge – Biden’s counsel expresses in email to Wolf that immunity is critical. Parties move forward on two-part deal consisting of plea agreement for tax charges and pretrial diversion agreement covering gun charge. June 6, 2023: Sen. Grassley delivers speech linking July 25, 2022, allegation FBI had sat on and buried evidence of Hunter Biden’s alleged criminal financial activity in 2020 on grounds it was “disinformation,” to FD-1023 alleging Burisma-Biden bribes. He asks whether allegation was dismissed by being falsely labeled “disinformation.” June 7, 2023: Following a series of correspondences and meetings in which the FBI refuses to turn over the FD-1023, or even acknowledge its existence, FBI relents in permitting Chairman Comer, Ranking Member Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) in camera reviews of redacted version of document. Reviewers can neither retain nor take notes on document. With FBI resisting calls to produce document to full committee, Chairman Comer releases resolution and report recommending FBI Director Wray be held in contempt of Congress. The same day, Wolf proposes plea deal to Hunter Biden’s counsel including global immunity provision. The deal also includes a protective measure whereby Justice Department can only prosecute Hunter Biden for gun charge if he breaks deal – as determined by presiding judge, not DOJ, providing protection from a future Republican administration. Also that day, Weiss responds on behalf of DOJ to Chairman Jordan’s May 25 letter to AG Garland. In response, Weiss says “I want to make clear that, as the Attorney General has stated, I have been granted ultimate authority over this matter [the Hunter Biden case], including responsibility for deciding where, when, and whether to file charges and for making decisions necessary to preserve the integrity of the prosecution.” June 8, 2023: Special Counsel Jack Smith indicts Donald Trump in Mar-a-Lago classified documents case. The same day, prosecutors send Hunter Biden plea agreement to presiding Delaware Judge Maryellen Noreika. June 9, 2023: Former Attorney General Bill Barr says FD-1023 alleging Burisma-Biden bribes “was provided to the ongoing investigation in Delaware to follow up on and to check out” via the Pittsburgh U.S. Attorney’s Office, which served as a “clearinghouse” for evidence to be received and vetted in connection with the case. June 12, 2023: Shapley submits affidavit to Congress indicating neither he, his team, nor the FBI agents working with it were ever provided the information contained in the FD-1023. In a June 19 letter, Ziegler will indicate the same. June 13, 2023: Donald Trump is arraigned in the classified documents case, pleading not guilty. Unbeknownst to the public, prosecutors had planned to file the Hunter Biden plea deal documents in Delaware federal court that day. They postpone. June 20, 2023: Delaware U.S. Attorney’s Office announces it has reached plea deal with Hunter Biden charging him with two misdemeanor tax offenses covering tax years 2017 and 2018, and entered into a pre-trial diversion agreement regarding a firearm charge. Absent from the charges are those stemming from Hunter’s Burisma work, or any charges relating to FARA. Republicans pan the pact as a sweetheart plea deal illustrative of a two-tier justice system, with some indicating it violates DOJ standards. Hunter Biden’s attorney declares, “It is my understanding that the five-year investigation into Hunter is resolved.” Weiss’ office claims the investigation remains “ongoing,” according to the New York Times, at the time “taking Mr. Biden and officials at Justice Department headquarters by surprise.” Around this time, the Times reports, Wolf’s role shrinks. Leo Wise, a senior prosecutor from the Baltimore U.S. attorney’s office, is detailed to Delaware. He will ultimately sign off on and defend the plea agreement in court. June 22, 2023: House Ways and Means Committee releases transcripts of Shapley and Ziegler interviews. Chairman Jordan sends oversight letter to Weiss reiterating prior request for material regarding DOJ’s alleged retaliation against Shapley, and inquiring about the “unusual nature” of Weiss’ June 7 response on behalf of AG Garland to Jordan’s May 25 oversight request. June 28, 2023: Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Lindsey Graham (R-N.C.) sends letter to Weiss asking for information regarding, among other allegations, that he had requested and was denied special counsel authority. June 29, 2023: Three House Committee chairmen send letter to Garland requesting that he make 11 Justice Department officials pivotal to the Hunter Biden case, including Weiss, Wolf, U.S. Attorney Graves, and U.S. Attorney Estrada, available for transcribed interviews. June 30, 2023: Weiss responds to Jordan’s June 22 letter indicating DOJ did not retaliate against the IRS team, and that he stands by his June 7 letter indicating he has been granted total authority of the Hunter Biden case, including “where, when and whether to file charges.” Weiss adds, however, that “my charging authority is geographically limited to my home district [Delaware],” and that if another U.S. Attorney’s Office with venue for a case declines to partner on a case, he “may request Special Attorney Status from the Attorney General.” Weiss claims he has been “assured that, if necessary …” he “would be granted” such authority. From the FBI "FD-1023" form alleging foreign bribery of Joe and Hunter Biden. grassley.senate.gov July 2023:Burisma-Biden Bribes Document Released; Whistleblowers Testify About Obstructed Case Publicly; Hunter Biden’s Plea Deal Collapses in Court July 9, 2023: Sen. Grassley sends letter to Weiss inquiring as to whether Wolf and others had investigated FD-1023 alleging Biden bribes. July 10, 2023: Weiss responds to letter from Sen. Lindsey Graham indicating he had not requested special counsel authority with DOJ officials, but rather “had discussions with Departmental officials regarding … potential” special attorney authorities, which would have permitted him to charge in venues other than Delaware. “I was assured that I would be granted this authority if it proved necessary” prior to the Oct. 7, 2022, meeting, Weiss writes. July 19, 2023: Shapley and Ziegler testify publicly before House Oversight Committee, recounting key claims expressed during their closed-door depositions regarding allegations of slow-walking, obfuscation, and obstruction in the Hunter Biden case. The same day, Delaware U.S. Attorney’s Office emails final deal to Judge Noreika. July 20, 2023: Sen. Grassley releases FD-1023 alleging $5 million bribes from Zlochevsky to Joe and Hunter Biden in exchange for firing of Shokin, indicating Zlochevsky has text messages and recordings suggesting he was coerced into making such payments. Hunter's artwork: Biden-connected buyers paid big. Georges Bergès Gallery July 24, 2023: The Federalist reports that the Pittsburgh FBI office that had originally received the FD-1023 had corroborated multiple facts included in the document, and briefed the Delaware U.S. Attorney’s Office accordingly, per a source. The same day, DOJ offers to make Weiss available for a public hearing before the House Judiciary Committee as soon as Sept. 27. July 24, 2023: Buyers of Hunter Biden’s art, totaling $1.4 million in sales, are revealed to include Hunter financial backer Kevin Morris and California Democrat donor Elizabeth Hirsh Naftali. In July 2022, eight months after Hunter’s first art opening, President Biden announced Naftali was appointed to the Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad. It is not clear whether the sale occurred before or after the appointment. Reports also indicate Naftali visited the White House at least 13 times after December 2021. Elizabeth Hirsh Naftali: She bought Hunter art and got a plum post. U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad July 26, 2023: Hunter Biden’s plea deal collapses under questioning from federal Judge Noreika, with prosecutors and Hunter Biden’s lawyers sparring over scope of immunity provision in pretrial diversion agreement. When asked if government could bring charges under FARA with plea agreement in place, prosecutors say “Yes.” Biden’s counsel disagrees. This ultimately leads Biden to withdraw his guilty plea. DOJ acknowledges aspects of the deal are unprecedented in terms of structure and substance. Shortly after hearing, prosecutors and defense counsel will confer, with Biden’s lawyers suggesting changes to the deal. July 27, 2023: Special Counsel Smith issues superseding indictment in Trump Mar-a-Lago classified documents case. July 29, 2023: Chairman Comer issues oversight request letters to Naftali and the White House counsel in furtherance of probe of Hunter’s art sales. There is no indication federal investigators pursued the sales.  Devon Archer: Testifies to selling the Biden "brand." AP July 31, 2023: Former Hunter Biden business associate Devon Archer testifies before House Oversight Committee for transcribed interview. He alleges Hunter Biden’s business was selling the Biden “brand,” headlined by his father, and that he had witnessed Joe joining Hunter Biden and his business associates in person or by phone upwards of 20 times. The same day, prosecutors reject Hunter Biden counsel’s proposed deal revisions and suggest their own. Also that day, relevant House committee chairmen send letter to Garland inquiring about the “unusual plea and pretrial diversion agreements” offered Hunter Biden, in light of whistleblower allegations “the Department has provided preferential treatment toward Mr. Biden.” Judge Maryellen Norieka: Hunter Biden’s plea deal collapses under her questioning. United States District Court for the District of Delaware (Eric Crossan)/Wikipedia Aug. 2023-Present:Another Trump Indictment; Weiss Gets Special Counsel Authority He Wasn’t Supposed to Need; Biden Impeachment Inquiry Opens; Hunter Hit With Gun Indictment Aug. 1, 2023: Special Counsel Smith indicts Donald Trump on charges pertaining to his contesting of the 2020 election and the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Aug. 7, 2023: Hunter Biden’s defense counsel rejects prosecutors’ proposed changes to the plea bargain, which according to an email Chris Clark sent to prosecutors, “without explanation, completely delet[ed] the immunity provision.” Aug. 8, 2023: Weiss requests special counsel authority. Aug. 9, 2023: House Oversight Committee releases bank records memo detailing millions in payments from foreign sources to Bidens and their associates from Russian, Ukrainian, and Kazakhstani individuals during Joe Biden’s vice presidency – individuals who Vice President Biden met. Aug. 11, 2023: Garland names Weiss special counsel, asserting “he will continue to have the authority and responsibility that he has exercised previously to oversee the investigation and decide where, when, and whether to file charges.” Weiss retains his position as U.S. Attorney for Delaware despite rules calling for special counselors to come from “outside the United States government,” and for any special counsel to be “independent.” The New York Times later reports that Weiss was “motivated by a [special counsel] requirement to produce a report that would allow him to answer critics, according to people with knowledge of the situation – an accounting that could become public before the 2024 election.” The same day, the Justice Department files motions to dismiss the Hunter Biden tax case so charges can be brought in proper venue – either the Central District of California, or Washington, D.C. – an authority Weiss will have as special counsel. Biden had waived any venue challenge enabling the original deal to be cut in Delaware, despite venue for the offenses lying elsewhere. Aug. 14, 2023: Chairman Comer releases transcript of interview with FBI official corroborating Shapley’s testimony that FBI headquarters had tipped off Secret Service headquarters and President Biden’s transition team about investigators’ planned Dec. 8, 2020, Hunter Biden interview. The same day, Fulton County (Georgia) District Attorney Fani Willis indicts Donald Trump and 18 others in RICO case regarding Trump’s contesting of the 2020 election. Aug. 17, 2023: Hunter Biden tax case dismissed in Delaware. Aug. 19, 2023: Politico and the New York Times publish detailed accounts on collapse of Biden plea agreement based in part on leaked correspondence between Weiss’ office and Hunter Biden’s lawyers. Aug. 21, 2023: House committees subpoena IRS and FBI officials present at Oct. 7, 2022, meeting in which Weiss allegedly claimed he did not have final charging authority in Hunter Biden case. Aug. 28, 2023: House Committee chairmen send oversight request letter to AG Garland regarding his decision to appoint Weiss special counsel. The same day, The Federalist reports on emails obtained via FOIA indicating DOJ intervened on behalf of Weiss’ office on multiple occasions to respond to congressional inquiries – seen as further evidence of Weiss and DOJ officials in Washington seeking to align their stories on who had what authority in Hunter Biden case. Kevin McCarthy, Sept. 12: It's impeachment time. AP Sept. 6, 2023: Weiss’ office indicates intent to indict Hunter Biden on gun charges in Delaware before Sept. 29 in court filing. That same day, House Committee chairmen send letter to Hunter Biden’s counsel calling for it to produce documents and communications previously leaked to Politico and the New York Times regarding negotiations surrounding the failed Hunter Biden plea agreement. Sept. 12, 2023: Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) announces House will open impeachment inquiry into President Biden concerning allegations of abuse of power, obstruction, and corruption. “The American people deserve to know that public offices are not for sale and that the federal government is not being used to cover up the actions of a politically-connected family,” he writes. House committees open joint inquiry into alleged attempts by Hunter Biden legal team to encourage DOJ to retaliate against IRS whistleblowers Shapley and Ziegler. Also that day, Washington Post publishes report based on leaked transcript from House Judiciary Committee interview with Baltimore FBI special agent in charge Thomas Sobocinski challenging IRS whistleblowers’ claims about what Weiss said about his authority during Oct. 7, 2022, meeting. Sept. 13, 2023: Shapley’s lawyers respond with the IRS agents’ contemporaneous handwritten notes to rebut Sobocinski’s claims. Sept. 14, 2023: Weiss indicts Hunter Biden on felony gun charges in Delaware federal court. Sept. 18, 2023: Hunter Biden sues the IRS over Shapley and Ziegler’s whistleblower disclosures. Sept. 20, 2023: AG Garland testifies before the House Judiciary Committee. Under questioning from Chairman Jordan, he defends prior comments about Weiss' authority, stating "no one had the authority to turn him [Weiss] down" in terms of bringing charges, but that "they could refuse to partner with him." Garland says the two are "not the same under well-known Justice Department practices." He will also testifies that a U.S. Attorney in one district "does not have the authority to deny another U.S. attorney the ability to go forward" with a case. Sept. 26, 2023: Hunter Biden makes initial appearance in Delaware federal court in gun charge case, and is arraigned. On the same day. Hunter sues Rudy Giuliani and attorney Robert Costello over sharing of Hunter’s laptop data in alleged violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.  Also that day, House Oversight Committee reveals that Hunter Biden received two wire payments totaling over $250,000 during 2019 from Chinese sources, at least one of which was linked to the Chinese investment concern BHR Partners, including its CEO. Hunter’s attorney George Mesires would state that same year that the president’s son had served as a board member at the company in an “unpaid position.” While Hunter Biden was listed as the beneficiary for the funds, the Delaware home of Joe Biden was listed as the beneficiary address.  Sept. 28, 2023: House Oversight Committee to hold first impeachment inquiry hearing. *  *  * We've gone from 'There isn't an ounce of evidence' to 'hundreds of thousands of dollars were wired from overseas, with President's address as the documented address of the recipient' and Dems have not changed their opinions one bit, even though evidence has dramatically changed. pic.twitter.com/YhiTJXe6Bd — Pradheep J. Shanker (@Neoavatara) September 27, 2023 Tyler Durden Wed, 09/27/2023 - 16:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 27th, 2023

Shoplifter Strolls Past CNN Reporter As She Profiles Rampant San Fran Crime

Shoplifter Strolls Past CNN Reporter As She Profiles Rampant San Fran Crime San Francisco's crime situation is so bad that even CNN decided to shine a spotlight on it -- and while they were shooting from the nation's most-robbed Walgreens, a shoplifter casually walked by the reporter and camera with stolen merchandise.  In fact, CNN's Kyung Lah says she and her crew observed three shoplifters in just 30 minutes at a Walgreens in San Francisco's Richmond District, which is bordered by Golden Gate Park and the Presidio. Among the company's 9,000 US stores, that one is robbed the most -- an average of 12 times a day.   “In the 30 minutes we were at this Walgreens we watched three people, including this man, steal,” says Lah, as the accompanying video shows a messy man with stringy hair and a winter jacket walk right out the store with some type of product in his hands. Turning to a cashier, she asks, "Did that guy pay?" The cashier replies with a simple "no." Naturally, CNN protected the thief's identity by blurring his face.  The particular Walgreens featured in the story is the same one that garnered social media buzz earlier this month after installing heavy chains and padlocks across the frozen food coolers.  NEW: The Walgreens at 16th/Geary in San Francisco has chained up the freezer section ⛓️ Workers said normally shoplifters clean out all the pizza and ice cream every night. They’re usually hit 20x a day. The whole store is virtually locked up. @KPIXtv h/t @greenbergnation pic.twitter.com/lfFWmkLWdo — Betty Yu (@bett_yu) July 18, 2023 Lah reports that store workers, fed up with being ripped off a dozen times daily, installed the highly conspicuous chains and padlocks on their own initiative. However, after the imagery was widely shared across social and traditional media, Walgreen's corporate leadership ordered the locks removed, apparently fearing the visuals would damage the company's brand more than they would underscore the increasingly desperate situation for retailers in San Francisco and other crime-plagued cities.  While the unsightly hardware is gone, an astonishing proportion of the store's products are behind locked plexiglass, from mustard to maple syrup to cough medicine. At another retailer, CNN showed frozen foods under cable locks, while the purchase of products like fake eyelashes and lotion also requires asking an employee for help. In San Francisco, we went to the Walgreens that is the #1 spot for theft in all the 9000 US stores, per Walgreens. This is where chains once shut the freezer section. And we saw 3 thefts right in front of us. But across SF, coffee, mustard, nail polish-- are all locked up: pic.twitter.com/IfYBVgpeI2 — Kyung Lah (@KyungLahCNN) July 25, 2023 CNN's Lah also observed ground coffee under lock and key. Asked for his perspective, a clueless customer told her, "I don't understand why coffee [would be locked up.] It's become kind of like a police state in San Francisco."  Of course, any rational observer would realize the locked-up coffee demonstrates San Francisco has become the opposite of a "police state," as criminals steal property with utter impunity.   California's Prop 47 chummed the waters for shoplifters by making thefts of up to $950 of merchandise a misdemeanor. Now, Sacramento legislators are working hard to make things even worse: Last month, the state senate passed a bill that would make it illegal for store employees to confront thieves. Hell-bent on wealth redistribution, it seems California's Marxist rulers are as happy to enable it by individual, criminal acts as they are via government programs.   Tyler Durden Thu, 07/27/2023 - 14:40.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytJul 27th, 2023

Egypt unearths tombs and workshops where humans and sacred animals were mummified in the age of the pharaohs

The workshops unearthed near Cairo are where humans and sacred animals were mummified 2,400 years ago when the pharaohs ruled Egypt. Canopic jars, which were made to contain organs that were removed from the body in the process of mummification, are seen at the site of the Step Pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara, 24 kilometers (15 miles) southwest of Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, May 27, 2023.Amr Nabil)/AP Photo Archaeologists found ancient mummification workshops and tombs in the Saqqara necropolis. The workshops were used to embalm humans and sacred animals to prepare them for the afterlife. The tombs of two priests dating back to the 24th and 14th centuries BC were also found. Archaeologists in Egypt have found ancient mummification workshops and tombs in the ancient Saqqara necropolis south of Cairo, the government said.The head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, Mostafa Waziri, said that the workshops, where humans and sacred animals were mummified, date back to the 30th Pharaonic dynasty about 2,400 years ago, Al Jazeera reported.Researchers found stony beds where bodies were laid down for mummification, as well as clay pots used to hold organs and other ritual vessels, Egypt's Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said.The purpose of mummification was to keep the body intact so it could be transported to a spiritual afterlife.Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, displays a recently unearthed ancient wooden sarcophagus in Saqqara, Egypt on Saturday, May 27, 2023.Amr Nabil/AP PhotoThe excavations also uncovered the tombs of two priests dating back to the 24th and 14th centuries BC.The walls of the first tomb, which belonged to Ne Hesut Ba from the Old Kingdom's fifth dynasty, were adorned with depictions of hunting and other daily activities, according to Reuters.The second tomb, belonging to Men Kheber from the late kingdom's 18th dynasty, was decorated with scenes showing the deceased in different positions, officials said, per Reuters.A colored painting showing offering sacrifices at a recently uncovered tomb that was said to belong to a top official of the fifth Dynasty named Ne Hesut Ba on Saturday, May 27, 2023.Amr Nabil/AP PhotoSaqqara Necropolis, south of Egypt's capital, Cairo, is a vast ancient burial ground located at the ancient Egyptian capital Memphis and contains numerous pyramids and tombs.The discovery was made following a year-long excavation near the sanctuary of the goddess Bastet, Reuters said.The new discoveries were unveiled by Egypt's Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in a high-profile press conference on Saturday.In recent years archaeological discoveries like this have been heavily promoted by Egypt's government in order to attract tourism following the 2011 uprising and an ongoing economic crisis, AP and Reuters noted.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytMay 28th, 2023

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis taps ex-pastor to Disney oversight board who once said men are turning gay because "there"s estrogen in the water from birth control pills": report

Scientific studies have found that only less than 1% of the estrogen found in drinking water is from birth control pills. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis waves.Spencer Platt/Getty Images Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis abolished Disney's self-governing abilities on Monday.  He's nominated five people to the new board that will have oversight over Disney's district.  One nominee, former pastor Ron Peri, previously said he thinks estrogen in water turns men gay, CNN reported.  Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' appointee to the new Disney oversight board once claimed men were turning gay because of estrogen in tap water, CNN reported. DeSantis appointed board members on Monday after he signed a bill into law dismantling Disney's self-governing abilities. One of his nominees was former pastor Ron Peri, who is also the CEO of The Gathering – a Christian ministry. CNN reported that Peri has made a string of derogatory comments against the LGBTQ community, including calling homosexuality "evil" and making a baseless claim that birth control pills being flushed into the water supply has made men gay. "So why are there homosexuals today? There are any number of reasons, you know, that are given. Some would say the increase in estrogen in our societies. You know, there's estrogen in the water from birth control pills. They can't get it out," Peri reportedly said in a January 2022 Zoom discussion, which was posted on YouTube and later removed. "The level of testosterone in men broadly in America has declined by 50 points in the past 10 years. You know, and so, maybe that's a part of it."Peri continued: "But the big part I would suggest to you, based upon what it's saying here, is the removal of constraint. So our society provided the constraint. And so, which is the responsibility of a society to constrain people from doing evil? Well, you remove the constraints, and then evil occurs."—Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) February 27, 2023 Scientific studies have found that only less than 1% of the estrogen found in drinking water is from birth control pills and that the overall low levels of estrogen found in drinking water are not linked to adverse health effects or changes in someone's sexual orientation. CNN reported that this claim originated with a conspiracy theory by Alex Jones. In 2015, Jones asserted that "chemicals in the water" were  "turning the friggin' frogs gay," The Texas Observer reported.  The pastor also likened homosexuality to a "disease" and claimed the LGBTQ community does not have a "stake in the future.""There are a lot of unhealthy effects of a homosexual lifestyle," Peri said, according to CNN. "There are diseases, but it goes beyond that."DeSantis said the state's senate is set to meet next week to confirm the new board members. Nearly a year after Disney spoke out against DeSantis's so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill, the Florida governor abolished the company's special authority on Monday. The bill formally called the Parental Rights in Education Act bans teachers from discussing sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, Insider previously reported. Since its inception in 1967, Disney had been under the Reedy Creek Improvement District and was able to appoint its own board members since the company owns a majority of the land. The district also allowed Disney to have its own fire unit, among other emergency services. The district will now be called the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District and Disney employees, owners, or operators will be prohibited from becoming board members. "Today, the corporate kingdom finally comes to an end," DeSantis said during a press conference on Monday, held at a fire station on Disney property. "There's a new sheriff in town, and accountability will be the order of the day."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytMar 4th, 2023

Teach The Constitution: Democrat Attorney Who Halted Hochul’s Quarantine Camp Regulation

Teach The Constitution: Democrat Attorney Who Halted Hochul’s Quarantine Camp Regulation Authored by Jan Jekielek and Masooma Haq via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), Attorney Bobbie Anne Cox in New York on Nov. 5, 2022. (Justin Chiu/The Epoch Times) In what she has called a David versus Goliath battle, New York real estate lawyer Bobbie Anne Cox sued Governor Kathleen Hochul for issuing directives mandating quarantine for people exposed to or infected with highly contagious diseases such as COVID-19. The directives, dubbed “quarantine camp regulations,” have been compared to laws that relocated Japanese during World War II without due process. Cox won the lawsuit on the grounds that Hochul’s regulation was unconstitutional. In a recent interview on Epoch TV’s American Thought Leaders, Cox told host Jan Jekielek that it’s crucial Americans learn about the U.S. Constitution so that they can prevent similar acts by state and federal governments. “The constitution is not perfect, but it’s brilliant,” Cox said. Schools should require learning about the U.S. Constitution, “from the little kids all the way up through high school, into college. The constitution was written to keep the government in check. The constitution wasn’t written to keep the people in check.” Our founding fathers came to this continent fleeing tyranny, Cox said. “They wrote the constitution in such a manner that if it’s followed, there wouldn’t be tyranny on these shores, ever. Yet, here we are, 250 years later, and we’re fighting tyranny.” It is tyrannical for a government to take power to which it is not entitled, Cox explained. During the pandemic, state and federal governments gave themselves powers the constitution did not give them. State governors are part of the executive branch of government. As such, she said, “they’re supposed to enforce laws, and their agencies beneath them are supposed to help them enforce laws. They’re not supposed to make laws.” When a governor such as Hochul takes on powers that properly belong to the legislature, “that’s tyranny,” Cox reiterated. “The attitude is kind of like, ‘Well, we know we can’t do this, but we’re going to do it anyway.’ And then the theory is, ‘Catch me if you can.’” Incumbent New York governor Kathy Hochul participates in a debate against Republican candidate for governor Lee Zeldin, at Pace University, in New York, on Oct. 25, 2022. (Mary Altaffer/Pool via AP) Understanding Our Rights Unconstitutional mandates and regulations have been thrust upon the public, Cox said, because American citizens don’t know their rights. “I think if people understood what their rights are, they would say, ‘Hold on a second, you can’t do that.” “In the history of mankind, no government has ever taken power from the people, and then just voluntarily given it back.” Nonetheless, “the people have to demand it back,” Cox said. “The people won’t demand it back unless they know that they have the right to that power. So I think there needs to be an education process in the United States so that people understand, ‘Oh, these are my rights.'” The Executive Branch Cannot Legislate At the beginning of the pandemic lockdowns, former Governor Andrew Cuomo was given emergency powers by the New York legislature to implement “directives.” Those emergency powers, according to Cox, essentially gave him legislative powers. “The legislative branch can’t delegate their lawmaking power to another branch of government, but they did, and for a whole year, Cuomo had this power … He then passed it on to his commissioner of health,” said Cox. After Cuomo stepped down in August 2021 and Hochul became interim governor, she continued the regulations despite criticism that she was sidestepping the legislature. When Cox learned about this, she was impelled to sue in order to stop the government overreach. Andrew Cuomo, then New York Governor, speaks during a news conference in New York, on May 10, 2021. (Mary Altaffer-Pool/Getty Images) Quarantine Regulation Based on Rejected Bill Cox sees this type of control by the governor as tyrannical and “wholly unconstitutional” for many reasons, including the fact that the New York legislature rejected the quarantine rule in a bill years before. “It’s the story of a tyrannical governor and her department of health, doing something that they want to do, but the people don’t want them to do it. And the people’s representatives in the New York state senate and the assembly don’t want them to do it.” The quarantine camp regulation was based on a bill that was proposed in 2015 by New York state assemblyman Nick Perry (D-Brooklyn) during the Ebola outbreak. The regulation was rejected by the state legislature and withdrawn from consideration, said Cox. After Cuomo resigned, through a simple vote, Hochul and her advisors issued the directive that ultimately gave the governor and the New York Department of Health the power to lock up anyone they deemed contagious. “They could have locked you up in your home, or they could have removed you from your home and locked you into a facility of their choosing,” said Cox. There was no restriction on age, proof of sickness or exposure, or time limit to the quarantine. “There was nothing in the regulation that would allow you to try to negotiate your way out of this,” added Cox, and the regulation does not follow either state or U.S. constitutions because it does not lay out the rights of the person forced into quarantine. “In the judge’s decision, he actually said [that] this regulation gives lip service to due process,” said Cox. “‘You mention it, but you don’t actually have any due process built in there.'” “Involuntary detention is a severe deprivation of individual liberty, far more egregious than other health safety measures, such as requiring mask wearing at certain venues,” the court’s opinion read. “Involuntary quarantine may have far-reaching consequences such as loss of income [or employment] and isolation from family.” The governor’s regulation also conflicted with section 2120 of New York’s public health law, a longstanding regulation. “That tells you how you quarantine somebody if they’re a public health threat,” Cox said. However, the existing law contains multiple due process protections, beginning with a requirement to prove that the individual in question has the disease. People walk in Brooklyn, with lower Manhattan looming in the background, on March 28, 2020. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) From Real Estate to Constitutional Law Having worked with clients in property cases against local and state governments, Cox recognized that the government’s mandates were illegal. She said she knew that two weeks of lockdown would not end there. “I also said to myself, this is completely unconstitutional. He can’t do this. He can’t force people to shut their businesses and stay home,” Cox said. She immediately started speaking out about the illegitimacy of the lockdowns. She was bombarded by business owners and landlords asking her if the forced closures and rent moratorium were legal, and what they could do to fight back. “We were seeing small businesses, landlords, people who were just getting decimated by the government.” Cox started a YouTube channel explaining the rights that the Constitution ensures, but the platform removed her videos. She then moved the channel to Rumble. Before moving forward with her lawsuit against Hochul, Cox wrestled with the decision to put her business and livelihood on hold. She took the case, convinced that the type of governmental overreach it hoped to stop would spread like “cancer” if not checked. Getting Ahead of Hochul’s Regulation Cox did not want to wait until the regulation went into effect and the public was injured by it, so she thought creatively about how to sue and prove the regulation was unconstitutional, she said. Cox considers herself a Democrat but worked with Republican lawmakers because she believes government overreach is not a partisan issue. “I’m actually a Democrat … In my mind, this is not a political thing. This is a human rights issue. This is a constitutional issue … This is about being an American, and something people have really forgotten. It’s not people’s fault. I think it’s because we just really don’t teach this in school anymore.” She asked Senator George Borrello, Assemblyman Chris Tague, and Assemblyman Mike Lawler to join the suit. “They said, ‘Absolutely. We believe in this; we’re going to do it.’” Ultimately, Cox proved the unconstitutionality of the quarantine camp regulation, but there were many challenges along the way. Read more here... Tyler Durden Tue, 11/15/2022 - 14:25.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytNov 15th, 2022

17 Out-Of-Place Artifacts That Suggest High-Tech Civilizations Existed Thousands (Or Millions) Of Years Ago

17 Out-Of-Place Artifacts That Suggest High-Tech Civilizations Existed Thousands (Or Millions) Of Years Ago Authored by Tara Macisaac via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), According to our conventional view of history, humans have only walked the Earth in our present form for some 200,000 years. Much of the mechanical ingenuity we know of in modern times began to develop only a couple hundred years ago, during the Industrial Revolution. However, evidence today alludes to advanced civilizations existing as long as several thousand years ago—or possibly even earlier. Left: (Brian A Jackson/Shutterstock); Right: (Lasse Jensen/CC BY 2.5) “Oopart”—or “out-of-place artifact”—is the term given to numerous prehistoric objects found in various places across the world today that show a level of technological sophistication incongruous with our present paradigm. Many scientists attempt to explain these ooparts away as natural phenomena. Yet others say that such dismissive explanations only whitewash over the mounting evidence: that prehistoric civilizations had advanced knowledge, and this knowledge was lost over the ages only to be developed anew in modern times. We will look at a variety of ooparts here, ranging from millions to hundreds of years old in purported age, but all supposedly demonstrating advancement well beyond their time. Whether these are fact or merely fiction we cannot say. We can only offer a glimpse at what’s known, supposed, or hypothesized regarding these phenomena, in the spirit of being open-minded and geared toward real scientific discovery. 17. 2,000-Year-Old Batteries? Clay jars with asphalt stoppers and iron rods made some 2,000 years ago have been proven capable of generating more than a volt of electricity. These ancient “batteries” were found by German archaeologist Wilhelm Konig in 1938, just outside of Baghdad, Iraq. Right: An illustration of a Baghdad battery from museum artifact pictures. (Ironie/Wikimedia Commons) Background: Map of area surrounding present-day Baghdad, Iraq. (Cmcderm1/iStock/Thinkstock) “The batteries have always attracted interest as curios,” Dr. Paul Craddock, a metallurgy expert at the British Museum, told the BBC in 2003. “They are a one-off. As far as we know, nobody else has found anything like these. They are odd things; they are one of life’s enigmas.” 16. Ancient Egyptian Light Bulb? A relief beneath the Temple of Hathor at Dendera, Egypt, depicts figures standing around a large light-bulb-like object. Erich Von Däniken, who wrote “Chariot of the Gods,” created a model of the bulb which works when connected to a power source, emitting an eerie, purplish light. The light-bulb-like object engraved in a crypt under the Temple of Hathor in Egypt. (Lasse Jensen/CC BY 2.5) 15. Great Wall of Texas In 1852, in what is now known as Rockwall County, Texas, farmers digging a well discovered what appeared to be an ancient rock wall. Estimated to be some 200,000 to 400,000 years old, some say it’s a natural formation while others say it’s clearly man-made. A historic photo of the “wall” found in Rockwall, Texas. (Public Domain) Dr. John Geissman at the University of Texas in Dallas tested the rocks as part of a History Channel documentary. He found they were all magnetized the same way, suggesting they formed where they are and were not moved to that site from elsewhere. But some remain unconvinced by this single TV-show test and call for further studies. Geologist James Shelton and Harvard-trained architect John Lindsey have noted elements that seem to be of architectural design, including archways, linteled portals, and square openings that resemble windows. 14. 1.8-Billion-Year-Old Nuclear Reactor? In 1972, a French factory imported uranium ore from Oklo, in Africa’s Gabon Republic. The uranium had already been extracted. They found the site of origin to have apparently functioned as a large-scale nuclear reactor that came into being 1.8 billion years ago and was in operation for some 500,000 years. Nuclear reactor site, Oklo, Gabon Republic. (NASA) Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg, former head of the United States Atomic Energy Commission and Nobel Prize winner for his work in the synthesis of heavy elements, believed it wasn’t a natural phenomenon, and thus must be a man-made nuclear reactor. For uranium to “burn” in a reaction, very precise conditions are needed. The water must be extremely pure, for one—much purer than exists naturally. The material U-235 is necessary for nuclear fission to occur. It is one of the isotopes found naturally in uranium. Several specialists in reactor engineering have said they believe the uranium in Oklo could not have been rich enough in U-235 for a reaction to take place naturally. 13. Sea-Faring Map Makers Before Antarctica Was Covered in Ice? A map created by Turkish admiral and cartographer Piri Reis in 1513, but sourced from various earlier maps, is thought by some to depict Antarctica as it was in a very remote age before it was covered with ice. A portion of the Piri Reis map of 1513. (Public Domain) A landmass is shown to jut out from the southern coastline of South America. Captain Lorenzo W. Burroughs, a U.S. Air Force captain in the cartographic section, wrote a letter to Dr. Charles Hapgood in 1961 saying that this landmass seems to accurately show Antarctica’s coast as it is under the ice. Dr. Hapgood (1904–1982) was one of the first to publicly suggest that the Piri Reis map depicts Antarctica during a prehistoric time. He was a Harvard-educated historian whose theories about geological shifts earned the admiration of Albert Einstein. He hypothesized that the land masses shifted, explaining why Antarctica is shown as connected to South America. Modern studies refute Hapgood’s theory that such a shift could have taken place within thousands of years, but they show it could have happened within millions of years. 12. 2,000-Year-Old Earthquake Detector In 132 A.D., Zhang Heng created the world’s first seismoscope. How exactly it works remains a mystery, but replicas have worked with a precision comparable to modern instruments. A replica of an ancient Chinese seismoscope from the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 A.D.), and its inventor, Zhang Heng. (Wikimedia Commons) In 138 A.D., it correctly indicated that an earthquake occurred about 300 miles west of Luoyang, the capital city. No one had felt the quake in Luoyang and dismissed the warning until a messenger arrived days later, requesting aid. 11. 150,000-Year-Old Pipes? Caves near Mount Baigong in China contain pipes leading to a nearby lake. They were dated by the Beijing Institute of Geology to about 150,000 years ago, according to Brian Dunning of Skeptoid.com. A file photo of a pipe, and a view of Qinghai Lake in China, near which mysterious iron pipes were found. (NASA; Pipe image via Zhax/Shutterstock) State-run media Xinhua reported that the pipes were analyzed at a local smeltery and 8 percent of the material could not be identified. Zheng Jiandong, a geology research fellow from the China Earthquake Administration, told state-run newspaper People’s Daily, in 2007, that some of the pipes were found to be highly radioactive. Jiandong said iron-rich magma may have risen from deep in the Earth, bringing the iron into fissures where it may have solidified into tubes; though he admitted, “There is indeed something mysterious about these pipes.” He cited the radioactivity as an example of the strange qualities of the pipes. 10. Antikythera Mechanism A mechanism often referred to as an ancient “computer,” which was built by Greeks around 150 B.C., was able to calculate astronomical changes with great precision. The Antikythera Mechanism is a 2000-year-old mechanical device used to calculate the positions of the sun, moon, planets, and even the dates of the ancient Olympic Games. (Marsyas/CC by SA 3.0) “If it hadn’t been discovered … no one would possibly believe that it could exist because it’s so sophisticated,” said Mathematician Tony Freeth in a NOVA documentary. Mathias Buttet, director of research and development for watch-maker Hublot, said in a video released by the Hellenic Republic Ministry of Culture and Tourism, “This Antikythera Mechanism includes ingenious features which are not found in modern watch-making.” 9. Drill Bit in Coal John Buchanan, Esq., presented a mysterious object to a meeting of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland on Dec. 13, 1852. A drill bit had been found encapsulated in coal about 22 inches thick, buried in a bed of clay mixed with boulders about 7 feet thick. File image of coal (Kkymek/iStock) File image of a drill (Konstik/iStock; edited by Epoch Times) The Earth’s coal is said to have formed hundreds of millions of years ago. The Society decided that the instrument was of a modern level of advancement. But it concluded that “the iron instrument might have been part of a borer broken during some former search for coal.” Buchanan’s detailed report did not include any signs that the coal surrounding the instrument had been punctured by drilling. 8. 2.8-Billion-Year-Old Spheres? Spheres with fine grooves around them, found in mines in South Africa, have been said by some to be naturally formed masses of mineral matter. Others have said they were precisely shaped by a prehistoric human hand. Top left, bottom right: Spheres, known as Klerksdorp spheres, found in the pyrophyllite (wonderstone) deposits near Ottosdal, South Africa. (Robert Huggett) Top right, bottom left: Similar objects known as Moqui marbles from the Navajo Sandstone of southeast Utah. (Paul Heinrich) “The globes, which have a fibrous structure on the inside with a shell around it, are very hard and cannot be scratched, even by steel,” said Roelf Marx, curator of the museum of Klerksdorp, South Africa, according to Michael Cremo’s book, “Forbidden Archaeology: The Hidden History of the Human Race.” Marx said the spheres are about 2.8 billion years old. If they are mineral masses, it is unclear how exactly they formed. 7. Iron Pillar of Delhi This pillar is at least 1,500 years old but could be older. It remains rust-free and is of astounding purity. It is 99.72 percent iron, according to professor A.P. Gupta, head of the Department of Applied Sciences and Humanities at the Institute of Technology and Management in India. An inscription from about 400 A.D. by King Chandragupta II on the Iron Pillar of Delhi. (Venus Upadhayaya/Epoch Times) In modern times, wrought iron has been made with a purity of 99.8 percent, but it contains manganese and sulfur, two ingredients absent in the pillar. It was made at least “400 years before the largest known foundry of the world could have produced it,” wrote John Rowlett in “A Study of the Craftsmen of Ancient and Medieval Civilizations to Show the Influence of their Training on our Present Day Method of Trade Education.” 6. Viking Sword Ulfberht When archaeologists found the Viking sword Ulfberht, dating from 800 to 1000 A.D., they were stunned. They couldn’t see how the technology to make such a sword would have been available until the Industrial Revolution, 800 years later. An Ulfberht sword displayed at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg, Germany. (Martin Kraft/CC BY-SA 3.0) Its carbon content is three times higher than other swords of its time and impurities were removed to such a degree that the iron ore must have been heated to at least 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. With great effort and precision, modern blacksmith Richard Furrer of Wisconsin forged a sword of Ulfberht quality using technology that would have been available in the Middle Ages. He said it was the most complicated thing he’d ever made, and he used methods not known to have been used by people of that time. 5. 100-Million-Year-Old Hammer? A hammer was found in London, Texas, in 1934, encased in stone that had formed around it. The rock surrounding the hammer is said to be more than 100 million years old. Glen J. Kuban, a vocal skeptic of claims that the hammer was made millions of years ago, said the stone may contain materials that are more than 100 million years old, but that doesn’t mean the rock formed around the hammer so long ago. He said that some limestone has formed around artifacts known to be from the 20th century, so concretions can form fairly quickly around objects. (Concretions are masses of hardened mineral matter). Carl Baugh, who was in possession of the artifact, has said the wooden handle has turned to coal (evidence of its great age) and that the metal its made of has a strange composition. Critics have called for independent testing to verify these claims, but so far no such testing has been conducted. 4. Prehistoric Work Site? Workers at a stone quarry near Aix-en-Provence, France, in the 18th century, came across tools stuck in a layer of limestone 50 feet underground. The find was recorded in the American Journal of Science and Arts in 1820 by T. D. Porter, who was translating Count Bournon’s work, “Mineralogy.” A file photo of a limestone rock formation. (Andrew Roland/Shutterstock) The wooden instruments had turned into agate, a hard stone. Porter wrote: “Everything tended to prove that this work had been executed upon the spot where the traces existed. The presence of man had then preceded the formation of this stone, and that very considerably since he was already arrived at such a degree of civilization that the arts were known to him, and that he wrought the stone and formed columns out of it.” As stated in the case of the hammer above, limestone has been known to form relatively quickly around modern tools. 3. Million-Year-Old Bridge? According to ancient Indian legend, King Rama built a bridge between India and Sri Lanka more than a million years ago. What appears to be remnants of such a bridge have been seen from satellite images, but many say its a natural formation. Read more here... Tyler Durden Sat, 10/22/2022 - 20:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 22nd, 2022

What we know about Senate candidate Dr. Oz"s real estate portfolio that"s worth millions

The daytime television star has at least 12 residential properties around the globe, as well as several investment properties. Dr. Mehmet Oz.AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File Dr. Mehmet Oz recently said, "Legitimately, I own two houses." That includes a mansion in New Jersey and a farmhouse in Pennsylvania. But the Republican senate candidate owns at least eight other properties, campaign filings show. Dr. Mehmet Oz's efforts to wage a populist campaign against inflation have been complicated by the fact that his years on television made him a very wealthy man. In addition to a mansion in northern New Jersey, the celebrity surgeon by his own admission has another home in Pennsylvania, where he is now campaigning as a Republican for the US Senate."Legitimately, I own two houses," Oz told a Democratic operative who questioned him recently at an event. However, according to his campaign, Oz is currently residing with his in-laws in the Philadelphia suburbs as he awaits yet-unseen renovations on his Pennsylvania property.But as The Daily Beast previously reported, in addition to those two houses in the mid-Atlantic, the daytime television star has at least ten other residential properties, from a cattle farm in Florida to homes in Turkey, as well as several commercial investment properties across the country.Insider reviewed Oz's financial disclosure form to break down the number of properties (both commercial and otherwise) that he and his wife own.A multi-million dollar mansion in New JerseyOz and his wife resided in this six-bedroom, eight-bathroom Cliffside, New Jersey, mansion for the last 20 years. The couple built the house together, which is jointly owned among them. In 2020, People Magazine featured a glossy spread of the extravagant home, full of posed photos and fun facts about the 9,000-square foot residence. "We realized we needed a place where we could build what we wanted," Oz told the outlet. The couple ultimately chose a plot of land that offers them an unmatched view overlooking the Manhattan skyline. —John Fetterman (@JohnFetterman) August 17, 2022  The New Jersey mansion is almost certainly Oz's most well-known property, thanks to his Senate opponent John Fetterman's relentless trolling. Fetterman in July accused Oz of filming a campaign video from the home."Pro tip: Don't film an ad for your Pennsylvania Senate campaign from your mansion in New Jersey," Fetterman said in a statement.According to Oz's financial disclosure, the property is valued between $1,000,000 and $5,000,000. Oz's wife also owns an equally-valued pool house right next door to the mansion, according to financial records. An unlisted New Jersey condoOz and his wife also own a condo in New Jersey, The Daily Beast reported last month, though the couple opted not to include the Fairview, New Jersey, building on Oz's candidate disclosure forms. Candidates are not legally required to report real estate holdings that don't bring in income, but Oz did include several other non-revenue producing properties he owns on his disclosure.It wasn't immediately clear why Oz chose not to mention this second New Jersey property. A spokesperson for Oz did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment on the apparent unlisted property.A 7,000-square-foot 'country home' in PennsylvaniaThe Philadelphia Inquirer reported that this home earns him a $50,000 annual tax break. The outlet added that Oz is not yet living in the house as he waits for renovations to be completed during his run for the state's open Senate seat. "I inherited it," Oz told the newspaper in early August. "And I intend to preserve that land and not do anything that would hurt it."His Pennsylvania home, like the New Jersey mansion, is also valued between $1,000,001 - $5,000,000, according to financial records.—John Fetterman (@JohnFetterman) August 17, 2022 A recently-purchased cattle farm in Florida—John Fetterman (@JohnFetterman) August 17, 2022Oz purchased the Okeechobee, Florida, cattle farm in December 2021. The cattle on the farm are worth up to $500,000, The New York Times reported. The property, including the cattle, is valued between $1,000,001 - $5,000,000.2 homes in Sariyer, Turkey Oz owns two homes in Sariyer, Turkey, according to his financial disclosure. Both of these personal, residential properties are valued between $250,001 - $500,000.  Oz, who is of Turkish descent, has said he will renounce his Turkish citizenship if elected in November.Republican US Senate candidate Mehmet Oz speaks at a rally in support of his campaign at the Westmoreland County Fairgrounds on May 6, 2022 in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.Jeff Swensen/Getty ImagesIn addition to his six personal residences, Oz and his wife also own multiple investment properties around the globe, including:Another multi-million dollar mansion in Palm Beach, Florida—John Fetterman (@JohnFetterman) August 17, 2022 Oz bought an $18 million Palm Beach mansion in 2018 that boasts 11 bedrooms, and more than 12,000 square feet. The beachfront property includes a spacious yard and private beach access overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, according to a columnist with the Palm Beach Post.The residence is now valued between $5,000,001 - $25,000,000.After buying the property, which is named "Louwana," Oz made the home available for per-monthly rent at $90,000, according to The Post. But a since-removed February 2022 Realtor.com listing reviewed by The Miami Herald had a monthly rental price of $275,000 listed.Oz sees an annual income from the mansion of $1,000,001 - $5,000,000, more than any of his other properties, according to his financial disclosure.The Herald also reported this week that the Palm Beach County commissioners on May 3 approved a massive tax exemption for Oz's historic Palm Beach home that could save the doctor more than half a million dollars in the next decade.4 commercial real estate properties throughout FloridaThe former host of the "Dr. Oz Show" owns four commercial investment properties in Florida — at least three of which appear to be Marriott hotels. A spokesperson for Oz did not immediately respond to Insider's request for confirmation. The Courtyard Clearwater Beach Marina and the Aloft Miami Aventura are each valued between $100,001 - $250,000 while the AC Hotel Miami Aventura is valued between $15,001 - $50,000, per financial documents.A fourth commercial investment property in Clearwater appeared on Google Maps to be an apartment-style building. Financial disclosures said the investment was valued between $100,001 - $250,000. All of the properties are jointly owned. 2 condos in ManhattanA pair of Upper East Side condominiums once belonged to Mustafa Oz, Mehmet Oz's father, but the residences are now the center of a family inheritance conflict between Mehmet Oz and his sisters, Insider's Laura Italiano reported. Nazlim Oz, Dr. Oz's sister that lives in Istanbul, claims in court documents that the budding politician has deprived her of her share of the earnings made from the condos: $15,000 a month for over three years.Mehmet Oz and his other sister, Seval, who lives in California counter-argue that Nazlim Oz forged documents and stole from their father. They also allege that Nazlim Oz never received $15,000 from the condos even when their father was alive and owned the properties.Both residences are valued between $500,001 - $1,000,000. 4 more commercial real estate properties across New EnglandDr. Oz jointly owns two commercial real estate investments in Portland, Maine valued between $1,001 - $15,000 — The AC Hotel by Marriott Portland Downtown/Waterfront and a condominium.He reported earning $427,119.00 from the hotel — and $113,955.00 from the condos.He is also the sole owner of a commercial investment property in Lebanon, New Hampshire, worth between $100,001 - $250,000.The fourth property appears on the financial disclosure document as an entire street — Tremont St. in Boston. Insider was unable to identify the property.2 more commercial properties in TurkeyIn addition to his Turkish homes, Oz can also lay claim to two additional investment properties in the country. He owns one property in Datca, Turkey, according to his financial disclosure, and a second in Konya, near where his father was from.The Datca property is valued between $1,001 - $15,000, while the Konya building was listed as "unascertainable" due to its being leased to the Ministry of Education as a student dorm.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 1st, 2022

Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters erased false stolen election claims from his campaign website. It now says, "We need to get serious about election integrity."

Republican Arizona state candidate Blake Masters scrubbed any language on his campaign website that suggested the 2020 election was stolen. Blake Masters, a Republican candidate running for US Senate in Arizona, speaks at a Save America rally on July 22, 2022, in Prescott, Arizona.Ross D. Franklin/AP GOP senate candidate Blake Masters recently scrubbed a few far-right talking points from his website. It was previously reported that he removed language showcasing extreme anti-abortion stances. His campaign also appears to have removed the false claim that the election was stolen. The campaign website for Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters appears to have removed a popular far-right claim that the 2020 election was stolen.Masters' website previously stated that the "2020 election was a rotten mess" and that "if we had a free and fair election, President Trump would be sitting in the Oval Office."The claims were on Masters' campaign website as late as August 23, based on available archived screenshots from WaybackMachine, before it disappears around August 25.Screenshot of Blake Masters' campaign website, blakemasters.com, from August 23.Screenshot, blakemasters.com/Lloyd LeeThe website now just states, "We need to get serious about election integrity," before going into several points to reform US elections, including banning drop boxes and "ending indiscriminate mass mailing of ballots."CNN first reported the updates to the website.His campaign site has toned down some of its language around other go-to Republican talking points.NBC News previously reported that Masters' website removed more extreme anti-abortion stances, calling for a "federal personhood law" that could make abortion illegal even at the state level. The website also previously said that Masters was "100% pro-life."Now, it says Masters supports a "law or a Constitutional amendment that bans late-term (third trimester) abortion and partial-birth abortion at the federal level," while also affirming that the candidate disagrees with Roe v. Wade.In his section on immigration, CNN reported that the website was scrubbed of language that references the great replacement conspiracy theory — a claim that non-white voters are being brought into the US to outnumber white voters for a certain political agenda.A source close to Masters told CNN that the website is updated and managed by the candidate himself. Masters' campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytAug 29th, 2022

Rabobank: There Are Just Two Solutions To This Inflation Shock - One Is Extremely Painful, The Other One Is Worse

Rabobank: There Are Just Two Solutions To This Inflation Shock - One Is Extremely Painful, The Other One Is Worse By Michael Every of Rabobank Fiddle Didi in Shangri-LaLaLand Apologies, but this is going to be an inflated Daily today: hopefully it still adds value rather than subtracting it. Today has the BOE’s inflation attitudes survey (“I don’t like it”), but the market’s primary focus is going to be US CPI. As should have been expected from recent comments on the topic from the White House showing they don’t understand how inflation works, and from Larry Summers showing how a part of it (OER) does, the whisper is upside of the consensus 0.7% m-o-m, 8.3% y-o-y headline and 0.5% m-o-m, 5.9% y-o-y core. Real average weekly earnings are thus seen -3.4% y-o-y, a trend the OECD is also picking up on as an “I don’t like it”. Then we get US Michigan consumer sentiment for June, where the expectation is for a slight decline to 62.9 from 63.3, with expectations seen up from 55.2 to 55.3. With US gas prices over $5?! In terms of inflation expectations, the 1-year ahead figure is expected unchanged at 5.3%. There is no forecast for the 5-10-year figure, which has remained well-anchored around 3% so far. So, perhaps a further unwelcome market surprise after one stemming from the ECB yesterday? See here for more post-meeting comment, but in short it was the usual “a camel is a horse designed by a committee” aesthetic. While the BOC went 50bps (and its Governor warned “Some Canadians who took out mortgages in 2020 and 2021 could see monthly payments jump by 45% in 2025-6 as rates rise.”), the Fed went 50bps, and even the RBA went 50bps (when *this* is what the economy looks like), the ECB only promised to deliver 25bps next month: you wait for the delivery, as with many goods nowadays. It may go 50bps in September after everyone has had fun on the beach for a few weeks, if it’s still absolutely necessary at that point. There was also little detail on the vaunted support mechanism for Eurozone peripheral yields. The consequences are that the market is going to test the ECB again: German 10 year yields went up from 1.35% to 1.43%; Italian 10s from 3.36% to 3.60%. “Lo spread” is back(?) When the ECB acts, we will find out how much EUR doesn’t like what Italian bonds then do - which will push inflation higher. Especially with US gas flows interrupted, which will be the case for at least three weeks; and the geopolitical spat with Algeria looks more serious than many took it at first glance - apart from gas flows, all commercial contacts with Spain have now been frozen. Elsewhere, we saw what looked like a lighter-touch approach from regulators towards Ant Financial and Didi. However, as the Asia Nikkei notes, “Didi Global will trade on the NYSE for the last time on Friday, ending a wild 11-month ride on the prestigious US market while leaving investors in the lurch about its future direction.” Which sums up the whole Chinese market. Yes, some tech is up 50% from its low, but it’s still down over 60% from its high. Does anyone think this is a Damascene conversion back to ‘ra-ra-ra markets’? Yet ra-ra-ra there is. Parts of Shanghai are back in lockdown despite the ‘victory’ over Covid and low official positive test numbers - might Chinese officials goal-seek Covid test results the same way they do “dodgy” GDP numbers? (And the same way the Fed just produced a dodgy Q1 household wealth number showing little negative impact?) Regardless of that Covid backdrop, ‘Hong Kong invites global financiers to two-day November summit in much-heralded bid to reclaim city's spot in world finance’: so, “Come for the neoliberal financialization: Stay for the Marx-Lenin-Mao-Xi Jinping Thought!”  And stay in quarantine even longer if you catch Covid. But back to inflation. In China we saw CPI and PPI data, with the former 2.1% y-o-y, unchanged vs. April, while PPI fell back to 6.4% y-o-y from 8.0% despite the commodity price spike being seen everywhere globally. Isn’t it amazing how producing far too much relative to local demand, subsidising coal (and other things), holding vast state stockpiles of many key goods, and being able to lean on producers (and statisticians) all helps keep inflation low? Relatedly, please also look at ‘Corporations aren’t greedy enough: Economists are divorced from reality’), which does a better job of explaining US inflation to markets, the White House, and Congress than anything else you will read today. The summary is that political debate over inflation has settled into neoliberals blaming too much fiscal stimulus and progressives blaming Covid, Ukraine, and “corporate greed”. If the former are correct, we can no longer have real fiscal stimulus. No Build Back Better at all. If the latter are correct, there is nothing anyone, even the Fed, can do about inflation without (geo)political upheaval. Importantly, another key factor is that the largest US firms are *not* growing alongside bumper profits because “shareholders prefer that companies return cash rather than invest… Economic theory assumes that companies are managed to maximise individual firm profits and, therefore, that they will invest to expand operations as long as expected returns exceed the cost of capital, and that they will compete with each other until profit margins approach zero. But economic theory has refused to grapple with the fact that maximising shareholder returns is not identical to maximising firm profits.” Oligopolies and monopsonies mean firms can make more money by *not* expanding: “This trend has led to an erosion of productive capacity and supply buffers, which has become painfully evident in recent years… The result is a bifurcated economy with high-margin “superstar” firms on one side and low-profit “commoditised” firms on the other. In an inflationary environment, this means that firms with large profit cushions… have the pricing power to maintain high margins. Firms without pricing power, like small-business restaurant franchisees, often have no profit cushions and must raise prices out of necessity.” So, yes, we have echoes of a 70’s-style wage-price spiral: look at strikes across EU airports; I was told an HR manager at Ben Gurion airport in Israel needs to hire 30 workers, but only managed to get three; and The American Prospect asks ‘Will today’s unions invest big-time in the young workers now beginning to rebuild American labour? Or will they remain AWOL and ensure the movement’s continued decline?’ At the same time, we also have the threat of a “profit-price” spiral. The telling precedent is the tobacco industry: “Since [US] cigarette consumption began dropping in the Eighties, the basic model of tobacco companies has been to offset sales volume declines with price increases. This strategy works because tobacco companies face little competition due to industry concentration and regulations prohibiting advertising. Thus cigarette price inflation has averaged about 7% per year since 1997, while overall inflation during that time has been slightly above 2%.” Raising rates will not deal with structural inflation: yet lowering rates will only exacerbate it for two reasons: first, because the state won’t invest *productively*, savers are penalised, and productive private investment is discouraged versus financialization and asset-price speculation; second, because the US is now in a geopolitical fix where others are trying to ‘tobacco’ it, and the only way to resist is to flush financialization out of commodities via high US rates/US dollar. The article echoes an old view here: that the US needs supply-side reform, which is what cured 70’s inflation. However, it now needs an *inverse* 70’s reform that favors onshoring and industrial policy to increase supply. Yes, that is inflationary as a one-off shock. Yet the alternative is permanently higher inflation *and* loss of geopolitical power. At the same time, “Also required is the recognition that fundamental assumptions of economic theory --and the ideological approaches they inspire-- no longer match the realities of America’s financialised economy.” Is this unrealistic? If so, it’s a stance echoed by people deeply versed with reality in D.C. No, not Congress! The people at the US-China Competition in Global Supply Chains Hearing telling them what they should be doing. Key quotes from the expert testimony heard included: “China is responsible for over 1/3 of US imports of critical technology goods. However, US import dependence on China for these goods is even more pronounced when looking at specific critical tech industries and  interpreting trade statistics more carefully. The goal of US critical tech supply chain policies should be to ensure that for each segment of those supply chains there are at least three manufacturers domestically or in friendly countries that are able to meet 50% of current and forecast domestic demand.” “It would be naïve to think that countries such as South Korea and Taiwan became semiconductor hubs solely because of government incentives, and that if those incentives were matched by other (Western) regions, the supply chain would “re-shore.” If end-customer industries, such as automotive, mobile, and ICT, are not incentivizing geographic diversification through strategic procurement decisions (being willing to pay more), not much will change.” “The policy question is, what is better: a Chinese semiconductor ecosystem that is mostly self-reliant but several generations behind the global cutting-edge or one that continues to rely strongly on Western technology but is competing successfully in some markets?” “PRC dominance in the rare earth industry is a matter of policy, not geography: Export controls, production quotas, state investment in basic research, nationalization of the industry, and most recently state consolidation into a vertically integrated mega-firm. The US government can help ameliorate supply chain vulnerabilities in rare earths by emulating Japan’s model of public-private funding for new mining and separation facilities that help overcome initial political and environmental risks.” “Until about 1980, the US had at least balanced trade and was self-sufficient in a broad range of products and industries. Now, the US trade profile looks more like that of a developing country than the Arsenal of Democracy. The federal government needs an industrial policy instead of what has been, in effect, a deindustrialization policy.” “It is important that we frame our R&D and innovation ecosystem as a critical supply chain input and a national asset. Yet this is an area that is the least protected and the most vulnerable to China’s predations. End-user entities within China’s research enterprise matter, and real national security concerns can arise from the open collaboration they enjoy with US institutions.” Can one rely on the White House or Congress to act? The America COMPETES Act to spend $52bn on high-end semiconductor production just stalled between the House and Senate versions. Nonetheless, it will pass in time, and the industry *is* returning to the US. Moreover, President Biden just tweeted, “One of the reasons prices have gone up is because a handful of companies who control the market have raised shipping prices by as much as 1,000%. It’s outrageous - and I’m calling on Congress to crack down on them.”  That is not what his own FMC investigation concluded, and comes as spot freight rates are declining (for now). So, the same clarity displayed in the president’s appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel show? However, Congress just agreed to pass the Ocean Shipping Reform Act following the milder senate version. That sees the US re-regulate global maritime trade to its benefit, as we predicted last year, despite the industry saying “never gonna happen”. Watch this space as the implications become clear to markets. Relatedly, given maritime commercial power underpins military power, Singapore’s annual defence-related Shangri-La Dialogue is kicking off today. That is as Iran removed another 27 cameras from its nuclear facilities, prompting IAEA warnings; after Israel drilled for an air attack on Iran; PM Bennett made a surprise flying visit to the UAE despite his government being close to collapse; and the US Congress proposed an Arab-Israeli air-defence pact vs. Iran ahead of President Biden’s regional visit. Is this pre-February 24 all over again? Hopefully, and probably, not. Indeed, the Israelis are still trying to see the funny side of it, with Iran boasting it had successfully killed a Mossad agent named ‘Asa Flotz’, which in Hebrew is a derivate of ‘to fart’, suggesting somebody is playing a game with Tehran. (You get a lot of this regionally: remember Israel-trained shark attacks in Egypt back in 2010?) Regardless, markets would be foolish to dismiss the very fat tail risks involved as just a joke. Again. Türkiye’s President Erdogan, running for a (probably) unconstitutional third term, also tweets, “We warn Greece once more to avoid dreams, statements and actions that will lead to regret, as it did a century ago, and to return to its senses. Türkiye will not relinquish its rights in the Aegean and will not refrain from using the powers granted to it by international agreements for the armament of the islands when necessary.” Russia’s President Putin has shifted from talk from Nazis and NATO to boast that he is following the Peter the Great in ‘taking back our lands’, and the Russian Duma has proposed legislation to remove recognition of Lithuania’s exit from the USSR. All that aside, the primary conversation in Singapore will be about China. The US sees Beijing’s recent muscular stumble in the Pacific has an opportunity to rebuild bridges there for once, rather than making its own very muscular stumbles. The US and Chinese military chiefs will meet in person at the event: let’s see if guard rails are put in place, or things go off the rails. Inauspiciously, the US Ambassador to China just said bilateral relations might be at the lowest level since 1972. Any further back in time and we are pre-Nixon and the paradigm that saw US firms flood into China in the first place. And it’s not only the US heading that way: yesterday saw The Global Times warn ‘China-EU economic ties on brink of an ideological confrontation trap’, insisting the EU sign the definitely-stalled EU-China CAI deal, and walk away from the US. Meanwhile, Japanese PM Kishida is set to flag he is to boost national defence spending to 2% of GDP, making Japan the third largest military spender in the world in dollar terms (at least until JPY hits 200), as well as launching a new 20-nation strategy for maritime security in a “free and open Indo-Pacific.” Which will not involve China in any positive sense. I know this is seems irrelevant to those focused on whether headline US CPI will be 0.7% or 0.8% today; but to not see the underlying links between geopolitics, national politics, supply chains, inflation, and where rates ultimately end up is to say ‘fiddle Didi’ in Shangri-LaLaLand. As many were happily still doing on 23 February. Happy Friday. Tyler Durden Fri, 06/10/2022 - 10:31.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 10th, 2022

GOP candidate for Senate threatens to sue local journalist, invoking backer Peter Thiel"s Hulk Hogan-Gawker defamation case

Blake Masters threatened to sue for defamation after the Arizona Mirror suggested the candidate praised a Nazi and may be open to banning birth control. US Senate candidate Blake Masters of Arizona and GOP megadonor Peter Thiel.Gage Skidmore/The Star News Network; John Lamparski/Getty Images Blake Masters, a GOP candidate for Arizona senate, threatened to sue a reporter for defamation. The Arizona Mirror reported Masters may support banning birth control and praised a Nazi leader. Masters invoked Peter Thiel's Hulk Hogan-Gawker lawsuit, which put the publication out of business. Blake Masters, an Arizona GOP candidate for Senate, threatened to sue a reporter for defamation after an Arizona Mirror article suggested Masters raised a Nazi leader in a 2006 essay and would be open to banning birth control should he be elected.The article, published May 6, reported that Masters' campaign website contained a pledge that the candidate will only vote for judges who oppose the Supreme Court rulings of Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and Griswold v. Connecticut, and suggested Masters would ban contraceptive use based on this position.  The reference to Griswold has since been removed from Masters' campaign site.The Arizona Mirror also referred to a 2006 essay written by Masters that ends with a quote from Hermann Göring, a military leader and one of the most powerful figures of the Nazi party – credited with creating the Gestapo – who was eventually prosecuted during the Nuremberg Trials and sentenced to death.Masters quoted Göring's thoughts on war at the end of the essay, calling his words "poignant."Invoking the 2013 Hulk Hogan-Gawker lawsuit funded by supporter and former coworker, Peter Thiel, Masters said he would sue the Arizona Mirror and reporter Dillon Rosenblatt for the reporting, saying in a tweet: "Gawker found out the hard way and you will too." Masters' campaign did not respond to Insider's requests for comment on May 7 or follow-up requests on May 9. Gawker filed for bankruptcy and went out of business following the lawsuit, funded in large part by Thiel, that found the publication liable for invasion of privacy, infringement of personality rights, and intentional infliction of emotional distress for publishing a sex tape featuring Hogan.A jury awarded former professional wrestler Hogan, whose real name is Tony Bollea, $115 million in compensatory damages and $25 million in punitive damages. The parties settled for $31 million. Masters, whose campaign has been given $10 million in donations by Thiel's pro-Masters PAC, suggested the lawsuit against the Mirror would be a priority "after winning" the election. Current polling shows Masters behind other candidates in the GOP primary race for Senate by as much as six points."If spreading false progressive political propaganda under the guise of "reporting" were an Olympic sport, you would be on the podium," Kory Langhofer, counsel for Masters, said in a demand letter published Monday and sent to the Arizona Mirror."But be prepared for the consequences of your business model of subverting facts, for consequences are indeed coming."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytMay 10th, 2022

How China turned a Tiananmen Square memorial into one of the most sought-after sculptures in the world

The "Pillar of Shame" was meant to spread all around the world. It didn't — until now, thanks to its removal in Hong Kong. Danish sculptor Jens Galschiøt (right) with a Pillar of Shame.Mikkel Møller for Insider Last December, Hong Kong removed the Pillar of Shame, a memorial to the Tiananmen Square massacre. The removal only increased the monument's fame – and brought a flood of requests for replicas.  Creator Jens Galschiøt gave up his copyright to the sculpture, enabling 3D printers to make copies. HONG KONG – In the 1990s, a Danish sculptor launched an audacious project to pepper the earth with copies of a grotesque sculpture that depicted human bodies wreathed together in pain. The monument, known as the "Pillar of Shame," is constructed out of bronze, copper or concrete and stands atop a square plinth. It rises about 8 meters, or 26 feet, in all. Its creator, Jens Galschiøt, envisioned it as a "Nobel Prize of Injustice" and vowed to place replicas of the pillar all over the world to mark acts of genocide and murder. For a time, Galschiøt's effort was something of a success. He installed a copy of the pillar in Hong Kong in 1997 to commemorate the Tiananmen Square massacre, in which Chinese troops killed hundreds if not thousands of peaceful pro-democracy protesters. He landed a second copy in Mexico in 1999 to commemorate the slaughter of Indigenous people and a third in Brazil in 2000 to honor landless peasants killed by military police. But then the project stalled. For over two decades, it seemed no one was interested in getting a Pillar of Shame — that is, until now.These days, the 67-year-old sculptor is so inundated with requests for copies of his signature artwork that he needs a full-time apprentice just to manage the endless stream of emails and phone calls. He's being sought out for art exhibitions, speeches, interviews, and new Pillar of Shame installations around the world. At Galschiøt's foundry, about two hours outside of Copenhagen, Denmark, his team is working overtime to cast replicas of various sizes. He has also invited artists everywhere to help meet the demand for replicas by using 3D-printing technologies and a free blueprint of the sculpture."The Pillar of Shame in miniature.Mikkel Møller for InsiderThe spark that led to an explosion of interest in Galschiøt's project came in October, when Hong Kong University  ordered that the Pillar of Shame be removed from its longtime home on the school's campus — part of a larger effort to erase any public commemoration of the Tiananmen Square massacre.The sculpture's removal, carried out in the dead of night two days before Christmas, accomplished its goal of eliminating the controversial monument from public view. But it also unleashed something unexpected: China and Hong Kong authorities gave Galschiøt's struggling art project the sort of publicity that no amount of money and PR firms could buy. Galschiøt's Pillar of Shame was suddenly being discussed in The Washington Post and The New York Times and in outlets in Thailand, Iceland, Brazil, Turkey, Nigeria, Norway, Ireland, Germany, and Indonesia, to name just a few."They have made a big mistake," Galschiøt said in an interview. "Now, instead of one, they're getting hundreds of Pillars of Shame."A group of former US government officials is working to erect a full-size replica in front of the Chinese Embassy in Washington, DC. In Norway, there's a request to display a replica near the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo. In Taiwan, a pro-democracy group plans to unveil a 3D-printed model by June 4 to mark the 33rd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. An artists collective is planning to organize a worldwide tour with Galschiøt's pillar to raise awareness of Hong Kong's struggle for democracy.Makerwiz 3D-printing studio in Richmond Hill, Ontario. Source: Makerwiz.Galschiøt is also making smaller, 8.5-foot replicas in copper that he aims to hoist on top of plinths with plates dedicated to Tiananmen victims and Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement, installing them at universities. For everyone else — volunteers at his workshop and ordinary people who are inspired by Galschiøt's vision, or perhaps his tenacity — he has finished a batch of 60 bronze copies that are about a foot tall. He's working on another 40. "There's a lot of people who ask for a copy of that sculpture now," Galschiøt said.The nascent efforts are a cautionary tale of what happens when regimes try to censor art. "The rulers, tyrants know the power of art. That's why artists, poets, and musicians are the first ones they persecute and even kill," said Rose Tang, a Tiananmen survivor and artist. But, as one 3D printer who recently replicated Galschiøt's sculpture put it, "ideas can never be suppressed." Galschiøt's Pillar of Shame is finally an idea whose time has come. Except, rather than commemorating atrocities in spots across the globe, the monument now seems poised to become synonymous with one event above all others: the Tiananmen Square massacre and China's efforts to erase it from memory. A witness For more than two decades, anyone who visited the western edge of Hong Kong University's winding Pok Fu Lam campus would inevitably bump into Galschiøt's Pillar of Shame. It was situated off a major campus walkway, boxed inside a narrow atrium next to a popular student canteen. (Disclosure: The author teaches at Hong Kong University's journalism program.) As you looked up from your meal, your eyes would fall upon the Eiffel Tower-like heap of some 50 twisted bodies screaming in pain. Many of the faces looked like cadavers that had already breathed their last while others appeared to be in the act of dying; a man clutching a baby looked as if he was running away from some danger. Layers of thick orange paint flowed from the top down, turning yellow and peeling in places, giving the whole mass the hellish appearance of a pile of burning human flesh. The inscription "THE TIANANMEN MASSACRE" was etched in thick, blood-red letters on one side of the square base, above the date June 4, 1989. Directly to the left was another inscription that read, "the old cannot kill the young forever."Students gather around Galschiøt's Pillar of Shame sculpture in Hong Kong on October 12, 2021.Cezary Podkul for InsiderFor students who came to study here from mainland China, the pillar might be their first introduction to the Tiananmen massacre. On one side of the pillar's base, a plaque provided "A Brief History of the 1989 Beijing Pro-Democracy Movement." It recounted how the death of pro-reform Communist Party leader Hu Yaobang in April 1989 sparked mass demonstrations in favor of democratic reforms. Beijing's Tiananmen Square became a central gathering spot for students who waged a hunger strike to try to prompt a dialogue with Communist Party leaders. The government refused, declared martial law, and ultimately sent in military convoys to clear the square. On June 3 and 4, 1989, "several thousand soldiers forced their way via various routes into Beijing City, using guns and bullets to shoot unarmed citizens and students. Tanks were deployed to recover the Square," the plaque read. An official death toll was never confirmed. A 1990 report on the massacre by Amnesty International noted that Chinese authorities tallied some 200 civilian casualties, while Amnesty itself concluded that at least 1,000 people had been killed. Another more recent estimate based on a diplomatic cable declassified in 2017 pinned the number of civilian casualties at more than 10,000.Whatever the ultimate toll, there was no doubt in Rose Tang's mind that it had been a bloody day. Rose Tang in Tiananmen Square on May 21, 1989. At the time, she was a 20-year-old freshman in college.Rose Tang/HandoutTang was a freshman studying English at what was then known as the Beijing Second Foreign Languages Institute. She ditched classes in the spring of 1989 to join her classmates in Tiananmen Square to chant pro-democracy slogans, even though, she now says, she had very little idea of what democracy even meant. Her memoir of the events of June 4 describes bullets whizzing overhead, a stampede trampling over dead bodies, and the deafening noise of tanks moving in and crushing tents set up in the square. But there's one detail of the aftermath that helps explain why Galschiøt's sculpture found a loyal following in Hong Kong, which was a British colony until 1997. When Tang revisited Tiananmen Square some seven months after the massacre, she found no trace of what had happened there that day. There were no signs of blood stains or bullet holes from June 4, 1989, let alone any memorial. She walked around, trying to find proof to back up her memories. There were only a few armed soldiers patrolling the square as water trucks sprinkled water on the ground. "All I could see was the clean wet concrete ground glittering in street lights," she recalled in her memoir.Tang turned to a life of art and activism to help her cope with the events of that day. She has written poetry and music inspired by June 4, 1989, and toured with a band that performed songs that student protesters sang at Tiananmen Square. "Making music and using music to heal and mobilize people is my way of carrying on the true legacy of Tiananmen. Art is power. Performance is protest," she said.Tang eschewed making sculptures, though. "I just personally found it really hard to convey the experience of Tiananmen through visual art," she said. She admires Galschiøt for trying. Rose Tang at a Tiananmen Square massacre memorial in New York City on June 4, 2020.Thirdblade PhotographyBut something about Galschiøt's sculpture always puzzled Tang. On close inspection, the figures assembled on Galschiøt's pillar appeared to span the races. One could be excused for wondering whether this was all a mistake: A white man from Denmark created a sculpture to commemorate the killings of Chinese civilians, and he filled it with people from all over the world?'My Inner Beast'The international nature of the sculpture was precisely what Galschiøt had in mind when he began to sketch out the vision for his Pillar of Shame in the early 1990s. Galschiøt had turned to making sculptures in the 1980s after a career as a blacksmith at a Danish shipyard and a rebellious youth filled with drugs, travel, and a desire to distance himself from his father's communist sympathies. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, he grew hopeful for a more egalitarian future but was soon dismayed by Serbian militias' mass rape of Muslim women in Bosnia and other atrocities. He became convinced that civilization is only a thin veneer that can crumble at any time and unleash an inner barbarism laid bare in such episodes. In 1993 he installed concrete sculptures of a pig dressed in a gentleman's overcoat in 20 cities across Europe. Titled "My Inner Beast," the project aimed to call attention to Europeans' mistreatment of ethnic minorities. The sculptures proved an unwelcome sight to governments that never asked for them. Most were torn down, and only a few remain standing today. Galschiøt's middle son, Kasper Galschiøt Markus, recalled eating "significantly more porridge" in the months that followed since Galschiøt nearly went broke paying for the project out of pocket. But profit wasn't the goal. The reaction to the sculpture became part of the story the art sought to tell, summarized by the motto, "It is not the foreigners but our reaction to the foreigners that threatens our civilization." Galschiøt preparing a Pillar of Shame replica.Mikkel Møller for InsiderGalschiøt began to make small models of the Pillar of Shame that same year. As the idea took shape, he assembled 7 tons of clay to create the casting mold for the sculpture.He included faces of people that represented a wide variety of races and ethnicities, hoping to create a universal symbol. Once he finished his prototype in 1996, he went looking for contacts who could help him install it in various places around the world. The Tiananmen Square massacre quickly came to mind, but he knew it would be impossible to install a pillar in Beijing. 'They made a good fight for freedom'Hong Kong offered the tantalizing possibility of a work-around. After years of negotiations, the UK was due to hand control of Hong Kong back to China on July 1, 1997.  If Galschiøt could get the pillar to Hong Kong while the city was still in British hands, China would take the sculpture with it. "At that time, we had good reason to believe that this statue would not be allowed to enter after the transition," Albert Ho, who helped Galschiøt get the pillar to Hong Kong, recalled in a later interview.Ho was a leader of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, a group founded in 1989 just before the massacre. One of the alliance's signature projects was an annual candlelight vigil commemorating Tiananmen victims. Galschiøt reached out to see whether the group would help him install a replica of the sculpture and soon he had a partner: On May 2, 1997, he packed up a copy of the pillar in a shipping container and sent it off to Hong Kong. The sculpture arrived at a Hong Kong container terminal nine days before the alliance's annual candlelight vigil in the city's sprawling Victoria Park. The alliance displayed it prominently at the June 4 vigil, which happened to coincide with Galschiøt's birthday. Afterward, the pillar was loaded onto a truck headed for Hong Kong University, where student leaders hoped to install it near their student union. Tang joined part of the march to campus, walking alongside Galschiøt. Galschiøt grew concerned as scuffles broke out between students and security guards who wouldn't let the truck through to campus. Security guards eventually relented, and the sculpture was dropped off as onlookers applauded, according to Associated Press archival footage from the night. "They made a good fight for freedom," Galschiøt told an AP reporter at the time.The pillar made the rounds to several schools around the city before the Hong Kong University student union voted in 1998 to permanently host it on its campus. Galschiøt, meanwhile, wrote a manifesto for his artwork. "My name is Jens Galschiøt. I'm a Danish artist born 1954. My new art happening the Pillar of Shame has just been launched, as the sculpture was displayed 4th June '97 in Hong Kong," began the lengthy December 1997 missive, which predicted that "over the next ten years the happening will spread over the Planet." Galschiøt listed Auschwitz, the site of the infamous Nazi death camp, and Rwanda, where a 1994 genocide had just killed an estimated 800,000 people, as two possible candidates for Pillars of Shame.Galschiøt outside his studio in Denmark.Mikkel Møller for InsiderSoon he managed to install a "Columna de la infamia" in Mexico to commemorate the 1997 killings of 45 Indigenous people in Chiapas state and a "Coluna da infâmia" in Brazil to mark the 1996 murder of 19 landless Brazilian peasants. Both sculptures made brief appearances near parliament buildings in their respective countries, elevating their visibility in Mexico and Brazil. In 1999 he outlined a grand vision to install a pillar in Berlin atop a platform covered with bronze plates notched with 10 million lines representing the victims of Nazi-era persecution (the project was too costly, and he gave up on it in late 2002). In 2012, he traveled to Iraq to explore the possibility of placing a pillar there to commemorate the victims of Saddam Hussein's mass murders of Iraqi Kurds in the 1980s (installing a sculpture in a war zone was too dangerous, though Galschiøt hopes to try again someday).Galschiøt openly mused that Hong Kong's Pillar of Shame might someday move to Beijing if political circumstances allowed it. But he acknowledged that it might just as well be removed or destroyed: "The Pillar of Shame will be a test of the validity of the new authorities' guarantees for human rights and freedom of expression in Hong Kong," he wrote in a post on his website.'The old cannot kill the young forever'Galschiøt was right about the possibility of his sculpture being removed from Hong Kong.The early signs of trouble came in April 2008, when Galschiøt flew to the city only to be denied entry. He was there to paint the pillar orange as part of a campaign to raise awareness of China's alleged human-rights abuses ahead of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. In Galschiøt's absence, members of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China carried out the paint job. News reports at the time described the ordeal as a test of the freedoms China had granted to Hong Kong when it took over.Hong Kongers would experience many more such tests in the years that followed. In 2014, protests erupted when China insisted on vetting any candidates for the territory's chief executive before allowing the post to be elected directly by the people. The tense 79-day standoff with pro-democracy protesters became known as the Umbrella Movement after demonstrators used umbrellas to shield themselves from the pepper spray police used to try to disperse them. The sense of togetherness and community among the protesters felt like a repeat of the 1989 Tiananmen Square movement to Tang, who flew from the US to Hong Kong to camp out with the protesters and speak up for their cause. Even larger protests shook the city in 2019 after Hong Kong leaders proposed amending the territory's extradition laws to allow criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China to stand trial. The protests grew into a broader movement against Beijing's encroachments on the freedoms guaranteed to Hong Kong under the terms of its handover from the UK. Meanwhile, Beijing readied a national-security law that would give China broad authority to stamp out dissent in Hong Kong. Even before the law took effect, in June 2020, authorities had already taken aim at Hong Kong's long tradition of commemorating the Tiananmen victims. They refused to let the alliance organize its annual June 4 vigil in 2020, citing COVID-19 restrictions. Thousands showed up anyway. In 2021, Hong Kong blocked the June 4 vigil again and put up a massive police presence to deter Hong Kongers from defying the ban. The same month, the alliance's museum commemorating the massacre was forced to shut down. Police raided the museum in September and confiscated its exhibits just a day after arresting the alliance's leaders under the guise of the national-security law. The alliance disbanded on September 25, and days later reports surfaced that the digital version of its Tiananmen Square massacre museum had been blocked in Hong Kong.  By early October, the pillar's time had come. Galschiøt wasn't formally notified that the Pillar of Shame would be removed. Mayer Brown, an American law firm representing Hong Kong University, sent a letter demanding its removal to the liquidators of the alliance (the alliance didn't actually own the sculpture; Galschiøt had always retained ownership). The October 7 letter gave the now-defunct pro-democracy group six days to remove the sculpture from the university, a publicly funded institution, or consider the pillar abandoned property that would be dealt with "at such time and in such manner" as the university saw fit. Galschiøt tried to intervene but said he couldn't get a reply to his lawyer's pleas to let him come to Hong Kong to retrieve the artwork.The sudden deadline was sandwiched between two typhoons that pummeled Hong Kong with heavy rains and winds. As the storms moved through the city, the October 13 removal deadline held firm. Hong Kongers flocked to the sculpture to bid their farewells to what many saw as one of the last vestiges of freedom of expression in the Chinese territory. "Say goodbye to freedom," one man said as he snapped a photo of the sculpture one day before the deadline. Steps away, a father took a selfie in front of the pillar with his 9-year-old daughter. Afterward, the little girl grabbed her father's phone and snapped some photos of it herself. On their way out, he pointed to the inscription "the old cannot kill the young forever" as she looked on attentively. Shortly after, it started to rain again. But the crowds kept coming.A father introduces his daughter to Galschiøt's Pillar of Shame sculpture in Hong Kong on October 12, 2021.Cezary Podkul for InsiderThe university hit a snag when Mayer Brown bowed out of the legal matter amid public outrage that an American law firm would be helping Chinese authorities stifle freedom of expression in Hong Kong. (Mayer Brown's decision prompted a former Hong Kong chief executive to call for a China-wide boycott of the law firm. Spokespeople for Mayer Brown did not respond to comment requests.) Several weeks followed when the sculpture's fate stood in a strange state of limbo; it wasn't clear when exactly it would disappear, but there was no doubt the end was near. An artists' collective known as Lady Liberty Hong Kong made use of the delay to take detailed photos of the pillar and create a three-dimensional model that could be used as a basis for 3D printing. Galschiøt, meanwhile, dusted off old molds that he had used to create smaller replicas of the Pillar of Shame in the 1990s so that he would be ready if his sculpture were removed. The limbo ended on December 22. Galschiøt had just told the workers in his workshop in Odense, Denmark, to go home early and enjoy the holiday when he got a call from a reporter seeking comment on the sculpture's removal.  The energy drained from his body; he looked like a parent who had just learned about the loss of his child, recalled his apprentice, Lauge Jakobsen. Social media lit up with footage of workers fencing off the area around the pillar so no one would witness its removal. Reporters still managed to document parts of the ordeal, which ended with a human-like fragment of the sculpture being loaded into a shipping container by a group of workers in hard hats resembling pallbearers at a funeral.The former site of the Pillar of Shame at Hong Kong University as seen the day after the monument was removed.Cezary Podkul for Insider As Galschiøt watched from a distance, all he could do was decry the university's actions. He issued a statement calling the sculpture's removal an unreasonable act of "self-immolation against private property in Hong Kong." Hong Kong University said in a statement that "no party has ever obtained any approval from the university to display the statue on campus," and the statue would be placed in storage pending legal advice on what to do with it. Galschiøt said the university has now responded to his lawyer, and he is sorting out the details of how to return the sculpture from Hong Kong. A spokeswoman for the university did not provide further details. 'Jens' biggest supporter has been the Chinese government'The sculpture's dramatic removal gave Galschiøt the kind of worldwide attention he had long hoped to bring to his international art project. "Suddenly, all the world's eyes were turned on this Pillar of Shame," recalled Jakobsen, his apprentice. "From 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. at night the phone was calling all the time, and our email was looking like a celebrity's fan email because every 10 seconds there were coming new emails."Jakobsen switched from working in Galschiøt's workshop to assisting him in the office as he juggled media requests and inquiries about how to acquire a Pillar of Shame. "Jens' biggest supporter last year has been the Chinese government," Jakobsen said during a phone interview. Galschiøt could be heard laughing beside him.Jessica Chiu was one of those requesters. The native Hong Konger, who's 32 and lives in Norway, first learned about Tiananmen Square from her high school math teacher, who would abandon his usual lesson every June and instead teach about the massacre. Later, as a student at Hong Kong University, Chiu would occasionally pass by Galschiøt's sculpture. Chiu leads a Norwegian nonprofit focused on supporting human rights in Hong Kong. The group had been interested in exhibiting Galschiøt's pillar in Norway since 2020; its removal in Hong Kong reinforced those plans. "It makes us more motivated to do it, and it just makes the impact bigger," Chiu said. Her nonprofit has already applied for permits to display the sculpture at two locations in Oslo, including a plaza near the Nobel Peace Center.Galschiøt at his gallery in Odense, Denmark.Mikkel Møller for InsiderA similar effort is taking shape to bring a copy of the pillar in the US. The most provocative spot under consideration includes a park directly across from the Chinese Embassy in Washington DC. A group of former US government officials, outraged by Mayer Brown's involvement, is spearheading the initiative, which is still in its initial planning stages, according to a person familiar with the effort. Getting a 2-ton sculpture cast and transported abroad — let alone securing a spot for it — is no easy feat, so it's unclear how many of such installations will ultimately succeed. Galschiøt estimated that making the sculpture in a full-size bronze cast costs about $800,000. To make it more affordable and easier to handle, he has started making the smaller, 8.5-foot replicas in copper using an old mold he created in the 1990s. He hopes to distribute the smaller pillars to universities around the world (and requests that schools interested in a copy contact him). He scored his first win in Budapest, Hungary, on March 2, when one of the copper replicas was installed on the site of a future Budapest campus of Fudan University. Hungary lawmakers had voted in 2021 to donate four plots of land toward the planned campus of the Shanghai-based university, which ranks as one of China's most elite schools. The move sparked criticism of Chinese influence-buying and prompted Budapest's mayor to rename streets near the proposed site after various alleged human-rights abuses committed by China. Galschiøt traveled to Budapest to personally dedicate his "a szégyen oszlopa" (Hungarian for "Pillar of Shame") near the corner of Free Hong Kong Road and Uyghur Martyrs Road.Galschiøt applies paint to a pillar, which will soon be shipped aboard.Mikkel Møller for InsiderThe use of the artwork to make political statements about China's alleged human-rights abuses could get easier thanks to the rise of 3D printing. Lady Liberty Hong Kong's three-dimensional model of the sculpture has enabled anyone with access to a 3D printer to create a copy of the sculpture without bothering with the cost and logistics of transporting it from Denmark. To make the process even more hassle-free, Galschiøt surrendered his copyright to the sculpture, writing in an open letter on Christmas Day that anyone is free to 3D print or mass-produce replicas of the pillar as long as profits go to benefit pro-democracy causes in China and Hong Kong.  A 2-foot-tall replica created using Lady Liberty's model recently showed up at a Hong Kong pro-democracy rally in Manchester, England. An even bigger version — 10 feet or taller — is set to be 3D-printed in Taiwan in time for the June 4 anniversary of the massacre. The New School for Democracy Association Taiwan, a pro-democracy group, is spearheading that effort, which is in the planning and fundraising stages, according to the project's manager.Lady Liberty itself is hoping to organize an international art tour with Galschiøt that would feature the pillar as well as the group's own signature artwork,  a symbol of the 2019 protest movement in Hong Kong known as Lady Liberty Hong Kong. The 3.5-meter-tall, crowdfunded sculpture of a woman wearing a helmet, goggles, and a respirator made the rounds to various sites across Hong Kong in 2019, including a famous summit known as Lion Rock, before being vandalized and thrown off the cliff (most likely by pro-government activists). Lady Liberty is preparing to sell small replicas of the Pillar of Shame to help fund the art tour, which would also invite other artists to participate, a spokesperson said.Galschiøt's team with a copy of the Pillar of Shame.Mikkel Møller for InsiderTang is raising her hand for the effort. She said she'd like to reunite her Tiananmen band and perform under Galschiøt's Pillar of Shame if a replica makes its way for a tour in the US. In Canada, a scrappy group of expatriate Hong Kongers created a supply chain that allows them to 3D print and ship copies of the pillar anywhere in the world. Their website, CanHKer.ca, sells a variety of Hong Kong-themed merchandise — including 3D prints of Lady Liberty Hong Kong — to fund pro-democracy causes. Proceeds from the 3D-printed pillar replicas are earmarked for organizations that help young Hong Kong refugees resettle in Canada and seek asylum, said Eric Li, who cofounded one of the groups and helped launch the merchandise website. Many of the refugees are youths who faced persecution for their pro-democracy activities, Li said. Some are depressed and feel guilty, even suicidal, for having left Hong Kong behind, he said. Others are traumatized after their violent clashes with police. "They feel they betrayed their friends because they ran away from the action," said Li, who helps arrange counseling for the youths as part of his work for one of the groups that will receive proceeds from the pillars'  sales. Art 'without interruption'There isn't much action left when it comes to protests in Hong Kong. The Beijing-imposed national-security law has succeeded in ending the mass demonstrations that gripped the city in 2019. You might find an occasional pro-democracy slogan or poster here or there, but any public artwork the government could deem subversive to Beijing is likely to quickly vanish from public view. A day after Galschiøt's pillar disappeared in December, two other Tiananmen-themed monuments were removed by universities in Hong Kong. The "Goddess of Democracy," an imitation of a sculpture created by Tiananmen Square protesters in 1989, was hauled away from the Chinese University of Hong Kong on December 24. A relief depicting the Tiananmen Square massacre was removed from the campus of Lingnan University the same day. Both artworks were created by Chen Weiming, an exiled Chinese sculptor who lives in California. Chen is now trying to repatriate the monuments from the universities and is planning to house them at a Tiananmen Square museum that he hopes to build at his sculpture park in Yermo, California. "In America, I can do anything I want to do. In China, I can't do it," Chen said.In late January, Hong Kong University covered up the last public tribute to Tiananmen victims on its campus — a hand-painted slogan on a bridge outside a dormitory. It read, "The souls of the martyrs shall forever linger despite the cold-blooded massacre. The spark of democracy shall forever glow for the demise of evil." Every year, students would touch up the paint on the 32-year-old inscription and wash the Pillar of Shame.The former site of the Pillar of Shame at Hong Kong University has been replaced with an outdoor seating area.Cezary Podkul for InsiderThe former site of the pillar is now a seating area with movable plastic furniture atop wooden planks. The area stood empty on a recent Monday evening as the clean, wet planks glittered in overhead lights. With the usual churn of a university, it won't take more than a few years for future generations of students to sit in the area without any idea of what stood here previously, or why. But nearby, another sculpture remains intact. It's a commemoration of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, widely regarded as the father of modern China, who sits calmly in a chair surrounded by a placid fishpond topped with water lilies. Sun is a rare figure in recent Chinese history, revered on both sides of the Taiwan Strait for helping to end feudal imperial monarchy in China and briefly serving as the first president of the Republic of China in 1912. Even as Hong Kong stamps out dissent, posters honoring him as a "great outlaw" invite visitors to a museum of Sun's life and legacy. The university installed Sun's statue in 2003 so students could follow his historic footprint, according to a dedication issued at the time. A sculpture of Sun Yat-sen, the father of modern China, adorns a lily pond on the Hong Kong University campus.Cezary Podkul for InsiderIt is impossible to know what Sun might say about the removal of the Pillar of Shame and other artworks in Hong Kong if he were alive today. But a speech that he gave nearly 100 years ago on Hong Kong University's campus gives a clue. In his remarks, Sun called Hong Kong and the university his "intellectual birthplace" and explained why he got his revolutionary ideas there: "Hong Kong impressed me a great deal, because there was orderly calm and because there was artistic work being done without interruption."Cezary Podkul is an award-winning investigative reporter who has written for ProPublica, The Wall Street Journal and Reuters. He teaches at Hong Kong University's Journalism and Media Studies Centre.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMar 18th, 2022

Your 2021 Holiday Dinner Political Survival Guide

Your 2021 Holiday Dinner Political Survival Guide Authored by Jonathan Turley, Below is my column in The Hill to help readers survive this year’s the holiday dinners with friends and family. The cards below can be printed and cut down for easy palming or secreting in a napkin for reference during meals. Here is the column: It seems like this Christmas is all Krampus and no St. Nick. People are in a foul mood, and politically it seems every day brings little offerings from the Caga Tió — from packing institutions or sacking individuals. in righteous indignation. Indeed, if you expect your holiday events are going to be an emotional powder keg, think of  dinner for Justice Sonia Sotomayor with the three newest justices after she said a “stench” of politics followed them to the Court. Then there is the happy gathering of the Democrats with senators like Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) after the White House basically called him a liar, and other members called him the killer of democracy for refusing to support the Build Back Better bill (BBB). Of course, the Republicans have a former president who hates the majority leader and house members who are seeking to sanction each other. Welcome to Christmas 2021, our hair-triggered holiday season. It is not surprising, therefore, to read the recent Quinnipiac University poll, which found a universal fear of holiday fireworks over political divisions. Some 66 percent of adults are hoping to avoid any discussion of politics. The problem is that 21 percent say that they are “looking forward” to hashing out political differences. That means that even with eight guests struggling to stay on football and fashion, two guests will be actively trying to steer the conversation onto immigration and insurrection. That means that you have to be prepared. Below are some Christmas crib notes to get you through holiday dinner. Each topic — abortion, the filibuster, court packing, and gerrymandering — is divided between comments you might expect from Democratic and Republican family members and friends. Just palm a few of these if your holiday dinner seem more Whodunit than Whoville: *   *  * Abortion is about to be outlawed No, the Supreme Court in Dobbs is deciding whether to return some — or all — of the power over abortion limits to the states. Even if Roe were overturned, it would simply make this a state issue — and most states would protect the right. Backside fun fact: Even Justice Ginsburg criticized Roe as “Heavy-handed judicial intervention was difficult to justify and appears to have provoked, not resolved, conflict.” *  *  * Abortion has always been criminal Actually, some early laws were tied to the “quickening” for the first feeling of movement in a pregnancy. That would occur around the 14th week. Backside fun fact: At his confirmation hearing, Justice Clarence Thomas testified that he had never really thought about Roe v. Wade and had no firm view on the matter. *  *  * The filibuster is a racist relic that must be eliminated to protect democracy Actually, it is more a “relic” of the Julius Caesar era than the Jim Crow era. In ancient Rome, the filibuster was used to force the Roman senate to hear dissenting voices. It has been used in the U.S. Senate to protect minority rights and to encourage compromise. Backside fun fact: Then-Sen. Joe Biden denounced any termination of the filibuster as “disastrous” and would change “understanding and unbroken practice of what the Senate is all about.” Then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) denounced those seeking to eradicate the filibuster and warned that it would “put an end to democratic debate, then the fighting and the bitterness and the gridlock will only become worse.” *  *  * The filibuster has been part of our constitutional system since the Framers Actually, it can be traced to a procedural argument by former Vice President Aaron Burr to get rid of an automatic end to debate on bills in the early 1800s. The rule has been repeatedly modified, as in 1975 when the threshold to end a filibuster was reduced to 60 votes. Backside fun fact: The Democrats under then-Majority Leader Harry Reid crossed the Rubicon by removing the filibuster for votes on non-Supreme Court judicial nominees in 2013. The Republicans then removed the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees in 2017 to end the blocking of the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. *  *  * Republicans packed the court first in the Merrick Garland nomination The Senate has the constitutional authority to vote or not vote on a nominee. The refusal to vote on President Obama’s nominee was not court packing. It did not add justices to force an instant majority in favor of one side. Backside fun fact: As a senator, Joe Biden called packing the Supreme Court “a bonehead idea,” “a terrible, terrible mistake. Packing the Court has also been opposed by justices including the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Stephen Breyer. *  *  * Court packing is unconstitutional Actually, the number of Supreme Court justices is not set in the Constitution. The number has fluctuated through the years, with larger and smaller courts — tied to the number of federal circuits. Since justices once “rode circuit” and actually sat as judges in lower courts, Congress would add a justice when it added a circuit — or reduce the court with the elimination of a circuit. Thus, when a 10th circuit was added in 1863, a 10th justice was added at the same time. Backside Fun Fact: When the court first convened in 1790 in New York, at the Royal Exchange Building, it had just six members. *  *  * Democracy is dying The claim that democracy is dying without the federalization of elections ignores the fact the Constitution leaves most of the election rules to the states. Each state sets its election rules as a result of the democratic process, and both parties continue to engage in gerrymandering with Democratic majorities this year being challenged over such contorted maps to engineer victories. Backside fun fact: The precursor to the Democratic party (Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party) actually started gerrymandering. In 1812, Governor Elbridge Gerry, signed a bill to redistrict Massachusetts for the benefit of his party. In the 1980s, California Democrat Phil Burton boasted that his distortion of district lines to help the democrats was “my contribution to modern art.” Both Democratic and Republican states are gerrymandering this year. *  *  * Gerrymandering is what Democracy is all about Abuses like gerrymandering are inherently abusive and undermine the democratic process. The fact that courts have allowed states to engage in such abuse (unless it dilutes minority voting) is not an endorsement of the practice. Backside fun fact: In 1989, President George H.W. Bush, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and other Republicans pushed for the passage of “legislation aimed at outlawing gerrymandering.” The bill sought “‘neutral criteria’ to be used in drawing the nation’s congressional districts after the 1990 census.” Despite multiple bills, it was defeated by Democratic opposition. Tyler Durden Sat, 12/25/2021 - 14:15.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 25th, 2021

What is Vegan Wine? An Essential Guide for Plant-Based Wine Lists

Increasing interest from wine drinkers has inspired wineries to certify their wines as vegan. Here are some to savor Outspoken Italian winery owner Sebastiano Cassia Castiglioni is a wine pioneer in the plant-based food movement. He turned vegetarian at age 15, eventually went fully vegan, and more than a decade ago extended that commitment to Querciabella, his now-organic and biodynamic Chianti Classico family estate. “I didn’t want to be part of the way conventional agriculture devastates the environment and abuses animals,” he says. “We removed all animal products from every aspect of our winemaking process, including the vineyards. You don’t need them to make great wine.” The proof is in his reds and pricy white, which have steadily become livelier, more vibrant, and more intense. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] As everyone knows, the plant-based trend is booming. In the U.S., sales of vegan groceries, such as replacements for milk and meat, grew 27% from 2020 to 2021, according to data from Spins, a wellness-focused technology company, and the nonprofit Good Food Institute. U.K. supermarket chain Sainsbury’s recent Future of Food report predicted that fully 25% of the country’s population will be vegan or vegetarian by 2025. Health concerns are one reason, eco-consciousness is another. The U.K.’s Vegan Society says the diet will reduce your food carbon footprint by up to 50%. In May, one of New York’s top restaurants, Eleven Madison Park, announced that its food menu would go almost entirely vegan. You may be wondering how wines fit into a philosophy that opposes eating meat, dairy, and eggs and tries to avoid the exploitation of animals. It’s just fermented grape juice, right? Isn’t that automatically vegan? Well, not necessarily. Here’s what you need to know: Some winemakers still use traditional animal-derived “fining” agents such as egg whites, gelatin, or casein (derived from milk) to clarify the liquid, reduce bitterness, or bind and extract excess tannins in red wines, leaving behind softer ones. The agents are removed before bottling, but their use is still a vegan no-no. Today, animal-free alternatives, such as bentonite, a form of clay, are more commonly used. But it’s hard to identify which wines use what, since neither the EU nor the U.S. requires ingredients or winemaking processes to be listed on labels. Just because a wine is organic, biodynamic, natural, or kosher doesn’t mean it’s also vegan. One hint: If the front or back label says the wine is unfined, it’s vegan friendly—if you define vegan as simply not introducing animal products into the wine itself. Helpfully, major retailers in the U.K., like Bibendum, now publish the names of these vegan wines online. The Barnivore Vegan Alcohol Directory lists more than 5,000, but it isn’t always up to date. Increasing interest from wine drinkers has inspired wineries to certify their wines as vegan, entitling them to put an official trademark on their back labels. Larry Stone, co-founder of Lingua Franca, says the top Oregon winery did it “because it’s important to so many people to verify our wines have no animal by-products.” (All those in the list below are certified.) But there’s a big catch to all this. The definition of vegan wine is blurry, with certification covering only what happens to wines after the grapes have been harvested. The European Vegetarian Union doesn’t give its V-label to bottled wines sealed with beeswax. But it does certify producers that fertilize vines with animal manure, something that those embracing a wider vegan philosophy than just dietary choices object to. Such traditional biodynamic practices, such as burying a cow horn filled with manure, are considered non-vegan. Querciabella’s completely animal-free, vineyard-to-glass approach isn’t the norm for wineries with vegan certification. Still, the U.S.’s first all-vegan wine subscription club and online wine shop, veganwines.com, claims to ensure that its winemakers aren’t using any animal by-products, from soil to bottle. When in doubt, consult a winery’s website or call it for further information. A few restaurants are beginning to identify vegan-friendly wines on their lists with some sort of symbol (such as a green leaf, or sometimes just the letters V or Veg). Gautier Soho in London, which transitioned to an all-vegan menu in June, offers only vegan wines. New York’s Eleven Madison Park, which drew wide attention for the plant-based menu it debuted in June, doesn’t quite describe itself as “vegan.” The wine list, which features several Bordeaux châteaux that fine with egg whites, such as Château d’Armailhac, is decidedly not vegan. Wine director Watson Brown says his goal is not to adjust the wine program but to offer the highest quality wines possible; he says many are inherently vegan but not necessarily labeled so. When consumers request a vegan wine, sommeliers steer guests to regions and producers that don’t fine their wines. You don’t have to learn a new set of rules to match vegan wine and food. Mushroom risotto works just as well with a vegan pinot noir as with a conventional one. There are two main principles. Since vegan food doesn’t include butter or animal fat, wines with less oak, alcohol, and tannin tend to match best. Texture and cooking methods are all-important. Roasted beets or grilled cabbage both taste great with red wines. Nine Certified Vegan Wines to Savor Sparkling NV Champagne Leclerc-Briant Brut Reserve This revived Champagne house, noted for such quirky innovations as aging Champagnes 60 meters below sea level and maturing wine in a barrel lined with gold, has a long biodynamic history. This non-vintage cuvée is bold and intense, with aromas of golden delicious apples and fresh croissants. White 2019 Babich Headwaters Organic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc Pure and vibrant, this white comes with orange blossom aromas and tangy citrus and herbal flavors. The winery claims its grapes aren’t touched by animal-based fertilizers or sprays. Serve with salads or asparagus. 2020 Miguel Torres Cordillera de los Andes Chardonnay Grapes from northern Chile’s cool Limari Valley go into this fine-boned, spicy-smoky white from eco-conscious producer Torres. It’s crisp and savory, with a ripe, creamy texture that pairs well with vegetarian risotto. 2017 Domaine Wachau Riesling Terrassen Federspiel An entry-level white from one of Austria’s top large estates, this bright, fresh, dry Riesling exudes a zesty lime and peachy fruitiness. It makes a top partner to a cauliflower curry. Rosé 2020 Chateau Sainte Marguerite Love Provence Rose Salmon-colored and delicate, this refreshing, silky-textured organic cru classé rosé is a blend of mostly grenache and cinsault. Pair it with Vietnamese vegan spring rolls or a tofu tortilla. Red 2019 CVNE Organic Rioja This new wine from an historic Spanish producer has bold fruit flavors and a mineral finish, ideal with a bean or lentil chili. 2016 Querciabella Chianti Classico This super-classic, polished Chianti from an exceptional vintage has pure tart cherry flavors and rose petal aromas. Try this with grilled vegetables, and look also for the outstanding Chianti Riserva and expensive pricy white, Batar. 2018 Lingua Franca Avni Pinot Noir The winery’s pinots have been vegan since the second vintage, 2017. This one is fragrant and juicy—especially delicious with earthy mushroom dishes or roasted beets. 2019 Vietti Barbera d’Asti Loaded with fruit and energy, this bright, tangy red from a top producer has the kind of acidity that goes well with tomatoes. Try this one with vegan pizza. 2016 Avignonesi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Savory, rich, and suave, with dark berry and tobacco aromas, this wine comes from a Tuscan estate that is also certified as biodynamic. It’s a good match for baked eggplant......»»

Category: topSource: timeNov 19th, 2021

Farnam Street Investments October 2021: Cranking the Amplifier to Eleven

Farnam Street Investments commentary for the month ended October 2021, titled, “Cranking the Amplifier to Eleven.” Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more “Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.” – George Carlin You probably have good taste in music. At least we all think we do. But why do you […] Farnam Street Investments commentary for the month ended October 2021, titled, “Cranking the Amplifier to Eleven.” .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Ray Dalio Series in PDF Get the entire 10-part series on Ray Dalio in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more “Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.” - George Carlin You probably have good taste in music. At least we all think we do. But why do you like certain songs and not others? Is it possible your preferences are swayable? The research says yes. Matthew Salganik and his coauthors crafted a large-scale study of music downloads. They designed a website where people could hear and download one or more of seventy-two songs by new bands. In the control group, participants were kept in the dark about which songs were popular. The researchers then created eight groups where visitors could see popularity based on downloads of others in their group. With eight separate versions of “history” running, you’d expect to see the good songs rise to the top, while the bad would sink to the bottom. There’d be no noise--meritocracy would sort wheat from chaff in all eight cohorts. Yet the researchers found the group rankings varied greatly. Early random popularity would propel a song to the top of the charts. It’s slightly comforting that the best songs (as based on the control group) were never dead last, and the worst never rose to the absolute top. But otherwise, anything could happen. Salganik and coauthors crafted a clever follow-up experiment. They inverted the initial rankings from the control group. Participants now saw the least popular songs as the most popular, and vice versa. With that subtle initial nudge, the “worst” songs became very popular and the “best” songs did poorly. As Daniel Kahneman summarized the study in his book Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgement, “social influences create significant noise across groups.” > Researchers identify two key issues to explain how groups amplify noise: informational cascades and group polarization. We’ll tackle both in a bit, but first we must ask a broader question: Why are groups of humans often so bad at decision-making? To answer this question, let’s rewind the clock all the way back and observe the historical sweep of communications. Homo Fabula (Man, the Storyteller) Dinosaurs ruled the earth for 165 million years. The current iteration of our species has been around for just two. We’re still young and figuring some things out. For the vast majority of our evolution, we’ve communicated contemporaneously, in the flesh, face-to-face. We told each other stories describing how we thought the world worked. Typically information flowed down the gradient from old to young. “There’s a watering hole over that hill, but watch out for the lions behind the pile of rocks. And mind that dark cloud... the thunder gods are angry today.” These stories generated mental models to better anticipate our environment and move our genes to the next round. Our messages didn’t necessarily have to be true. Nor did we need to fully understand the arrows of causation and correlation. They just had to increase our odds of survival. One theory holds that we developed large brains in order to gossip. We had to figure out who was cool and who was a jerk. Or said more academically, we conducted dynamic hierarchical sorting and monitoring. Figuring out our place in the tribe to prevent exile (which was a prehistoric death sentence) was of paramount importance. Additionally, group work inherently invites parasitism. A free rider can do less than their share and still enjoy the fruits of the group’s effort. It required a bigger brain to keep score and track all the social dynamics of a typical one-hundred-person tribe.3 Just as the ocean molds boat design, environments generate adaptive pressures which mold genetic expression. Think of the long beak on one of Darwin’s finches used for picking seeds from deep inside a plant. That pressure also molds cultural adaptation. Our early stories were the transmission of culture from one generation to the next, a supplement to our genetic instincts. But it was all so provincial. We communicated via words (grunts?), intonation, body language, pheromones, and gift-giving. The messages were real-time and location dependent, bound by the range of the human voice. And then a funny thing happened. About five thousand years ago, the Sumerians started making small notches on clay tablets and kicked off a process that would radically alter humanity. This notching system was called cuneiform, and humans could now transmit ideas, information, and stories across both time and space. Assuming I could read cuneiform, I can receive messages from a fellow human separated by 7,500 miles (California to Iraq) and 5,000 years.5 Simply remarkable. Summary To summarize: for 99.75% of our evolution, all complex ideas were transmitted verbally through storytelling. For only nine inches on the 100-yard football field of humanity have we employed written language. Our brains are still playing catch-up to more than just gossip and weather. For the next 4,500 years, everything was basically written by human hand. It was painfully slow and expensive for scribes to “print” books. The speed and cost of communication was choked by the human hand. Then in Germany around 1440, Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, dramatically lowering the cost of transmitting culture. Little wonder the pace of cultural progress revved. One theory of the cause of the Cambrian explosion 500 million years ago was the rise in planetary oxygen levels,6 boosting the potential vitality of animals. To push the analogy, the printing press increased humanity’s cultural oxygen. A fresh vibrancy burst forth. Fast forward 400 years or so. In 1844, Samuel Morse famously “texted” the first message over a telegraph: “What hath God wrought?” By 1876, Alexander Graham Bell had placed the first phone call. The constraints of geography in real time communications were fully obliterated. In 1896, Guglielmo Marconi patented the radio. In 1927, Philo Farnsworth successfully demonstrated the television. We could now transmit both audio and visual images from one-to-many. Due to the constraints of the electromagnetic spectrum, there was only so much space available for separate channels. This choke point created a consumer packaged goods ecological niche where large national brands flourished. Household names like Kraft, Crest, and Coca-Cola had the scale for nationwide advertising to build their brands. These brands could then charge premium prices to build CPG empires. The next big development was the transistor in 1947, which led to computers, and eventually the internet. That digital story is still playing out today. Next stop, into the metaverse. The unconstrained capacity of internet bandwidth (as opposed to only having space for NBC, ABC, and CBS), has fragmented communication and attention.7 The proliferation of communication tools has been, well... prolific. Email, text, phone call, video chat, DM, slack, instant messenger, tweet, post, snap, pin, blast, spam… you get the idea. A Flood The spectre of caloric starvation stalked humanity for eons. We find ourselves suddenly drowning in a flood of information that is a new threat to our mental health. A UC San Diego study found we are inundated with the equivalent of 35,000 megabytes of information every day. Yet in 2020, our species created something like 1.1 trillion megabytes per day. Very roughly speaking, that means we’re only accessing .00000318% of the new information.8 And we aren’t consciously processing anything near that rate. The human body sends roughly 11 million bits per second to the brain for processing. Yet the conscious mind seems to only be capable of processing around 50 bits per second. Consciousness is shockingly low throughput; there’s a lot always happening under the covers. Suffice it to say, our sensory perception is a tiny keyhole into the world. We evolved for an information desert. We find ourselves cast adrift in a vast informational ocean. Through this tiny keyhole, we construct our sensory inputs into “reality.” No wonder there’s so much disagreement and strife. As we’ll see, we’re like so many proverbial blind men touching an elephant. If you make it to the end of this letter, you’ll see that technology might just save us from this predicament. But only if we’re thoughtful in how we use it. MAPping the Elephant Stop me if you’ve heard this one: six blind men encounter an elephant for the first time... The first touched the elephant’s side and declared, “He’s exactly like a wall!” The second felt the tusk. “It’s hard, smooth and sharp like a spear.” The third touched the trunk and described it as a snake. The fourth grasped the leg and observed it as a tree. The fifth found the ear to be a fan. The sixth pulled the tail and said it had to be a rope. The six blind men spent the rest of the day arguing with each other, believing to their cores that they alone possessed the One Truth. They were right in their individual assessments, yet couldn’t have been more wrong. Given all the noise and our pinched perspectives, how can we make better decisions? I put forth three tactics: MAP, Correcting Predictions and something I’m calling “Decision Voltron.” Reading the MAP Daniel Kahneman describes a process called Mediating Assessment Protocol (MAP). In the most basic terms, here’s how it works: As a group, figure out the most important elements of the situation. Independently score each of those away from the group. Share your results, and talk through why you scored each item a certain way. Run another assessment. Aggregate the scores for an overall decision. It’s an implementation of several decision hygiene techniques: sequencing information, structuring the decision into independent assessments, using a common frame of reference ground in the outside view, and aggregating the independent judgments of multiple individuals. Kahneman’s description of the main steps of the Mediating Assessment Protocol: At the beginning of the process, structure the decision into mediating assessments. Ensure that whenever possible, mediating assessments use an outside view. In the analytic phase, keep the assessments as independent of one another as possible. In the decision meeting, review each assessment separately. On each assessment, ensure that participants make their judgments individually; then use the Estimate-Talk-Estimate method. To make the final decision, delay intuition, but don’t ban it. Source: Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment, by Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, & Cass Sunstein Kahneman’s MAP approach works because it balances competing factors. First, blindspots are legion when you only have access to your singular keyhole. We can miss big, obvious facts that lead to catastrophic errors. There’s a story of a man who bet on horses. He knew everything about the horses, the jockeys, the tracks, the weather. He wagered his entire fortune on a particular horse that was a lock to win. Just as the race was starting, a friend informed him that his horse had a broken leg. Decisions in an absolute vacuum are inherently dangerous. We lack what psychologists call the “outside view.” Yet being influenced by others is just as dangerous. Recall the chaotic online music experiments. We suffer from two primary phenomena: information cascades and polarization. Information cascades explain how groups start to think alike. A persuasive, likeable, or smart person shares their opinions with the group first, biasing the rest to see the world in a similar way. Social dynamics also play a part. Lower-power individuals don’t want to be seen as non-team players, so they defer comment or withhold information from those with higher power. The group loses the individual objectivity that underpins the wisdom of the crowds’ hypothesis. Blindspots run amok. Group polarization is the basic idea that when groups of people work together, they often end up at an extreme position compared to their original inclinations. Group enthusiasm creates more confidence, unity, identity, and extremism. Studies of juries making punitive damage awards in product liability cases show that group discussions lead to larger dollar amounts than when individuals assign their own awards for damages. One study found 27% of juries awarded a higher amount than even the most severe single member’s punishment. Whether you vote red or blue, it’s uncontroversial at this point to observe how group polarization is impacting politics in the U.S. for the worse. We miss “broken legs” when deciding by ourselves. We are heavily influenced by others when deciding together. MAP balances these competing factors. Single Player Mode What if you don’t have a group? Research suggests that even polling yourself at different times can create a “crowd within.” If you allow three weeks to pass between your estimates, you’ll achieve approximately one-third the value of a second outside opinion. That’s how much “occasion noise” we generate. But there’s a better way to get a new perspective. In the appendix of Noise, Kahneman lays out a helpful operational procedure he calls Correcting Predictions. It includes making predictions, honoring base rates, and allowing for the powerful force of reversion to the mean. Let’s use Kahneman’s example to explore. Imagine a four year old girl who was an early reader. What would you predict her GPA would be upon high school graduation? The average guess is 3.8. She’s clearly clever, maybe in the top ten percent at age four. Our gut might tell us the top ten percent fourteen years later would equate to a 3.8 GPA at graduation. Makes sense. STEP 1: Make an intuitive guess. This is our fast, automatic “System 1” prediction. Sometimes there’s quality information in that first hunch, especially if we’ve received a lot of feedback and we’re operating in a kind learning environment.9 This would be our intuitive guess of a 3.8 GPA. STEP 2: Look for the mean. This is the base rate. Forget what we know about the specific situation. What would the average GPA be for the graduating class? Let’s say it’s 3.2. We’re now incorporating the outside view and honoring potential reversion to the mean. It’s similar to polling a group, but we’re using a statistical base rate to reduce blindspots. STEP 3: Estimate the diagnostic value of the information you have. This is difficult. But based on what we know, how helpful is the extra information we have compared to just the vanilla base rate? We’re attempting to quantify the diagnostic value of the information, where zero is totally irrelevant (say, the student’s shoe size) and one is perfectly correlated (perhaps a list of all of her grades in every subject). Shades of gray make the world messy, and real world correlations are all but impossible to untangle. We usually don’t have the explicit answers, like all of her grades. Let’s assume we believe there’s a 20% correlation between a 4 year old reading and eventual graduating GPA. The other 80% is due to parental influence, her friends, her socio-economic status, and a million other factors, many unknown. STEP 4: Adjust from the outside view in the direction of your intuitive guess, to an extent it reflects the diagnostic value of the information you have. This is the simple arithmetic of three numbers. You adjust the mean (from Step 2) toward your intuitive guess (from Step 1), in proportion to the correlation you estimated (in Step 3). In the case of the student GPA, we’d start with the 3.2 GPA (base rate) and shift it upward by twenty percent toward our 3.8 intuitive GPA estimate. That would equal a 3.3 GPA. Correcting Predictions is a nice Bayesian blend of base rates and intuition. Decision Voltron Our last method is my own concoction blending Kahneman’s MAP and Correcting Predictions, which I’ll call Decision Voltron. It’s admittedly a bit cumbersome, but that’s the going price for robustness. Good work is often hard work. The goal is to integrate the wisdom of the crowds and base rates, without compromising individual integrity. We need a procedure that’s informationally watertight. And for the first time in human history, software allows us to share our views while minimizing the infection rate of biases. Enough preamble… STEP 1: Figure out what’s important. What factors are going to move the needle for this decision, policy, investment, etc? With minimum initial discussion, each team member writes down their own assessment of what’s important. They can share their own gut feelings along with supporting explanations. These are recorded individually. This is Kahneman’s MAP. STEP 2: The results of individual MAPs are shared. Individual assessments are collated and shared anonymously with the team. This removes power dynamics and persuasive halo effects. A round of discussion ensues. Kahneman recommends the E-T-E method (Estimate-Talk-Estimate). Do your own work, share it, talk about it, then estimate again. As a team, decide on the three10 factors that will drive the outcome. Rank ordering or a points allocation system can be good ways to pick the team’s top three. STEP 3: Make an estimation. Now that the group has narrowed down what’s important, make individual estimations for each of these factors. These intuitive estimations are collected and averaged behind the scenes for now. This would equate to the initial 3.8 GPA estimate of our early reader. STEP 4: Hunt for base rates. Each individual goes off hunting for appropriate base rates for each factor. It’s a Bayesian winnowing process to find the closest data we can to describe the situation we’re trying to predict. Write down what you found and why you think it’s an appropriate base. The “captured” base rates and logic then get collated and shared simultaneously and anonymously with the group. Conduct another round of Estimate-Talk-Estimate. Average the individual resulting base rates for each of the three factors. STEP 5: Assign a correlation. This represents the confidence in our own assessments compared to the base rate. Do we have a special insight or conviction? Are we willing to bet on ourselves or should we defer to the base rate? Individuals assign their own correlations for the three factors, plus their reasoning. As you might expect by now, these results are then shared anonymously with the team. Discuss the results, then perform another round of estimation. Take the group’s average correlation for each factor. STEP 6: Calculate the necessary arithmetic to unlock Decision Voltron. We now have three factors with a wisdom-of-the-crowd-infused estimation, adjusted by the base rate in proportion to the perceived correlations. The math is straightforward. Our estimations around the three factors should allow us to make an informed and well-researched decision. The miracle of software gives us synchronized, anonymized, non-contemporaneous, collated communication. We’ve removed blindspots, respected base rates, all the while minimizing the biases from information cascades and polarization. What emerges from this process is as well-vetted a group decision as presently imaginable. That is, until the robots fully take over... As always, we’re thankful to have such great partners in this wealth creation journey. Jake Updated on Nov 4, 2021, 4:39 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkNov 4th, 2021

Pelosi Vows To Avert Shutdown As Dems Reportedly Cave To "Republican Blockade"

Pelosi Vows To Avert Shutdown As Dems Reportedly Cave To "Republican Blockade" Yesterday, when we laid out the dynamics behind Biden's game of debt limit chicken, we quoted Rabobank which explained why the stand-off between Democrats and Republicans ahead of the debt ceiling Drop Dead Date (the date when all emergency funding measures are exhausted and which falls some time in late October) is so precarious: unlike previous occasions, neither side has to back down due to political or ideological purposes. In fact the side that is seen as conceding first  will likely be punished by its electorate; it's also why Goldman has repeatedly warned that the odds of a catastrophic outcome are especially high. Worse, the closer we get to the Drop Dead Date without a deal, the more likely a freefall outcome becomes as the two sides dig in with the only hope then becoming a deal after the fact. However, today a ray of hope emerged when Bloomberg reported that Nancy Pelosi signaled Democrats will avert a government shutdown by passing a stopgap spending bill without a debt ceiling increase in it, amid Republican opposition to linking the two measures. “Whatever it is, we will have a CR that passes both houses by September 30," Pelosi said at a press briefing Thursday, referring to the continuing resolution that will be needed to fund the federal government at the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1. The House passed a stopgap spending measure this week that would keep the government open until Dec. 3 and suspend the debt ceiling until Dec. 16, 2022, but that measure is dead in the Senate where it needs 60 votes to move ahead and Republicans are expected block it in. At a news conference that included Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Pelosi said that the conversation on the debt limit would continue. Schumer separately announced that Democrats have a “framework” for a deal to pay for President Joe Biden’s economic plan, though neither he nor Pelosi provided any details. Adding to the confusion, due to the irregularity of Treasury revenues and outlayws, it is not yet clear when the US Treasury could be on the brink of a default, adding uncertainty to how quickly Congress has to act. Yellen has said the government will probably exhaust its ability to avoid breaching the limit at some point in October, which is in line with Goldman's estimate of D-Date falling around October 27. Meanwhile, confirming that Senate republicans won't touch the debt limit vote, top senate republican Mitch McConnell said Democrats have plenty of time to use a partisan approach to raise the debt ceiling without Republican votes.  He also said that it would take Democrats “about a week or a little more” to use the budget reconciliation procedure to raise the debt limit (reconciliation bills bypass the filibuster, removing the need for GOP votes in the 50-50 Senate, but have required procedures that take time to go through). Senate Democrats have so far resisted deploying that tactic, saying that the effort should be bipartisan as Democrats realize that raising the debt ceiling on their own could hurt the Democrats in the midterm elections in 2022, so they prefer sharing the blame with the Republicans by forcing them to support a suspension of the debt limit. In . “This may inconvenient for them, but it is totally possible,” McConnell said. “This Democratic government must not manufacture an avoidable crisis.” For once he was actually right: as Rabobank explained, "the Democrats have the power to raise the debt ceiling and adopt a spending patch, through budget reconciliation, without any Republican vote. Therefore it will be difficult to blame a government shutdown or even a default on the Republicans. The mainstream media may try to do so anyway, but conservative media – which are relevant to Republican voters – will explain the realities to their audience. Therefore, there is no electoral need for the Republicans to blink. If they have the stomach for it, they can win this game and force the Democrats to “own” their spending spree. What’s more, if the Democrats fail to stick together under pressure, Biden’s ambitious legislative agenda could dissolve in October." McConnell’s comments challenge House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth, who said Wednesday that Democrats probably do not have enough time to raise the U.S. debt ceiling on their own using the fast-track budget process before the default date. Actually they do - here is a calendar of fiscal policy deadlines courtesy of Rabo: An impartial budget expert agreed with McConnell’s view of the timetable: “They could do it in less than two weeks,” said former Senate Budget Committee staff director Bill Hoagland, now with the Bipartisan Policy Center. “It would be tight but I believe they could do it.” To be sure, not all Democrats are opposed to using the partisan path to raising the debt limit. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal said in an interview with CNN he’d be open to using reconciliation. “If we had to do it, I would do that,” Neal said, according to CNN. “I mean that the idea that America would default on debt is so far removed from everything I’ve ever entertained or thought of since I’ve been here.” Other Democrats on Thursday suggested the same: “I don’t draw lines in the sand. I want to get this done,” Maryland Senator Benjamin Cardin said. Virginia Senator Tim Kaine said Democratic leadership is exploring alternatives for the debt limit. “I’m not going to let the government default,” Kaine said, adding that Democrats have voted under Republican presidents to suspend the debt ceiling. “But if they’re not going to be responsible, we still will be,” he added. Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee, said he expects “at the end of the day” the Senate will pass a stopgap government funding bill that doesn’t have a debt limit increase on it and that Democrats will move the debt-limit increase through reconciliation. Yet not everyone is confident that a debt ceiling deal will be reached on time, starting first and foremost with the market, where today's 4-week and 8-week Bill auctions showed a dramatic preference for the latter at the expense of the former, which mature right around the Drop Dead Date and may suffer repayment complications if the US is in technical default. As shown below, the discount rate on the 4-Week Bills came 1.5bps higher than the 8-Week Bill, the widest differential since the March 2020 covid crisis. Additionally, there was a collapse in Indirect demand for 4-week bills, with Indirects taking down just 21.3% while taking home a much higher 67.3% of the eight-week offering, the most since June 17. Finally, one reason why Pelosi may be less than credible is because earlier today, WaPo reported that the White House budget office (OMB) told federal agencies on Thursday to begin preparations for the first shutdown of the U.S. government since the pandemic began. While administration officials stressed the request is in line with traditional procedures seven days ahead of a shutdown and not a commentary on the likelihood of a congressional deal, the market did not seem to accept that explanation. Both Democrats and Republicans have made clear they intend to fund the government before its funding expires on Sept. 30, but time is running out and lawmakers are aiming to resolve an enormous set of tasks to in a matter of weeks. More importantly, WaPo confirmed Bloomberg's report reporting that privately Democrats also began to acknowledge they are unlikely to prevail in the face of what the Washington Post called, a Republican blockade: "Democrats have started discussing the mechanics of how to sidestep Republicans as soon as next week, according to lawmakers and aides, as they maintain they will not allow the government to shut down in a pandemic or the country to default for the first time in history." In a sign of the early scramble to avoid a shutdown, the Senate’s two top appropriators — Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and top Republican Richard C. Shelby (Ala.) — are set to huddle at a meeting later Thursday to discuss issues potentially including a short-term agreement to keep the government funded. Such a measure could be moved independently of an increase in the debt ceiling, since Republicans including McConnell have an expressed an openness to supporting such a solution. Meanwhile Bill Hoagland, a senior vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center and former Republican staff director for the Senate Budget Committee, pointed out that parts of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health would be closed as part of the government shutdown. Hoagland said a very brief shutdown may occur but said he doubted it would go on for “any length of time.” “This would be the first shutdown during a declaration of national emergency,” Hoagland said. “In the midst of an ongoing pandemic and non-resolved issues related to the delta virus, to have a shutdown of some of the major federal agencies would add unbelievable complications to our ability to recover.” Tyler Durden Thu, 09/23/2021 - 18:40.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytSep 23rd, 2021

The best PS5 headsets in 2024

A great PS5 gaming headset will allow you to chat with friends online and get the most out of the console's 3D audio technology. When you buy through our links, Business Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn moreThe best PS5 headsets include wireless, wired, and earbud models from brands like SteelSeries, Razer, Turtle Beach, and Wyze.Business InsiderA dedicated gaming headset for your PS5 can help elevate your gameplay experience by offering convenient voice chat support for online multiplayer. The best PS5 headsets will also pair well with the console's Tempest 3D audio tech, which can surround you with sound from all directions. The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7P is our top pick thanks to its affordable price and comfortable fit. It also delivers 40 hours of battery life and simultaneous support for wireless 2.4GHz and Bluetooth connections. But if you want to spend less and don't mind using a wired headset, we recommend the Turtle Beach Recon 70 as a basic yet reliable option.Below, you'll find all of our picks for the best PS5 headsets you can buy right now. Our recommendations are based on hundreds of hours of personal experience and testing.Our picks for the best PS5 headsetsBest overall: SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7P  - See at AmazonBest high-end: SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless - See at AmazonBest entry-level wireless: Wyze Wireless Gaming Headset - See at WyzeBest budget: Turtle Beach Recon 70 - See at AmazonBest earbuds: Razer Hammerhead Pro HyperSpeed - See at AmazonBest overallThe SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7P is our top pick for the best PS5 headset, and it's also compatible with the Nintendo Switch and PC. It even supports simultaneous 2.4GHz and Bluetooth connections, so you can pair your phone while still hearing audio from your PS5.The Arctis Nova 7P has a standard design with a metal frame wrapped in plastic. The ear cushions use a memory foam fabric that feels light and breathable. You can also swap the ear cup covers and fabric headband with colored replacements for an additional price, though there aren't many choices.On-board controls include a power button, Bluetooth button, a volume dial, and a handy sidetone dial. Sidetone lets you hear what your microphone picks up so you can monitor the volume and quality of your voice. However, controlling the balance between in-game audio and chat must be done through the PS5 itself. The microphone is fully retractable, which we prefer compared to other headsets with swivel or removable mics. Voice pickup is clear, and the microphone does a nice job of eliminating noises like breathing.The Arctis Nova 7 is perfect for consoles like the PS5. (7X edition pictured above)Kevin Webb / InsiderWhen it comes to sound quality, the Nova 7P delivers great performance. It handles spatial audio formats well and does a solid job isolating sounds. Like most gaming headsets, the 7P's audio profile offers deeper bass than regular headphones, which can be effective for adding some extra oomph to games. The headset comes with a USB-C dongle that can plug right into the front of a PS5. However, if you use the console's front USB-C port, the dongle will block the PS5's second front-facing port. If this becomes a problem, you can simply use the included USB extender to connect the dongle to one of the PS5's rear USB-A ports instead.The battery lasts 35 to 40 hours on a single charge, which is above average for wireless headsets. In practice, you should be able to use the Arctis Nova 7P for more than a week on each charge if you play for around four hours a day.Though we're recommending the Arctis Nova 7P here, remember that SteelSeries sells a few versions of this headset. The "7P" is geared toward PlayStation consoles and features the aforementioned sidetone dial built in. However, this version can't connect wirelessly to Xbox consoles. If you want dual PS5 and Xbox support, you should opt for the Arctis Nova 7X, which adds Xbox compatibility but swaps out the sidetone dial for a ChatMix dial that only functions with Xbox systems.Check out our SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7 review.Best high-endThe Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is easily one of the best gaming headsets you can buy, whether you're using a PS5 or another console. It takes everything we like about the Arctis Nova 7P and adds a few extra features for buyers willing to pay more. Key additions include active noise cancellation (ANC), leatherette ear cushions, and a dedicated wireless hub that can also serve as a charging base for the headset's swappable batteries.The overall build is nearly identical to the Nova 7P, with a metal frame encased in plastic, a retractable microphone, and even the same replaceable ear cup covers. The Nova Pro also has the same power button, volume dial, and Bluetooth control, but it doesn't have a sidetone dial like the 7P since you can adjust features like that via the included base station instead.The wireless base station is easily the biggest feature of the Nova Pro Wireless; it has an OLED display and allows you to control the headset's settings on the fly, along with standard controls like volume, noise cancellation, and audio input. The receiver also doubles as a battery charging station.The base station features an OLED screen that displays various settings and playback details.Kevin Webb / InsiderTwo batteries come with the headset; the spare should be left charging in the wireless receiver when unused. Batteries can be hot-swapped in about 30 seconds by removing the right ear cover. The individual batteries last for about 15-20 hours on a single charge, which is about half as much as the Nova 7P, but when you add them together, you get around the same total playtime.This might be inconvenient for some, as you'll have to swap batteries more often than you'd need to charge the Arctis Nova 7P. However, as long as you always keep your spare battery in the base station, there's never a worry that your headset will run out of power. Also, if the battery life starts to decrease over time, you'll be able to replace the batteries themselves rather than the entire headset.As with the Arctis Nova 7, SteelSeries sells different versions of the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless geared toward Xbox or PlayStation consoles. The main difference between each version is that the PlayStation edition can't wirelessly connect to Xbox systems, but the Xbox edition can support both. The Xbox edition's wireless receiver has one port for PlayStation/PC and one that's Xbox only. Meanwhile, the PlayStation edition's receiver has two PlayStation/PC ports. If you plan to use your headset with a PlayStation and PC, the PlayStation edition is more convenient, but we think the added benefit of Xbox support is a better tradeoff for most gamers. Check out our SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless review.Best entry-level wirelessThis straightforward headset from Wyze is one of the best wireless gaming headsets you can get on a budget, offering great features and a solid build for $60. Wyze uses a no-frills, all-black design with a removable microphone, leatherette ear cushions and headband, and a metal frame.The ear cushions aren't quite as comfortable as the memory foam on the Arctis Nova 7P, but they feel fine and the overall fit is standard. Typical on-board controls for volume and mute are present, but there's no dial for balancing the voice chat and game audio. The flexible boom mic can be fully removed when not in use.Wyze's first wireless headset offers great value and essential features.Kevin Webb / InsiderIn testing, the Wyze lasted longer than the expected 20-hour battery life with up to 32 hours of use. The range and consistency of the wireless signal were also on par with competing headsets. However, there's no 3.5mm headphone jack to plug directly into the DualSense controller or any other device, like a Nintendo Switch or tablet, so you can't use a wired connection as a backup.Regarding sound quality, the Wyze gaming headset isn't quite as good at eliminating outside noise as other headsets, but playback quality is on par with most models we tried. Again, like most headsets, the sound profile has heavier bass than regular headphones. The microphone also does a solid job of eliminating background and ambient noise, but your voice can sound distant compared to other models.Note: As of writing, this model is temporarily out of stock but is expected to be available soon.Best budgetThe PS5 can use nearly any pair of wired headphones, so you're not limited to a gaming headset if you prefer a wired connection to the DualSense controller. The controller even includes a microphone, so you can still voice chat with headphones that don't have a mic built in.However, if you're looking for a dedicated wired headset on a budget, we recommend the Turtle Beach Recon 70. It's an entry-level headset with a swivel microphone and plastic shell. The headset offers nine color options, which helps make it a solid choice for younger gamers who want a variety of looks to choose from.Wired headsets like the Recon 70 are a reliable, affordable choice for multi-platform use.Kevin Webb / InsiderThe Recon 70 connects to the PS5 via the DualSense controller and is fully compatible with 3D audio, but you'll have to use the console's on-screen settings to manage volume and audio balance. The microphone automatically mutes when swiveled up away from your face.The wired sound quality matches what we expect to hear when using the PS5's 3D audio tech, and the microphone quality is also up to par in voice chat. While the audio profile boosts bass, the sound is not quite as deep as the more expensive headsets we recommend.The plastic build also makes the Recon 70 feel less durable than pricier headsets; it's sturdy enough to last through hours of regular play at home, but it may not be the best option to take on the go.Best earbudsThe Razer Hammerhead Pro HyperSpeed are one of the few pairs of wireless gaming headphones that use an earbud-style design. While the case and form factor may make them look similar to something like Apple's AirPods Pros, the Hammerheads are larger and include support for a 2.4GHz wireless connection, which is better than Bluetooth for delivering a high-quality, stable audio signal while gaming.With the help of the PS5's 3D audio tech, the Hammerhead Pro HyperSpeeds generally match the audio performance we've heard from larger over-ear headsets. The earbuds include an active noise cancellation feature but aren't much better at filtering out sound than over-ear headphones, which provide a natural seal against extra noise.The Hammerhead Pro earbuds offer Bluetooth audio support in addition to 2.4GHz wireless, but you can't use both signals simultaneously. Swapping between audio modes is relatively simple with the touch controls. While Bluetooth makes it easy to take the Hammerhead Pros on the go, their limited battery life and larger size make them below average for use outside gaming compared to the best wireless earbuds that we recommend.The Hammerhead Pros hold up well during regular PS5 play sessions, though. The earbuds will last about four hours in a single sitting before you need to charge them in their included case. The case can provide around 20 hours of extra power.Customizable lighting is also supported, but this feature has a noticeable impact on battery life. The lighting on the earbuds can only be adjusted via the Razer Audio app, so you'll need to use your phone for full control. The Razer Audio app also includes EQ settings for Bluetooth playback.Though the Hammerhead Pro HyperSpeeds are our current pick in this category, buyers should keep in mind that Sony just released its own pair of PS5 gaming earbuds called the Pulse Explore. We'll be testing this model soon for consideration in our guide to the best PS5 headsets.How we test PS5 headsetsOur PS5 headset picks all went through hands-on testing.Kevin Webb / InsiderTo select the best PS5 headsets, we evaluated models based on key performance areas, including audio performance, build quality, features and connectivity, and value. Here's how each category is tested.Audio performance: Sound quality is the most important reason to buy a PS5 headset, whether you want to experience 3D audio or improve your microphone pickup. We run a series of tests for playback quality with games like Marvel's Spider-Man 2, Gran Turismo 7, and Call of Duty Warzone. We also test microphones in third-party recording apps like Zoom and Discord to see how well the mic filters out background noise.Build quality: The physical build of a PS5 headset is important for its longevity, so we check for overall comfort, battery life, sturdiness, and the materials used. Other design factors are important, too, like microphone placement, storage, RGB lighting, and alternate colors.Features and connectivity: While the PS5 supports lots of headsets and even standard headphones, they don't all offer the same range of features. We look for features like simultaneous Bluetooth and noise cancellation and prioritize range and cross-compatibility when it comes to connectivity.Value: The best PS5 headsets can cost as much as $350, but you don't have to spend that much to take home a great headset. We judge headsets by comparing the overall performance and quality against the asking price; feature-rich headsets with competitive prices are more likely to make our list.PS5 headset FAQsKevin Webb / InsiderDo wireless gaming headsets have disadvantages compared to wired ones?Though wireless headphone technology used to have bigger limitations, modern 2.4GHz wireless signals no longer present meaningful drawbacks compared to wired connectivity. However, some competitive gamers may still prefer a wired connection to eliminate any possibility of audio delay or interference.What's the difference between Bluetooth and 2.4GHz wireless?Instead of Bluetooth, wireless gaming headsets for the PS5 use a 2.4GHz signal sent between a USB receiver and the headset. A 2.4GHz signal has less audio delay, better sound quality, and a more stable connection than Bluetooth.Some of the best PS5 headsets may also include Bluetooth as an extra feature so you can pair them with additional devices, but the PS5 itself doesn't support Bluetooth audio. The last PlayStation console to allow Bluetooth headsets was the PS3.Can I use my wireless PS5 headset with other consoles?Many of the best PS5 headsets with wireless support will also work with the Nintendo Switch and a Windows PC via the same 2.4GHz dongle. If it's a wired model, it can also connect with an Xbox console via a 3.5mm cable.However, not all wireless PS5 headsets will be wirelessly compatible with Xbox consoles. Xbox systems use a proprietary wireless signal that must be licensed separately. Only certain headset models are cross-compatible with Xbox and PlayStation systems. Check out our guide to the best Xbox headsets for more recommendations with Microsoft's systems in mind. Best overallThe SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7P is our top pick for the best PS5 headset and it's also compatible with the Nintendo Switch and PC. It even supports simultaneous 2.4GHz and Bluetooth connections so you can pair your phone while still hearing audio from your PS5.The Arctis Nova 7P has a standard design with a metal frame that's wrapped in plastic. The ear cushions use a memory foam fabric that feels light and breathable. You can also swap the ear cup covers and fabric headband with colored replacements for an additional price, though there aren't many choices.On-board controls include a power button, Bluetooth button, a volume dial, and a handy sidetone dial. Sidetone lets you hear what your microphone picks up so you can monitor the volume and quality of your voice. However, controlling the balance between in-game audio and chat must be done through the PS5 itself. The microphone is fully retractable which we prefer compared to other headsets with swivel or removable mics. Voice pickup is clear and the microphone does a nice job of eliminating noises like breathing.When it comes to sound quality, the Nova 7P delivers great performance. It handles spatial audio formats well and does a solid job isolating sounds. Like most gaming headsets, the 7P's audio profile offers deeper bass than regular headphones, which can be effective for adding some extra oomph to games. The headset comes with a USB-C dongle that can plug right into the front of a PS5. However, if you use the console's front USB-C port, the dongle will block the PS5's second front-facing port. If this becomes a problem you can simply use the included USB extender to connect the dongle to one of the PS5's rear USB-A ports instead.The battery lasts 35 to 40 hours on a single charge, which is above average for wireless headsets. In practice, you should be able to use the Arctis Nova 7P for more than a week on each charge if you play for around four hours a day.Though we're recommending the Arctis Nova 7P here, you should keep in mind that SteelSeries sells a few different versions of this headset. The "7P" is geared toward PlayStation consoles and features the aforementioned sidetone dial built in. However, this version can't connect wirelessly to Xbox consoles. If you want dual PS5 and Xbox support, you should opt for the Arctis Nova 7X, which adds Xbox compatibility but swaps out the sidetone dial for a ChatMix dial that only functions with Xbox systems.Check out our SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7 review.Best high-endThe Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is easily one of the best gaming headsets you can buy, whether you're using a PS5 or another console. It takes everything we like about the Arctis Nova 7P and adds a few extra features for buyers willing to pay a bit more. Key additions include active noise cancellation (ANC), leatherette ear cushions, and a dedicated wireless hub that can also serve as a charging base for the headset's swappable batteries.The overall build is nearly identical to the Nova 7P, with a metal frame encased in plastic, a retractable microphone, and even the same replaceable ear cup covers. The Nova Pro also has the same power button, volume dial, and Bluetooth control, but it doesn't have a sidetone dial like the 7P since you can adjust features like that via the included base station instead.The wireless base station is easily the biggest feature of the Nova Pro Wireless; it has an OLED display and allows you to control the headset's settings on the fly, along with standard controls like volume, noise cancellation, and audio input. The receiver also doubles as a battery charging station.Two batteries come with the headset; the spare should be left charging in the wireless receiver when not in use. Batteries can be hot-swapped in about 30 seconds by removing the right ear cover. The individual batteries last for about 15-20 hours on a single charge, which is about half as much as the Nova 7P, but when you add them together you get around the same total playtime.For some, this might be an inconvenience, as you'll have to swap batteries more often than you'd need to charge the more affordable Arctis Nova 7P. However, as long as you always keep your spare battery in the base station, there's never a worry that your headset will run out of power. Also, if the battery life starts to decrease over time, you'll be able to replace the batteries themselves rather than the entire headset.Just like it does with the Arctis Nova 7, SteelSeries also sells different versions of the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless geared toward Xbox or PlayStation consoles. The main difference between each version is that the PlayStation edition can't wirelessly connect to Xbox systems, but the Xbox edition can support both. The Xbox edition's wireless receiver has one port for PlayStation/PC and one that's Xbox only. Meanwhile, the Playstation edition's receiver has two PlayStation/PC ports. If you plan to use your headset with a PlayStation and PC, the PlayStation edition is more convenient, but we think the added benefit of Xbox support is a better tradeoff for most gamers. Check out our SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless review.Best entry-level wirelessThis straightforward headset from Wyze is one of the best wireless gaming headsets you can get on a budget, offering great features and a solid build for $60. Wyze uses a no-frills, all-black design with a removable microphone, leatherette ear cushions and headband, and a metal frame.The ear cushions aren't quite as comfortable as the memory foam on the Arctis Nova 7P, but they feel fine and the overall fit is standard. Typical on-board controls for volume and mute are present, but there's no dial for balancing the voice chat and game audio. The flexible boom mic can be fully removed when not in use.In testing, the Wyze lasted longer than the expected 20-hour battery life with up to 32 hours of use. The range and consistency of the wireless signal were also on par with competing headsets. However there's no 3.5mm headphone jack to plug directly into the DualSense controller, or any other device, like a Nintendo Switch or tablet, so you can't use a wired connection as a backup.In terms of sound quality, the Wyze gaming headset isn't quite as good at eliminating outside noise as other headsets, but playback quality is on par with most models we tried. Though again, like most headsets, the sound profile has heavier bass than regular headphones. The microphone also does a solid job of eliminating background and ambient noise, but your voice can sound distant compared to other models.Best budgetThe PS5 can make use of nearly any pair of wired headphones, so you're not limited to a gaming headset if you prefer a wired connection to the DualSense controller. The controller even includes a microphone, so you can still voice chat with headphones that don't have a mic built in.However, if you're looking for a dedicated wired headset on a budget, we recommend the Turtle Beach Recon 70. It's an entry-level headset with a swivel microphone and plastic shell. The headset offers nine color options, which helps make it a solid choice for younger gamers who want a variety of looks to choose from.The Recon 70 connects to the PS5 via the DualSense controller and is fully compatible with 3D audio, but you'll have to use the console's on-screen settings to manage volume and audio balance. The microphone automatically mutes when swiveled up away from your face.The wired sound quality matches what we expect to hear when using the PS5's 3D audio tech, and the microphone quality is up to par in voice chat as well. While the audio profile boosts bass, the sound is not quite as deep as the more expensive headsets we recommend.The plastic build also makes the Recon 70 feel less durable than pricier headsets; it's sturdy enough to last through hours of regular play at home, but it may not be the best option to take on the go.Best earbudsThe Razer Hammerhead Pro HyperSpeed are one of the few pairs of wireless gaming headphones that use an earbud-style design. While the case and form factor may make them look similar to something like Apple's AirPods Pros, the Hammerheads are larger and include support for a 2.4GHz wireless connection, which is better than Bluetooth for delivering a high-quality, stable audio signal while gaming.With the help of the PS5's 3D audio tech, the Hammerhead Pro HyperSpeeds generally match the audio performance we've heard from larger over-ear headsets. The earbuds include an active noise cancellation feature but ultimately aren't much better at filtering out sound than over-ear headphones, which provide a natural seal against extra noise.The Hammerhead Pro earbuds offer Bluetooth audio support in addition to 2.4GHz wireless, but you can't use both signals at the same time. Swapping between audio modes is relatively simple with the touch controls. While Bluetooth makes it easy to take the Hammerhead Pros on the go, their limited battery life and larger size make them below average for use outside of gaming compared to a typical pair of everyday earbuds.The Hammerhead Pros do hold up well during regular PS5 play sessions though. The earbuds will last about four hours in a single sitting before you need to charge them in their included case. The case can provide around 20 hours of extra power.Customizable lighting is also supported, but this feature has a noticeable impact on battery life. The lighting on the earbuds can only be adjusted via the Razer Audio app, so you'll need to use your phone for full control. The Razer Audio app also includes EQ settings for Bluetooth playback.Though the Hammerhead Pro HyperSpeeds are our current pick in this category, buyers should keep in mind that Sony just released its own pair of PS5 gaming earbuds, called the Pulse Explore. We'll be testing this model soon for consideration in our guide to the best PS5 headsets.How we test PS5 headsetsOur PS5 headset picks all went through hands-on testing.Kevin Webb / InsiderTo select the best PS5 headsets, we evaluated models based on key performance areas, including audio performance, build quality, features and connectivity, and value. Here's how each category is tested.Audio performance: Sound quality is the most important reason to buy a PS5 headset, whether you want to experience 3D audio or improve your microphone pickup. We run a series of tests for playback quality with games like Marvel's Spider-Man 2, Gran Turismo 7, and Call of Duty Warzone. We also test microphones in third-party recording apps like Zoom and Discord to see how well the mic filters out background noise.Build quality: The physical build of a PS5 headset is important for its longevity, so we check for overall comfort, battery life, sturdiness, and the materials used. Other factors of the design are important too, like microphone placement, storage, RGB lighting, and alternate colors.Features and connectivity: While the PS5 supports lots of headsets and even standard headphones, they don't all offer the same range of features. We look for features like simultaneous Bluetooth and noise cancellation and prioritize range and cross-compatibility when it comes to connectivity.Value: The best PS5 headsets can cost as much as $350, but you don't have to spend that much to take home a great headset. We judge headsets by comparing the overall performance and quality against the asking price; feature-rich headsets with competitive prices are more likely to make our list.PS5 headset FAQsKevin Webb / InsiderDo wireless gaming headsets have disadvantages compared to wired ones?Though wireless headphone technology used to have bigger limitations, modern 2.4GHz wireless signals no longer present meaningful drawbacks compared to wired connectivity. However, some competitive gamers may still prefer a wired connection to eliminate any possibility of audio delay or interference.What's the difference between Bluetooth and 2.4GHz wireless?Instead of Bluetooth, wireless gaming headsets for the PS5 use a 2.4GHz signal that gets sent between a USB receiver and the headset. A 2.4GHz signal has less audio delay, better sound quality, and a more stable connection than Bluetooth.Some of the best PS5 headsets may also include Bluetooth as an extra feature so you can pair them with additional devices, but the PS5 itself doesn't support Bluetooth audio. The last PlayStation console to allow Bluetooth headsets was the PS3.Can I use my wireless PS5 headset with other consoles?Many of the best PS5 headsets with wireless support will also work with the Nintendo Switch and a Windows PC via the same 2.4GHz dongle. If it's a wired model, it can also connect with an Xbox console via a 3.5mm cable.However, not all wireless PS5 headsets will be wirelessly compatible with Xbox consoles. Xbox systems use a proprietary wireless signal that must be licensed separately. Only certain headset models are cross-compatible with Xbox and PlayStation systems. Check out our guide to the best Xbox headsets for more recommendations with Microsoft's systems in mind. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nyt8 hr. 47 min. ago

Amazon recommends video doorbells that can let anyone spy on you, report finds

Researchers said they've found multiple video doorbells with serious security concerns for sale on Amazon, Walmart, and more. There are brands of video doorbells that all appear connected by one big flaw, according to a report.AmazonResearchers said they've found multiple video doorbells with serious security concerns.Despite the alleged lack of safety, the doorbells are being sold by Amazon, Walmart, and more.At least one doorbell sold by a brand was marked as "Amazon's Choice" product.You might want to double-check that your video doorbell isn't vulnerable to being hacked.Researchers said they found a string of video doorbells sold by retail giants such as Amazon, Walmart, Temu, Shein, and Sears that hackers can infiltrate and gain access to footage, IP addresses, and WiFi networks, according to a Consumer Reports investigation.Test engineers at CR identified four companies that appear to sell nearly identical models of doorbell cameras, and those models all showed the same vulnerability to cyberattacks, they said.Some of the brands named in the report are Eken, Tuck, Rakeblue, and Fishbot, and their doorbells all use the Aiwit app — owned by Eken — to operate.Despite the alleged security concerns, at least one doorbell from Tuck has the "Amazon's Choice" recommendation. The model is rated at 4.3 stars and boasts over 300 sales in the past month as of February 29.The Tuck SHARKPOP doorbell uses Aiwit app, and it's marked as "Amazon's Choice"AmazonJustin Brookman, director of technology policy for CR, said it's up to the e-commerce platforms to make sure harmful products are being sold under their noses."There is more they could be doing to vet sellers and respond to complaints. Instead, it seems like they're coasting on their reputation and saddling unknowing consumers with broken products," Brookman told CR.So broken, CR alleges, that anyone can walk up to one of the doorbells they tested, hold the button long enough for it to go into pairing mode, and link the video doorbell to their account on the Aiwit app.Then, the device could be controlled from their phone if it's connected to WiFi. What's more, a hacker could continue having access even if the owner paired their device back to the doorbell by using the device's serial number (they can find it when pairing with the video doorbell), CR reported.A spokesperson for Walmart told BI that it has removed the doorbells from its marketplace and is offering refunds through its return policy."We expect these items to be safe, reliable and compliant with our standards and all legal requirements," Walmart's statement read. "Items that are identified to not meet these standards or requirements will be promptly removed from the website and remain blocked."Business Insider reached out to Amazon, Temu, Shein, and Sears, and didn't immediately receive responses.Representatives for Temu told The Verge that it would halt sales of the doorbells as it investigates the security concerns.BI also reached out to Eken for comment on these issues and details about the brand names through which it appears to sell these video doorbells, but got no response.Amazon has had a history of backlash for some of the items listed on its site for sale. In 2020, the retailer removed listings for merchandise associated with the far-right white nationalist group the Proud Boys.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nyt9 hr. 31 min. ago

Butterfly Network, Inc. (NYSE:BFLY) Q4 2023 Earnings Call Transcript

Butterfly Network, Inc. (NYSE:BFLY) Q4 2023 Earnings Call Transcript February 28, 2024 Butterfly Network, Inc. misses on earnings expectations. Reported EPS is $-0.21 EPS, expectations were $-0.12. BFLY isn’t one of the 30 most popular stocks among hedge funds at the end of the third quarter (see the details here). Operator: Good afternoon. Thank you […] Butterfly Network, Inc. (NYSE:BFLY) Q4 2023 Earnings Call Transcript February 28, 2024 Butterfly Network, Inc. misses on earnings expectations. Reported EPS is $-0.21 EPS, expectations were $-0.12. BFLY isn’t one of the 30 most popular stocks among hedge funds at the end of the third quarter (see the details here). Operator: Good afternoon. Thank you for attending today’s Butterfly Network’s Q4 and Fiscal Year 2023 Earnings Call. All lines will be muted during the presentation portion of the call with an opportunity for questions and answers at the end. [Operator Instructions] I would now like to hand the call over to Heather Getz with Butterfly Network. You may proceed. Heather Getz: Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for joining us today. Earlier today, Butterfly released financial results for the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2023, and provided a business update. The release and earnings presentation, which include a reconciliation to management use of non-GAAP financial measures compared to the most applicable GAAP measures, are currently available on the investor section of the company’s website at ir.butterflynetwork.com. I Heather Getz, Chief Financial and Operations Officer of Butterfly, alongside Joseph DeVivo, Butterfly’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, will host this afternoon’s call. During today’s call, we will be making certainly forward-looking statements. These statements may include, among other things, expectations with respect to financial results, future performance, development and commercialization of products and services, potential regulatory approvals, and the size and potential growth of our current or future markets for our products and services. These forward-looking statements are based on current information, assumptions, and expectations that are subject to change and involve a number of known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors that may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in the forward-looking statements. These and other risks are described in our filings made with the Securities and Exchange Commission. You are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, and the company disclaims any obligation to update such statements. As a reminder, this call is being webcast live and recorded, and we will be referencing a slide presentation in conjunction with our remarks. There may be a short delay between the live audio and the presentation being shown, and the slides visible within the webcast platform will also not play animations. To access the animated versions of our slides, visit the events section of our investor website. And then under upcoming events, you will see today’s earnings call with an option to click called presentation with animated videos. On the same page, you will also be able to access the webcast live and as a replay once the call has been completed. I would now like to turn the call over to Joe. Joe? Joe DeVivo: Thank you, Heather. Good afternoon and thanks for joining the call, everyone. I’m pleased to report that our 2023 revenue finished at $65.9 million worldwide, above our expectations of at least $64 million. I was pleased to see each one of our channels performing well as we headed into 2024. In fact, our Q4 and full year direct sale revenues grew 10% and 11% year-over-year. Moving forward, we have every opportunity to realize growth across all of our channels and grow the company double digits in 2024, while investing efficiently. Over the last 18 months we removed over $170 million of cash cost from the business yet continue to invest in our technology roadmap and our commercial team. 2023 was a necessary transition year for the company. We chose to resize the business and focus our strategy. We’ve matured as a company and can now rely less and less on online sales and more on higher end hospital sales. The operational disruptions over, our sights are set today on growth of our existing business, new products recently launched, and building new market opportunities only ultrasound on chip technology can deliver. During my first full call last year, I laid out what we would deliver in 2023 to set the foundation for growth in 2024. It was one, introducing new ultrasound education offerings to make POCUS accessible to healthcare providers and grow our users. Two, accelerate the easy use by increasing the availability of AI solutions. Three, identifying new development partnerships to bring our core technologies into markets that are not competitive to Butterfly, but will create value for shareholders by leveraging our core semiconductor investment. And four, introduced more products from our roadmap to drive top line growth. I’m very pleased to say that we’ve completed each of these commitments. One, for new education offerings, we delivered Butterfly Certified, an expert-led education services helping customers master point of care ultrasound with Butterfly by training and certifying proficiency in certain scan types. This offering was operationalized very quickly. We’ve already seen Butterfly Certified revenue, and we’ve embedded education as a service into all of our quotations to health systems going forward. Two, on the AI offerings, we received FDA clearance and launched our AI powered auto beeline counter in the second quarter of 2023. It was key FDA AI milestone for us. We also launched Butterfly Garden, our AI marketplace. Since 2018, we’ve grown a leading customer base of over 143,000 probes. And now third-party ultrasound AI companies can build and sell new AI applications to them. These new AI tools, which will be compatible with Butterfly devices, will be incredibly valuable to all Butterfly users. We signed 13 partners to-date, and our newest partner, Deepecho, just press-released their entrance into the program this week. Three, we’ve announced previously that we delivered on the core technology partnerships by successfully launching our Powered by Butterfly program in 2023 and introducing Forest Neurotech and Mendaera as mission partners. Four, and lastly, we delivered ahead of schedule on two key product launches, InLab and iQ3, which I will review in more detail in just a bit. We Butterfly employees are very proud of our accomplishments in 2023. We weathered the storm, stayed together, delivered on our construction goals, while implementing our core priorities and investing in our commercial organization. Thus, we’ve set ourselves up in 2024 to be laser-focused on revenue execution. At this point, I’ll turn the call over to Heather to walk through 2023 results in more detail before returning to our 2024 execution strategy. Heather? Heather Getz: Thank you, Joe. As you noted, we accomplished a lot in 2023 to right-size and reset the company and are now on what we believe to be a solid path for growth in 2024 and beyond. But first, let me cover the 2023 results. Revenue for the fourth quarter was $16.5 million, down compared to 2022 revenue of $19 million, driven by lower volume, partially offset by higher price. The lower volume was mostly due to lower e-commerce, as well as large orders, including the deployment of Gates in Africa and others from international distributors, and to a lesser extent, the vet market. These large orders occurred in 2022 and did not repeat in 2023. In the U.S., we realized 11 million in total sales, slightly higher than prior year. This was driven by increased ASPs and higher revenue from software and subscriptions, partially offset by lower per sales, predominantly in e-commerce. Total international declined, 24% over the prior year to 4.6 million. This was due to the previously mentioned large orders in 2022 that did not reoccur in 2023. Partially upsetting the decline in global health and international distribution was a 27% increase in the international direct market. Breaking our revenue down between product and software, product revenue was $10.2 million, a decrease of 20% versus Q4 2022. This decrease was driven by lower volume, spread largely across e-commerce, international distribution, and VET due to the large deals in ’22 that I mentioned. Software and services revenue was 6.4 million in the fourth quarter, flat to the prior year period. Software and services mix was 39% of revenue, an increase by approximately 5 percentage points versus Q4 2022. This increase was due to a higher installed base of subscription software as compared to prior year, renewals on the existing base of software users, and software implementations completed during the quarter. Our total annual recurring revenue, which is reported as part of software and other services, grew by 4%. This was led by an increase of 35% in our enterprise software, which is now 41% of our total ARR versus 32% in Q4 2022. When looking at the full year 2023, versus ’22, while total revenue declined 10% to 65.9 million due to lower sales in the e-commerce and distribution channel from the non-recurrence of the previously mentioned large orders in 2022. Partially offsetting these declines were double-digit increases in our direct businesses, both domestically and internationally. As Joe noted in his remarks, excluding these large deals from ’22 revenue, 2023 revenue was essentially flat year-over-year and our direct market increased 11%. At the end of 2023, we made additional investments in our direct sales teams, and we have begun signing new distributors in existing and in new markets internationally. We expect these investments to gain further traction in 2024. Turning now to gross profit. Gross profit excluding a non-cash write-down of excess inventory totaling $21.9 million was $9.4 million in Q4 2023 compared to $10.3 million in the prior year period. On the same basis, gross profit margin was 57% for the fourth quarter of 2023, which was higher by 210 basis points compared to Q4 2022. This was driven by higher average selling prices, a shift in product mix reflecting a higher proportion of higher margin software and other services revenue, and operating efficiencies. Higher amortization, reduced margin by 150 basis points. To expand on the inventory write-off, during Q4 of 2023, we took a 21.9 million non-cash charge to our cost of sales for the write-off of excess quantities of our previous generation chip that are used in the manufacturing of our iQ+ probes. The number of chips on hand was higher than our updated forecast for future demand of the iQ+. Our forecast was adjusted down as a result of the newly launched iQ3. While we continue to sell iQ+ worldwide, our previous forecast assumed usage of the chips based on 100% of our sales demand being attributed to iQ+. Moving to EBITDA and capital resources, for the fourth quarter of 2023, adjusted EBITDA loss was $15.7 million, compared with a loss of $27.7 million for the same period in 2022. The improvement in adjusted EBITDA loss was driven by the previously announced cost reductions, which led to lower payroll, consulting, and other outside services. Capital resources as of December 31, 2023, were cash and cash equivalents, including restricted cash of 139 million. Excluding 4.4 million of severance and other non-recurring expenses, our total use of cash for the fourth quarter was $11 million. As we have mentioned, over the past 18 months, we have taken over 170 million of cost out of the business and have reduced our annual cash burn to approximately $60 million. Based on this, we estimate that our cash balance conservatively provides us with a runway into 2026. Moving to guidance. As Joe discussed, we have been executing against the roadmap we laid out in August. We launched Butterfly Garden with 13 deal sign, completed and launched our education at ScanLab. We invested in our sales teams and received an early approval and launched our iQ3. All while completing a reorganization that conservatively extends our cash into 2026. While we have many exciting and potentially meaningful tailwinds, in establishing our 2024 guidance, we have not included in our forecast any material acceleration from either the launch of iQ3 or any new revenue streams or markets. We also need to respect the medium-term adoption cycle of large providers who could benefit greatly from wide-scale adoption of Butterfly, but can’t buy immediately, as well as the fact that the company has for the first time, introducing next generation device while keeping the existing product in the market, thus creating segmentation for those customers who crave iQ+’s affordability and are not yet in a position or need to fully utilize the capabilities of iQ3. As such, we are taking a prudent and conservative approach to guiding for the full year 2024 with low double-digit top-line growth and an EBITDA loss of $60 million to $50 million. As mentioned, we believe there is upside to this plan, and as the year progresses, we will provide updates and further clarification. Specifically looking at Q1, we expect to see growth in the mid-single digits as we ended Q4 higher than expected, and Q1 tends to be a tougher quarter for closing hospital deals. We do expect this growth to accelerate into the second half of the year as we ramp iQ3 and our newly hired sales resources continue to come up to speed. For Q1 adjusted EBITDA, with expenses related to the launch of iQ3 and payroll tax and the 401k reset, we expect slightly higher expenses and lower EBITDA in the first quarter relative to the remainder of the year. To summarize, this was a transition year, and we look forward to growth in 2024. The reorganization and the investments we laid out are all completed, including investing in the direct sales force, as well as launching Butterfly Garden, ScanLab, and iQ3. While we were forecasting low double-digit revenue growth for 2024, as mentioned, we believe there is upside to this plan and additional efficiencies to realize. Furthermore, we have maintained a solid cash position and have extended our cash runway into 2026, while continuing to invest in the business. We will continue to execute against our plan, drive adoption of iQ3 and expand uses of our product across all our channels. Butterfly is set up to accomplish its goals with a strong base of technological and organizational assets that we are continuing to invest in, and a team who is energized to capitalize on this attractive market opportunity. With that, I will turn the call back to Joe to detail 2024. Joe? Joe DeVivo: Thank you, Heather. We discussed 2024 guidance of low double-digit top-line growth with an opportunity for upsides. This will be driven by further penetration of health systems with the launch of IQ3 and our investment in our commercial seat. Two, global expansion. Three, further medical school adoption. And four, alternative uses for our technology, including in the vet space. So we all know Butterfly had tremendous success building relationships with doctors directly around the world. Today we have a comprehensive and global online go-to-market strategy. Each quarter we sell more than 1,000 probes online directly to doctors in 18 countries around the world. This allowed us to build the Butterfly brand quickly and reliably as we launched our inexpensive all-in-one ultrasound device for just a couple thousand dollars, making ultrasound a daily fixture in physicians’ hands for the first time. So Butterfly did not invent POCUS, but we certainly accelerated its adoption and in many countries put it on the map by selling more handheld POCUS devices than any other ultrasound company in the world, over 143,000 since 2018. While individual doctors were way ahead in embracing POCUS, hospitals were slower to adopt. Emergency rooms led the way, showing hospitals that bedside ultrasound for immediate diagnosis can be a potentially life-saving tool for patients. Early adopters of POCUS originated there. Hospitals became [delouse] [ph] with either having to buy expensive carts to wheel around for POCUS or multiple PISO-based handhelds, which together cost as much as a cart. Then Butterfly introduced the first all-in-one handheld device. And we did a very good job penetrating the ER. If there was a criticism of Butterfly, it was that the image quality needed to be even better to get into more places in the hospital. With the launch of Butterfly iQ3, we doubled the processing power from 4.8 gigabytes per second to 9.6 gigabytes per second. Moore’s Law proved true again. Our exponential growth in processing power and image capability since the launch in 2018 is not just an exciting fact today, it’s the principle for which we can set our sights on capturing the whole ultrasound industry in the future. As mentioned earlier in January, we received FDA clearance of iQ3 earlier than expected. On February 13th, we launched iQ3 ahead of schedule. And now we have the tool that has at minimum equivalent imaging power to any other handheld on the market, all-in-one, low-cost device. In our industry, image quality is often in the eye of the beholder. So to validate our belief that iQ3 image quality is best-in-class, we commissioned a survey through a reputable third-party vendor and asked 475 medical professionals across eight clinical specialties to do a blinded image review. They were given images from Butterfly’s iQ+, Butterfly’s new iQ3, and GE’s Vscan Air CL. On average, the majority of blinded participants responded that Butterfly’s iQ3 had a better image quality than GE’s Vscan CL. Other qualitative feedback from KLL said that they believed iQ3 had closed the image quality gap even compared to some hospital multipurpose parts. For Butterfly, the hospital market is now open to our probes like never before. Hospitals now may think twice about reordering the next multipurpose cart and instead consider giving an iQ 3 to each of their doctors so they no longer have to share the cart. There would be minimal cost difference in a one cart versus a fleet of Butterfly’s. And on top of that, the benefit of our handheld portability could improve diagnostic time and patient care. The handheld benefits are validated by 1600 clinical-focused papers published in 2023 alone, where Butterfly was cited in nearly half. Not only do we have a world-class ultrasound device, we will continue to deliver the best ultrasound middleware in the market, our Compass Software, bolstering our health system strategy, user proficiency, quality assurance, automatic data transfer into the EMR and packs for billing and storage, reimbursement automation and more benefits. Compass is the best ultrasound management software in the market. While we have been very successful with Compass deployments with 123 new accounts in 2023 alone, not many of those deals were bundled software and hardware. With iQ3 and Compass, we now have a killer one, two punch for health systems. And today, the best point of care health system offerings in the world. iQ3 checks the box on image and sets the stage for advanced digital tools to make image acquisition even easier. I’d like to share one with you today. As you know, ultrasound is a hard image to get. The operator must manipulate the probe to get that one perfect image. But what if we can make it easier? Well, have any of you had an MRI before? The technician puts you on the table and asks you to watch your head as you’re automatically slid into this big circular magnet. The tech then leaves the room and starts an automated protocol. Over 20 to 30 minutes, the machine slices the body into many cross-sectional images. It automatically captures images. On a lesser scale, of course, a new feature in our iQ3 called iQ Slice performs a similar task. If you’re viewing our animated slides, you’ll see this feature on the screen. With the probe in a stationary place over a piece of anatomy, and in this example here, it’s a kidney, you press a button and like the burst mode on an iPhone, 46 images are taken as the ultrasound beam moves across the organ. Once captured, the doctor simply scrolls through the images and chooses the one they wish to use. Said a different way, iQ Slice enables capturing a series of images from the single position and gives the user the option of rapid assessment of the target organ or the ability to select the best image for annotation or storage. iQ3, once positioned, automatically takes the images for the user. So this marks the beginning of a new era. I once told you that when reviewing digital and film photography, that when digital equals analog, digital wins. Why? Well, digital always has more unique features and capabilities. In photography with digital, you don’t have to develop pictures that you don’t want. You can store it in a cloud and share them as you see fit. Well, in ultrasound, the digital benefits are an all-in-one device for imaging, automated image capture, byline imaging, 3D in the handheld, and more and more capabilities to come. We also have a cool proprietary feature called iQ Fan, which you can see on this next slide. It fans the lung automatically without ever moving the probe. The B movement is a profound new capability, which will remain a core differentiation to analog and will be core to our wearable strategy in the future. The hospital market is a big growth opportunity for us in 2024, but it’s important to remain conservative in this early going as hospitals also have the longest selling cycle of our channels. The hospital market for ultrasound is over $8 billion a year in the U.S. and Butterfly now has greater access to it than ever. And as Heather mentioned, we hired more sales people and managers in our direct U.S. market who are now focused and outselling in 2024. Butterfly’s new iQ3 is in addition to our current product offering, not a replacement to our second generation iQ+. iQ+ is still the best selling handheld ultrasound device in the world and priced at $26.99 for the probe. We will continue to sell this workhorse for a while for this foreseeable future. iQ3 is a premium product and it’s priced at $38.99 per probe plus subscription. So for the hospital market where we compete clearly with handheld devices priced between $5,000 and $7,000, remember each needing four devices to do what Butterfly can do in one. We remain the lowest cost ultrasound alternative by far. The big companies charge $20,000 to $28,000 for their four handheld devices priced at $5000 to $7,000 each. That’s the same overall price as a multipurpose cart. You see how that works for big ultrasound? In comparison, $38.99 remains a fraction of the current hospital purchase cost today, and we hope we’ll accelerate the adoption of a one probe per doctor model in the future. Our iQ+ will remain available for all healthcare practitioners around the world, who want to have access to the best-selling device in the world. iQ3 is completely incremental to Butterfly’s mission to democratize ultrasound for everyone. Our next major growth driver in 2024 will be our global expansion. So last year we retooled, educated, and reinvested in our international distribution partners. We hired a new senior commercial leader. With clean house and set ourselves up for growth in 2024. So first, we will expand our footprint in Asia for the first time. We are in the process of opening new markets in Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Bangladesh, and Singapore, while increasing our work in India and Pakistan. We’ve developed the China strategy, which will take a couple of years to implement, but it’s in flight, and we’re working to expand into this important market. I’m also pleased to announce that this month we’ve completed our EU MDR review of our Butterfly iQ+ ultrasound system, with a positive recommendation for certification from our notified body. To put this into context, EU MDR certification has been and is one of the biggest regulatory milestones for numerous medical device manufacturers looking to enter the EU market and remains a struggle for many companies in search of EU MDR certification. For clarity, our iQ+ received CE Mark with our first few set of features. Then the regulations changed to EU MDR and we’ve waited a few years for this approval and launching features, our customers need. Our quality and regulatory teams are currently finalizing documentation and are expecting issuance of the finalized certificate very soon. Having this certification will allow us to release additional features not yet available on the iQ+, such as Pulsed-wave Doppler in a number of presets including abdomen, as well as auto B-lines in the lung preset that our international customers have been patiently waiting for and will be excited to access. This also sets the foundation for the launch of iQ3 in Europe later this year with its advanced tools like iQ Slice and iQ Fan. The iQ3 is also currently under review with Health Canada and we anticipate approval there soon along with several other international markets later this year. ScanLab which I’ll talk about more in a moment, was also launched in many of our international markets last month. We have focused our quality and regulatory resources on growing our international markets. So we are so pleased to offer these new features. Continuing in Europe, many of you may not know, but in 2006, the European Commission implemented what is called the Restrictions of Hazardous Substances Directive, or RoHS. RoHS was a sweeping directive banning hazardous materials to be added to electronics. Medical devices were covered by this directive, and piezoelectric ultrasound devices ran afoul of the standards because crystals and analog ultrasound devices contain a level of lead contaminant that exceeds the RoHS standards. So at the issuance of the directive, the analog ultrasound industry lobbied for an exemption solely on the basis that there was no alternative to their lead crystal devices. For the past two decades, they have enjoyed the exemption and are only meeting RoHS standards due to the commission’s good graces. Well, Big Ultrasound has wasted 20 years in my view because Butterfly Semiconductor Technology, which is RoHS compliant, today surely can do everything the piezo handhelds can do. There is no medical basis to claim piezo lead crystals and handhelds do not have an alternative. They do. So I truly don’t know what’s going to happen here, I don’t know how it’s going to go. Big ultrasound’s lobby is quite powerful. Gosh, two of them are in Europe. Will the European Commission have the courage to actually ban piezo handhelds? Well, who knows? But it’s good to know that Butterfly’s on the right side of history. We filed two briefs with the EC, educating them on our position, while asking them not to renew the exemption this go-around. We’ll stay focused on them to hopefully remove this old hazardous handheld technology from their market. Our third growth driver in 2024 will be to drive adoption into medical school programs. So as I mentioned previously, 60% of medical schools train on a Butterfly, but not all use the one probe per student model. We will grow by converting more programs to Butterfly, while upgrading existing ones to a one-to-one model. Students don’t truly learn unless they practice and having their own probe is essential to fully committing to ultrasound. One catalyst in our medical school strategy will be ScanLab. ScanLab is another way users can practice their scanning skills. The AI-driven tool helps them with walkthroughs on probe positioning that actually labels anatomy using very advanced AI tools driven by the largest ultrasound image repository in the world. ScanLab has been made available free to all subscribers in January and thousands of downloads have already occurred. ScanLab has been added to our Compass, iQ+, and iQ3 product offerings. We aspire to pitch every medical school this comprehensive offering in 2024. On top of these primary growth drivers are additional opportunities. For example, our vet business continued pursuing use in the feedlot cattle market for detection of interstitial pneumonia, a primary cause of mortality in the feedlot cattle industry by using our custom AI auto B-line tool for cattle. Preliminary findings from our research partners at Kansas State University are affirming the opportunity in shoot side cattle treatment and management, which could be of use to the 1 million cattle producers in the U.S. If this hits, it’s yet another growth driver in 2024 for Butterfly. I’d like to conclude by restating my belief that conservatively, Butterfly will return double-digit growth this year. I believe aside from tough comps in Q2, we will deliver accelerating revenue growth each quarter throughout the year. And it doesn’t stop there. Butterfly is well into development of our fourth generation chip, with our longstanding chip partner, DSMC, the world’s leading semiconductor foundry. And as I’ve discussed before, Moore’s Law is on our side. Our chip will continue to get faster, more advanced, more compact. This coupled with our beam-steering capability will be core to our wearable strategy in the future, analog, ultrasound, [beware] [ph]. Before I turn the call back to the operator for questions, I wanted to make sure that you’re aware that we’ll be holding an Investor Day, Monday, March 18th at the New York Stock Exchange. I’m very excited for this event, where we’ll unpack more of our innovations, will have demonstrations and tables and discuss our pathway in the wearables and the home that we will begin introducing in the first half of ’25, which will help drive growth past ’24. The future of Butterfly’s ultrasound-on-chip is one where doctors monitor patients in their homes. which represents a sizable TAM when considering the more than 150 million patients globally living with chronic diseases. So thank you again, and operator, we can now open the call for questions. See also 11 Best Semiconductor Equipment Stocks to Invest In and 20 Highest Quality Skincare Brands in 2024. Q&A Session Follow Bluefly Inc (NASDAQ:BFLY) Follow Bluefly Inc (NASDAQ:BFLY) or Subscribe with Google We may use your email to send marketing emails about our services. Click here to read our privacy policy. Operator: [Operator Instructions] The first question is from the line of Josh Jennings with TD Cowen. Josh Jennings: Thanks for the thorough update and congratulations on the progress. I was hoping to start with just a question on iQ3. We’re assuming that there’s buzz already generated within the clinical community, but I was hoping you could just comment on any buzz generated within the sales pipeline, maybe even your customer base. And then just after that, is iQ3 going to drive an acceleration in the potential replacement cycle or upgrade cycle within your customer base? And then, what is the opportunity with iQ3 to go back to hospitals that have adopted the enterprise software solution, but not the hardware? And do those customers represent the low-hanging fruit as you’re moving forward with this IQ3 launch? Sorry for the multi-part question. I just have one follow-up. Joe DeVivo: Sure. I guess yes, yes, and yes. So, we’re very excited about the initial reception of iQ3. We’ve been in many demos, and I have not heard of one situation where we haven’t really impressed our clinical partners and gotten them very excited. And that, our pipeline, we don’t normally comment, specifically on pipeline. But since our launch, we’ve added a lot of opportunity into the pipeline in just the first couple of weeks that it’s been out there. So we’re very, very, very excited about what this means. And now we know, like in each, all of this pipeline work are in hospital settings and we’re talking to medical schools on larger deals, we’re talking to health systems about upgrades and conversions of competitive product. So a lot of very good activity. So we’re excited. Regarding trade-ins, yes. So we have a trade-in path for our health system partners. And actually just today have launched a trade-in for our e-commerce. So we do value the iQs and iQ+’s, we think there are other markets. And so if our loyal customers wish to upgrade, then we’re allowing that to absolutely happen. Josh Jennings: Thanks for that. And then, just to build out of the commercial team and the reorganization there, hoping to just get some more details on how the sales — direct sales team in the United States focused on hospitals, how it’s situated compared to last year and how we will follow the course of 2024 will continue to add sales reps and managers. Joe DeVivo: Yes. So I won’t go into specific numbers of salespeople or managers, but we’ve increased the size, Heather, 30% to 50%. And through ’23, we were training them, we were getting them up to speed, they were on guarantees, they were on ride-ons with other reps, we were bringing people in and getting up to speed. And now in January, they’ve all come off their guarantees. They all have to eat with the kill. And then, they’re out there aggressively going. And one of the things we’ve also done is, we have an e-comm channel. We have an out-of-hospital channel, like an inside sales that deals with out-of-hospital. And then we have a direct channel that focuses in-hospital. But one of the things that we’ve done different this year is to make sure that all three of them work together. So as the leads come into e-comm, whether someone, everyone who buys a product online in the U.S. is a part or affiliated with some health system. And so now we link that e-comm sales to our direct rep so they know which doctor, the major institution purchased the product that all of a sudden now they’re looking at that strategically saying, okay, we have another champion who’s come into the fold. And interestingly, at times when we look at our health system strategy and we amalgamate the amount of doctors who are affiliated with that health system who have Butterfly’s sometimes it creates a tipping point and we’ve seen that in the past. We’ve seen where all of a sudden we take inventory of how many individual doctors at a health system have purchased their own product and want to use it in the hospital that typically has led to the software deployment because in the hospital say, hey, we have all these guys bringing this ultrasound in that that we didn’t sanction our buying. We said, well, that was, your doctors were buying them individually. Let us put software in place to help you manage it. We can integrate their images into the EMR. We can let them document to the EMR. We have automated tools to help file reimbursement. We have tools that can help automate and allow to manage the proficiency so they can be educated properly. So there really is a one-two punch there. And we’re really excited about how, while those 123 accounts, we created software throughout 2023, they weren’t really the type of deals that I would have liked to have seen that were bundled with hardware and software. It was a lot of software kind of allowing health systems to manage all the Butterfly’s that have been put in the market, but now it’s different because now iQ3 meets so many of the needs of the subspecialists. We’ve done very well in cardiology. We’ve done very well in other specialties, critical care, and of course in the emergency room. So now to make sure that we can tap to those and capture that reimbursement, we can now walk in the hospital with a desire to standardize. Why have four different handheld probes, that’s so counterintuitive. A handheld probe should walk with a doctor, not all of a sudden have 25% of what they could do. Now they got to go run to get another handheld. And all those four handhelds cost the same amount as a multipurpose cart. It just makes no sense. So we think Butterfly brings true efficiency in point of care. We believe in our sales force is actively advocating for every doctor to get their probe and you only need one probe in order to perform that point of care......»»

Category: topSource: insidermonkey11 hr. 15 min. ago